In 2012, a simplified graphic design tool was launched in Australia. This Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product – Canva - went global at an unprecedented pace and acquired 10 million users in just five years. Just a decade ago, growth at this scale was stuff of corporate dreams. Today, it’s a reality. Which business doesn’t want to be a Canva? Now that Unicorn stories are flourishing, the C-suite is taking note and changing strategies to win in this new world of possibilities.
In this article, we discuss: The shifting priorities of Australian businesses and the expectations they have from their strategic partners to help them win in this changing business landscape.
Shift in focus:
Businesses are evolving and embracing digital technologies to innovate and collaborate, and want to scale faster and deliver a seamless customer experience through hyper-connected systems and processes. They want to listen to their customers, understand them, simplify processes and make smarter decisions through predictive analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML). With GDPR, IFRS and other laws to safeguard consumer interests and data, organizations are increasingly looking to build customer trust by ensuring sensitive data is protected and are safeguarding themselves and their customers from data breaches and cyber attacks. Through all this, they want to build trust, stay relevant, competitive, and profitable.
The story is no different in Australia. With rapid growth over the last few years, we have witnessed the evolution of Australian businesses and their strategic needs. A thriving advisor and analyst community, an open marketplace, and specific CXO forums mean that customers in Australia are more informed, educated, and aware than ever.
According to Gartner, having quality information available digitally has made it much easier for buyers to gather information independently. This means that IT and Consultancy firms have fewer opportunities to influence buying decisions. Studies prove that B2B buyers who are considering a purchase, spend only 17 per cent of their time meeting with potential suppliers. This means that, if they are comparing multiple suppliers‚ they will only spend 5 to 6 per cent of this time with any one sales representative. Customers who received information that helped ease their buying decisions from suppliers were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high degree of purchase ease, and three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.
Essentially customer stickiness to a vendor or provider is becoming difficult.
Customers are looking for strategic partners who can help them move faster on their digital transformation journey.
Expectations from strategic partnerships
1. Faster return on investment
Budgets are a challenge for Australian Chief Executive Officers (CIOs) and Chief Operating Officers(COOs) alike, hindering their transformation to digital business. A Gartner survey showed that IT budgets grew by 1.5 per cent in ANZ in 2019, as compared to 2.9 per cent globally this year. The flat IT budgets mean that Australian CIOs are increasingly cost conscious. They are increasingly looking at Return on Investment (ROI) benefits in the 1st year of an IT partnership. In fact, re-bids are becoming more common in the first two years of signing a contract, pushing the onus on IT partners to showcase productivity and tangible outcomes.
2. Outcome driven contracts
As Australian businesses look for committed productivity and outcome-based contracts at the outset, they are diving deep in to partner skills and capabilities. Can the partner support the needs of an increasingly digital and hybrid (human + bot) workforce and deliver the desired experience? Does the partner have the right skills and abilities to deliver on digital business needs? What kind of investments have they made in digital innovation? How will they be able to help enable analytics and AI so that humans can take up higher skilled activities? What is their skin in the game? These are questions Australian CIOs and COOs are asking before signing on the dotted line.
3. Risk mitigation
In addition to cost savings, risk mitigation and finding ‘safe hands’ are top priorities when selecting a new partner. The volatile nature of the markets and the fast pace of change, make flexibility, agility, and dependability valuable traits in an IT or BPO partner. Transformation and change are the new normal and Australian businesses are looking for partners who can keep up. In an ever-connected world, disruption can be an opportunity to innovate and do things better. At the same time, the connected fabric of people, processes and technology leaves vulnerabilities that can be exploited by mal-intentioned entities. A strong risk mitigation mindset, a holistic approach to cyber security, and the ability to prevent cyber attacks are key requirements from a technology partner.
4. Cultural fitment
Companies are looking for more than just a capable and cost effective partner or service provider. High on their radar is finding a partner who is a good cultural fit. Recent YouGov Omnibus research found that 87 per cent of Australians believe that businesses have a responsibility to do social good. Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives have become more important than they ever were and Australian businesses are looking for partners who share their values and are giving back to society.
Australian businesses, like their global counterparts, are looking to adapt to a digital marketplace and take advantage of the new possibilities offered by emerging technologies. As they race to take the right decisions on Cyber Security, Cloud strategy, Analytics, AI, and Intelligent Automation, they do face challenges that are unique to their region.
Australian businesses need their partners to build trust, understand them and help them overcome their unique challenges and partner with them in their business case creation from the inception.
Tighter budgets, an emphasis on ROI, and an increased focus on productivity mean that Australian businesses are looking for partners who can deliver innovation with efficiency and keep it simple. Having a partner who is dependable and a good cultural fit is seen as smart business in an era of market uncertainties and increased public scrutiny.
There are exciting times ahead in the Australian business landscape and I am looking forward to it. Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more about emerging trends.