Advancing digitalisation will remain a top business priority in 2023; the pandemic accelerated digitalisation programmes for many companies, and they will have to continue to work hard to maintain the progress made. Irish businesses across all sectors are using digitalisation to improve their competitiveness.

The shift of B2C and B2B online has accelerated, expanding the reach of new customers and markets to many businesses not traditionally operating in that space. For many companies, remote and hybrid working has allowed them to tap into the skills and capabilities of employees from a wider geographic catchment, improving their workforce, employee experience, and job market competitiveness.

Digitisation and automation of manual processes are also experiencing a renaissance, with the dual goal of productivity improvement and cost savings often targeted, alongside others such as error reduction and improved customer experience. Data signalling and analysis also significantly improve how companies learn from their customer base, detect changing customer needs, and adapt to evolving market conditions.

Future-proofing digitalisation efforts

In 2023 we expect to see continued growth and maturity in digital capabilities. As businesses become more mature and adept at adopting and extracting value from digitisation, we are likely to see a ramp up of new innovations in customer engagement and in front and back office operations.

There will also be great value in a period of reflection for organisations to ensure the digital developments implemented during the pandemic remain fit for purpose. While adding digital capability has been the predominant focus in recent years, customer need, user experience and cost-effectiveness must take centre stage from now on to future-proof digitalisation efforts.

A key challenge for organisations will be to maintain the speed and agility of their pandemic-pushed digitalisation programmes while also “right-sizing” the level of governance and controls that assure, not inhibit, these programmes.

Organisations must be clear on how to “spend to save” and not just “spend and hope to save".

Securing budget for digitalisation programmes

In the case of an economic slowdown, budgets will be tighter for many organisations, and cost reduction will become more central to the transformation agenda. Building a strong business case, that justifies the cost to deliver against potential benefits to secure sufficient funding for digitalisation programmes will be a must. This means being clear on how to “spend to save” and not just “spend and hope to save”.

There is no doubt that digitalisation can be an essential cost reduction lever while at the same time positively impacting the end customer. For example, adding the digital capability to self-service channels can improve the customer experience and reduce the cost to serve. Therefore, teams looking for a transformation budget need to be clever, engaging and evidence-based in telling the story to ensure digitalisation programmes do not stall.

Using digitalisation to maintain competitiveness

In recent years, many of the start-ups and challenger businesses entering the Irish market have strong digital offerings and low-cost operating models. They are built on new, agile technology platforms, giving them a competitive advantage as they can innovate faster than larger, more established businesses with complex operating models and legacy systems.

Their onboarding processes are also typically more straightforward; customers can sign up in just a few steps from the comfort of their homes, making it much easier for them to vote with their feet. Additionally, it is easier for new global players to enter the Irish market in an increasingly digital world. In 2023, Irish organisations should be poised to continue to face new external competition. 

Even digitally ambitious organisations should leave the door open for customers to speak to a human when it matters most.

Human connectedness at the centre of customer experience

Based on the 2022 KPMG Customer Experience Excellence research, Irish consumers still value human interactions at critical points. For example, if they have a problem, a more complex query or need to discuss a sensitive topic. Even the most digitally ambitious organisations should leave the door open for customers to speak to a human when it matters most. While digital channels should always be designed with accessibility for all customer groups in mind, for some, it may not be an option and access to traditional channels for these customers will remain imperative. Businesses should also be cognisant that digital literacy varies across demographics. If they want their digitalisation efforts to succeed, they must spend time on employee and customer awareness and invest in education to ensure no one is left behind.

In 2023 and beyond, both digital and human channels will play an important role, so these channels must be connected. Organisations must build their channels on systems that allow data to flow in real-time. Achieving this connectivity will help organisations deliver a frictionless and continuous customer experience.

Rethinking to deliver a competitive digital experience

As well as connecting channels to each other, a business must ensure the end-to-end operation is connected. For example, a brilliant app or website will be hindered by a trailing fulfilment function caused by disconnected capabilities.

Everything that happens in a business is part of a process, so being clear on how these processes span functions, each function’s contribution to a process, and how processes support customer journeys is a fundamental part of creating a flexible enterprise.

This will require organisations to rethink their processes, systems, data capabilities, team structures and partner/supplier ecosystems to deliver a competitive digital experience in 2023 and beyond.

The importance of digital resilience and data security

As we move closer to the data economy and customers share more personal data in exchange for highly personalised experiences, the emphasis on data security and privacy continues to increase.

As more global data privacy regulations are introduced, businesses that adhere to these laws, uphold stringent data protection measures and use customer data will earn customer trust and grow quickly.

Central to this is balancing benefits for the company to sell more with benefits to the customer. Our research shows that customers are more likely to trust organisations that pair privacy and security with a valuable personalised service. Therefore, consideration of digital resilience, data utilisation and security will be more important than ever in digitalisation programmes going forward.

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