HONG KONG - Asia-Pacific markets are diligent and successful in terms of digital transformation within communications workstreams, reveals a new study from BCW, but slow adoption of AI tools poses challenges when it comes to managing content. Despite a desire to increase digital investment by 2025, communications professionals also cited the inability to draw meaningful insights from the wealth of data collected and lack of senior leadership as barriers to capitalise on spending.
The inaugural 'Digital Transformation in Asia-Pacific Communications Study' from BCW's Digital Innovation Group surveyed 182 senior marketing and communications professionals between July and December 2022 across nine APAC markets: China (including Hong Kong SAR), Singapore, India, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
When asked how integrated digital assets are within their communications functions, respondents gave an average rating of 7.25/10. What has helped in this operational transformation is communicators' confidence in their understanding of digital transformation (98%), with 47% claiming to be highly literate.
In contrast, respondents expressed difficulty in driving and managing content due to a lack of using AI or machine learning tools, giving an average rating of
5.72/10. This suggests a need for third-party counsel to maximise the opportunities new technology offers.
“For businesses to move they must move people, and this data tells us exactly how and why digital transformation is critical to demonstrating how communications can add value to organisations both now and in the future,” said Matt Stafford, global president of practices & sectors, and Asia-Pacific president at BCW.
Looking into the next three years, the study found that 71% of APAC companies plan to increase their digital transformation investment in spite of worsening global economic uncertainty. This is driven by:
1. A need to prioritise effective and efficient engagement with external audiences (56%)
2. Planning and implementing effective strategies (54%)
3. Enhanced cross-team collaboration (41%)
The three key areas for investment which communicators also identified are:
1. Digital tool integration (32%)
2. Content development and creativity (27%)
3. Cross-team synergy and collaboration (26%)
This transition will not be smooth-sailing though, with two main challenges foreseen. Firstly, the study revealed an inability to draw meaningful insights from the sea of data available, even if communicators claim proficiency in the use of digital tools.
50% said they need to enhance their digital measurement and evaluation capabilities, while 43% of communicators said they are still adopting data analysis tools. These tools are fundamental in extracting useful insights and driving effective recommendations in real-time.
“With this study, we have clearly identified a gap between communications function proficiency in using digital tools and the effectiveness of these tools to support strategic planning, measurement and evaluation, and cross-team collaboration,” said BCW chief digital officer Joe Peng.
“It is critical they have the right digital ecosystem – the tools, processes, and channels – in place to deliver their strategy and drive meaningful results.”
The second challenge on almost half the minds of communications is a lack of senior management direction and participation in the process across the board (49%). This is regardless of the leadership's ability to recognise the importance of digital transformation. Only 31% of respondents said insufficient budget was a key barrier to success.
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