"The Focus Is On People Not Tech!" Adobe's Duncan Egan On Digital Trends – B&T

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Duncan Egan, Adobe’s vice president of marketing sat down with B&T to discuss everything from digital trends to working with advertisers.
Why do you think Australia and NZ are comparably more digitally advanced in comparison to Asia? 
“It is recognised that the past few years’ events have turbocharged digital transformation for businesses worldwide.
“Our study found that 77% of APAC practitioners experienced a surge in new customers through digital channels across the region, and 76% observed the emergence of new and changing customer journeys.
While more digitally mature, Australia and New Zealand (73%) still observed significant surges in new digital customers.
“It is aspirational regarding where we are at from a digital capability perspective. Still, we have some clear leaders in the market with the big four banks, telcos and retail companies who have been early investors in digital and technology, which has placed them at the forefront compared to those who only started in the past two years.”
 Why do you think customers gravitate towards digital channels? Is it just the pandemic influence or something else? 
“Our ever-progressing digital society, next-generation, and the pandemic have influenced a surge in new digital users. In 2021, APAC’s internet user population swelled to 1.23 billion people.
“This included 130 million new internet users subscribing to mobile internet services for the first time. On average, around a third of all digital consumers are new to the service due to COVID-19. The past two years have rewired customers to be ‘digital-first’, and customer expectations have shifted irreversibly.
“The scale and momentum of these digital trends are cementing shifts in consumer behaviours and needs. 77% of our surveyed APAC practitioners experienced a surge in new customers through digital channels, and 76% observed new and changing customer journeys. This rewiring of consumer mindsets in the Asia Pacific region creates opportunities for businesses that embrace an agile mindset, collaboration and speed up time-to-value.
“By 2025, a further 333 million people are expected to start using mobile internet in APAC for the first time – and they’re likely to behave differently than legacy internet users. Organisations need to do more to understand better new customer preferences, attitudes and unmet needs to capitalise on a new period of unprecedented technological and social change.”
What has been the most surprising or changed the most since your last trends report? 
 “Unsurprising but necessary is the integration between IT and marketing teams. In 2021, we saw only a third (32%) of IT executives in ANZ who claimed to maintain cross-functional teams to support their company’s marketing technology needs, indicating a need for more alignment between IT and other business functions. In 2022, 77% of APAC senior executives agree that marketing and IT have a shared vision, suggesting that CIOs and CMOs model positive collaboration behaviours.
“It is encouraging to see that businesses recognise the importance and strength of alignment across marketing & IT and implement that in their companies at a senior level.
“Gone are the days when the marketing stack existed in its eco-system, with tools selected and governed by the CMO. To create engaging digital customer experiences, today’s marketing professionals need to work collaboratively with the IT function.”
What are you most excited about for the future? 
“I am excited about the rise in the emphasis placed on people. As technology continues to grow and has never been more part of our lives, the focus is on the people, not the technology. What do people want, how do they want to live and work, and what will make their lives easier? This is a space where we at Adobe love to play and create ways in which businesses can personalise their services to suit the needs of each customer.
“This emphasis means business owners will need to listen more intently than ever before when engaging with customers. The customers are in the driver’s seat, dictating what they want from the companies they buy from.
“I’m also thrilled to see how markets across the region have propelled their technological prowess and are entering a new era of unprecedented change and innovation.
“With superior manufacturing capabilities, homegrown specialised talent, and a large consumer base of digital enthusiasts, it is clear across APAC that we are digital leaders.”
 How are you working with advertisers?
 “Adobe has a long history of working with advertisers to help them create, automate, and scale their creativity. Adobe makes it as simple as possible to analyse and understand the data their campaigns create to give valuable insights into the customer or prospect.
“We are seeing in 2022 more than ever that marketing is less about the product and more about the customers’ needs and how they can be met.
“We work with advertisers through our Adobe Advertising Cloud product, which unifies and automates all media, screens, data, and creativity at scale, giving a big picture campaign view that advertisers need. The days of siloed media are well and truly gone. Advertisers can create ads in every format and medium and seamlessly work with data analytics solutions to measure spend and performance.
“We also work with advertisers to give them insights into their customer data and journey analytics. Adobe wants to help advertisers and marketers use the data to tell the story of their customers’ experiences with their brands across all touchpoints and help keep the customers engaged, wherever they may be. It is all about making things as collaborative, transparent and efficient as possible.
What should execs and marketers be doing to succeed in today’s digital-first world?
“Building a first-party data strategy will be the key to survival, and our reports show that managers understand this but are questioning whether they have the skills to deliver it.
“Today, commerce data often exists entirely separately from data generated by in-store operations. Taking control of this data with next-generation tools would give merchandisers access to more connected insights based on transaction data and other pertinent data across the entire customer journey.
“It opens the door to innovative partnerships between companies, potentially unlocking new insights about mutual consumers. It could lead to more extensive alliances, such as between retailers and CPG companies themselves.”
Where are companies investing in 2022 to get the most out of their digital marketing plans?
“Unsurprisingly, we will see companies ramp up their technological spending. In 2022 alone, spending on digital transformation is expected to grow across the region by 15.6%, while spending on technology such as cloud, analytics, IoT and AI is expected to grow at over 20% per year. 59% of surveyed APAC senior executives plan to accelerate spending on customer experience management, and sixty per cent plan to increase spending on customer data technology in 2022.
“Prioritising the martech stack and investing in AI will drive marketing efficiency and free up marketers’ time to focus on the customer journey.”
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