On­line firms need to fill the gap in dig­i­tal skills

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By COLIN LIGHT and TOM BIRTWHIS­TLE in Beijing

With Chi­nese busi­nesses in­creas­ingly fo­cus­ing on mo­bile and so­cial con­sumers, they have of­ten found it a tough chal­lenge to ad­dress the is­sue of tal­ent gaps.

There is no doubt that for busi­nesses in China to­day, all roads lead to dig­i­tal. PwC’s 17th An­nual CEO Survey found that 85 per­cent of Chi­nese CEOs cite tech­nol­ogy as the pri­mary force shap­ing their business.

And more than any­where else, it sees mo­bile and so­cial tech­nolo­gies char­ac­ter­iz­ing what it means to be dig­i­tal in China. Th­ese in­vest­ments have been driven by a de­sire to go where the cus­tomer is.

PwC’s En­ter­tain­ment and Me­dia Out­look 2014 con­firms that Chi­nese con­sumers have adopted mo­bile as the dom­i­nant de­vice to ac­cess the In­ter­net.

In fact, 2015 will be an in­flec­tion point in China, where con­sumer spend­ing on mo­bile In­ter­net ac­cess will ex­ceed fixed broad­band for the first time.

PwC’s Global To­tal Re­tail Survey 2013 found that Chi­nese con­sumers were twice as likely to let so­cial me­dia net­works in­flu­ence their pur­chase de­ci­sions as their global peers.

De­spite prod­ucts and ser­vices be­ing adapted to en­hance con­sumers’ dig­i­tal life­styles, PwC’s Dig­i­tal IQ Survey 2014 found a majority of busi­nesses in China cite a dis­tinct gap be­tween dig­i­tal strat­egy and ex­e­cu­tion.

While many busi­nesses en­gage across mul­ti­ple so­cial plat­forms, there is a lack of un­der­stand­ing on turn­ing mo­bile strat­egy into tan­gi­ble business im­pact.

Chi­nese busi­nesses need to look beyond cus­tomer in­ter­faces and con­sider how mo­bile and so­cial tech­nolo­gies can be in­te­grated in the or­ga­ni­za­tion it­self.

PwC re­search shows Chi­nese busi­nesses are leav­ing value on the ta­ble and are un­der-rep­re­sented when in­vest­ing in th­ese In­ter­net dig­i­tal so­lu­tions.

Strong part­ner­ships be­tween IT and mar­ket­ing de­part­ments are needed to build dig­i­tal so­lu­tions that are op­er­a­tionally fea­si­ble, eco­nom­i­cally vi­able and de­sired by users.

To move from strat­egy to ex­e­cu­tion and turn plans into ac­tion, com­pa­nies need to find a way to fill the dig­i­tal skills gap in China.

PwC’s Dig­i­tal IQ survey re­vealed one cru­cial el­e­ment to close the skills gap is to foster a new way of work­ing, with more flex­i­ble, cross-func­tional and multi-dis­ci­plinary teams that are of­ten as­sem­bled (and sub­se­quently dis­solved) to solve a dis­crete cus­tomer out­come and mea­sured with key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors that are dif­fer­ent from the tra­di­tional business. Colin Light is part­ner and dig­i­tal con­sult­ing leader, while Tom Birtwhis­tle is man­ager, dig­i­tal strat­egy at PwC China & Hong Kong.

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