A new global report released by Verint Systems has revealed that Australia is losing momentum in the digital economy. The findings are in stark contrast to Australia’s regional neighbours, including Singapore and Hong Kong, who according to the report are leading the way in digital transformation.
The Australian edition of the global study, CX State of Play in Australia, carried out in partnership with Opinium Research LLC report, found that Australians as consumers are still quick to refer to a human over digital channels; and are slower than their Singaporean and Hong Kong counterparts when it comes to digital adoption in the workplace.
Looking at the channels customers prefer to use, the demand to engage with humans is still strong (almost 60 per cent of customers like to speak to someone on the phone or in person). This trend continues into the future, with 58 per cent of people saying they will prefer to speak to a person in 5 – 10 years’ time; showing that human engagement remains key for important interactions that can impact a long-term relationship.
Additionally, uptake in other digital customer service channels, has generally been slow (13 per cent use email/SMS; 6 per cent use a mobile app; 5 per cent use web self-serve); showing that while Australian customers may be open to digital communication, human to human contact is what they desire the most. In contrast, Australia’s closest neighbours are much more likely to embrace digital communication channels (17 per cent use a mobile app in Singapore; 14 per cent in Hong Kong).
The report also shows a slower than global and APAC uptake on digital adoption in the workplace (34 per cent in Australia acknowledged AI, algorithms and other automation technology help them do their job more effectively, compared to 54 per cent in Singapore and 52 per cent in Hong Kong.
However, it is not all bad news, with many Australians looking forward to more digital advancements in the future, both as consumers and in the workplace. For example, 60 per cent of respondents said technology helps provide them with more information, knowledge and support to perform their jobs more effectively.
Michael Stelzer, Vice President, Australia & New Zealand at Verint Systems warns Australian companies not to lose sight of the gains Australia has made in the digital economy and urges them to keep up with the pace of innovation and digital transformation taking place in the rest of the region.
“The research shows that while Australian businesses are investing in innovation and technology, there appears to be a lag with our closet neighbours. To compete on the world stage, Australia must reembrace a digital culture, and engage in genuine dialogue with their customers and employees along the digital journey.
“Equally, Australian businesses must get the balance between technology and human touch right. Digital tools such as AI, chatbots, and robots are vital for the low involvement tasks, but they cannot replace those tasks that require emotional intelligence. That’s where the human touch can add real value. This is valued highly in Australia and it should not be ignored,” he added.
In the Australian workforce, only 25 per cent said they have experienced technology replacing manual tasks in the workplace. Yet many more (66 per cent) are willing to try new technology and ways of working in order to be more efficient or productive.
“The message is clear – the fear around technology at work is subsiding. There is an increased understanding that automation technology can free up people to do more interesting and fulfilling work. Businesses who can engage with their workforce in genuine dialogue about the use of technology and ensure their employees feel valued for their contributions will ultimately succeed,” concluded Michael.