The fast pace of digitisation combined with changes in consumer behaviour mean it’s even more important for businesses to stay connected to technological innovations and deliver the best possible customer experience
Digital innovation has become an essential part of day-to-day life, from banking, weather, travel, entertainment and social connection. The digital economy now connects nearly every human and has fundamentally changed the way problems are solved, how economies work and how wealth is created. With every technology start-up or new app, user expectations grow and become more sophisticated. It is this incremental innovation that is now shaping expectations to provide data, intelligence and decisions when we need it, delivered through personalised, customisable and easy-to-use interfaces.
Technological evolution has historically been driven by the business world: electricity and steam engines, for example, were developed with businesses in mind, later being made available to the general public. Yet today’s business world has lagged behind the fast-paced consumer landscape, with every consumer now having a supercomputer in their pocket. It is now more important than ever to understand what a customer cares about and, as consumption and usage grow, more data and intelligence are produced, providing further learning for product and service enhancements (often in real time), which itself leads to even more usage and produces yet more data: the wheel spins faster.
Although these expectations are often difficult for businesses to meet, this growing maturity in the consumer domain presents many opportunities. Social media, such as LinkedIn, democratises the business world and widens opportunities to connect with the market, providing insights into where customers already are.
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented a number of opportunities, particularly where we had to move from in-person events to virtual. Our innovative online offering of discussion and networking opportunities attracted a younger and more diverse audience that historically would not have been present at in-person conferences. Sessions were shorter and more impactful and digestible. These digital events also provided continuous industry engagement rather than episodical. Thus, virtual offerings will likely become a constant addition to our in-person conferences.
However, the new customer expectation creates significant challenges for traditional businesses that do not have operating business models to fit the fast pace of the world we live in today.
Speed in reaction and consumption has become a critical new factor for businesses such as ICIS. Traditional PDF reports are a thing of the past, as we now deliver intelligence through insightful videos, infographics and visualisations from our market experts. Time in delivery being critical here as we look to provide insight and intelligence to volatile markets in real-time.
Business leaders no longer have to just manage capital allocation, and mastering the intangible is essential even in industries driven by the most tangible of assets. 32 per cent of firms in the S&P 500 now invest more in intangible assets such as R&D, networks, brands and data. The phrase “data is the new oil” is often bandied around, and you would expect the chemical sector – the fifth largest manufacturing sector and one in which ICIS is the leading provider of intelligence and decision tools – to be awash with rich sources of this vital raw material, but that is not the case. Commodity markets, particularly chemicals, are opaque, making it very inefficient for participants to operate efficiently. The ability to collect, aggregate, analyse and deliver both information and vital business insights is what drives our efforts, and it is where our core strengths lie.
Our most forward-thinking customers are using data to transform into insight-driven organisations and to use differentiated data to deliver superior experiences, create competitive advantage, manage risk and open up new opportunities for profitable growth. To do so data must be timely, trusted, accurate and useable to produce valuable analytics.
We are witnessing a spotlight on business models focused on easily integrated data delivery providing information where the customers want to consume it and how it fits into their workflow, ensuring they have the information they require at the point of decision.
The way businesses and customers operate has to change to facilitate this. Our parent company RELX (formerly Reed Elsevier) employed fewer than 1,500 technologists ten years ago, but now has 9,000. A third of ICIS’ workforce are technologists. Instead of building disparate products in isolation, our decisions tools and applications now sit over a central repository of data and tools which enable us to extract the maximum value and intelligence from one of the greatest assets on our planet today: data.
Innovation in the digital space isn’t slowing down and it will continue to keep organisations on their toes. Voice recognition, AI modelling in price assessments and contributory data and gamifications are only a few trends that will pick up and again further shift customer behaviour and expectations. Businesses must deliver flexible and customisable solutions and allow users to extract the business insights through attractive and easy-to-use solutions.
To find out more please visit: www.icis.com/explore/services/market-intelligence/digital/customer-platform/
by Dean Curtis, President and CEO, ICIS