A new study by Accenture suggests the region's businesses are not taking full advantage of the interactive opportunities presented by digital technologies.
The survey, which covered some 400 businesses executives across six Southeast Asian markets shows that 66% of respondents say they face challenges in meeting customer service expectations; and yet only 34% say customer-facing digital strategies are at the heart of their corporate strategy.
A further two thirds (63%) of responding companies complained they face challenges in finding talent with the right digital experience.
According to the research, Southeast Asian companies are not seizing the potential of digital technologies and are largely using social media platforms for 'broadcasting' information, rather than engaging in any form of co-creation or dialogue with their consumers.
The report found that 81% of companies surveyed use digital channels to provide basic product or service information; and only 58% tap into multimedia. 63% provide real-time customer service advice, but only 51% solicit ideas and innovations, while 56%t listen to and track customer responses.
According to the survey, companies which are newer to digital strategy are at the beginning of the curve and hence employ Web 1.0 initiatives such as websites and online advertising.
The survey shows that while almost one third (29%) of responding companies say they have not changed their digital spend over the past year and are not planning on changing in the next 12 months, a majority (51%) say they are seeing small net spend increases on customer-facing digital strategies. Fifteen percent say they have increased and are increasing their digital spend by over 50%. However, more than half (52%) of businesses say they are not measuring the ROI of customer-facing digital activities.
"The Southeast Asia region is no longer a 'future potential' digital market but already has among the world's most active digital consumers," said Trent Mayberry, Managing Director, Technology, ASEAN, Accenture. "Yet, our research shows that businesses have yet to make digital strategies central to their thinking and are not using the interactive kinds of technologies that the region's technology savvy consumers would expect from them. This points to a good business case for more investment, but also for more effective measurement of the return on that investment."