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APAC firms struggle with rising customer expectations

According to Forrester’s 2023 Asia Pacific (APAC) Predictions, geopolitical friction, global economic pressures, and post-pandemic challenges will force APAC firms to prioritise their technology investments in 2023. 

However, despite embracing technology-led solutions to improve the lives of customers and citizens, firms will struggle to keep pace with rising customer expectations around omnichannel experiences and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments.  

To accelerate growth, APAC firms will sharpen their regional focus by investing in opportunities that reduce their dependence on global solutions. For example, in 2023, expanding cross-border commerce, investing in digital industrial platforms, and leveraging emerging technologies will be the new growth drivers.

Forrester’s Predictions reports analyse the dynamics and trends in different topics and industries, including technology and innovation, customer experience, commerce, and ESG. These insights showcase Forrester’s bold calls for the next year, helping business and technology leaders see around the corner and gain a competitive edge to thrive in the year ahead.

Regional cross-border commerce will grow by 20%. Key economies in the region, such as China, India, and Southeast Asia, embrace modern payment networks. 

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement will further boost cross-border commerce. Additionally, modern cross-border payment networks are poised to replace the 50-year-old SWIFT system, which the region still uses as its payment infrastructure.

Furthermore, the adoption of in-region digital industrial platforms will rise by 30%. Among business and tech leaders in APAC who view using platforms as a high priority, 43% use industry-specific cloud solutions. 

The region’s manufacturing, construction, utilities, and other industrial firms currently account for 45% of the global industrial sector. These firms will lead industry cloud adoption via digital industrial platforms to deliver sustainable customer value. 

Process intelligence will revive 20% of failing robotic process automation (RPA) programs. While most large firms in APAC have adopted RPA over the past five years, many struggle to identify high-value processes to automate. 

As APAC has 11% of the global market for process intelligence, in 2023, as many as one in five firms in the region will adopt process intelligence solutions to reinvigorate stalled or flatlining RPA programs.

Four in five new omnichannel programs will fail. After the pandemic lockdowns, firms are reprioritising in-person customer experiences to improve quality. However, the siloed nature of most of these efforts will result in disconnected initiatives that don’t meet customer demand for real-time, connected, and personalised services across channels.

At least 50 firms in APAC will be penalised for performative ESG efforts, with five facing severe regulatory fines. Values-based consumers are forcing firms to commit publicly to ESG efforts, but the pressure to act quickly will lead some to misrepresent or overstate their actions. 

Offenders could face penalties of US$10 million or more as APAC regulators follow in the footsteps of their US and European counterparts and clamp down on greenwashing.    

“As the region looks to deal with the fallout from the global economic slowdown, we will see the emergence of an APAC that is even more regionally focused on trade and tech strategies than ever before,” says Ashutosh Sharma, VP and Research Director, Forrester. 

“Reducing dependence on global solutions will be key to driving growth in the region. Firms must focus on accelerating the adoption of technology-led solutions to improve the lives of customers, employees, and citizens.”

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