Many U.S. CEOs Cite Challenge of Effectively Leveraging Digital for Elevated Customer Engagement

Last month Jen Gray, senior vice president, Brand, Marketing & Creative Services, HelloWorld, told Loyalty360 that, while digital innovation can take many forms and strategies, “we’re seeing more and more brands place an emphasis on using digital tactics to enhance the customer experience.”

According to a new study from KPMG, most (95 percent) U.S. CEOs of consumer goods and retail companies are confident about the growth outlook for the global economy, the industry, and individually during the next three years, despite potential technological risks.

But, 68 percent of U.S. CEOs are concerned that they are not leveraging digital means to connect with their customers as effectively as possible–which is well above only 33 percent of their global peers, the study notes.

Two-thirds of the U.S. CEOs agree that technological innovation is likely to disrupt the sector in the next three years, weakening or eliminating some traditional players. To address these concerns, U.S. CEOs say they will invest heavily in physical and digital infrastructure over the next three years.

One thing is clear, the study notes: Customers are central to the strategies U.S. CEOs are prioritizing for their businesses with digitization through technology transformation, greater speed to market and stronger marketing, branding, and communications topping their agendas.

“Achieving growth is an urgent issue for companies as increased competition from new entrants disrupts the market and erodes share for traditional players,” said John MacIntosh, national sector leader, consumer goods. “Investments in technology and digital to establish better relationships with customers will go a long way in getting CEOs to see top-line growth for their organizations.”

KPMG surveyed 41 U.S. and 134 global consumer goods and retail CEOs on topics including growth, corporate strategy, disruption, and risk.

“While CEOs are optimistic, they recognize the need to continue to transform their businesses to build stronger relationships in this era of the ‘connected customer,’’’ said Mark Larson, National Line of Business Leader, Consumer & Retail. “Technology, as the key enabler to delivering the right customer experience, will play a huge role in determining which companies will thrive and which ones will fall into obscurity.”

Regarding technology investment, 56 percent of U.S. CEOs cited cognitive technologies–including artificial intelligence and machine learning–and 41 percent selected Internet of Things as the most significant areas. But, 29 percent of these CEOs acknowledge that they will need to reskill their current workforce and attract new strategic talent to meet their organizations’ technology challenges in the next three years.

“Although 73 percent of U.S. consumer goods and retail CEOs say that new investments or ventures are evaluated for customer impact and 85 percent say their middle and back office processes are aligned to reflect a more customer-centric approach to their front office, 63 percent say their organizations struggle to evaluate the return on investment from customer-focused programs,” the study says.

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