Protecting market share, strengthening customer relationships and driving efficiencies are top of the agenda for South African organisations.
But many companies are still to face the realities of navigating the changes brought about by digitalisation.
This is evident in the 2017 Experian annual commissioned survey, “The New Frontier: Unlocking the power of data” by Forrester Consulting, where 74% of South African organisations view increased activity from existing competition as a key challenge to their success, with new competition also cited at 62%.
The study was conducted in June 2017 amongst C-level and function heads in South Africa in the retail, telco and financial services and insurance industries with a focus on understanding their business priorities.
“Given the local economy’s performance and as businesses mature, entering into new markets – while protecting current business – poses opportunities and challenges,” says Simon Russell, MD of Experian South Africa. “For many, these are intensified by the digital era involving a constant flow of data and analytics.
“This places even more pressure on businesses to differentiate themselves in the marketplace while improving their overall competitiveness. Our study shows that this is not isolated to South Africa – many companies in Europe and the Middle East are faced with the same, recurring challenge.
“Creating a presence that separates businesses from the pack is critical for improving competitiveness. For many, differentiation is helped by taking on an ‘outside-in’ approach by focusing on experiences, outcomes and desires rather than on traditional products and services, as our research shows,” he adds.
South African organisations believe differentiation, and efficiencies, can be achieved by better insights of customers (87%), expanding fraud mitigation capabilities (84%) and enhancing analytics capabilities (74%).
“Fundamental to all of these is the need to unlock the power of data, an enabler for businesses to gain first-hand insight into their customers and new markets,” says Russell.
Two-thirds of South African companies agree that the effectiveness and use of their customer insights can be improved while 64% believe these are hampered by legacy technology and systems.
Although big data has been repeatedly emphasised, many organisations still struggle when it comes to making the most of their assets and transforming these into insights for their decision-making.
According to the survey, 49% are unable to get relevant insight from their data to drive their decision-making.
It is, however, promising that 61% of South African organisations are increasing their investment in analytics. In fact, 62% have already or are planning to invest in partners that can build, run and manage analytics.
Fraud – another top business priority – remains a barrier for many with 74% of respondents registering increased exposure to fraud as their top challenge. In the past 12 months, 57% of respondents reported an increase in fraudulent transactions. Many are struggling to manage the complexity of fraud (69%) while 64% are not confident they can mitigate this crime.
“Data and analytics, if harnessed to its full capability, can play a role in improving fraud management by providing predictive models to identify risks at an earlier stage and take appropriate action without disrupting the customer experience,” says Russell.
“In the digital age of accelerated business cycles and increased consumer expectations comes the growing need for real-time interactions, where winning or losing market position will really come down to how local businesses are able to make the most of their existing data.”
Overcoming these by making full use of data and analytics driven insights will help companies to remain ahead of the curve, identify new markets, protect their existing client base and enhance their overall customer experience.