Understanding the modern-day digital consumer

Lebo Mashiloane
By Lebo Mashiloane
Johannesburg, 19 Feb 2014

To enjoy the business value of the digital platforms they implement, businesses need to build connected experiences between, the customer, devices and content.

This is according to Peter Stock, senior manager at PwC Exordia, who notes that information overload as a result of exponential rise in data and data sources; the rise of the customer voice; and proliferation of touch points can lead to businesses being unable to turn the value of content into intelligent insight and ultimately drive intelligent business decisions.

"Across different industries, businesses need to realise that the catalysts of change, namely, collaboration, social media, channel optimisation and integration, data, content, analytics, insight, mobility and access anywhere, impact all levels of the enterprise."

It starts with understanding the modern-day digital consumer and their journey, according to Stock, adding that this journey is shifting from what it was traditionally.

"The buying process is no longer straightforward - the buyer moves from being complacent to troubled, then becomes clear about needs and viable options, before deciding on preferences and opening the way for an acceptable contract, brands enter and exit throughout this journey," he says.

To illustrate this, Stock makes references to his company's consumer journey research, where PwC found that 93% of consumers use public search engines as the initial point of information discovery, 88% suggest that social channels are influential during the decision-making process, 60% will use topical forumsand discussion groups to inform purchase decisions, 70% cite consumer opinion as the most trusted source of information, and 58% publish their brand/product experienceto 'protect others' from a similar experience

"Consumers are 'seizing' control from brands through word of mouth and social recommendations, and there's significant shift towards multi-channel shopping," observers Stock. "For businesses to align their sales processes to the buyer's journey, numerous factors should be considered."

From a business model perspective, for example, he says businesses should examine what opportunities does the digital landscape create for their business and what new value propositions are required to develop digital sources of value.

"They also need to look at how to successfully engage with customers across all channels to grow revenues; drive advocacy and build engagement and loyalty; explore how better knowledge sharing, collaboration and productivity can be facilitated across their employees and networks; adapting business processes to support the production and management of new digital products and services; and, lastly, what technology architectures and platforms are needed to underpin enhanced business agility, performance, security and efficiency."

He points that it's important to question how this changing journey impacts the organisation and enabling customers achieve their goals.

"Essentially, we should get to a point where businesses are able to use these platforms to move the focus from back office to front office to beyond the organisation," concludes Stock.