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Digital knowledge gap affects a third of business leaders: survey

Although more than half of business leaders place digital strategy and data analytics high on their agenda, a third see themselves as having weak or no capabilities in that area, according to a survey by the Consumer Goods Forum and KPMG International.

While 54 percent of respondents cited digital strategy for mobile/digital platforms as top of mind for their business over the next 12 months, 32 percent see themselves as incapable. The results are in line with other surveys which have shown that while mastering mobile in the age of the connected consumer tops retailers? agenda, most are in the early stages of working toward superior online experiences.

?It reminds me of the early days of e-commerce, where everybody now had to address the issue but some were quicker to the game than others,? said Lauren Freedman, president of the Chicago-based e-commerce consulting firm, the e-tailing group, which conducts an annual study of retailers and mobile consumer shopping habits. 

?Some organizations don?t have people who are well suited to this,? she said. ?They also have to figure out how to handle mobile within their organization in the context of e-commerce already being there.?

A survey representative was not immediately available for comment.

Shifting attention
The annual Global Top of Mind Survey, which polled nearly 500 C-suite and senior executives globally, rated the supply chain as the top challenge for consumer goods and retail executives - and as the area most likely to receive increased investment this year.

Thirty-eight percent cited supply-chain management as their main challenge. Forty-two percent placed supply-chain management at the top of their list for increased investment over the next 12 months. This was followed by international expansion (32 percent) data analytics (28 percent) and digital strategy (28 percent).

Forty-five percent of executives said speed and agility is their top priority for improving the supply chain. A significant number of consumer goods and retail leaders also indicated the importance of corporate social responsibility in their plans for the next 12 months.

Understanding mobile's use baffles many executives.

The survey was conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of KPMG and The Consumer Goods Forum during April. It surveyed 469 C-suite and senior executives from food, drink and consumer goods manufacturers and retailers based in 32 countries.

Lack of planning
Executives? attention has shifted from economic uncertainty to data, technology and the supply chain. As consumer demand for digital experiences and ecommerce grows, retailers and manufacturers are looking at how they can meet these needs.

The knowledge gap underscores that putting together a mobile strategy that is both efficient and uses information to boost a customer?s transaction-making confidence takes time and resources and the knowledge to understand how to do it.

?It shows that mobile?s there, people recognize the benefits but it?s challenging to figure out how to do it and for the right reasons,? said e-tailing?s Ms. Freedman. 

?The reality is, they don?t have a plan.?

Final Take

Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.