With Chinese businesses increasingly focusing on mobile and social consumers, they have often found it a tough challenge to address the issue of talent gaps.
There is no doubt that for businesses in China today, all roads lead to digital. PwC's 17th Annual CEO Survey found that 85 percent of Chinese CEOs cite technology as the primary force shaping their business.
And more than anywhere else, it sees mobile and social technologies characterizing what it means to be digital in China. These investments have been driven by a desire to go where the customer is.
PwC's Entertainment and Media Outlook 2014 confirms that Chinese consumers have adopted mobile as the dominant device to access the Internet.
In fact, 2015 will be an inflection point in China, where consumer spend on mobile Internet access will exceed fixed broadband for the first time.
PwC's Global Total Retail Survey 2013 found that Chinese consumers were twice as likely to let social media networks influence their purchase decisions as their global peers.
Despite products and services being adapted to enhance consumers' digital lifestyles, PwC's Digital IQ Survey 2014 found a majority of businesses in China cite a distinct gap between digital strategy and execution.
For example, although Chinese businesses have chosen mobile as the primary device, many fail to consider how it can improve customer experience more broadly.
While many businesses engage across multiple social platforms, there is a lack of understanding on turning mobile strategy into tangible business impact.
Chinese businesses need to look beyond customer interfaces and consider how mobile and social technologies can be integrated in the organization itself.
PwC research shows Chinese businesses are leaving value on the table and are under-represented when investing in these Internal digital solutions.
Strong partnerships between IT and marketing departments are needed to build digital solutions that are operationally feasible, economically viable and desired by users.
To move from strategy to execution and turn plans into action, companies need to find a way to fill the digital skills gap in China.
PwC's Digital IQ survey revealed one crucial element to close the skills gap is to foster a new way of working, with more flexible, cross-functional and multi-disciplinary teams that are often assembled (and subsequently dissolved) to solve a discrete customer outcome and measured with key performance indicators that are different from the traditional business.
Many Chinese businesses might also need to bring in entirely new talent. For many traditional businesses just beginning to grapple with e-commerce, these specific skills are unlikely to be found in-house.
Colin Light is partner and digital consulting leader, while Tom Birtwhistle is manager, digital strategy at PwC China & Hong Kong.
E-commerce law being drafted
The booming online shopping market will soon be covered by the legal system, with a draft of China's first e-commerce law expected to be completed during the second half of this year, the Economic Information Daily reported on Wednesday.
It said that "relevant organizations" aim to have an outline of the law by March. After consulting with government departments, e-commerce companies, industry associations and experts, the draft law is expected to be submitted to the Financial and Economic Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature.
Existing laws can not keep pace with the rapid development of the country's e-commerce sector. There are challenges in online transaction security, intellectual property rights protection and the protection of consumers' rights.