The digital wave that finally splashed!

Digital transformation is rapid and has taken over most businesses and social life. To a large extent it is affecting the way we work, socialize, and create economic value. The physical place has been replaced by the digital connect using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Baidu; and video sharing and music streaming platforms such as YouTube and Spotify. These virtual spaces enable communities to exchange and interact in their own ecosystem rather easily with loads of time savings and cost efficiencies. Intensified use of online shopping, video calling, online tuitions and digital payments has increased the number of connected devices. This also calls for beefed up security of endpoint devices with the result cloud security companies like Crowdstrike, Okta and Zscaler have gained prominence replacing legacy services. In essence, cloud, internet of things and data analytics are the key technology enablers of the transformation. This situation is expected to persist well beyond the pandemic as transactions and interactions keep multiplying and more businesses keep adding their online presence. In this post, we will see some examples of digital transformations across various industries/segments and its effects on businesses and consumers. 


Retail Banking 

Customers and banks have been pushed into the future a little too fast. Through the lifecycle of the ongoing pandemic, it is expected that 3 billion customers will access retail banking through digital channels by 2021. User experience plays a major role in guiding the customers through the virtual journey; ~40% of customers feel UX is an important factor while opening or closing an account. It has become getting more personal with customers to deliver content and products needed by them that will boost retention by almost 14% and also increase revenue by 37%. To achieve this, a seamless cross-channel experience is required where decisions are made by the click of a button. The big data and analytics engine running at the back-end provide key inputs to track consumer behaviour and trends. Innovative, secure optimised and robust solutions encompass the agile framework financial institutions have been adopting to be customer centric and drive growth. Using unused data with the power of artificial intelligence (AI) will drive to create new products. 


Consumers are reluctant to go back to the cinema halls however exciting the new movie release is all about. Instead, their homes are getting converted to mini-theatres with the upgrades to TV and speaker systems to watch movies and video content through subscription-based streaming platforms. Around 45% of US subscribers opted for streaming websites to watch new, original content. The case has been the same in India too with significant movies released online and being successful like Soorarai Pottru, C U Soon, Miss India etc…. Premium video-on-demand (PVoD) is also increasingly becoming popular, especially in the US, where people pay to watch a particular movie sitting at the comfort of home and enjoying with family. It’s been reported 51% of Millennials with children rented at least one PVoD film. ‘Trolls World Tour’ a movie premiered through PVoD has garnered more collections in three weeks compared to its 2016 predecessor ‘Trolls’ that did in 5 months!

Small and medium business

To remain competitive and propel growth, small and medium businesses (SMB) have adopted digital transformation with a fast forward button. SMB’s who were procrastinating about the budgets and the laps of change to be undergone were taken on a ride in the fast lane. Customer engagements and product offerings have now been reshaped leading to increased personalisation and customisation, especially through cloud solutions. Chatbots, self-service and customer relationship management have gone to the next level with the help of AI. Thus, around 38% of entrepreneurs and CEOs of SMB’s feel better customer experience will be a key differentiator moving forward. A case in point is UFS Group that has already started to harness the power of AI and data analytics to identify and anticipate the needs of clients. With the ongoing growth momentum, 85% of the cloud based app investments are by SMBs in a market valued at USD11.5bn. In the Indian context, for instance, iQuippo, a construction equipment sales and finance firm adopted IBM blockchain technology. It was not only to build a platform for consumers to choose from different financial institutions (FIs) but also to negotiate through various  online  mediums and to provide customised solutions. Even some kirana shops turned to be fulfilment centres for online grocery portals using digital inventory for stock keeping and making use of mobile wallets to accept payment. 


Much of the digital initiatives by Govt. of India like Unified Payments Interface (UPI), National Knowledge Network (NKN), Meghdoot (the public cloud), Common Service Centres (CSCs) were on back burner for quite a number of years. Outdated public service delivery models have been ramped up in less than 90 days. A classic example is that of Arogya Setu–a crowd-sourced contract tracing mobile app that was developed to provide vital information of C-19 cases across various regions and states in India. IRCTC is also one of the fine examples of digital transformation done right where consumer acceptance and usage increased manifold. NHAI too has gone digital for all its official communication with contractors, consultants and officials. All paperwork has to be uploaded in a web-link that will reduce the malpractices by contractors and concessionaires while improving the functioning and making dealings efficient. 

Digital initiatives have well worked for various businesses that kept it on paper for a long period of time. Having said this, it does require the people mindset to keep the culture rolling in the ‘new normal’. Where companies can make a difference is in asserting a corporate culture which unifies staff, attracts talent and wins over customers. The biggest learning for companies is the agility with which they will have to operate in the future, both in terms of thinking and execution that will help them manoeuvre and adapt in the new environment with ease. 

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Ramnath Sundar
Articles: 19

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