Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Digitisation Has Transformed Your Consumers. Is Your Business Model Well-Aligned?

Published: Dec 26, 2017 06:42:11 AM IST
Updated: Jan 28, 2020 02:32:55 PM IST

Digitisation Has Transformed Your Consumers. Is Your Business Model Well-Aligned?
Image: Shutterstock

Today’s consumer is exceptionally well-informed, choosy, expressive and to an extent impatient. There has been a sea-level change in the way digitally-equipped consumer gathers information about you, compares available products, selects payment methods and chooses delivery options. Consumers expect consistency in experience and product offerings. Companies failing to deliver on these fronts run a risk of getting sidelined and losing their market share to rivals.

Let’s face the music.

Before a consumer visits your store, she knows quite a few things about your products. She isn’t at the mercy of your promotional literature and ad campaigns to know about you. Earlier, consumers visited manufacturers’ websites to gather product related information. Nowadays they rely more on consumer forums and social media.

Brand promotions are taken with a pinch of salt and authenticity of claims is independently verified and shared across social media and forums. Such forums have empowered the earlier lesser-known end consumer and have muffled the loud broadcasts of the brands. Neutral forums are the places where brand battles are won or lost wherein the people fighting on both the sides are consumers of the brand. The biggest endorsers of a brand are not megastars but satisfied consumers who extol brand’s qualities fervently online, increasing brand equity.

All the touchpoints a brand makes or fails to make, affect the experience of the consumer. The days of mass advertisement and bulk promotions are long past. Consumers want personalized service and customized experience, don’t they? Companies are leveraging technology and data to give personalized experiences to their clients.  Consumers require brand communications be tailored to them, explaining how a particular product or service can help in their specific situation.

They want the flexibility to order things from the comfort of their house using mobile apps.  At the same time, they also want to have an option to visit the nearest outlet to check out the physical attributes of the product. A few consumers even expect the products to be delivered to their doorstep for trials and inspection before they actually buy them. Businesses have transformed themselves to keep up with the times and have offered clients an option galore which has further fueled their expectations.

Nowadays the consumer experience has transformed from being a point in consumer’s journey to that of continuous engagement. Companies leave no stone unturned to keep their customers engaged and satisfied through cognitive chats and social media channels to drive repeat purchases and increase brand loyalty.

Digitisation has converged physical and digital experience into a phygital one wherein the digital aspects of a business are gaining critical importance. Mobile apps, websites, forums and social media invade every nook and cranny of your ideal consumer’s life. Today’s consumers leave digital traces for businesses at various stages of their buying cycle. The intelligent processing of the collected data gives businesses a golden ticket to identify action triggers. These data points help savvy marketers understand how their target market thinks, acts and spends time and money online. This data can thus be utilized to offer products and services which are highly customized and personalized.

Bigdata and AI driven insights have entirely changed the process of decision-making for many businesses. Instead of intuition or manual trendspotting, systems like IBM Watson offer advantages of cognitive computing. You can leverage a multitude of data collected across channels and draw meaningful conclusions therefrom to pinpoint accurate trends.  Data-backed and timely predictions of consumer behavior and preferences help plan production, ensure availability and offer a personal touch to the services.
AI-based chatbots give personalized service 24X7 while AI-powered machines drive all insights to tailor the experiences. Companies have unriddled ways to leverage machine learning to analyze data and awe their consumers by offering the suitable products at the right time.

Take Idea Cellular – a leading Indian GSM mobile services provider – for example. The Company is partnering with IBM to transform its business by leveraging IBM's advanced analytics and tools - accelerating time to market and delighting customers. This will be done by carefully segmenting customers and leveraging opportunities from the convergence of voice, data and wireless technologies. This will help Idea meet the needs of its existing 14 million subscribers and will facilitate growth.
Mass digitisation has destroyed the cross-industry barriers to competition. When it comes to consumer servicing and online engagement all companies are competing with one another irrespective of industries they belong to. Consumers compare service levels across the industry and expect all service providers to meet the benchmarks set by top players in any industry. Brand introduction, product packaging, delivery and after-sales services are heavily researched and tailored for different audiences. This increases consumer’s expectations from everyone else too. The sky is the limit for consumer’s expectations today, and ‘digital’ plays a central role in fulfilment.

Business transformation has been an on-going process for many companies across the globe. The case for such transformation is even more compelling in India. The world’s fastest-growing economy already has the second largest number of internet users. This penetration of internet is slated for a further increase with cheaper broadband and mobile phones being made available. The number of online shoppers is predicted to balloon in the next few years with 320 million online shoppers by 2020.
Jan Dhan, Mobile and Aadhaar (JAM) Trinity has laid the foundation of India’s digital reinvention. The JAM-based framework of digital transformation is unique and disruptive. It aims to leverage the power of mobile and digital to identify citizens uniquely and in a cost-effective manner. ‘Digital’ is the key driver in this process and hence will become pervasive as the model starts getting executed across all the tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

Positive consumer experience is the cornerstone of any successful business. In digitally powered consumer-centric markets, brands not living up to the expectations of consumers fade away quickly. But the popularity of those who’ve got a knack for keeping their consumers satisfied blossoms forth overnight.

Every business leader should introspect—is it time to ‘reimagine’ my business model to accelerate my digital transformation?