Driving businesses through digital transformation

2Digital evolution across the globe has offered a huge scope for improving business processes, customer and client engagement. Did we ever imagine that we would be able to pay our electricity bills through mobile or influence the entire spectrum of business activity through Social Media. In this blog post Ram Sarvepalli, Partner & Deputy Leader, Advisory Services, EY shares his viewpoint on how digitalization is constantly bringing path-breaking changes in the working of economies around the world.

Today the digital disruptions are faster than the business leaders anticipated them to be. This is particularly true in the case of the IT, telecommunication, media and entertainment, retail, banking and life sciences sectors. In this volatile and dynamic environment, the question really is this: are businesses prepared to handle such disruptions? Most of the mature economies are already riding the digital transformation wave. Emerging economies such as India, on the other hand, are yet to experience the scale of this transformation.

Did we ever imagine that we would be able to pay our electricity bills or transfer money through mobile? This is now not just the latest trend, but a business enabler. The impact is visible. For instance, Wal-Mart’s mobile app results in two extra visits to the store and a 40% additional spend per month per customer. The role of digital mobile technologies is not limited to the B2C channel. These now find application in direct employee-employee engagement and employee-customer interaction through enterprise mobility.

Enterprise mobility around the globe and in India is set to take off. India’s enterprise mobile workforce is set to grow to 205 million by 2015. Of this total, almost 65% will be equipped with smart mobile devices. Most Indian organizations are reportedly keen on providing business applications such as CRM and ERP on mobility devices such as tablets and mobile handsets. Companies from various sectors, particularly, consumer products, health care and financial services, will have to come up with ways to link mobile applications and enterprise needs.

Business leaders would also be required to introduce a culture of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to enable movement between work locations and create the desktop environment via personal applications and data. Organizations will need to evaluate the business case for VDI deployment, take into account improved security and control, ease of maintenance and upgrades and storage consolidation that come along with VDI, rather than basing it purely on cost.

Social media is influencing the entire spectrum of business activity ranging from product development, and marketing and sales to customer support. To draw the maximum benefit, companies are integrating social media strategies into their routine products and services. For instance, Burberry customers are personally greeted at stores, based on information collected from their social media profiles.

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, close to 80% of global companies already use or are planning to use social media. Interestingly, the uptake of social media is higher among Indian organizations than the global average and their counterparts in emerging economies. They use social media for online monitoring, response management, customer service and lead generation. However, with increased usage of social media, the governance and risk handling becomes extremely important.

Creating rigorous social media strategies and policies is necessary to ensure consistent customer experiences, reliable content creation, and proper data governance and regulatory compliance. The social media strategy of companies will vary depending on whether they are B2B or B2C, the industry of operation (e.g., heavily versus lightly regulated) and a variety of corporate culture factors (e.g., risk-averse versus risk-taking).

Businesses also need to be mindful while allocating budget for social media. This is particularly true in the Indian framework, where companies face the ongoing challenge of meeting customers’ evolving demand on a regular basis.

Companies using Analytics can have a more complete picture of their customers, products, operations and competitors. As a result, they are equipped to drive innovation (new products and services), as well as achieve operational efficiency, customer delight, increased revenue and low costs. An analytics-based service delivery model increased promotional sales by 600% for a company recently.

Indian companies are at a nascent stage of adopting Big Data, especially small and medium enterprises. The country needs to understand the huge potential and opportunity offered by analytics. According to NASSCOM, the big data market in India will grow to US$1 billion by 2015. New forms of fast-changing data (unstructured/semi-structured data) such as social media data, streaming videos, location data and emails are becoming increasingly relevant. The growing relevance of unstructured data will require Indian organizations to identify and tap relevant sources of unstructured data. The BFSI, IT/ITeS, media and entertainment, telecom and pharmaceutical sectors are expected to lead in big data-related analytics adoption in India.

However, currently, organizations find it difficult to define big data and its relevance for business solutions. Another challenge is identifying the vendors/providers of these solutions. All of the global solutions are not suitable for Indian companies, and they need to be modified. Companies require strategic guidance on choosing an appropriate vendor for implementing a successful big data solution. Additionally, they have to create a conducive data-centric culture, invest in building skills sets to drive big data, and most importantly, measure returns of big data initiatives vis-à-vis its investments.

In India, cloud services are being used by both the Government (for large initiatives such as Aadhar and National Population Register) and businesses (engagement and data sharing). The growing demand for cloud is pushing the need to rethink business architecture; cloud security and governance risks; licensing agreement with service providers, and the service management of data. The decision to embrace cloud computing is more of a risk-based decision than a technology-focused one. The risks and benefits of cloud services differ across companies. For instance, IaaS offers more control and transparency for information storage than SaaS. Companies across sectors need to be able to acknowledge the opportunity offered by these services. Education, health care, etc., stand to gain immensely by implementing such services.

The digital revolution will continue to attain its next level. This will play a role in how businesses think and operate. As a result, the latest disruptions created through these technologies will be more dynamic than those created by their predecessors. Although top-level leaders realize the transformative power of digital, they struggle to execute these initiatives. At such a juncture, they need professional advice to be able to create a new sales channel and a platform for improving engagement through these technologies. Digital technologies offer huge scope for improving businesses processes, and customer and client engagement.

The intersection of mobility, analytics, and social and cloud computing will continue to significantly influence enterprise communication, along with the underlying trends of consumerization. Companies that are ignorant to this trend face the danger of being proven redundant.

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