Digital (2)

Pressure on businesses to stay current in today’s digital world is escalating as mobile technology, analytics, social media and cloud computing disrupt current business models. But this disruption should be embraced because successfully integrating modern digital technologies will allow businesses to operate in new and exciting ways.

When we refer to “making digital real,” we’re talking about blending four core models that are crucial to achieving true digital transformation: creating digital customer experiences, digitising the value chain across the front and back end, developing “sense-and-respond” systems, and shaping new, innovative business models and partnerships.

Creating digital customer experiences

New age consumers are “phy-gital,” crossing between physical and digital channels at will, to make their lives as efficient as possible. They expect rich, convenient, fast experiences that are also personalised and available on demand, regardless of channel or medium. Delivering on these expectations requires companies to introduce differentiated operating models or reinvent essential functional areas, in a way that will drive growth and new revenue by giving customers a richer, more convenient and faster experience.

Consider the global car rental company that was concerned with the problem of long wait times experienced by travelers at their rental station counters in airports. We helped them conceive of and develop a tablet-based app that customers could use while waiting in a queue, taking care of most of the procedural data-entry and selection necessities that normally start only when they get to the front of the queue.

Aside from enhancing the customer experience by significantly reducing wait times for customers of this brand, the solution also made the rental agreement process paperless. By the time they roll this initiative out to all of their locations, it’s expected to save the company more than $5 million annually in processing and staff costs.

Digitising the value chain

Many businesses think they can transform only the consumer-facing parts of their business and satisfy customers’ digital needs. But it’s important to also bring digital enhancements to operations, business processes and back-end systems, straight to the sourcing point. It brings faster turnaround cycles, better availability of products and services and makes for a more cost effective operation—in addition to also improving the customer experience.

We did this for a global player in the hotel industry and tied their value chain to a new app that digitally connects business, customers and event planners to hotel services across 500 global properties.

Consider a business customer who has booked a breakfast meeting. She suddenly needs a table with 15 seats rather than 10, wants to change the menu and add an extra person to the wait staff. Rather than making multiple phone calls to different departments, the mobile app gives her fingertip control of everything. It shows exactly what is promised: She can configure her rooms, services and meeting, right down to discreetly requesting an extra carafe of skim milk, via the app, in the middle of the meeting.

Developing “sense and respond” systems

This is maybe one of the most exciting parts of digital innovation: when smart digital systems can use data to autonomously and automatically provide lower costs, efficiencies, risk reduction and a personalized experience.

A major airline company wanted to lead the way in redefining travel for their customers, providing for them not just from the time of departure to the time of arrival—but something that transcended “door-to-door.” This required them to know their customers before and after the time of travel, in their world outside of air travel. This was possible because today’s socially connected traveler leaves a trail of breadcrumbs to their personal preferences and tendencies and will also willingly provide more information when it will improve their experience.

With a data analytics engine tied to a new mobile app, the airline is now able to take inputs about individual travelers and their preferences and push out recommendations or offers that it knows their customers will like—what food to eat when they land, promotions at nearby stores, evening entertainment, and so on.

Shaping new, innovative business models

These are some of the truly large-scale projects that fundamentally change the way a company does business—either bringing it out of the past in order to compete, or launching it into the future before their competitors are there. And in fact, we have an example that showcases both scenarios at the same time.

In 2007, a B2B supplier of manufacturing parts was still selling their million-plus individual products to 300,000 customers via paper catalogs. Mindtree brought them out of the past by digitizing and integrating their assets into a modern, robust e-commerce platform. We also launched them ahead of the competition by making it so robust and easy for their customers to adopt that it quickly became their primary source of revenue. Overall, revenue has grown 100% since the platform went live.

Putting it all together

Of course, businesses don’t necessarily need to tackle all four of these elements at once, and individual circumstances will determine the best steps forward. But in our experience, these are the four things that can best help companies grow in today’s environment, and implementing them should be a top priority.

By Radha R, EVP and Head, Digital Business, Mindtree