Authored by Jagjit Arora, Sr. Director – Enterprise & Government Business, VMware
Businesses all over the world are embracing the exciting journey of digital transformation as they reinvent themselves to stay on top of dynamic and challenging trade winds. While customer is truly at the heart of any successful digital transformation, it is essential that IT infrastructure that underpins a business is modernized and ‘software-defined’ by leveraging proven standard technologies. The technologies should enable IT to mix and match legacy data centers with hybrid cloud, mobility and micro-segmented security with a significant ability to plan/tune capacity quickly on demand. Infrastructure needs to be agile and new product/service features should be able to be added without the common capacity and availability bottlenecks.
In general, digital transformation can streamline work flows, increase productivity, reduce costs and produce a much nimbler enterprise. However, when you get down to transforming your own business, how do you grapple with it and more importantly, what can you gain from it? The following are the 5 top drivers or motivations for undertaking any digital transformation exercise.
Handling Exponential Growth:
The time horizon of business initiatives in case of online marketplaces or popular ride-hailing applications is hours, days, weeks; not months and years! Business decisions are implemented at breakneck speeds as growth picks up exponentially in the online world. In the case of online ride-hailing services, for example, information such as drivers, customers, cars, routes and times are getting exchanged rapidly at incredible speeds and rides get allocated to customers in seconds. Support and payment/fulfillment processes also need to keep pace and transactions need to get completed quickly. There is a lot of data that needs to be processed before decisions are committed. Smart, flexible and efficient digital infrastructure is needed to enable business without a hiccup.
Speed to Market:
In the online world, speed to market is measured in moments. It is especially apparent in e-commerce portals – be it for travel, hospitality or retail goods. Online marketplaces and travel portals are hyper-competitive and tend to track web surfing activity – albeit subject to user privacy settings – and display advertisements deemed to be relevant in a working window and even trigger lightning deals. These types of targeted sales require customer data to be captured and actioned in moments. Captured data also facilitates trend analysis on an hourly, daily, weekly basis to add/remove relevant features to products/services in tune with customers/markets. This can tip the scales in its favor for the business in a highly competitive and demanding market.
Dealing with Spikes in Demand:
Consider the case of a successful ticketing application for movies, concerts and shows – BookMyShow (BMS). It is typically characterized by small order sizes and big order volumes. How does BMS ensure a consistent and effective customer experience to accommodate demand bursts and surging customer demand? How do online marketplaces handle major sales organized to galvanize customers? The choice of turning back customers is not there or can be disastrous if allowed to happen. They are able to meet these exacting demand spikes through their infrastructure readiness and agility based on modernized digital infrastructure in the form of Software-Defined Data Centers (SDDC).
In another example, a new telco that has come into the crowded Indian telecom sector has exponentially grown its business in a few months riding on complete digital transformation. For example, it simplified and speeded up its customer acquisition process using a smart, automated process that straddles its channel partners. It transfers all the new customer credentials captured with zero paperwork over the network through a secure tunnel and biometrically authenticates it before a SIM is assigned and delivered to the customer on the spot. Customer information does not stay on the channel partner database and cannot be copied by the channel partner. Speed of customer acquisition ensured its success in a competitive market. Modernized and software-controlled infrastructure is helping the telco respond to customer/market demands with agility and efficiency.
Freedom with Control:
Customers these days would like full disclosure and be apprised of all the information regarding products/services of the business they are dealing with. For example, Airtel, a major telecommunication service provider enables its customers to log into their accounts through their My Airtel Application on their mobiles to track their current voice/data usage, tweak bandwidth/billing plans and even pay for them at any time during the billing cycle – all through the application. The important feature here is that the infrastructure in the backend is able to be modulated based on customer inputs and dynamically add/remove resources as needed.
Compelling User Experiences
Recently, Amazon has launched its first no-checkout ‘grab and go’ store called Amazon Go in Seattle, WA. It lets shoppers shop for groceries without going through checkout and explicit payment. Customers just have to gain entry through Amazon Go mobile application. The store is powered by hundreds of cameras, sensors and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to flawlessly track its full inventory in relationship with the customers in real time. A similar head-turner is Mahindra & Mahindra’s “Bring the Showroom Home” initiative that leverages Virtual Reality to take the showroom experience right down to a customer’s home.
This concept of ‘autonomous markets’ is gaining ground with several initiatives by businesses around the world. This very disruptive experiment could mean convenience for the customer and more revenue for the business as abstract payers are known to spend more according to market research. These types of compelling user experiences are made possible when the business powering it is completely digitally transformed and can support emerging business models with ease.
- Handling Exponential Growth –Accelerate the critical business functions such as planning, customer acquisition, delivery and support by fostering collaboration, efficiency and accuracy using proven technologies.
- Speed to Market – Deliver new capabilities into the market and the hands of the customers quickly. Respond to market dynamics swiftly and effectively by leveraging insights from the market and customer data that has been captured.
- Dealing with Spikes in Demand – Effectively handle sudden and surging customer demand with a delightful customer experience
- Freedom with Control – Provide more freedom with exquisite control to customers in tailoring their products/services by tuning the parameters right
- Compelling User Experiences –Enhance and elevate customer experiences leading to higher customer satisfaction/delight, brand protection and customer loyalty.
Once your organization decides to get on the road with its digital transformation adventure, it’s business possibilities are endless. Granted, there is overall transparency and democratization of data as it flows freely with the least administrative approval red tape, but user experiences are the most compelling. All you need to do is to get the building blocks of a robust digital foundation right and initiate the modernization of your data center in right earnest. It can future-proof your organization and raise it to an enviable platform of business growth, customer loyalty, and trust.