INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
INTERVIEW WITH MR. KHUSHRU M. MISTRY,
Chief Information Officer & Senior Vice President,
The term digital transformation has different connotations for different enterprises. What is your view of digital transformation? Do you believe that the term ‘digital’ itself has evolved in the past few years, and if so, how?
Digital transformation is all about transforming a company from “Being” digital to “Doing” digital – it is a cultural shift to fundamentally change the way we operate, challenge the status quo, and ultimately deliver value to the end customer. Newer age technology is just a tool to enhance the digital transformation journey, but when utilized in conjunction with “Human Empathy” for the end customers, it truly embodies true digital transformation.
The term digital has evolved significantly over the past years. At one juncture in time, digital and technology were built for businesses purposes only. Evolution of technology brought in the concepts of creating new products services which were digitally enhanced. The Internet has since revolutionized the digital ethos and has brought the convergence of traditional and digital business for industry-wide adoption of digitally enhanced processes. This pace of digital change will accelerate in this millennium on Internet-for-everything, and the introduction of newer age technology like blockchain will pose fundamental changes and challenges to the adoption of digital currency (Internet-of-money).
What are some good practices to build an agile and effective digital strategy?
- Define the Purpose – A digital strategy must have an economic value for the company, its customers, and its staff. It just cannot hinge on the introduction of new-age technology, just because it is new.
- Commonality of understanding – It must be well understood laterally across the organization in a simple but effective manner. It should always portray the message – “what’s in it for me”. This will create immediate adoption.
- Agility of creation, adjustment, and velocity of execution of the digital strategy – Ensure that your digital strategy factors in how quick and adaptable it is to change since velocity and adaptability of your operational model will ensure success.
- A good digital strategy should always invest boldly in its digital capital – Invest a higher share of digital capital into your new digital strategy earlier during the execution phase to ensure that the foundation of your strategy is firmly rooted in the bedrock.
- Simplicity is key to success – ensure that a major portion of the digital strategy must encourage and embody the simplicity of usage.
How have enterprises leveraged digital for business performance?
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a clear delineation that our business-is-the-technology and technology-is-the-business. The recovery of any business will be digital and the only way to stay competitive is to embrace digital to its fullest.
Let me give you 3 examples:
- Hyper-personalisation of Customer Experience – The pandemic has migrated most of its customer base to be online. This has given rise to well-informed consumers who research and compare the products and services on offer. The tech-savvy consumer of today marks their preference for convenience – whether it is the digital channel, delivery, installation, choice of payment with the flexibility of payment, resolution of any queries, etc. Enterprises have used these touchpoints of data and have leveraged data analytics platforms with ML/AI injections to hyper-personalize the customer experience.
- Workforce engagement – The adage that a diversified workforce may never fully return to the office is a reality and digital is the only way to create productivity improvements and interpersonal connections. Collaboration digital technologies like Google Workplace, Microsoft Teams, are being extensively leveraged to enhance employee engagement and effectiveness. Face-to-Face communications using video conference has been a clear winner since it entails the human touch between the employer and employee.
- Better decisions, Faster Decisions – Data Analytics is becoming centre stage of any digital journey and is allowing enterprises to take advantage of Big Data. Enterprises are enabling their products and services to the Internet-of-Things (IoT). With the right set of analytical tools, this data is being converted into valuable business insights that can be used to make more informed, quicker decisions.
There are several examples of lots of digital transformation initiatives failing. Is there any ‘rule book’ or equivalent that when followed increases the chances of success?
There is no golden rule book that will guarantee the success of the digital transformation. We follow a simple but effective methodology which has significantly increased the chances of success.
- Access the strategic impact of digital – Understand how this will impact your customers, your value chain, and employees.
- Set a high watermark for your digital strategy – Digital strategy is based on thinking big. Aspire to move the needle on the value chain and economic benefits to the enterprise. Create the environment of winner takes a major piece of the pie and provides a first-mover advantage.
- Place Big bets but prioritize the digital initiatives – Implement a portfolio-based priority management system to roll out the short-term impact initiatives within the shortest possible time. This will provide the enthusiasm of success since it demonstrates progress to stakeholders and will smoothen the process when larger and more difficult initiatives are undertaken.
- Build Digital Muscle – Digital talent and skills must be built within the enterprise to ensure success criteria for digital strategy. Develop a workforce that is mature to evolves with the needs and pace of emerging digital initiatives.
- Management of Simplicity and Execute Fast – Engagement and execution should be based on the agile methodology of implementation. Each initiative should be a user story that is fully understood and has the buy-in from all stakeholders. Execute the user story and define success criteria. Do not be afraid of failing since the user story can be quickly changed to gain success.
Could you please detail a few key digital initiatives that you led at Eureka Forbes and what kind of business impact these have delivered?
Let me portray 2 examples that have positively impacted business growth.
- CODE – Contactless demo.
- QR Code – Lead generation
Eureka Forbes has one of the largest Direct-to-Consumer feet-on-street workforces which engages consumers at the household level. In the pre and post pandemic situations, it was visualized that consumer would prefer not to allow the sales staff to visit their homes due to safety reasons. To enable business continuity of the workforce and to meet the needs of the consumers, CODE was developed. This is a simple combination of video conferencing technology with content videos of our products that enables our workforce to engage with customers using mobile technology to demo our products and services. Our customers quickly adopted the usage and were highly appreciative that they could communicate face-to-face (over video) and understand the nuances of product procurement whilst ensuring the safety of their families. This showcased empathy and created the Live Time Value proposition between us and the end consumer. From a productivity and effectiveness perspective, the sales cycle of lead-to-purchase was reduced and provided revenue growth.
Within our retail operations, Eureka Forbes provides our products to retail shops across the country. It was noticed that no customers within a retail shop wanted to touch the equipment due to health and safety reasons. We introduced a simple concept of the QR code for our various SKUs and by scanning the QR code via mobile phones, you can get an instant demo of the product. In the back-end system, this generated a lead that captured the details of the customer and the retail shop which allowed our virtual bank of in-shop promoters to remotely engage with the customer and convert the lead to a sale, ensuring that the retail shop also got the incentive for the sale.
Simple usage of digital technology to leverage remote sales ensuring the health and safety of our customers ensured significant revenue growth within our retail division during this pandemic era.