Not every business sees digital transformation as a burning problem. However, the momentum for digital disruption is building and laggard industries such as manufacturing, consumer goods, traditional brick ‘n mortar and pharmaceutical are at risk. These industries are yet to embrace new digital technologies, even though the long-term benefits are significant.
Businesses at the forefront of the digital era in India — such as e-commerce startups, travel and hospitality and banking — have made good strides in redesigning the technology framework of their businesses to adopt digital.
They see on a day-to-day basis the benefits of digital marketing. However, the challenge of engaging digitally with customers is a steep learning curve. Whilst learnings and digital strategies are maturing, the technology backend for many of these businesses is holding them back from making real gains.
The digital set-up tools and technologies don’t necessarily talk to each other. Data silos abound which has led to the deployment of multiple analytics tools throughout organisations. The goal of a unified platform to engage customers throughout their lifecycle and via multiple platforms is, for many, still a dream.
Whilst organisations in these industries are reaping the benefits of adopting the digital mindset, other sectors are not so progressed.
Since smartphones are now at a more affordable level in India, app usage has spiraled, driven by millennials and mobile-savvy consumers. Digitally advanced companies are shaping consumer behaviour. As a consequence, consumers now expect a similar level of service from all businesses they interact with – whether they are advanced in their digital strategy or not.
The retail industry, for one, has been slow to capitalise on this trend. I believe the digital influence is not at the ‘do or die’ stage yet for this sector so the perceived value benefit is quite low.
Another sector that has been slow to grasp the changing digital environment is pharmaceutical and health care. Individuals are taking greater control of their own health treatments. Pharma companies must recognise this new decision-making power and develop better ways to engage with consumers. The clinical environment is also changing fundamentally. Physicians’ time will change dramatically. Shifting to spending a smaller proportion of their time ordering diagnostics and interpreting results to more on the social elements of healthcare – helping patients and families think through treatment options.
Mobile communications, the cloud, advanced analytics, and the Internet of Things are among the innovations that are starting to transform these industries. Yet many find it hard to determine what initiatives to scale up and how as they are still unclear what digital success will look like five years from now.
The mindset is slow, steady and small investments. However, what they are missing out on are digital learnings. The longer organisations delay in making a strong commitment to digital, the more learnings they are missing out on.
I believe the competitiveness of companies that have not started their digital transformation will be affected in the long run, if not the immediate future. The time to get a foothold into the digital era is now!