- A complete lockdown has involved people in an increased level of digital consumption across the world.
- Education, Events, E-Commerce & Gaming are digitally transforming to stay up and active, and are encouraging various conventional industries to get into the game.
- Businesses may face operations & communications challenges that can be handled by taking into account certain aspects while transforming.
While the COVID-19 pandemic crisis presents an uncertain future, one thing that everyone agrees to across the boundaries, religions, races, and geographies, is the imperative change in consumer behavior towards digital preferences. The lockdown has brought significant change in human behavior such as how they process information/brand value or how they engage with brands.
This crisis has forced a lot of reluctant and traditional companies to look at the way they work, they communicate and share resources, as the lockdown renders all the current methods ineffective. In fact, these times have made the companies that were in the midst of transformation or had spent millions of dollars into the digital ecosystem, to put their systems to test. This has overall accelerated the general timelines for every organization’s digital transformation plan. Brands are readapting their ways of creating more advanced ways of reaching and engaging with their customers, especially through digital platforms. Through the past decade, Brands like Airbnb or Uber were able to fight against a human psychological barrier of trust and faith when they made booking services available for houses & cabs respectively, through online platforms. Marketers, now more than ever, are geared up to create such a model or strategy where they take advantage of the boundaryless reach of the internet and engage their audience in a brand story.
In this author piece, Divanshi Gupta, Director, The Marcom Avenue, will be looking to throw some light on:
Which industries are capable of furthering digital transformation?
During these times of Coronavirus pandemic, we have been able to see digital transformation in the following industries:
- Education: (e-Learning): It took the education system a pandemic to believe in the power of learning or taking classes online, and now that they have- there is no going back. The schools are not just providing course material online but are also taking tests, giving assignments, and taking doubt clearing sessions on a digital platform. Many schools are creating an entire platform for the end to end admission process for students and parents.
- Events: Today, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses/brands are carrying out successful events with huge gatherings- just with the help of digital technologies like Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, Instagram live, and these technologies are letting the world do what they want to while maintaining the norms of social distancing.
- E-commerce: Earlier only the big giants like Amazon, Flipkart, or Swiggy were making possible the delivery of essential products to the doorstep of the customers, but now traditional smaller players like grocery stores, restaurants, etc are also tapping this opportunity via their native platform.
As these industries have made their way into the hearts of their customer base with the help of digital transformation, there are industries like the hospitality industry, tourism industry, F&B industry, entertainment industry or telecom industry, which can be digitally creative to make their presence felt to their target audience.
Presently, there are various spa brands in the hospitality industry that are curating a series of quirky, useful, and entertaining visual content with the help of marketing/video agencies to engage with their customers and help them through the process. They are trying to create an online experience of a spa at home with the help of digital transformation.
What are the aspects to be considered when planning Digital Transformation?
Like any other initiative involves spending resources, digital transformation is no different to the process. There goes a lot of thought, value and effort to make digital transformation happen, and to not waste any time and money especially during the money crunch caused by the pandemic, the brands must consider these aspects while planning digital transformation for their businesses:
- The Need: To get going on the project, the brand must have a solid need to do the transition. If the heart and mind are satisfied with the need, then the brand must take it to the next step.
- The Relevance: With the need, the brand must check with the current market scenario for the relevance of the idea. People like to engage with what is relatable to them whether it is in a B2B scenario or B2C.
- The Team: Understanding the need and idea is a different thing, but if you don’t have the right people in your team or the right outsourcing partner- you will be just spending resources to expect a poor outcome. Have experienced, smart, and always-on-their toes kind of people on your team to execute the project. There is no time to experiment and learn now.
- Resources: This is one of the most important aspects that the business must consider while diving into the digital transformation game. The availability of funds can support the brand in the times to come post-COVID-19, but if they drain it all out on an unsuccessful plan- the chances of a business may cease to exist.
What are the major challenges that brands will encounter while digitally transforming their operations as well as communications?
The idea of digital transformation has been in talks for a long time, but not many brands/businesses paid much attention to it until the pandemic hit them hard. The process of going digital involves a lot of planning, doing and redoing, but as it has become a compulsion in today’s time, the brands have no choice but to adopt it to stay active in the game, or else stay way behind in the competition to come. The major challenges that these brands will encounter while digitally transforming their operations are:
- Full-proof plan: Many businesses may be in a rush to just start doing it- without a plan, but without it, it can get difficult to achieve what is planned, and they can end up draining out their resources in the process.
- Knowledge of the Choices: Having a proper understanding of the platforms can help the brand choose the best possible option for them, this will help attain what is intended i.e. customer’s attention, revenue generation, and enhanced brand image.
Some of the major challenges that these brands will encounter while digitally transforming their communication are:
- Choosing the right marketing strategy: This is the time of digital. Every brand must focus on creating an agile strategy. The brand that makes “People” as the center stage of their marketing strategy is going to win. Since there is going to be too much content being produced by every brand at this time, therefore to gain customer loyalty, brands need to focus on connecting the heart of their brand to the heart of their customer.
- Communicating with the Niche: They must focus on their niche audience and not go out wandering to entice the masses. It is very convenient to gain likes, but engaging with the right TG will bring higher ROI and conversions.
Which platforms Brand Managers/Digital Marketers can tap upon to create a digital disruption for the brand?
Digital Transformation is a continuous process that focuses on engaging customers on various digital platforms. Every brand chooses a platform to be present on –based on its brand image and tone. Today, many of the industries across the world are shut not by choice but by default as they are people-based and require physical presence to thrive upon such as events, hospitality, entertainment, and more.
In such a scenario, brands must focus on creating and or enhancing the digital experience for their customers. For example, in case of the entertainment industry- big-budgeted Bollywood movies that were in the process of releasing before COVID-19, can be released on any online video-streaming OTT platform like Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc to draw the maximum viewership and entertain the audience even during the lockdown.
How will the brands pull through this with zero contact with the outside world?
With every process going digital in these times, planning an act of digital transformation for the audience has become very convenient. Software conferencing tools like Zoom, Webex, Google Meet, Skype, and more have enabled the project stakeholders to come together to plan, curate, share and discuss the nuances of the project. The only thing that a brand needs to pull this off during this time is the courage to give the best and most creative solution to its customer base and engage them in a meaningful experience. Brands from different industries have been able to achieve that- Travis Scott hosted a live music concert in the ‘Fortnite’ game, and over 12.3 million people attended it.
There is no limit what a brand can do if they put a thought behind it- with zero contact to the outside world.
Is it a good time to test the patience of the customers with newer digital technology?
Yes, it is. People are bored in the lockdown, they are bored with this routine and to make their lives more interesting- they practice and participate in various online activities like events, quizzes and so much more. A WPP Report (PDF attached) suggests that people are spending 82% more time on social media platforms, and the situation is just the same with other online platforms.
Digital Transformation is inevitable. However, the consumers looking for newer ways of engaging with brands online during the lockdown have resulted in speeding up the entire digital transformation plan in the world across industries.
Digital Transformation: Road Ahead
Today all the more, people are adopting digital technologies and platforms to engage themselves by consuming more social media, video-streaming content, news, games, etc. Digital technologies hold a huge potential for industries, and businesses must make the most of it to build a more reliable and dynamic environment to thrive in the current scenario and the times to come.
Once upon a time, the Cashless economy was a far-fetched dream, but again the use of digital technologies and the power of digital transformation has led the way to the successful implementation of the technology for a better way of life.
by Divanshi Gupta, Director, The Marcom Avenue