Digital transformation and its impact on the consumer sector in India, Odgers Berndtson

Leaders across industries are recognizing the power of digitalization and empowering their businesses.

However, for some organizations the journey has not been easy.

Odgers Berndtson invited consumer executives to a dialogue to understand the impact of digital transformation on their business.

Digital transformation in India Key takeaways from the dialogue are: The power of real-time data offered by digital platforms The pandemic has pushed businesses to look at real-time data to stay ahead.

“My 3 big observations about 21st century consumers in a digital world are that (i) regardless of industry, leaders recognize the power of having first-party data to understand consumer insights and it can improve the ability and agility of the organization to better serve customers, (ii) the need to understand customer journeys to create relevant user experiences that impact retention rates/brand equity of a organization in a world where there are a multitude of choices for customers, and (iii) in a world powered by social media, it becomes even more important to offer choice and quality, as the conversation has shifted from campaigns one-sided ads to conversations,” said Siddharth Banerjee, Managing Director – India and Asia, Pearson Education.

The evolution of shopping experience aided by digitalization With the help of mobile apps, a consumer’s conversion funnel from buyer to end buyer has undergone a drastic change.

The decision-making process for the consumer in the commercial environment has itself become dynamic.

A small business owner can easily sell in different parts of the country by leveraging the distribution channels offered by online sellers such as Amazon and Flipkart.

The challenge, however, is to identify products that can be sold digitally and continue to scale the business to greater heights.

“The exciting thing we’re seeing in the digital world is testing a few early digital brands, which we’re incubating as ideas for the future, building on them, growing in scale and expanding.

E-commerce may not always be the most viable option given the high cost of service, but e-commerce gives you the flexibility to choose where you want to be present.

There is no specific playbook, and organizations find their own ways and means to find the right place,” says Achyut Kasireddy, Managing Director and CEO – India and Indian Subcontinent, Mayora India.

How COVID-19 Has Accelerated the Digital Journey While leaders have recognized the need for automation, the pandemic has spurred the rapid adoption of digital solutions, accelerating the transition to the digital economy.

This meant the integration of technology into supply chain solutions, the emergence of omnichannel sales and marketing solutions, real-time data collection to forecast demand, payment collection, manufacturing processes and auditing, etc.

“Luminous switched to a digital-only payment method at the height of the pandemic.

There was huge resistance at first as our distribution partners were used to manual payments by checks and drafts, but they themselves transformed to only accept payments from retailers digitally.

In fact, the entire audit process at Luminous was done digitally, which is a massive and complex exercise in itself.

COVID has brought many learnings and pushed organizations to innovate and digitize quickly,” says Vipul Sabharwal, Managing Director, Luminous Power Technologies.

Digital transformation must come with a cultural mindset shiftDigital transformation hasn’t come easy for organizations apprehensive of automation.

“Traditional industries like metals, minerals and mining, construction, etc.

have adapted very well to digitization.

The past two years for businesses have been about surviving the fittest and fastest to adopt digital transformation,” says Dr.

Prasad Medury, Managing Director India, Odgers Berndtson.

“Digitalization initiatives across revenue growth and cost/capital efficiency pillars can deliver transformational benefits beyond organic revenue growth and profitability.

For example, it is undoubtedly a very effective tool for tracking the entire customer life cycle and determining which interventions can be carried out in a timely and cost-effective manner to improve both efficiency and effective customer communication, social media engagement, lower cost of acquisition, upselling, cross-selling and referrals.

However, one of the big learnings for me, especially as part of a consumer services business, has been that the key to successfully leveraging technology and digital initiatives is to keep in mind that employees are your first customers.

Organizations need to engage employees to facilitate the digital journey and answer the question ‘what does it mean to me’ for them,” notes Jayant Khosla, Managing Director and Group Head, VLCC Health Care Limited.

The omnichannel experience is here to stay Digitization is now an essential part of consumer strategy.

And analysis is the backbone of digitization.

Leaders take a hard look at which channel works for their business, find the right channel matrix, and then ride out the waves of the pandemic.

By partnering with e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, one of the leading wellness and beauty brands could nearly triple its e-commerce contribution in two years.

However, the importance of traditional sales channels such as physical stores cannot be underestimated.

Leadership and talent organizations use a pyramid approach where people with domain expertise are at the top of the pyramid, followed by upskilling existing staff on a basic understanding of digitalization.

It has been agreed by leaders in the consumer sector that there is a skills gap in the industry today.

There is more demand than supply for talent.

Organizations are ready to take unique approaches to fill these talent gaps.

“As executive search consultants, we ourselves are seeing an increase in demand for talent with some level of digital skills at all levels and functions – from CEOs who have led D2C digital businesses, to marketing managers experienced in acquiring customers digitally, to supply chain leaders attuned to digital.

The definition of how customers get to market is changing rapidly and businesses are already digitizing in one way or another to stay ahead,” says Ramit N Bhel, Principal – Consumer & Retail Practice , Odgers Berndtson India.

Odgers Berndtson is one of the world’s leading executive search firms, operating in over 35 countries and providing services such as executive appointments, (independent) director appointments, leadership assessment and contract appointments (interims).

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