Webinar on the ‘Digital Customer’ – 25th August 2020
AMCHAM’s Eastern Region organized a panel discussion via webinar on the ‘Digital Customer’ on August 25th. The panelists were Ms. Ashmita Sethi, Chairperson – Civil Aviation Committee, AMCHAM and President and Country Head, Pratt & Whitney, United Technologies Corp India, Mr. Sashank Yaragudipati Partner, CIC Industry, Consumer Industry, IBM India Pvt. Ltd., Ms. Kasturi Bhattacharjee, CEO, AlLabs & Datacore Systems and Mr. Diptarag Bhattacharjee, COO, Amway India Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. The session was moderated by Ms. Deepti Sagar, Partner in consulting function of Deloitte India. Mr. Gulshan Sachdev, Chairman – Eastern Region, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Quaker Chemical, gave the welcome address and Mr. Joydeep Datta Gupta, Partner, Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu India LLP gave the concluding remarks and vote of thanks. Ms. Amada Kidwai, Regional Director – Eastern Region, AMCHAM, did the introductions.
The session covered how COVID-19 has made permanent shifts in human lives, consumption patterns, preferences and behavior. It has also accelerated a technology and digital push across sectors as physical contact led models were a declining trend. The discussions focused on what does ‘digital customer’ mean for the Indian customer in given demographics and degree of technology penetration, how companies were adopting digital in marketing to win wallets and mindshare and success factors, challenges, scalability, privacy and customer adoption.
Mr. Gulshan Sachdev, in his welcome address, said that amidst the pandemic its time to focus on transformative changes as no business was immune to the impact of this pandemic regardless of industry, size or geography. Changes in the way business think and operate are apparent as everyone adjusts to the new normal with a heightened focus on effective use of digital tools to maintain business productivity. He said he was glad to be a part of these great minds and leadership in the knowledge sharing session on the digital customer effectively converging business and technology, disrupting conventional ways and transforming all to be future ready.
Ms. Deepti Sagar, in her opening comments, said that digital was in everything we do today – businesses need to embrace the emerging trends by being digital not just doing digital. A holistic integration of front office with back office based on tech and digital platforms coupled with omni-channel capabilities and powered by AI/ML triggered incisive decision making would help companies leverage full potential out of digital transformation. Mr. Shashank Yaragudipati said that digital was here to stay and grow. Both sides were necessary to look at — mind the gap in digitizing the demand side of the business vs supply side of the business. He emphasized the importance to know your customer size, scale and segmentation, and to determine the best fit solution based on the sector, format, and demographics and to use digital to strengthen the basics, provide value and create differentiation for your customers and your business.
Ms. Kasturi Bhattacharjee spoke about how the digital customer requires businesses to transform their technology models. How AI/ML were being considered critical to drive competitive edge and revive customer engagement. She discussed trends and how businesses have been embracing this technology in a new normal customer world. She said that customer needs continuously change and one does not know how long these trends would last, and how businesses could make prudent investments in AI/ML at scale without risk of sunk investments. Mr. Diptarag Bhattacharjee said that COVID-19 has proved to be a catalyst in the transition of business from offline to online. Even before the global pandemic, in line with Amway’s global vision and the government’s Digital India initiative, the company was in the process of integrating offline-to-online (O2O) to drive targeted results riding on the global mega trend of social commerce. The pandemic has expedited the process and they have expanded their digital footprint to reach direct sellers and consumers and were strategically investing in building digital competencies to empower direct sellers and enable them to run their business seamlessly. Amway has introduced interactive digital tools and training to assist their direct sellers for continued consumer interface and would continue to bolster digital capabilities for ensuring efficient business functioning.
Ms. Ashmita Sethi spoke about the long-term vision for Pratt & Whitney. She said that data use was one that is fully interconnected across the digital thread of a product from engine conception to fleet operation. That connectivity would drive a significant evolution from today’s more preventative capability to tomorrow’s broader predictive capability and therefore product durability. They have also been building data collections and analytics capabilities across the life cycle of the product. These and other actions would expand their capability to proactively monitor the health of engines on-wing and predict future maintenance visits. She said, in the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business, as a broader advantage the predictive power of AI could bring about a step-change in not just cost-efficiency for airlines by reducing maintenance disruptions from their operations, but also contribute to their operational excellence.
Mr. Joydeep Datta Gupta in his concluding remarks, thanked all the panelists for an informative discussion packed with knowledge. He touched upon the diversity of the panelists from industries where digital was now the norm. He spoke about change in customer behavior and that 50% of customers were now apprehensive about visiting physical stores. When the store goes to the customer digitally, it would need to be supported by a robust supply chain, so that the store does not have empty shelves. This would call for end-to-end digital transformation. He also mentioned that in the context of reaching customers digitally, a lot of data has become available. AI and ML could help analyze this data and predict trends related to likely demand and create opportunities for targeted marketing.