Sunday, 24 September 2017

How the Digital has changed the way we communicate

Digital Transformation has impacted every business on earth and all aspects of life today. 

Communication is the most impacted area of our life.

Way back in 1997, most of the communication was in printed form – we used to write down our contacts in a diary, read the latest news in newspapers which still exists, there were printed magazines, retailers like Argos, Radio Shack, Ikea had printed catalog of their products. We used to get that free on the doorstep and then used to cut few coupons to get discounts at the store.

Now fast forward to 2017, Today we live in “always on, always connected” world with communication from all directions.

Social Media has stormed into our world. The moment you get up in the morning, you see alerts of birthdays of your friends on Facebook, messages from Instagram or official email communication on your smartphone.

You start for your office and you get google map alert of drive time to the office. While in office you get a variety of communications from senior management on company vision to various policies from HR, to transport and other facility related stuff from Admin.

In the evening when you head back home, you get relevant personalized communications while you are driving thru city on offers, discounts, sales and the list goes on.

One of the most prominent aspects of change we have experienced this digital age is the increased number of ways we can now communicate with each other.

Employee communication plays an important role to change the culture for digital. When employees feel like they have a stake in the outcome, have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities they are more engaged and effective.

Similarly, customer experience is the biggest driver for digital communication. They seek relevant, personalized communication in real time.

There are so many examples of digital revolution in Communication:
·       Thinking mobile first for young generations
·       Creating chatbots for quick query resolution instead of calling the customer service and waiting on line
·       Creating social media strategy for customer connect
·       Giving customer service on any device, any place and anytime
·       Providing news and reminders on smartphones

Communication to customers, external media, and influencers as well as to employees is important in this digital age.

Communication has changed a lot since last few decades.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Digital Transformation in the Fashion Industry

Gone are the days when brand communication was mostly made up of ads that appeared on billboards, in magazines and/or on television. Today, all of this is augmented with Digital revolution.

The fashion industry is engaging with digital technology in new and different ways, in order to stay competitive and to engage with the ways that consumers are searching for jewelry, clothes, and accessories.

Technology is turning the fashion industry inside out. Today, consumers are most active as digital shoppers in the Fashion industry and are demanding a heartening digital experience across channels. People love the brick-and-mortar stores but also exploit online channels through social media, while on the go and online. These Omni-channel experiences should provide customers with a “wow” factor and Digital Transformation is the way to achieve this objective.

In today’s fashion world, competition is fiercer than ever, giving consumers’ far greater power & they demand only the very best customer service. Most of the fashion brands now have a social media presence on Pinterest, Instagram presence, tapping into our heightened engagement with imagery.

It can take many years to build a successful brand, but only a short time to destroy it. Fashion brands have always needed to be ready and able to respond to issues of uncertainty, risk, and reputation, all at varying times.

Burberry is the posterchild in digital for fashion that started with live streaming runshows. Then came iPads and mobile apps for consumers to try out different outfits.

In Paris, a window front invites passers-by to download the Louis Vuitton Pass app in order to interact with the window and explore.

L’OrĂ©al has put up a 'social wall' on its main website so consumers can share posts while shopping.

Harrods is the latest luxury retailer to transform its in-store experience with digital technology. They have many new super-high resolution stairwell displays at the flagship Knightsbridge, London store

Adidas has a store wall which shows shoe collections in 3D to see shoe designs from all angles.

With this availability of streaming big data and resultant analytics, fashion brands use the insights for hyper-personalization, align consumer experience and to track customer trends. The customer’s data is the core component of digital transformation in the fashion industry. So, hyper-personalization of mobile retail experiences will be huge in the near future.

Today, dressing rooms enhanced with augmented reality and social media features have transformed the shopping experience altogether. L’Oreal, Maybelline have already started testing special kiosks that enable shoppers to virtually try on makeup by simply taking a picture.

Even the most successful digital retail experiences are built from desktop experiences but the future is in mobile with a predicted 80% of sales traffic coming via this medium.

With digital at a side, fashion weeks across London, Paris, Milan & New York witness runway shows streamed online, Instagram & snapchat stories in real time, creating a close connection between consumers and brands. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

How machine learning APIs are impacting businesses?

In this Digital age, every organization is trying to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to their internal and external data to get actionable insights which will help them to be closer to today’s customer.

A few years back it was the field only for data scientists and statisticians, who used to analyze the data, apply several techniques and provide results.

Today many of the organizations are using APIs to access the ready-made algorithms available in the market as they make it easy to develop predictive applications. In fact, you don’t even need to have an in-depth knowledge of coding or computer science to introduce them into your apps.

APIs provide the abstraction layers for developers to integrate machine learning into real world applications without worrying about which technique to use or how to scale the algorithm to their infrastructure.

These APIs can be categorized broadly into 5 groups:
·        Image and Face Recognition: It understands the content of the image, classifies the image into various categories, detects individual objects and faces, detects labels and logos from the images.
·        Language Translation: Translate text between thousands of languages, allows you to identify in which language any text that you need to analyze was written. Some APIs allows organizations to communicate with the customer in their language.
·        Speech Recognition and Conversion: Today most of the customer service is handled by Chatbots with underlying APIs helping simple question and answer. Speech to text APIs are used to convert call center voice calls into text for further analysis.
·        Text /Sentiment Analytics using NLP: With the rise of Social Media, consumers easily express and share their opinions about companies, products, services, events etc. Companies are interested in monitoring what people say about their brands in order to get feedback or enhance their marketing efforts. These APIs can identify, analyze, and extract the main content and sections from any web page. They further help in to analyze unstructured text for sentiment analysis, key phrase extraction, language detection and topic detection. There are some tools also helps in spam detection.
·        Prediction: These APIs, as the name suggests helps to predict and find out patterns in the data. Typical examples are Fraud detection, customer churn, predictive maintenance, recommender systems and forecasting etc.

Google Cloud, Microsoft Cognitive Services, Amazon Machine Learning APIs & IBM Watson APIs are the leaders in the market.

With growing number of free/reasonably priced APIs and tsunami of data generated every day, the race is on as to which is the best Machine Learning API.

These machine learning APIs are not yet perfect or matured and they will take some time to learn and act accurately. But they allow faster time to market-based on ready availability, rather than asking data scientist to code the algorithms.

In future, machine learning will lead to revolutions that will intensify human capabilities, assist people in making good choices and help navigate through the world in powerful ways, like Iron Man's Jarvis.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

How do you measure the success of Digital Transformation?

Digitization is disrupting every business and is spreading like a wild fire across every sector such as Banking, Financial Services, Insurance, Retail, and Manufacturing.

Digital Transformation does not happen overnight. It is a continuous process. That is why it is very hard to plan too far ahead in a digital transformation program. The technology is evolving so rapidly that your plans will certainly change.

How do you measure return on digital transformation in order to make the timely course correction and improve its success rate? It is even more important that people who will measure the progress know the actual meaning of digital and customer behavior. You will be surprised to know that how many employees/leaders take the customer journey themselves – buying an online policy on their own website, purchasing a merchandise or calling their own customer center to complain.

One of the ways is to break the long term plan into small doable projects with specific KPI’s. These should not last more than six months.

While traditional metrics of revenue, costs, customer satisfaction should be measured, companies should move beyond these quarterly revenue and margin guidance as they keep pulling them back to short term tactical focus. The new metrics have to be added to get the right control and visibility of progress.

Some of the new metrics which can be considered are:
·       % of marketing spend that is digital
·       Brand value in market
·       Reach of organization in the market
·       Digital maturity quotient of the employees including board and senior leaders 
·       % revenue through digital channels
·       Contribution to digital initiatives from each department like purchasing, finance, HR, IT, Sales & Marketing

Customer Focus:
·       Net promoter score
·       Rate of new customer acquisition
·       Number of customer touch points addressed to improve customer experience positively
·       % increase in customer engagement in digital channels
·       Reduction in time to market new products to customers
·       Change in customer behavior over time across channels

Return on innovation:

·       % of revenue from new products/services introduced
·       % of the profit from new ideas implemented
·       Number of innovative ideas reach concept to implementation
·       Number of new products or services launched in the market
·       Number of new business models adopted for different class of customers
·       Rate of new apps and APIs to offer new products/services inside and outside the company

Always keep these metrics simple and measure right things and celebrate even the small successes so employees are motivated.

A digital transformation is a big culture change so there is plenty of fear which leads to resistance. Such inertia has to be changed with clear communication, as to why it is needed to change and what benefits it will bring to each department and employee.


A lack of urgency is the greatest obstacle businesses face when considering the value of digital transformation. Proper planning is important but more than that execution as per the KPIs you select, is what take you through.

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