From customer engagement to cost optimisation, technology adoption to underpin business revival

From the necessity of digitisation to putting customers at the forefront of business strategy, here are some key ideas discussed in this webinar by YourStory and Vodafone-Idea
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Businesses, both big and small, are facing tremendous uncertainties as the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to affect the economy. Leveraging technology and having the right business revival mindset is key to coming out stronger in the face of this upheaval..

To help MSMEs and startups get on the path to revival and tech adoption and power their future growth, industry leaders and experts shared their unique perspectives on a webinar hosted by YourStory, in association with Vodafone-Idea Business Services, on ‘Leveraging Technology for Business Revival and Success’ on June 10.

Split into two insightful sessions, the first session, titled ‘From Business Continuity to Business Revival', saw YourStory CEO Shradha Sharma in conversation with Abhijit Kishore, Director - Enterprise Services at Vodafone Idea Limited; Ajay Sehgal Executive Vice President – Enterprise Business (Channels & SOHO Business) at Vodafone Idea Limited and Naveen Dachuri, the Co-founder and CTO of Yulu Bikes.

Starting off the discussion about the change in business requirements in the current times, Abhijit spoke about how customer demands are now changing, and how enterprise customers need greater agility, more mobile data, much faster speed and data security. With that in mind, Vodafone-Idea offers customers services that take care of these things in initial phases and now support business continuity as well.

“Going digital is a mindset for the organization and its employees, if they are already not digital. In this time, if one does not have a digital mindset, irrespective of the size, your organization will be a thing of the past,” Abhijit said.

Ajay concurred, adding that for MSMEs especially, the biggest challenges today are payment collection, optimising cost structure, preserving cash and engaging customers. The key to overcoming these challenges is tech adoption and digitisation.

And when it comes to digitisation, startups are perhaps the flag bearers. One such venture is mobility platform Yulu, which has been using Vodafone-Idea’s services, and has benefited greatly from their partnership.

“Monitoring and locating our assets (Yulu bikes) is extremely important in our business. But because of data issues, we often don't know how to locate them. We leverage Vodafone-Idea’s Location Service which tells us the approximate area where the assets are,” said Naveen Dachuri, the co-founder of mobility platform Yulu.

The startup also uses Vodafone-Idea’s dedicated platform for IoT devices to get their services enabled across India.

What is the New Normal?

“The new normal is still in its infancy and is difficult to define a work from home setup. In this situation, the biggest challenge for the industry and people is to ensure data security. One of the big characteristics of the new normal, though, will be online presence and every business needs to be online,” said Abhijit.

As for Naveen, much has changed in the new normal. “In the mobility sector, everyone used to talk about the three A’s - accessibility, availability and affordability. But today, another word has been added - safety,” he said. With this, a big challenge that Yulu faced in the new normal was convincing customers that they could ride the bikes safely, without concerns of transmission of Covid-19. This where communication became a key aspect. “We ran massive social media campaigns and personal communications with customers about the stringent sanitisation procedures of our bikes, the benefits of a solo mobility option and since their bikes do not require helmets, there is no chance of transmission,” said Naveen.

As soon as the company resumed operations after some of the restrictions were lifted, Naveen said that their business was back by 50 to 60 percent on the ride perspective and interestingly, revenue went up to 80 percent. “This means customers are using our bikes for longer rides instead of public transport or shared cabs. We also recently launched a new bike leasing and renting service based on customer surveys.”

While the panellists agreed that the ‘new normal’ is an evolving concept, digitisation on the other hand, has evolved into becoming a necessity for business continuity. And Vodafone-Idea is playing a big role in helping businesses, MSMEs, startups and even bigger corporates to adopt it.

“Less than three percent of companies in India are fully digital. To help change that, we work with both governments as well as corporates. We are creating a portal with them called Tech Saksham. This is a platform which is managed by five corporates for SMBs and startups to drive tech adoption,” said Ajay.

The company has a ‘solution in a box’ for SMBs, startups, or any other business for that matter, that consists of a plethora of services to make digitisation easy. When you are starting a business, you need to have a presence online. For that, Vodafone’s WebBuddy helps you in building a website for your business in half an hour. Need a call-centre like set up? They have a cloud-based telephony solution. So, when customers call a business, it lands on a virtual desk. Vodafone-Idea also partners with other businesses like Google for G-suite for email, storage, collaborative tools, and much more.

“We will keep developing new things, forging new partnerships and keep servicing customers. As for business, digital is a mindset and there is no better time than today to go digital," Abhijit added.

Building a digital playbook

While the first session had a discourse on technology for business revival, the second session focussed on ‘Building the Digital Playbook in current times’, featuring Abhijit, Ajay and InMobi CTO Rohit Chatter, in conversation with YourStory’s Research Director, Madanmohan Rao.

Speaking about the mindset and cultural changes around digitisation, Rohit said that the Covid-19 pandemic has made going digital a necessity, and that India is already undergoing a transformation given how technologically agile the government has become to deal with the crisis.

Rohit also highlighted InMobi’s role in developing the Jan Suraksha app with the government of India, which was launched in just three weeks. It is used as a contact tracer to find out density clusters to arrest spread of Covid -19. If the government is becoming so agile, the country is moving in that direction as well, he noted.

Commenting on the steps that SMBs or businesses in general can take to build a digital playbook for the current times, Rohit added that the first step is to be digitally-able, and have the right digital presence so that consumers can reach out to you. Adopting cloud, making sure that you have good enterprise planning and using the right services and tools are some of the first and crucial steps towards digitising any business, he said.

Adding to Rohit’s point, Abhijit said that getting in touch with your customers is the most important for businesses today and that going digital is the way to solve issues. For the Vodafone-Idea business itself, digital recharging for prepaid connections has doubled in the last two months, highlighting that customers are ready for change.

There is an explosion in the availability of data today, which is key to the functioning of any AI or ML algorithm, Rohit chimed in, talking about the tech baskets InMobi focuses on.

“Deploying AI based systems will generate Return on Investment (RoI) for customers and business as more and more people are moving to cloud-based technology to scale up or down based on their business,” he said.

Ending the discussion with questions from the audience on how to prioritise which technology to use for business, Ajay said that there’s no prescription for the adoption of technology, and that businesses should look at how to use digitisation to make the customer journey seamless. “Post-covid, customers will look for trust in service the most” he said.

To learn more about how to take your startup to the next level, visit Vodafone’s Flexi-kit for startups microsite.

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