[TechSparks 2020] Building connections in a digital world and scaling up collaboration

At Techsparks 2020, John Kim of SendBird, Vineet Deopujari of Paytm, Deepesh Banerji of Deputy, and Hardeek Gandhi of Zvolv discussed the convergence of the physical and digital world and how it will change habits and businesses.

In an increasingly digital world, how does one truly connect with customers and collaborate? At the recently concluded TechSparks 2020, YourStory’s flagship event, we caught up with leaders of startups SendBird, Deputy, Paytm, and Zvolv to understand how one scales up a SaaS business in a digital world.

SaaS businesses have seen tectonic shifts, going from cloud to the API economy (which helps different apps communicate easily with each other) in less than a decade.

"Most companies around the world a decade ago wanted to build and own everything before the globalisation of software. Today, engineers cannot build everything on their own. They have to partner with others who build best-in-class applications. This way, they can go to market fast. I think this is how acceleration of SaaS has happened over the years," said John Kim, Founder of SendBird.

COVID-19 has impacted several businesses, leading them to create better practices, optimise different parts of business, and grow during the pandemic.

"People use SaaS to connect with their staff, and retrain and deploy them to new tasks. In restaurants, for example, most owners could redirect employees to tasks such as delivery and customer experience," said Deepesh Banerji, SVP Technology at Deputy.

Every company began to transform their ecosystem during the pandemic. Automation has become the norm as people work remotely. Corporates began to look at how many tech tools they have and how many developers work on these tools.

Hardeek Gandhi, Founder of Zvolv, said there were "three main areas of process transformation". "Companies wanted better visibility, both within and outside the organisation, and were eager to understand the impact on employees and vendors. They had to manage all communications in an automated way. Automated communications have become a reality and everyone wants to do more with less,” said .

In the Indian context, SaaS is ubiquitous. Indian SMBs are using so many apps to serve their daily operations. For example, Paytm is able to work with 17 million SMBs because digital transaction of money has proved to be a boon for customers.

"Commerce and trade are linked to payment, which is now largely digital. We support SMBs across industries by enabling digital and offline businesses," said Vineet Deopujari, VP at Paytm.

Now, it’s all about reinventing the business. "People are diversifying their portfolio of services. Let's take ride hailing for example. People don't want to get into cabs anymore after the pandemic. So, some of these cab companies began to focus on food delivery," Kim said.

In cases of changing business models, digital transformation is no longer a buzzword; it is a reality.

"Corporates want to adopt new tools to give maximum value. It is about driving the value of automation and collaboration if they want to continue to be part of this ecosystem. You cannot be disconnected from digital tools, " Hardeek said.

John Kim of SendBird, Vishal Krishna of Your Story, Vineet Deopujari of PayTM, Deepesh Banerji of Deputy, and Hardeek Gandhi of Zvolv

Gartner predicts that SaaS is a $152 billion market. Along with the API economy, it is only going to increase collaboration. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this change.

The panelists said manual intervention in work processes would now be digital forever. It could start from ordering at home to contactless pickup, and could also mean organisations would track data of customers for customisation.

"Today, a big cluster of customers is making use of food delivery services for the first time. This will now be a permanent change in habit. In healthcare, telemedicine will become the norm. We will analyse by verticals regarding what will become a permanent change in digital connections and communications," Kim said.

Edited by Anju Narayanan