How digital adoption and decluttering technology can help startups survive

At a panel discussion at TechSparks 2021, industry experts discussed how decluttering technology can help create an impact on businesses shifting from a traditional to digital model.

As per the latest government data, there are 1.6 lakh apps in India, including 19,000 ecommerce platforms, and about 12,500 tech startups, all amplifying the use of technology at a larger scale.  

The pandemic has led to a bunch of digital-native companies being initiated in cloud technology. In addition, traditional organisations have adopted digital technologies en masse. The digital shift is not only impacting their business but also helping re-evaluate the business model on a greater scale. 

At YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, TechSparks 2021, industry experts came together on a panel to discuss how decluttering of technology creates an impact on businesses shifting from the traditional to the digital space. 

The panel was hosted by Rahul Sharma, Senior Director and Country Manager, Slack; with Jatin Bhasin, SVP Product, CapitalFloat; and Sapna Ahuja, COO, MapmyIndia, as panellists. 

Embracing technological change

Jatin said digitisation is becoming as important as hygiene across the globe. However, the main role of technologists in this aspect is to define problem statements and seek the most optimal solution.

“For instance, we are a digital learning space, and from the beginning itself, our customer onboarding journey has been digital. So, in the early buckets, we tried to make it as digital as possible. However, in certain situations, the human touch became inevitable - we had to send a person to detect the problems,” he stated.

So, digitisation is bound to occur but certain solutions are always not about digitising. Often, they are aimed at improving the customer experience, keeping the business model in mind. 

“Our business conjectures create a digital twin of the real world using innovations. In the last few years, we have witnessed how organisations have started adopting technologies with their usual, manual processes. We have been a close observer of this shift as a lot of these processes require data or maps,” Sapna revealed

Delving deeper into one of the use cases, she added, “There is an app dedicated for an on-field collection agent. Now, ensuring whether the agent visited the correct location, and helping him to reach that place are some of the basic uses where companies have used technology in the form of maps. Again, the companies also need to understand where their customers are, their buying and spending patterns, risk analytics, etc. So, shifting to a digitally oriented platform is a clear necessity keeping in mind the above factors.” 

From traditional to experienced economy 

Sapna said more than thriving in a digital world, we are in a ‘phygital world’, with both physical and digital pieces coexisting peacefully.

“The journey of user experience needs to be taken care of while implementing any new technology. However, at the same time, the delivery and the fulfilment of services needs to be done physically, roping in effort and efficiency in the process. It’s necessary to implement technology for both customer experience and fulfilment, where on one side there is customer satisfaction and, on the other side, efficiency, ” she added. 

The last few years have been more of a ‘technology-first approach’ instead of a human-first approach. But, Sapna clarified that the ‘last touch’ will be of a human. Technology and humans will co-exist in a space where technology does the heavy-lifting, and humans come in when there is a need for expertise. 

“Technology adoption was tougher than it was thought to be. However, once people started realizing the scale of things at which things could be achieved, technology made a wider entry into their lives, making an impact”, Jatin said. 

Technological evolution in Tier II and III cities 

“As technologists, we are responsible to chase Tier II and Tier III towns, while solving their problem statement. Technology can be hard to penetrate, which adds to the factor of banks not catering to these towns.

"As the business model was initially to set up branches or hubs, with the idea that not too many people would avail of that. However, once we had the digital drive sweeping in, it rose to 13,000 pin codes from 4,000 pin codes, in a year. Thus, technology has been effective in deep penetration of credit,” Jatin said. 

Technology enables us to use a service, get an advantage, and then expect the same from any location. Sapna said,

“We are drawn towards the motive of scaling up organisations in the rural areas. Several FMCG and automotive organisations have decided to go rural. However, it becomes difficult for them to penetrate their rural market.

"Technology plays a major role here in prioritising markets, and we help them scale up in the space. For this, we also need to make sure that the AI tools, content, and technology we are providing are up to date, and make them relevant for a particular use case.” 

“With Happiest Minds, we worked on a platform termed Digital Sky, which would help them identify the zones where flying of drones is permitted, the areas that need permission to fly, and of course, the ones where drones are banned,” Sapna said. 

What would be the advice for startups while they start thinking about key competitive advantages for themselves when they start thinking of technology usage?

“Defining the problem statement and getting everybody on the same page is what I would repeat in this context,” Jatin opined. 

“Creating a buyer persona with the confidence that your expertise can plug in something for that persona, and then list the problems that require a solution. Once done with listing the problems, the creation should be desirable, feasible, and viable for your own company, in the long run, to make the business sustainable”, he added. 

“Assuming that they have attained a bit of clarity in what they are doing, startups should adopt an agile way of building things. The main thing is product evolution with inputs from the customers, and that would keep them doing,” Sapna stated. 

To log in to our virtual events platform and experience TechSparks 2021 with thousands of other startup-tech enthusiasts from around the world, join here. Don't forget to tag #TechSparks2021 when you share your experience, learnings and favourite moments from TechSparks 2021.

For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.


Updates from around the world