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December 27, 2021

Ever wondered what's really up with Amazon's benevolent cashback? Literally paying to make payments! As utopian as it might seem, the fact is when Amazon Pay is the preferred transaction method, merchants are charged a nominal processing fee. Part of this fee is given as cashbacks to end users; thus, converting spending into earning.  Such novel models are emerging quite seamlessly and hastily across industries to captivate customers. Thereby necessitating every provider and prosumer to re-think their existing business models in order to future-proof their business.

Time and again, the examples of Blockbuster, Nokia, Kodak, and many more have been reiterated, highlighting their lack of agility that eventually led to their doom. But had it been that easy, these companies also would have understood the criticality and would have been better prepared to adapt themselves to sail through the market dynamics. Hence, it’s vital to continuously capture the ever-evolving consumer needs and address them with befitting solutions.

The customer was the king back then, so is now. What changed then? Instant gratification is today’s hottest trend, and if one is not on board, it’s not far before bankruptcy comes knocking on the doors. This is called being ‘au courant,’ and it is the tough first base. The second and the most practical base for an organization is to be customer-centric and agile. These will pave the way for the future.

Customer-centricity: Does it really matter?

Let’s go back to the earlier discourse on the companies that went bust and see for a fact if a customer-centric culture could have saved them. It is well-known what a customer-centric culture imparts a better understanding of customer needs, continuous feedback and engagement, adopting newer and relevant KPIs, metrics, and finally, revamping the customer experience.

Did Blockbuster and others really have a chance at survival? The glum answer is ‘yes.’ Focusing on customer-centric thinking on a periodic basis and creating a digital replica of the customers would help in achieving two key purposes:

• Understand the customer’s pain points and provide appropriate solutions, preferably before competitors, and

• Go beyond pain points and create innovative state-of-the-art solutions to build a mindscape for the brand

How agility solidifies the framework?

Now that the customer-centric framework is planned, let’s anatomize an organization and focus on its core pillars to understand if it’s agile enough to adapt swiftly and deliver value.

Customers

Aligning an organization’s business priorities and strategies along with its customers’ needs is of paramount importance. A global IT leader and pioneer of the subscription-based business model has exemplified success in its transformation journey through extensive data capitalization and continuous leverage of analytics, thereby driving hyperpersonalization to its customers. Therefore, proactive and continuous customer segmentation using frameworks like STP, RFM, and other market segmentation matrices helps to not only deliver individualized experience but also to meet the latent needs of millennial customers.

• Workforce

Needless to say, the workforce of an organization needs to be passionate and driven toward the overall goal. To be truly agile, the employees need to be adaptive and develop cross-functional skills. Their outcome and productivity must not be hampered by location, devices, tools, and technologies. The work, workplace, and workforce are all elastic and hence need to be agile in the new normal. One must take customers to the ’zone of loyalty’ by crafting customer experience in such a way that it exceeds their expectations.

• Processes

Driving continuous transformation is the key to unlocking the potential for a truly customer-centric future. This calls for relentless process reimagination to delight customers with revamped experience strategies and retain them for a foreseeable period. Also, by leveraging process mining techniques, the dark areas can be uncovered, and the inefficiencies can be tackled to yield superior, automated, and transparent processes. Data sovereignty and ambient intelligence will drive the business processes for tomorrow, thereby emphasizing the inevitability to infuse the existing processes with intelligent capabilities.

• Technology

The technology landscape in today’s world must be robust, low-code no-code, on-cloud, microservices, and containerization-based. If any next-gen technology or web 3.0 is to take the world by storm, this will help to leverage it and get on the bandwagon as quickly as possible without getting disrupted. Technology trails with high compute power enable fail fast, fail safe, fail better through rapid prototyping and faster learning. This in turn will reduce technical debt.

• Management model

Having a data-driven and purpose-driven model is pivotal for organizations to leapfrog their competitors and stay ahead of the curve. Democratizing data, embracing newer technologies, and building data literacy would invariably set the data culture to boost economic and social value through continuous innovation. The ‘now’ data-empowered employees warrant a clear purpose that aligns with their values to keep them motivated and fulfilled.

If the focus is only on business as usual (BAU) today, there will be no business tomorrow. The shortening of the innovation lifecycle makes it imperative to fortify the organizations of today with best practices, key trends, next-gen technologies, and a solid agile framework to flourish tomorrow.

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J Barnali Bharadwaj is a functional consultant with the Enterprise Transformation Group within TCS’ HiTech business unit. She specializes in market research and has been part of several large-scale digital transformation engagements powered by AI-ML and blockchain. Barnali is a thought leader and has shepherded several growth and transformation initiatives for TCS’ clients. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from XIM, Bhubaneswar, India.

Suhas J is a Managing Partner with the Enterprise Transformation group within TCS’ HiTech business unit. He works on next-generation digital transformation engagements and has been part of several strategic solutions consulting and implementation projects for TCS’ global clients. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Computer Science) from BMSCE, Bengaluru, India and a post-graduate degree in management (strategy and information systems) from Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Europe. He has also completed an executive education program on ‘Strategy in the Digital Era’ from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India.

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