Consumer confidence is returning back.
A key driver has been the massively positive and pro-active steps taken by the UAE government and several other governments in the region, including India, which has led to the start of this recovery phase. Economic stimuli from various governments have been significant, oil prices have recovered to top 100 dollars a barrel. This, in effect, is shoring up revenues for many governments in the Gulf. The ongoing and highly successful Expo 2020, the signing up of the India-UAE trade agreement, the surge of new energy between India and the UAE, the upcoming FIFA world cup are all adding to the buzz.
What has transpired in the last few years has actually led to an expansion in the depth and sheer breadth of the “Digital Consumer”. Many customers in the region as well as globally have increased their online purchases. Many more customers have shifted to digital banking, digital government services, digital payments and even telemedicine.
Armed with AI algorithms, several tech startups, direct-to-consumer players, fintechs, edtechs, and so on, are causing serious disrputions in most traditional formats of businesses.
Leading governments as well as traditional businesses have rightfully adopted a “Digital First” approach to their business model. In a world which is becoming more and more rapidly “Digital First”, innovation as well as outcomes of business are very closely tied to the ability to develop and use innovative technologies and services as quickly and efficiently as possible.
And yet, it would be appropriate to talk about potholes and pitfalls that lie in wait for any business model, whether new or old.
A very small percentage of top organizations and governments are significantly ahead of the curve in terms of building digital resilience. Digital resilience, in effect, encompasses all aspects of business. From customers, to operations, to workforce, to leadership and financials. From ecosystem to brand reputation of the organizations as well as the brands they handle.
A large number are still in the process of playing catch up in terms of creating true digital resilience. Besides a sound business model and strategy, over time, it is digital resilience which is likely to become the key differentiator between the successful and the not so successful.
It is becoming incredibly important for organisations, brands and brand owners to prioritise the refinement of their products and services. This would mean consciously automating processes that are otherwise time consuming. By integrating automation as well as analytics across digital marketing and management, companies can expect significantly better output. And this should be done not just for short term sales, but also to efficiently build long-term value.
Organisations and governments which are investing in data, insight, regularly trained teams and marketing – are the ones at the top.
The common mistake being made is that when no ideas are being generated, the easiest way out is to spend advertising money on creating visibility. This can have negative consequences if what is spent to create online awareness is disproportionate to the online business and an unclear long-term strategy. With the advent of metaverse, and the constant upgrades in technology, the costs of investments will keep increasing, and will need to be well thought out.
To add to this, if the USA is an indicator, E-commerce sales surged during the pandemic as people avoided shopping in physical stores and clamored for hard to find items such as toilet paper and home goods. But growth has slowed in recent months as shoppers increasingly return to physical stores. This trend could be visible across various regions.
Revenge brick-and-mortar shopping is a distinct possibility, at least in certain categories. The human race has this inherent instinct to be socially engaged, and millions are tired of being confined to their homes.
While the new age models are working aggressively and strategically, it appears that traditional models are constantly playing catch-up. In fact, strategically, it would make huge sense, over the next couple of years, to provide in-mall and in-store products, services and dining experiences which are priced similar to, or sometimes slightly below online pricing. And then see the difference.
Keeping ahead of the algorithms demands constant change. For organisations and businesses which have operated in a similar way for generations, ensuring medium to long term digital resilience, as opposed to short-term success certificates, should not be under estimated.
Diginomics, in some form or the other, is here to stay. We can change, or stay the same. There are no pre-set rules of engagement. This too happens to be a game where the rules are being created as the game is being played along.