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How Covid Pandemic is Accelerating Digital Adoption

Balaka Baruah Aggarwal | 26 Dec 2020 | Digital Transformation, Newsletter

Businesses are navigating the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic by accelerating digital adoption with new business models and sharpening the strategies with Cloud migration, DevOps and analytics-based insights. Stepping up our engagement with customers in the weeks following the pandemic we found customers were bracing for a disruptive period by adopting advanced automation, digitization and analytics.

CEOs and senior executives have a sober, pragmatic outlook for a prolonged economic downturn while preparing for an uncertain future. What started off as temporary solutions to enable a remote workforce—with secure access to applications, productivity and collaboration tools—are now becoming the foundation for new initiatives to meet customer demands while refocusing priorities to selectively modernize capabilities.

Digital was always recognized as strategic to business, yet post pandemic this view has become pervasive and our customers are now pursuing digital not just for cost efficiencies but to achieve speed in experimenting and innovating. The pandemic has become a wake-up call to embrace advanced technologies to reinvent business models by digitizing sales and customer experiences in both B2C and B2B context.

Umbrella has been helping customers achieve continuous benefits with Cloud-enabled digital transformation and our experience finds that the pandemic has pushed digital to the centre stage of every interaction, forcing everyone to move up the Cloud adoption curve. We wanted to showcase this impact through the experience of two customers in different segments—in B2C retail and B2B car rental business—both of which have leveraged digital to improvise and experiment to reach customers and further business gains.

Designing Growth Strategies with Digital

Good Earth—a premier brand offering clothes and lifestyle goods with physical and online stores—offset the disruption caused by Covid-19 with a more than 100% growth in its digital business by leveraging a combination of efforts that included stepping up its online initiatives, tighter integration of omnichannel activities and enhancing the mobile experience.

As a design studio, the physical stores are critical to its strategy to deliver an exclusive customer experience to enable look and feel of products. But as the pandemic caused a steep downfall in customer footfall, digital became critical to ramp up sales by observing digital footprint and deliver a customized experience. It enabled to design a highly effective loyalty program by monitoring customer behaviour and make appropriate offers at different touch points across channels.

Good Earth tapped digital to increase OMNI customer engagement activities such as making personal offers; voucher redemption across any platform; order and pick up from stores; and place in-store orders for any item if it is available in the central inventory. The Progressive Web App (PWA) has become the springboard of its turnaround strategy as 90 percent traffic emanate from mobile with as much as 82% checkouts.

Speaking about the efforts to enhance the customer journey Dinesh Joshi, CIO of Good Earth says, “Digital is deeply integrated into our business strategy as it enables to study the customer experience at every touchpoint. This provides insights to personalize subsequent engagements, provide better recommendations and enhance search capabilities.” Going forward, Good Earth wants to boost revenues by making its search and recommendation engines more accurate with machine learning capabilities. 

Raising the Game in Car Rentals

Another of our customer serving businesses with leasing and transportation solutions, Orix India, is beating the Covid pandemic blues by offering cars on subscription in collaboration with automobile majors such as Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors and retail leasing with Skoda, Volkswagon and Honda. A new business model, Orix is staging a successful comeback to overcome the ravages of the past few months riding on the flexibility and scalability of AWS Cloud.

Says Harvinder Gandhi, Group CIO, Orix, “As a growing business, we were faced with challenges of scalability and consciously pursued a Cloud-first strategy where we started with SaaS, then used infrastructure- as-a-service, followed by migrating applications to AWS Cloud.”

Starting with dev and test environment, Orix had gradually moved workloads to AWS Cloud as application and infrastructure reached end of life and continued the migration even as lockdown restrictions kicked in. Orix’s primary business of providing leasing and transportation solutions was naturally affected but with the backing of solid technology infrastructure the company was equipped to explore new businesses avenues.

This enabled Orix to partner with Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors to launch a subscription model of owning cars wherein customers could use new cars without actually owning by paying an all-inclusive monthly fee that covers maintenance and insurance. Designed to cater to the need of the times, the programme received a huge response as customers liked the convenient features which included flexible tenure, zero down payment, registration and insurance and covers complete maintenance.

The subscription model requires a great deal of transparency and traceability and the entire customer journey—including identification, validation, authorization, payment—is digitally managed. The AWS-hosted MyChoice platform also created an opportunity to offer used car subscription wherein end-customers can access the same platform for self-drive and used car subscription.

Cloud-enabled digital transformation equipped Orix with tremendous scalability and agility to better address customer requirements with new products and service and manage operations with digital data capture and analytics.

Resetting for Growth Beyond Coronavirus

The bottom-line is that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation—unprecedented restrictions on travel and physical interactions have forced consumers to adapt and in turn forced companies to adopt digital channels. Businesses already on the digital path are more agile and responsive while others are racing to develop digital capabilities to survive the pandemic. Those companies that can learn and adapt to the crisis will be better poised to take a leading position once the world returns to normalcy.

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