#DigitalDialogue: Brand engagement will have to take the digital route: Ashish Tiwari

Ashish Tiwari, Senior VP – Marketing & Digital, Future Generali India Life Insurance
Ashish Tiwari, Senior VP – Marketing & Digital, Future Generali India Life Insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown has led to a challenging economic situation and uncertainty in the market. Some of the businesses are responding by cutting down on spends, salary cuts and even laying off employees, while others are taking affirmative action to gain the most out of limited resources and fortifying themselves for the new normal once the crisis abates.

While digital has been on a growth trajectory even before the pandemic, the global crisis has accelerated digital transformation in businesses. Most industry experts believe that Digital will lead the industry’s recovery and will permeate through every sector.

As a build up to our marquee event DIGIXX 2020, Adgully has taken an initiative to come out with a new series, #DigitalDialogue, which will have a special focus on the digital sector, how Digital is paving the way forward for companies and brands and how it will be a brand-building imperative.

Ashish Tiwari, Senior VP – Marketing & Digital, Future Generali India Life Insurance

How can companies and agencies accelerate their digital transformation process in the current scenario?

Digital transformation in the current world and times is not a choice but a necessity which everybody has to follow-through. Organisations need to look at:

  1. Customer Touch Points
  2. Team skill set/ their customer engagement cycle
  3. Product or service offering and how that can be made available to consumer seamlessly

Basis the above 3, organisations need to look at their existing tech stack and quickly add/ adapt to digital modes in each of the said line-up to keep high consumer engagement while creating opportunities for transaction. Similarly, agencies are also organisations and they too need to follow the same path.

While tech would play its part, it is important that anyone trying to traverse on path of digital transformation gets their flock together, that is, the leader of the pack need to clearly showcase the way and digital tools are provided to team for business continuity/ acceleration.

How can Digital lead the recovery for brands in the new normal?

The pandemic, it seems, will be staying with us for a while, as the vaccine or any medicine looks around a year away or more probably. So, our time in public domain, where chances of infection are higher, is going to be reduced. That means that consumer would choose digital as a medium to engage, entertain, educate and transact. So a brand – more than ever – needs to start planning a seamless or omnichannel experience, whereas consumers can be given physical world experience which is sanitised for safety and essential for brand experience. However, for most part, brand engagement and conversation would take digital medium and route. For example, till the pandemic started, monthly grocery shopping was a day out in the life of India & Bharat both – whereas India use to head out to malls in their shiny cars and Bharat use to head out to local town ‘Haat’ or village market on their bikes or bicycles. Irrespective of the setting, objective here was to experience family time and have fun pre, during & post shopping basis the income group and environment each of shoppers could afford/ had access to.

In the post pandemic world, probably that might not happen, however brands can still provide selection of assortment over mobile/ digital. They can use gamification – AR/VR to provide much richer consumer experience and rather than home delivery, consumer can walk in to the sanitised zone with a prefixed appointment for collection which provides him/her the brand experience too. There could be multiple versions of this experience however it’s certain that brands need to move to a ‘phygital’ world with a seamless ‘phygital’ journey.

What kind of investments are most needed to create the technology environment that will allow companies and agencies to thrive in the new normal?

Investment is purely dependent on the scale and quantum. For a large size business – it could run into multi-million dollars, whereas a two-member start-up can probably create a platform for their offering to thrive in a shoestring budget.

I guess we should probably not worry on total investment, but look at business ROI and recovery period to this investment. In my view, the tech platform is now as essential as it was to own a phone some two decades back or having an email id/website a decade back. Businesses trying to connect with consumers/ have dependencies on humans intellect to produce can no further avoid the IT investment to battle the new abnormal.

How can digital innovation be turned into a business-building imperative?

It is all about using tech to empower your people and customers to make choices which are best for them. Any business which makes its customers, employees and partners win would win in long run. And digital innovation is a great leveller. It allows business of all sizes/ forms to compete with each other and provides equal opportunity of growth.

What steps can companies and agencies take to reskill their workforce to work in a new digital ecosystem when the recovery begins?

Recovery began the day the pandemic started, and the leader of the organisation kicked off their workforce reskilling programs in full swing. People need to be skilled on usage of essential tools to coordinate efficiently with a distributed organisation to be able to do decision making, while remaining remotely, ability to negotiate without being able to see (absence of visual cues), and lead teams effectively. These are, if you note, all soft skills – as I guess we all are pretty efficient with business tools. However, we certainly need to pick up skillset to be able to learn the softer nuances of communication without seeing a person. Apart from that, people need to be enabled to work from – wherever and not only from home and yet remain productive.


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