We need to invest in building a purpose-first driven business model: Amitabh Pande
We saw the pandemic accelerate the digital transition process of businesses last year. A year later, the implications of this transition have been significant and wide-ranging – from creating consumer experiences & engagements, to e-commerce, online education, e-payments, online medical consultations – almost all off-line activity is now done in the digital space.
Digital spends have gone up manifold, and brand strategies now incorporate reaching out to consumers in the online space. With this, there has also been the need for upskilling the workforce to tackle the business operational requirements in the new normal.
In the run-up to DIGIXX MEDIA SUMMIT 2021, Adgully will be bringing a series of interactions with India’s leading Digital evangelists as part of our series on DIGITAL DIALOGUE.
Keeping a sharp eye on all the Digital developments and disruptions is Adgully’s industry leading premier property – DIGIXX. Like in the previous years, DIGIXX MEDIA SUMMIT 2021 is all geared to discuss, analyse, crystal-gaze and explore the world of Digital trends in a day-long event comprising Panel Discussions, Master Classes, Keynote Addresses and Fireside Chats.
In conversation with Adgully, Amitabh Pande, Marketing Head, IKEA India, speaks about the acceleration in e-commerce due to the pandemic, as well as a new trajectory of growth of online shoppers, which gives scale in a way that was not there before. He also emphasises on the need to invest in expansion and fulfilment capabilities to cater to the increasing demand that doesn’t come at the expense of the environment or society.
With the accelerated transition to digital due to the pandemic crisis, how has this helped businesses scale up their operations? How do you see this shift to digital panning out over the next 5 years?
Digital has been a key platform in India for many years now. With some of the highest numbers of mobile and Internet users that is growing every day, we’ve been transitioning to digital lives for a while now. That’s not new. But what is accelerated with the pandemic is getting many people to transition to ‘digital shopping’ or e-commerce. For all the noise we make about India as a digital country, e-commerce shopping has still been a very small base for various reasons – some cultural, some behavioural. But when the pandemic removed the possibility of a physical shopping experience, there was no other choice. Many people were forced to beat their own legacy behaviours and shop online for all their needs. And they discovered ‘hey this is not as bad as I thought it would be’.
And when we have a new trajectory of growth of online shoppers, which gives scale in a way that was not there before. With scale demand comes the possibility of businesses investing in supplying to the scale and the virtuous circle of more affordable pricing, more access of great products to more people, and profitable businesses. The only thing as businesses we have to keep in mind as we scale up, is not forgetting one of the most important lessons from the pandemic – not blindly chasing scale consumption, but doing it in a responsible way, anchored back on the purpose of our brand and why we want to scale up, apart from just revenue and profit.
Digital and performance go hand in hand. How are brands evaluating and measuring their performance on digital as a medium?
Measuring performance on digital is an interesting topic that we can spend days talking about. On one hand, the very promise of digital marketing is the ability to target more sharply and then measure very specifically what’s working and not, and the performance thereof. That part of the science is quite advanced and gets more sophisticated with every passing day, led by the tech companies, anchored on data science. This is something we’re all aware of. And most brands do this as part of everyday work. Yet, on the other hand, with a few big digital platforms having the majority of the traffic and where each platform is a separate world, it’s not always easy to measure the full picture of the end consumers’ digital behaviour. That is something we need to get better at.
Talent has always been a challenge when something new disrupts the media world. How are digital companies scaling their knowledge and imparting training to people?
Actually, there is a lot of talent in the digital world. We’re a country where we export digital talent to other countries. Remember, Raj Koothrapalli (of ‘Big Bang’ fame)? So, there is no dearth of talent in India. In fact, every day we have people passing out of colleges and institutes with better and updated knowledge on digital tools and techniques. The knowledge and skills that we need to impart is more around business, brands and leadership, during changing times. I feel those skills are of greater need than digital skills.
What kind of investments do digital companies need to plan to face the future challenges, both in terms of skill and technology?
As digital companies or any company, we need to invest more in the ‘human element’ of talent. How do we grow strong, resilient, agile, value-based leaders of the industry for tomorrow? We need to invest in building a purpose-first driven business model that caters to the growing demand in a commercial-yet-responsible way. Specifically from a digital perspective, we need to invest in expansion and fulfilment capabilities to cater to the increasing demand that doesn’t come at the expense of the environment or society. And we need to build digital platforms with responsible data policies that respects the privacy of the people and not only see them only as ‘target consumers’, but as humans first.
We need to build the skills and technology that allow us as people and organisations to contribute to a more sustainable world. In our organisations (and our homes), we need to build skills of inclusion, equality, tolerance, togetherness. These are all the skills and technology we need to face the future challenges that are already knocking at our door in the present.