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Interview - Leveraging Digital for Quantum Improvement in Customer Experience

January, 2017

CFO Insights in conversation with Krishnakumar Natarajan, Executive Chairman, Mindtree, on how his organization as a strategic partner to clients delivers beyond predictable cost efficiencies 

Managed services, IT validation and IT infrastructure management are the new paradigms to build efficiency in business processes. How is Mindtree partnering with clients to create value for their business?

Managed Services, IT validations, IT infrastructure management have benefitted customers with significant cost efficiencies and process improvements by which they are able to get services which are predictable and of higher quality. While these are the services customers require, at Mindtree we believe in being a strategic partner beyond delivering predictable cost efficiencies for our clients. While evolving into this role we focus on building mutual trust which forms the foundation of any strategic partnership. Beyond that, we try to have a deeper understanding of client’s business and deploy relevant technologies which are required in the context of their business rather than just deploying technology for the sake of it. Since we are focussed on deploying the right technology service for our clients, we are also able to develop the framework by which we ensure technology investments have measurable ROI that help them become far more competitive in their business.

NASSCOM estimates that India will have a 32% market share in Big Data analytics globally by 2025. How do you see the prospects of Big Data in Indian businesses in the next 5-10 years?

Data is core for any enterprise to stay ahead of their competition. With advances in Big Data, companies are using data in real time to make key business decisions. I see Indian enterprises adopting these technologies rapidly and in the next 5- 10 years we will have many Indian companies embracing Big Data technologies.

With digital interventions, businesses are seeing improvement in customer experience, productivity and turnaround time. In your opinion, what should be the strategic focus – disrupting with new technology or improving existing technology for competitive advantage?

Most enterprises are leveraging digital technologies to enhance consumer experience, achieve dramatic improvement in productivity as well as build new business models. Depending on the maturity of the client and the state of adoption of digital transformations they should choose where they want to start at. In our experience, most organisations want to increase revenues by significantly improving consumer experiences. So, this is an area no organisation can afford to ignore. There are several good examples of enterprises which have gained significant efficiencies by deploying digital technologies and this is also another area that organisations should focus on. Evolving new business models that disrupt your current models is not easy and it should be done once enterprises have a mature understanding of digital technologies and how it impacts their business.

Mindtree has been providing customized and innovative digital solutions – platform to increase in-store conversions for retailers (Flooresense), a cloud-based platform for Travel & Tourism to recommend actions based on passenger’s behavior (PaxPulse), field inspection services (InspectMind) amongst others. How are these solutions impacting your customers?

At Mindtree, we believe in building solutions that are relevant for our client’s business and in that context many of our solutions like Floorsense or PaxPulse have delivered noteworthy differentiation to them while enhancing their consumer experience. We also deploy custom built solutions like InspectMind- a digital solution we built for a large car rental agency that has helped them to shorten queue lengths and consequentially, had a positive impact on their customer satisfaction. So, many of the solutions we build for our clients using digital technologies enrich customer experience or bring in quantum improvement in efficiencies (sometimes improving by 50- 70%). Hence, clients become far more competitive in their markets and start winning market share.

As per independent research only 22% of the Indian adult population uses the internet as compared to a global median of 67%. How can the IT industry contribute to bridging the ‘digital divide’ so that larger sections of our society can reap the benefits from digital innovation?

It is true that only 22% of Indian population use the internet. This is primarily because the infrastructure for accessing the internet is still evolving. The Government is rightly putting a lot of effort in laying down fibre across the length and breadth of the country. Once the infrastructure is available, IT companies need to focus on reducing the digital divide by exposing people to the use of technology. So, education becomes a very key aspect in helping people adopt internet as part of their everyday life. We also need to train people on how we, as individuals and organisations, gain from technology deployment.

One of the activities that have not yet taken off is local applications. India being a diverse country with different regions, languages and culture, there is a great need in developing local applications which will drive adoption of both technology and internet. Clearly, the Government has started to understand the importance of this and is driving initiatives to make local applications a big part of the application portfolio.

It has been reported that 80% of the total industrial enterprises in India consisted of MSMEs which accounts for a major share in the manufacturing sector, exports and generating employment. What are the solutions offered by Mindtree for small businesses to enable them to leverage digital transformation and stay ahead of the curve?

India has a large number of SMEs and 80 percent of the enterprises are medium and small companies which are spread across diverse sectors like manufacturing, services, exports etc. Today, technology is becoming indispensable and many of the larger enterprises are also ensuring that the MSMEs they work with adopt technology so that they have seamless technology stack across their entire value chain. So, part of the thrust in MSMEs adopting technology is coming from larger enterprises they deal with. Enterprises also need to look at some of the evolving technologies and see if they can make them a part of their technology landscape. For example, to run any business they would need a strong financial accounting and reporting system. Rather than trying to build it in – house or buying a package and implementing it, MSMEs have the flexibility of procuring this as a SaaS offering. Similarly, in other areas of business, MSMEs have the advantage of getting access to the best of the breed solutions which are being offered on a SaaS model. This means they only pay for what they consume which makes the whole process of technology deployment far more cost effective and affordable. The efficiency which an MSME enterprise can gain by adopting the right SaaS technology can be phenomenal and that in turn will give them both the confidence and capability to compete even in markets outside the country based on the technology infrastructure they have.