A file photo of a Super Target store in Colorado, USA. Target is looking to build location-based insights which will help understand their customers and service them better, in addition to increasing its online businesses. Photo: Bloomberg
A file photo of a Super Target store in Colorado, USA. Target is looking to build location-based insights which will help understand their customers and service them better, in addition to increasing its online businesses. Photo: Bloomberg

Quick adoption, response to disruption in IT key to staying relevant

Senior representatives of global multinational firms acknowledged the necessity of constantly evolving and adopting new technologies

Mumbai: Adopting digital technologies and responding quickly to disruptions are the need of the hour to stay relevant and gain customers, said company executives of global firms on the second day of the information technology (IT) industry body Nasscom’s annual India Leadership Forum.

Senior representatives of global multinational firms such as Barclays, Target Corp., Tesco, Dell Inc. and DB Systel talked about how their companies are constantly evolving and adopting new technologies such as building artificial technologies, robotics and gamification in terms of how they run businesses.

“Our market share was under attack. Our business was under attack," said Christa Koenen, chief executive officer, DB Systel, the information technology provider of Deusche Bahn AG, Germany’s largest railway infrastructure, as she narrated how the firm started losing out its businesses in the last few years due to short-sightedness and inability to embrace new technologies at the right time.

“We were like a dinosaur for years and years. We had monopoly in the industry, until 2009 when a few students started a small cab sharing business by pooling in passengers on their own. We were complacent till then," Koenen said.

In the last few years, the company has launched several digital initiatives in an effort to connect directly with customers and regain its market share. “We doubt we could get back to the monopolistic market share…but we are trying to break the closely shut door of the company and shake the system," she adds.

While Koenen’s experience underlines the importance of embracing new technologies and ideas, few other companies are ahead in the game.

For instance, US-based retailer Target is looking to build location-based insights which will help understand their customers and service them better, in addition to increasing its online businesses. The company, which is planning to hire around 500 software engineers from India this year, is currently focusing on strengthening its omnichannel business, where customers can order online and pick-up from their physical stores.

Target currently employs around 2,800 people in its Bengaluru office from where it mostly provides most of its back-end technical support to the company.

“We need to focus on the on-demand delivery market. We are bringing sharper focus to prioritize our work and allocate our resources to projects that matter most and to bring in the right people to get things done from engineers to product managers to senior leaders," said Jason Goldberger, president, Target.com and Mobile.

Mohanbir Sawhney, director–centre for research in technology and innovation, Kellogg School of Management, said because of disruptive technologies that are rapidly coming into every industry, it is also changing the way how marketing is done. “Forget about big bang campaigns. You have to think about conversations. Blogs, social media are some of the ways. It should be story centric…Even gamification is powerful idea," Sawhney said.

Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball Inc., a US based software firm, agreed that companies are increasing looking at tools such as gamification to improve performance by leveraging the vast amounts of data that their systems generate.

Gamification is application of gaming elements to engage with people or customers for different business activities like marketing.

“Gamification is a concept that comes from video game developers. Video game designers have always lived in a world of user generated data," said Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball Inc., adding that if one uses this data and apply certain elements of the gaming, it can improve performance in areas such as sales, service, collaboration, learning and consumer experience.

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