By: Vaishali Sangtani, Product Marketing Manager, Web Global Industry & Product Marketing, APJ, Akamai Technologies
India is a young nation with a total population of 1.3 billion of which about 500 million are active internet users. Not a small number by any means. We have the world’s second largest pool of internet users, making our online population larger than the total population of United States of America!
However, what we as a nation along with the whole world, really have our eyes on, are those next billion users coming online. We all are witnessing that future in the making as India’s policy makers, telecom operators, regulators and businesses across various industries are collectively and relentlessly working to make it happen. Reliance Jio added 100 million users to India’s internet population in 2017 and we continue to add 10 million users per month according to Google. This incredible scale and pace of India’s digital revolution presents an unprecedented growth opportunity for all businesses including financial services viz. banking, asset management, credit cards, payments or insurance.
There are three crucial questions for digital strategy owners of these businesses to consider today:
- Can our digital platforms scale at the same rapid pace in order to support the new users coming online?
- Does our digital strategy support the rapid innovation needed to provide customized experiences to these new users, especially considering the varying preference and expectations due to the rural–urban divide in India?
- Last and perhaps the most important question is, how do we ensure online security while we pursue rapid innovation to create these unique online experiences for our users, especially in today’s evolving threat landscape.
In today’s digital world where technology has enabled a low barrier to entry, thereby creating a plethora of options for customers, the over-arching question for all businesses remains – “Why would customers choose my institution over the others or my insurance product/services over the others”?
The answer really is how well do businesses ‘Differentiate to Compete’. A recent research by Forrester puts ‘Customer Centricity’ in the center of a strong digital strategy. And at the heart of customer centricity is ‘Customer Data’.
There are four key pillars of a Competitive Differentiation Strategy for online businesses.
- User Experience: Businesses today are focused on winning the convenience game while delivering modern, rich, and dynamic online experiences. These new billion users will turn to businesses that deliver a user experience that is painless, fast, and engaging. Real time data on User Experience is one of the key pillars of competitive differentiation and brand recognition that helps in driving personalization of product and service offerings, acquiring new customers while retain the existing ones. Yet several organizations find it difficult to quantify the business impact of user experience monitoring in order to make a business case for investing in advanced performance monitoring technologies such as RUM (Real User Monitoring).
- Trust: Trust is centered around the ability of businesses to keep their customers’ data and lifetime savings safe. The costs of a breach, which is not very uncommon, is more than just the remediation costs. The brand damage, customer attrition and lost future revenue are more long term qualitative damages that come with it but seldom accounted for.
- Winning the mobile challenge: With close to 340 million smartphone users in India by the end of 2018, this becomes one of the most important considerations in the Indian context. A majority of the next billion users will be mobile first. Ensuring the design for usability and functionality along with the delivery of apps over cellular network and mobile device constraints is a big challenge to solve. At the center of this thriving mobile eco-system are APIs. A comprehensive API strategy focused around acceleration, management and protection will be strategic to the success of FSI businesses in India, as they start evolving to adopt more progressive, growth centric business models such as Open Banking and Open APIs, sharing data with their customers and vendors and increasingly leveraging the power of ‘Coopetition’ with their fintech partnerships.
- Striking the right balance between security and user experience: As organizations embark on their digital journey and progress up the stages of digital maturity, majority of them struggle with this balance. In most cases, security strategies are driven by regulations or fear of fraud. Which is good, but as businesses execute on this mandate, it really weighs down on the ability to keep up with the speed of innovation required to deliver the user experience that customers expect. Constant change and evolution also potentially opens businesses up for data breach. The big challenge is to enable the business to move forward in a responsible way that minimizes risk.
In addition to adopting the right security solutions that allow businesses to scale while keeping customer data safe, investing in Digital Performance Management tools that help bring a business context to user experience and performance data can help in driving a performance culture within the organizations with appropriate budgets.
Ensuring an Application delivery strategy, which is just as important a consideration as the design, functionality and usability of applications, can help in driving cloud adoption. Finally, choosing a strategic platform partner and not a solution vendor is important. It is imperative to self-assess and benchmark at regular intervals during the digital maturity journey. This helps in chalking out a plan to get there while identifying the right partners on the journey.