Alok Bhatt is Senior Vice President (Business Transformation) at Analytix Solutions, a company specializing in providing technology-enabled and value-driven solutions to help businesses succeed by focusing on growth and profitability. Based out of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Alok has more than 16 years of experience in scaling up organizations and delivering transformation. Alok has been a trusted transformation partner for a diverse set of clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small & medium-sized businesses. Alok specializes in creating global standardized processes and systems through consultancy, collaboration, and control. He has extensive experience in managing global sales operations for multi-service organizations, executing sales and marketing strategies for aggressive growth, driving lean and efficient operations and implementing innovative technology solutions. Alok was previously associated with companies like Infosys Ltd, WNS Global Services and QX Global Group and has always focused on helping his clients achieve more for less. A certified Six Sigma Black Belt holder, Alok is an engineer and an MBA in marketing from the Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad.
Today, the list of 500 largest companies by revenue comprises more service companies than those in manufacturing. The service industry’s contribution to global GDP is rising every year and reached 60% in 2020. The services sector is one of the major contributors to economic growth and is also a major source of employment. In the United States, for example, the services sector contributed to more than 77% of the annual GDP in 2020 and is estimated to be the second-largest employment sector by 2030 with approximately 134 million jobs.
The global economy, and especially the services sector, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, correctly described as the worst global healthcare crisis in a century. The pandemic has led to an unimaginable loss of human lives and caused unprecedented economic devastation. The pandemic has forced companies to relook at the way they are delivering their services. In a few months, COVID-19 led to changes in the way companies do business that would otherwise have taken many years during normal times. The companies that have accepted the new normal and adapted their business and delivery models by embracing the digital transformation have not only survived the pandemic but have come out stronger, more efficient and more agile.
Key themes Driving Business Transformation in Services Industry
Adoption of digital channels by customers
The millennial generation and beyond were already in the always-connected mode but COVID-19 has forced even the earlier generations to adopt digital. Be it consumption of information or buying groceries or even for big-ticket purchases, customers now prefer to do it all online. The consumer expectations have changed, more likely permanently, and they are demanding more product options, high availability and quick delivery models. This has also forced businesses to shift their focus on digital channels and to adopt a digital-first customer experience.
Consumer Business Model Transformation:
Enhanced connectivity and digitisation of processes has made it much easier for businesses to create a global ecosystem of partners. This has had a major impact on how firms are targeting their customers, their value propositions, the customisation of service offerings and the price points. The overall business model is now becoming much more customer-centric and this is enabled through the digitally connected supply chain for products, partners and people. The old business models are being forced to change or are being completely replaced by the new digital business models.
Services Delivery Model Transformation
Digital-first businesses are easy to scale and most successful businesses have an inherent desire to go global. The service delivery model for global businesses has now been transformed. While the earlier models were internally focused and emphasised optimisation of costs or increase in efficiency of service delivery, the digital global service models focus on enhancing customer experience through a globally distributed virtual workforce. Digital-first businesses focus more on delivering a highly personalised customer experience by leveraging their data-driven decision-making capabilities. These businesses are highly agile and can customise their service delivery at a moment’s notice.
While earlier companies looked at individual tasks and analysed the feasibility of automation through point solutions, the world has changed now. Today, companies are focusing on end-to-end process optimisation and evaluating automation solutions through a combination of technologies. The digital ecosystem provides multiple ways to automate a task and it is prudent to evaluate what technology is best suited for a particular part of the process. Hyper-automation is the creation of automated solutions through multiple sets of tools and technologies like software integrations, RPA, IDP, AI and ML. These integrate seamlessly to provide an efficient, error-free and intelligent automated process. This allows companies to focus more on judgement based and analytical tasks rather than transactional activities. The companies can thus move higher in the value chain and provide advisory and consulting services to add more value to the clients.
Empowered Global Workforce
Another trend that has accelerated the transformation of the service industry in the COVID era is the hybrid work model with more and more employees preferring to work remotely. This has forced companies to relook at their digital strategies to enable their employees to deliver exceptional customer service, digitally. Many companies have even revamped their service and product portfolios to bring digital offerings to market. Companies that have enabled their employees through technology have seen their revenues going higher even though the service delivery models may have changed. The companies are now focusing on hiring globally to source the right talent at the right cost and are then creating a high-engagement remote work culture to retain and re-train them. Leveraging the global workforce and enabling them through Artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, machine learning and connected platforms is driving the transformation of the industry. AI supports professionals to learn, think and perform better; analytics and machine learning are revolutionising insight generation, and platforms are disrupting traditional business models by bringing buyers and suppliers together. Happy and empowered employees are the biggest differentiators in creating a great customer experience in the digital age.
The companies that are agile enough to transform their business quickly according to the customer demands are not just able to survive but thrive at the expense of companies that are deep-rooted in their legacy and resistant to change.