The Digital War Are we ready on all fronts

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The Digital Dragon – A multi headed hydra

Indians are taking their love of shopping online. The rise of a strong Indian middle class that enjoys high disposable income, coupled with increasing penetration of the internet— especially in Tier II & Tier III towns—ensures that ecommerce is booming. The value of ecommerce in India today stands at a staggering $13 billion. And this is likely to hit $50-70 billion by 2020! There are 15 million Indians shopping online, 75% of them below the age of 35, which only means that the buildings on the growth bar graph will be really high for many years to come.

What does this mean for the ‘Digital Enterprise’? Actually, are the organisations riding the digital bandwagon digital enterprises in the true sense or are they perennially playing catch up as mediums, expectations and growth trajectories put paid to all forecasts? The fierce competition in the digital space thanks to ‘crowding’ in this phenomenally attractive space means that the customer is spoilt (and confused too) for choice. To ensure success, the site needs to draw the customer in with his first click. The site, whether it is an ecommerce site or a catalog site, is where the customer is making decisions. Not only does the window display need to be attractive enough to tempt him to browse, but once he is in, he expects quick and efficient service with a smile. Read quick loading and response times, no downtime, and secure transactions. A miss on even one of these parameters, even once, will translate into the customer exiting and worse still, going on to check out a competitor.
Clearly, the truism ‘It’s easy to open a shop but difficult to run it’ is a fact in the digital world especially in e commerce. Launching a great online shopping (or cataloging site) or an enabling application like a payment gateway is probably easy (relatively). However, being ready for a market that is fickle, demanding and is multiplying exponentially in all directions with too many variables in the equation is a challenge which is proving tough to manage. Forecasts are notoriously off the mark, mediums are morphing into newer forms which demand new solutions (mobile, wearable devices and what not), punishing standards for availability and the ever changing definition of good customer experience mean testing times for all players. It’s truly a multi-headed hydra – a powerful beast if controlled, a nightmare if untamed.

It is all about the IT infrastructure

Some key gaps which could be the undoing for the digital enterprise are:
*Lack of mobile readiness and compatibility; in this world one can’t spell h’app’y without ‘app’
*Availability with full enablement – market & customer readiness is key
*Robustness – ready for all fluctuations and ability to resist attacks
*Customer experience – easy, seamless, fast; going beyond WOW! Is the normal here
*Cost, cost, cost – one cannot over-emphasise the importance of managing costs in a cut-throat market like this

A cloud enabled managed hosting IT infrastructure enables the above and more by ensuring the following:

– Availability: A site that is available 24x7x365, with no downtime

– Flexibility: A flexible IT infrastructure built to precise needs

– Scalability: The ability to ramp up or down at short notice to cater to various fluctuations

– Security: A completely secure site with no possibility of data breaches

– Reliability: Efficient support & redundancy and continuity even during repair/maintenance

– Cost Optimisation: Flexible pricing options and optimized cost of infrastructure

– Seamless Management: Integration across deployments with service automation

So, can businesses ensure customer delight and drive the success of ecommerce, without diluting focus on strategic business imperatives? Well, if the managed infrastructure can ensure a strong & scalable backbone which is also secure, it surely can aim to do that. Also, if one adds peerless customer experience to the mix courtesy an always available and fast website which is also completely mobile friendly (with a super optimum app thrown in, of course) then this should be easily achievable.

The right technology partner in addition to enabling by creating a robust infrastructure will also ensure all nuts and bolts are in place to ensure experience, agility and medium agnostic performance. It is indeed all about infrastructure which binds the underlying kernel of code and processes to the shop front i.e. the website. Its importance cannot be overstated. The mantra is simple if a business wants to tame the digital dragon – ‘Tech’ it or leave it!

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“Thinking Aloud” reflects the emerging trends and varied outlook of the rapidly evolving internet and communication sector. An IAMAI publication, this is a part of the market education initiative of the association.


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