Technology has enabled businesses to cater to hyper-segmented needs: Rahul Welde
Rahul Welde, EVP Digital Transformation & Digital Business, Unilever said it's technology that's transforming the way people live, communicate and transact, in his keynote session at e4m eTechManch
What's happening in the consumer world? What’s happening in the technology space? What's the impact of that disruption on businesses? What's happening in the channel's world and how are the channels really getting disrupted? Whether they’re communication channels, commerce channels, or any other form of dialogue or engagement. What is the impact of all of this on commercial models? These are some of the questions, Rahul Welde - EVP Digital Transformation & Digital Business, Unilever answered through his session at eTechManch.
“We look at all of this from the lens of technology. Technology has been on an acceleration curve for the last several years. It is in the last two years, specifically after the pandemic that it had, a virtual take-off for many different aspects. The first and most profound impact on consumers' lives in the last few years has really been technology. And what it's done to people’s lives is just amazing,” he said.
According to Welde, technology has enabled businesses to serve and cater to hyper-segmented needs.
“If you were to button it down, it's really down to two fundamental things. How consumers are interacting and spending their time on media? And very broadly, the way consumers are engaging with commerce and transactions. And if you look at what's happening in this entire space is disruption or transformation, when it comes to channels of communication, channels of dialogue, or channels of commerce. No doubt those have transformed very dramatically in the last few years, and indeed continue to transform even now as we go forward,” Welde said.
Welde said it's actually technology and platforms that are transforming the way people communicate and the way they consume content.
“One of the biggest impacts on consumers lives has been in the area of communication and area of content consumption. As a consequence, all of us are consuming, by and large, much more content than we've ever had. Therefore, from a business standpoint, from a marketing standpoint, to be able to actually tap into that vast reservoir of content, bringing it to life for the benefit of business, producing great stuff in a creative manner, is a very important challenge and opportunity. The second point about channels is of transaction or commerce. It's not only about e-commerce in the consumer goods space, but it is transactions and commerce everywhere. So the channels through which we were engaging with consumers and making transactions have changed dramatically. The most obvious one is, of course, e-commerce. Much more is happening digitally, whether it is digital banking, whether it is educational technology or any other form of transaction interface which has been disrupted in a very significant way,” he said.
He said, when it comes to disruptions, it is important for us to recognize that this is not only in the marketing landscape or in the communication landscape but also in the wider business sense -in supply chain for example where technology is playing is a big role. Welde spoke about how technology helped the gig economy and the emergence of a number of platforms like Ola, Uber, Zomato, Swiggy, etc,. that gave employment opportunities to people across the board.
“These changes really mean that businesses have an imperative to understand all these dimensions very well and to be able to create responsive systems and responsive changes,” he said.
Welde also said that data and information play a very important role in the designing of new business systems. “We should leverage data to make sure that we find great ideas which can actually help to serve the underserved,” he said.
“The second part, which relates to communication channels, content channels, or indeed, commerce channels, is the space of creativity. Especially as it relates to content, creativity has to be put right at the front and centre of the thinking. One must make sure that we are actually able to creatively break the clutter.” The other important area for businesses is to address the value chain dynamics so that the value exchange and costs are managed to drive profitable growth.
“If we tend to think of designing for disruption, there are many lenses to look at it from. What's important, is to manage a paradox where, on one hand, in order to design for disruption, all of us have to be extremely agile, nimble, fast, fleet-footed. But even as we're being fast, we have to be thoughtful in planning, in understanding the big moves, and in innovating for the long term,” he said.
According to Welde, one of the aspects is to gain more prominence as we go ahead is what is summed up by many great leaders as a learning culture. “The ability of both the individual and the organization to learn and to continuously iterate. To be able to continuously improve from those learnings is by far the most important aspect of culture, in all-new age, great organizations. Promoting that learning culture, in the context of technology, in the context of disruption is absolutely the number one sort of a dimension,” he said.
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