Industry honchos recap the digital transformation across sectors

As the year 2018 comes to a close, industry leaders from different sectors share their perspective on the year, the key developments as well as their biggest learnings from the year. 


Overview of 2018 

Uday Sodhi, Head – Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India
It has been a phenomenal year for the OTT industry and SonyLIV. FIFA World Cup 2018 was a remarkable success, with SonyLIV garnering the highest-ever football viewership in India with 70 million users. We had 3 cricket tournaments with India playing in South Africa, the England and the ongoing India vs Australia series. We also scaled up our English content offering by announcing a strategic partnership with Lionsgate. Lionsgate Play, bundled within SonyLIV’s current slate of programming, is a significant high in our premium English-language offering to viewers. 

Our second screen initiative KBC Play Along was the most interactive show of 2018 with close to 600 million interactions. Delivering to our promise of offering heightened consumer experience, we created interesting and engaging campaigns like #ScreamLoud that touched the magic figure of 100 million social interactions. 

The OTT industry at large is on the growth path now. The sector is expected to grow at a fast pace in the next five years and will drive digital innovations in India. The number of advertisers grew by 3X as compared to last year which is proof that there is power in advertising on digital. As 2018 comes close to an end, we are looking for an entertaining 2019. 

Amit Shah, Group President & Head Marketing - Corporate Strategy & Communications, Yes Bank
Technology has influenced the BFSI sector to a large extent in 2018. Digital disruption was the buzzword for the past year. Customers today expect to be able to sign up for new banking services online. Failure to provide a truly digital experience has moved from a disappointment to an existential threat. A big threat for banks this year was also synthetic identity fraud. Banks were required to get better at sorting real customers from fake ones, without undermining the benefits of a great digital customer experience. With Digital Banking solutions taking the front seat, banks were also required to develop a mix of both traditional mainframe core banking applications and cloud based customer analytics and engagement in order to facilitate the digital economy. 

Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, Syska Group
2018 has been a spectacular year for us, with the company growing by leaps and bounds. From LED lighting solutions to smart home appliances, our product offering has seen massive adoption across categories. This year, we expanded into new lucrative industry segments such as camera module manufacturing, Internet of Things (IoT) and wires & cables. We feel immensely proud of the fact that within a short span of time, we have been able to establish Syska as a leading brand in the Indian FMEG market. Having said that, the year 2019 seems very promising and we are really looking forward to introducing some cutting-edge products and solutions for our customers that are light years ahead of their time. 

Sanjay Sethi, CEO & Co-Founder, ShopClues

ShopClues saw a jump of 46% in revenues for financial year 2017-18 at Rs 273 crore, while Shopclues also cut down its losses significantly by 40% to Rs 208 crore during the fiscal. ShopClues also entered the brick and mortar space this year with its first physical outlet in the country at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. ShopClues raised Rs 110 crore ($16.5 million) from existing investors earlier this year and will be using the same for its offline expansion in the coming months. ShopClues is hoping that its investment in the O2O model will bring 25% of its revenue by the end of the year as it looks to become profitable in the next 12 to 18 months.

Aarti Iyer, Marketing Head, Unibic Cookies India
The year has been good for Unibic. We have made some inroads in the North-East and North markets. Our new variants in this category have been well received. We launched our products in new geographic locations, made possible with our unified teamwork, sales force working on their distribution strategy, and our marketing campaign which took a complete 360-degree approach. This is a great milestone for us. 

We have launched an entire range of Daily Digestive cookies to incorporate it as a daily habit for our consumers to meet their daily fibre requirement of 26-50 per cent. We have launched a unique product that caters to the Indian palate, called ‘Unibic Meetha Paan’ with real Gulkand and ‘No Supari’, anytime and anywhere paan. 

Our strategy from the beginning has been to bring high quality and new/ unique products in terms of taste and flavours to satiate the taste buds of our consumers. As a team, we always strive to offer the same. 

Stephane Michelin, CEO, Sodexo BRS India
The year 2018 has been very eventful for Sodexo BRS India. We became a 100 per cent digital employee benefits provider in 2018. With over 3 million consumers, we consolidated our leadership position in the employee benefits segment. This festive season, we recorded our highest-ever B2B gift sales in over a decade. We also tapped regional markets by launching India’s first-ever limited-edition festive gift cards, to offer more personalised gifting options during key festivals in India. 

Looking at the employee benefits industry, employers are increasingly focusing their attention on benefits that increase employee satisfaction, productivity and loyalty, as well as on those that attract candidates to the company. Workers’ ability to create a personalised benefits package fit for each employee is the need of the hour. For 2019, we have plans to extend our offerings in the multi-benefits employee benefits space. We will continue to expand our basket of offerings in the B2B space to help our clients in driving better employee engagement and enhance employee experience. 

Suchi Mukherjee, Founder & CEO, LimeRoad
This year, LimeRoad entered the offline retail space with the core thought of taking fashion to the Tier 2 markets. The offline venture is about marketing and brand building in smaller cities. LimeRoad opened its first store in Surat this year in March, which has already turned profitable with a footfall turning into purchase conversion rate of 47 per cent.

Umang Bedi, President, Dailyhunt

The year began with re-defining our mission, which is to be ‘the Indic platform empowering a billion Indians to discover, consume, and socialize with content that informs, enriches and entertains’. As mobile and video became the primary source of content consumption this year, Dailyhunt pivoted heavily towards video and live TV to increase the time spent by users on the platform and create stickiness. Today, we have around $40mn of revenue which is growing 110% year on year. We launched a groundbreaking digital campaign, ‘#HarBhashaEqual’ to promote language equality in India this year.


Key Learnings of 2018 

Shrenik Gandhi, CEO & Co-Founder, White Rivers Media
The basic necessities for humans are no longer just Roti, Kapda aur Makaan (Food, Clothing and Shelter). With the advent of digital and low-cost data, Internet access has become a necessity of life so that survival basics now consist of Roti, Kapda, Makaan aur Data! 

Another interesting learning from 2018 was that two new generations were added into the digital ecosystem. At one point, while everyone perceived digital to be this cool thing specifically catering the youth, we now see grandparents using Amazon Alexa as smoothly as a young kid uses a smartphone. 

Suchi Mukherjee, Founder & CEO, LimeRoad
The rural sector surfaced to be an important market yet to be explored to its potential. A lot of brands shifted focus to the Tier 2 and 3 markets as a business expansion strategy. Vernacular was seen becoming imperative for brands to make an entry into the rural segment. 

Vivek Katoch, VP & Head - Business Development, Grapes Digital
With close to more than 450 million Indians already online, the digital industry is fast moving and evolving at a much faster pace than expected. Spends in digital will increase from 15 per cent to 26 per cent approx in 2019 as predicted. What is hot in digital today seems to be redundant soon.

  • Videos & more videos - Videos took over social networks as a major form of content production and users are more captivated with videos than other forms of content
  • Mobile became the first medium for consumption of all kinds of content, be it gaming, digital content, news or videos.
  • Data & analytics - We saw the rise of data-driven marketing. Marketers made their strategies on the basis of clear understanding of consumer behavior and their overall journey from search to shopping

As a marketer our learning is to focus on these trends and build smarter campaigns. 

Umang Bedi, President, Dailyhunt

A major development in mobile-based digital content businesses in 2018 is the much larger propensity to consume vernacular content in ‘video’ format. As per a KPMG study, 70 per cent of Internet users find local language digital content to be more reliable than English language content. We foresee that the combination of demand for vernacular content in videos format is poised to shape how mobile-based digital content businesses grow in 2019.

Amit Shah, Group President & Head Marketing - Corporate Strategy & Communications, Yes Bank
Mobile emerged 2-3 years ago as the primary engagement mode and has taken over desktop ever since. Most financial services companies are at various stages of capitalising on this depending on their preparedness. Yet, certain segments like senior citizens, etc., still utilise desktop or assisted modes and even the tech friendly ‘millennials’ will not move entirely to mobile at least for the foreseeable future as most banking apps don’t/ can’t offer all services on mobile. The outcome of Aadhaar usage for KYC and authentication (for non-banking entities) will also determine the trajectory. 

Axon Alex, Head of Strategy, Jack in the Box Worldwide
My key learning from 2018 was the importance of the micro-moments. People have greater ease navigating the Internet, which makes it more important to shift from the big campaigns to what we have historically dismissed as ‘Hygiene content’. Brands need to focus on the micro moments where the consumers engage with them with more relevance like Nano influencers, ecommerce reviews and even things like e-mailer marketing. These micro moments form the bulk of my one major trend for 2019, which is a shift from Digital Campaigns to Digital Transformation. 

Armed with better Internet access and much more immersive digital experiences, consumers effortlessly travel from one end of the funnel to the other entirely on multiple digital platforms or even on just one platform (e-commerce). Therefore, it’s imperative that brands understand the consumer journeys that take place online and actually transform their business to be relevant to these new consumer journeys.

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research
The one big learning from the year that passed is that you cannot take life for granted. While you are planning life, it has plans for you. Just when the country was slowly finding its feet from a business slowdown, the NBFC crisis pulled the plug on market liquidity and even consumer trust. 

Trust and appeal together develop buying propensity – the keenness to buy, and one without the other is incomplete. The age of selling is dead and in this age brands can only help the consumer buy. This is done by understanding them better, to develop trust and meet their desires. To improve on trust and attractiveness, brands must intensely engage in understand the consumers propensity to buy. If you measure this specific aspect about the consumer, only then can the brand improve their relationships with consumers.

Sanjay Sethi, CEO & Co-Founder, ShopClues

The next phase of growth has to come from the interior cities and towns of India. Companies are going to try various methods to try to lure these customers online and make offerings which are attractive to that customer. Localization & personalization of the shopping experience will pave the way forward




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