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Is Technology killing your Brand Proposition?

While technology is a key driver for customer delight and an important pillar for valuation, it is vital to accurately define the customer core value and thus create an Experience Equilibrium, writes Shivaji Dasgupta, Managing Director, Inexgro Brand Advisory

Shivaji Dasgupta

Most recently, a global honcho of Domino’s Pizza proudly proclaimed that they were in the food tech business and not quite in the pizza industry. This statement is consistent with the recent pattern of technology being the favoured suffix of every possible online-led business model, whatever be the primary source of value. While technology is a key driver for customer delight and an important pillar for valuation, it is vital to accurately define the customer core value and thus create an Experience Equilibrium.

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The Experience Equilibrium is the intuitive and scientific unification of the fundamental product or service with the application of technology for differentiated delivery. It is necessary to note that the technology by itself is usually undifferentiated but an important catalyst for creating the customer experience and this merger must be seamless. A fine example is the online taxi service where the quality of the ride is as crucial as the accuracy of the driver identification in terms of timing and detailing. Yet if we choose to pay undue prominence to the app interface, the category will remain commoditised and this is indeed the case with Swiggy and Zomato as well. Wherein the experience evaluation is invariably the quality of the biryani but the experience projection is largely about the role of technology in aggregating vendors. The latter is invaluable and accurate but only when projected correctly in the overall Experience Equilibrium, in tandem with the goodness or wellness of the dining. Even the classic ‘Thirty minutes or free’ proposition of the pizza giant was enabled by the convergence of product, service and technology — thus qualifying as an exemplary case study.

Now, in every sphere of influence, the role of technology seems to be overwhelming the business case and we can well start with education. Be it Byju’s or the online classes, the technology is actually standard and same but the ability to exploit it to deliver quality education is the secret sauce. For the telemedicine industry this equilibrium will entail the convergence of man and machine to ensure efficient diagnosis and this is true for any kind of specialised consulting, including legal and taxation. The next big frontier, albeit sotto voice seems to be SexTech as the beleaguered pornography industry is in as much peril as low cost aviation. It will work within legal and ethical frameworks to apply technology effectively in order to maintain status quo but once again the balance will be critical. Tech Services like the Urban Company represent a classic scenario and I once hired a barman who was impeccably connected but turned out to be a raging alcoholic. The same is true for beauticians, electricians and plumbers whose efficacy must be a combination of access and acumen in comparable measure.

There are many more industries who are keenly awaiting the suffix of tech to add credence to their propositions and indeed wealth for founders. WorkTech is a nice-sounding all-encompassing term for the WFH industry, integrating equipment, internet, furniture and all other conduits. EnterTech is actually the Netflix revolution where many streaming players are offering cinematic repertoires in your handheld device. HealthTech is already established but WellnessTech may be an opportunity, with psycho-physiological stability delivered by technology enablement. GuruTech cannot be discounted easily as social distancing enthuses the Babas across the world to engage their followers via digital modes. The above are logical peers of Retail, Food, Medical and other services, which are all actively seeking the Experience Equilibrium to craft customer propositions.

From a customer centricity perspective and truthfully there can be no other centricity, one thing has not changed. While technology-enabled conveniences make each of us happier, we still seek differentiated value when it comes to choosing our brand. And the problem with technology in most of these cases is that it is commoditised and easily replicable — look no farther than taxi, food and medicine delivery to reinforce this fact. So the primary source of value still has to emerge from a compelling integrated proposition, one that skillfully blends the bytes with the bite. This lesson can be successfully learnt from the big-ticket e commerce players who have built brands on larger platforms like choice, convenience, range and pricing and utilised technology as dashing enablers, quite like a perfectly paved expressway for a high end SUV. As a logical outcome, advertising and communication must amplify this crucial balance when attracting customers to come to the fold.

It is very easy to get carried away by technology as it is a contemporary and profitable space, but incapable of blessing businesses with a sustainable point of difference. Which is why we must achieve the Experience Equilibrium successfully — a relentless  focus on blending service with science to build superior shareholder value.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of BestMediaInfo.com and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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