For all of us, the pandemic ushered in a new, digital-centric way of life. Under lockdown and circuit breaker restrictions, our professional workspaces shifted to the virtual realm, as did our personal interactions. Businesses faced an unprecedented mindset shift, which superseded proven business models and enforced a newer operational paradigm. Amidst uncertainty, digitisation became the linchpin of business continuity.
As businesses adjust to the new normal, one thing is clear: customers, employees and other stakeholders across the value chain face long-term behavioural changes owing to the pandemic. For instance, low-touch or contactless processes and systems have gained significant momentum over the last three months.
As business starts opening up, traditional models are being challenged like never before. Digitisation is now the key priority. However, several sectors, like manufacturing, cannot go completely digital. Hence, marrying the online and offline worlds to create a cohesive ‘phygital’ experience – a hybrid of physical and digital – is the best way forward.
Stepping up the game with phygital
The combination of physical and digital methodologies will help create new value propositions and help companies respond with far greater efficiency. In today’s increasingly virtual, ecosystem, agility will make a difference in accelerating innovation, realigning customer experience and redoubling efforts on sustainability.
A phygital strategy can channelise efforts in four areas: unlocking growth, rebuilding operations, rethinking organisational priorities, and enhancing customer-centricity. These benefits will accelerate growth and scalability by:
• Ramping up the ability to make data-driven decisions
• Inculcating learning platforms that foster holistic growth of employees
• Cultivating a work culture that nurtures innovation and value creation
• Boosting organisational resilience through more anytime, anywhere touchpoints
• Increasing the opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships with stakeholders
The bottom line: businesses that step up their game with a phygital approach will be well equipped to confront challenges and opportunities of the next normal.
Embracing the future of work with phygital
A future– marked by the increased adoption of technology and automation – was always coming. COVID-19 hastened the pace at which it turned into a reality. Over the last few months, we’ve learned how to complete tasks remotely and leverage more and more collaboration and digital tools.
In the days to come, phygital can unlock growth in many other avenues, including:
• Customer interactions: Customer interactions, especially pre-sales, product demonstrations, sales delivery, payments and after-sales services, are seeing a significant uptick in digital interventions. With remarkable mobile penetration and internet connectivity, even across remote rural areas, smartphones will become a key sales and customer connect tool.
• Operations: In operations, the impact will be more profound. Factories and manufacturing plants will see physical distancing for safe work and better workforce planning, alongside cost-effective automation. Instead of manual, repetitive tasks, human capital gets freed up for analytical, tactical and strategic roles. This shift will call for substantial investment in workforce engagement and training in new skills, much of it delivered using digital tools.
• Innovation: Phygital strategies should reflect changing customer expectations. To adapt to the new normal, businesses must rethink conventional processes and develop innovative digital alternatives. The emphasis, though, will be on creating modern customer touchpoints, to help them carry out the complete journey – from initial research to purchase and service – online. For businesses, this would imply the establishment of novel digital distribution models, finance and service options alongside contactless or low-touch experiences for all stakeholders.
An optimum mix of physical and digital processes is critical to thrive in the future. Reimagining sustainable operations phygitally will become a key competitive advantage. In response to dramatic changes in organisational structures, customer expectations and demand-supply disruptions, companies must rethink their phygital strategies as they return to full speed.