But what do they expect from the new year? Find out what they have to say.
KT Prasad, MD and RVP, India & SAARC, Zendesk - “2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and customers alike. Earlier this year, customer experience (CX) teams across the globe had to rapidly adapt amid ticket spikes, customer cancellations, market volatility, and increased uncertainty. However, as the world moved forward, one week at a time, the global service requests eventually stabilized and new expectations and trends began to set in.
Customers now expect businesses to be more digital, accessible and empathetic. More than ever, they want and expect to connect with businesses the way they do with friends and family - effortlessly, especially over popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook. Businesses are working on merging values from a pre-COVID era with the ever-changing demands of a post-COVID world. While this may seem to be an overwhelming task, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of the basics, such as keeping your customers and their needs at the center of everything that you do. Businesses are, therefore, re-emphasising the need for a people-first approach and working hard to retain a human connection.
People around the globe are eagerly awaiting 2021 and the many promises that it brings. Looking ahead, we anticipate that CX will continue to remain a catalyst to business success as businesses reorganise their priorities to incorporate a seamless CX journey for customers. On the other hand, digital transformation will definitely take precedence in the coming year to accommodate more omnichannel services, better IT security, agile technology and collaborative tools. Businesses will also take steps to be more people-centric, not just toward their customers, but also toward their employees. Employee experience and engagement will be a major area where we will see a change as businesses rethink their digital workplace.
As the year comes to an end, there is a sense of hope and excitement in the air of what the new year holds and businesses will look to strengthen their customer experience as the year unfolds.”
Shiv Sundar, Co-Founder and COO, Esper - “2020 has proven to be a challenging year. However, it was also a year of new opportunities and avenues for us. One particular trend that we witnessed was the acceleration of digital transformation with traditional companies. Incorporating customer interactivity into their solution became a priority and the execution ranged from standing up self-service kiosks to augmenting the customer experience with innovative digital solutions. Android based devices, in particular, have been deployed at a large scale to meet these demands. This has underscored how important a product like Esper is to fill the large gap to enable enterprises - small and large alike, to deploy devices at scale and have rigorous control over how their applications are deployed and monitored on their devices.
Looking ahead, we realize that the pandemic has ushered in a new era that will be more digital and virtual, even in remote locations. Industries like education, fitness, restaurants and healthcare will see a flurry of Android based devices and Android will become a dominant choice of OS for Touch based IoT devices. At Esper, we are moving ahead with a sustained hyper focus on our customer service. We have an amazing slate of features in the pipeline that will help our customers deploy and scale their device fleet. We are looking forward to a great new year for our customers, partners and our amazing set of employees.”
Gaurav Burman, APAC President, 75F - “2020 has been a watershed year for most sectors forcing them to transform themselves and adapt while going into the next year. In contrast, the building management and automation sector witnessed considerable traction despite the slowdown. This could be attributed to its potential in helping commercial buildings manage COVID 19 by controlling the spread of the virus through airborne particles. As a result the sector saw new products and services being launched supported by guidelines released by organisations such as WHO, CDC, ASHRAE etc to prevent the transmission of air-borne diseases.
Several business leaders have also leveraged the period of the lockdown and the work from home trend to scale up their commercial offices and workspaces with better technology in preparation for the return to normalcy. This has led to digital transformation in the workplace in creating smart, digitally connected spaces that use less energy, meet sustainability and safety goals, and boost workplace collaboration and productivity. There is also a trend towards optimising work spaces with an eye on long term sustainability. Our offerings in the space that have been popular include 75F's preset systems to digitally monitor, analyze and control an environment and visibility to customized data analytics at all times from any remote location. As occupant comfort and environmental sustainability are increasingly being given priority in commercial spaces, the potential for smart buildings has grown considerably in 2020. While the commercial and retail sectors are already moving towards building automation, we expect the hospitality and health sector to follow suit in 2021.”
Paddy Viswanathan - Founder and CEO, C3M - “COVID-19 has pushed businesses to adopt the public cloud and take a cloud first strategy. With critical workloads deployed in the cloud there is also an immediate need for secure and stable cloud infrastructure. Some of the largest companies in e-commerce, retail, internet and media, and consulting have started using our cloud security platform between May 2020 and today.
Apart from this, remote working has also been working well for us. Our team members are getting to spend quality time with their families, while being just as productive at work. In fact, we are contemplating making working from the office optional once the pandemic eases out. All in all, the year 2020 has been a blessing in disguise for us.”
Abhishek Patil - Co-Founder and CEO, Oliveboard - “This year the ed-tech industry attracted students from schools, universities, businesses and individuals as classroom training was at a standstill due to the virus outbreak. At Oliveboard we saw a steady increase in online test preparation registrations as well. In addition, with both government and banking examinations in the pipeline, the online test preparation industry is about to experience its busiest season in the coming months.
Learning Analytics and Gamification will play inevitable roles in the online test preparation industry, as it will allow educators to assess and report student learning only on the web and will further assist them to better understand and optimize learning. For example, teachers will be able to see what kind of knowledge students most enjoy and use it accordingly (text, photos, infographics, or videos). They will be able to note which portions have not been delivered successfully and strengthen them next time. Besides, learning analytics can also help educators classify learners who may have academic or behavioural problems. Teachers could then build a way to help students achieve their full potential.”
Sharan Sai, Chief Business Relations & Public Relations, Hocomoco - "Despite the effects of the lockdown, India is one of the countries, that has been able to recover faster in terms of businesses being conducted. The construction activity saw a steep decrease immediately after the lockdown was imposed, however, by late May, the activities were back on track. India is witnessing a rapid growth of infrastructure across all the smart cities and metropolitans. With an average commercial space absorption square feet standing at 42 million, India stands tall among world nations. The pandemic has also worked out many realizations for many customers, like, people are now looking forward to independent housing and banks are boosting this through friendly loans for residential purposes.
Overall, the construction industry in value terms is estimated at a CAGR of 15.7% and is expected to reach $ 738.5 bn by 2022, which is an immense growth. Fueling this growing market, the technology which is developed for construction is helping in making efficient transactions. Technologies such as blockchain usage for construction workflow is making it more secure and seamless in terms of carrying out the operations. We are confident that 2021 will definitely be the beginning of a new dawn in the construction segment."
Prem Kumar, Founder & CEO, Snapbizz - “The consumer retail segment has witnessed rapid growth in terms of digitization of MSMEs in 2020. This was fuelled by the current covid era which brought in new opportunities in the retail sector specially for Kiranas. As a result, over a million Kiranas have gone digital in recent months and their stores have gone online by accepting online payments, ordering supplies online, managing inventory, etc. The technology cover now enables them to leverage their strengths like proximity, personal touch, and flexibility further to acquire new customers effortlessly.
This year our SnapBizz team has succesfully helped neighborhood Kiranas gear up efficiently to compete against the larger ecommerce players in this industry. Kiranas have always been facing intense competition from major e-commerce grocery players who are aggressive in their campaigns to capture market share. The entrance of big players in the FMCG sector has been another cause for concern among them. However as it was evident, it was the Kiranas who provided a lifeline to the country when the lockdown struck with the Pandemic. This renewed trust in the neighbourhood kirana by people also prompted them to lembrace digitization to further enhance their relationship with customers. We see this as a positive trend and will only see wider adoption of technology by kiranas at the grass root level in 2021.”
Mangesh Panditrao, CEO & Co-founder, Shoptimize - "In the past years, online stores typically saw a rush only close to the festival days of Dussehra and Diwali. This year saw a longer shopping period as shoppers started buying earlier. With COVID putting a dampener on travel and socializing plans, shoppers probably anticipated going online to shop and decided to avoid the last-minute rush. Stores also started showcasing their festive offers early on to increase sales and conversions. The 30 day Diwali sales period saw a 484% increase in the online store visitors and sessions. While sales hit their peak on 23 October 2020, the entire three months of September to November saw heightened activity and sales.
At Shoptimize, for our clients, D2C eCommerce has become a critical channel, growing from 10% (previous FY) of overall eCommerce to 40% (current FY). There has been a GMV growth of 250% from festive season sales alone this year. In general, our clients have seen a GMV growth of 400% post covid. The various categories which witnessed this massive growth post-covid are fashion & apparel which saw a GMV growth of 150%, food & beverages a growth of 500%; and appliances & electricals a growth of 400%."
Shabna Salam, Founder & Director, Maneraa - “Covid-19 has brought about a dramatic and permanent shift in consumer shopping behavior in e-Commerce. The consumer today has become more cost-conscious and is investing increasingly in affordable fashion. We have also observed that customers from tier 2 and tier 3 cities who were previously reluctant to do online shopping now enjoy the perks of digital retail. On Maneraa's website this year, we have seen consumers opt for pocket-friendly fashion with a willingness to experiment with new and relatively unknown brands. Though we are amongst the new players in the space, the customer response this season has given us great confidence especially with the spike in demand from tier 2 and 3 cities. It’s very likely that these trends are here to stay even after COVID as these are new customers who have joined the fray and they will only increase their usage as per industry norms. Looking ahead into 2021, we expect E-commerce retail to rise to 7% as opposed to the previous 1.6% thanks to the newfound demand and transforming consumer behavior.”
Sandeep Sankhla, Founder & Managing Partner, Glocal Mind - “The COVID-19 outbreak has severely impacted the entire healthcare industry and changed the working structure of its ecosystem. With the pandemic being the biggest healthcare crisis ever faced by man in this generation, the medical community has been working feverishly across the world to identify a vaccine and to understand the short term and long term impact of this on the world. And now with news trickling in that there could be sufficient doses available for more than one-third of the world’s population by the end of 2021, countries are busy working closely with the healthcare community to make sure that the purchase, distribution and storage of the vaccine can be carried out efficiently as per local market demands.
Add to this many new trends such as Tele-Health, Electronic Medical Records, a focus on preventive healthcare and continued partnerships between the public and private sector can be seen gaining prominence in the healthcare research space. To understand these emerging trends across geographies, GLocalMind has conducted multiple market research studies including studying the Impact on healthcare practices, Impact on hospital operations, Adoption of tele-medicine, pricing perceptions for Covid Vaccine, healthcare innovation and transformation, etc.
With these changing market dynamics expected in 2021, we are working towards becoming an independent healthcare research facilitator to a larger aggregator model and therein creating a larger ecosystem for healthcare research studies globally.”