Buying a big-ticket item is seldom a one-person decision. Just consider the car-buying experience. Andrew Yeong, the vice-president and head (Asia-Pacific) of telecommunications giant and digital ecosystem enabler Tata Communications, says, “When buying a car, you would usually take family or friends, who can influence your decision, along with you.” Thanks to pandemic-related social distancing measures, however, that collaboration would be off the cards.
Enter the virtual car showroom, which Tata Communications built for a car manufacturer. A platform connecting a potential buyer and his or her friends – an “ecosystem of decision-makers” – allows the group to access a virtual gallery where they can view different parts of a car, as well as customisable options such as colour palettes. Even as we speak, says Andrew, the technologies for such initiatives are improving: “The visuals were shot by fixed cameras. Now we are looking to shoot with action cameras, so viewers will feel like they are walking around to check out certain details. It’s about linking everything to create that customer experience – combining those dynamic visuals and interactivity, and delivering the encounter to not just one person but a wider ecosystem.”
Addressing this need, Tata Communications’ Digital Customer Experience Platform aims to drive a best-in-class, real-world consumer experience online. This is an example of the ultra-rich, connected digital experiences that many companies have been looking to integrate into their operations as part of their digital transformations. Covid-19 has sped up the pace of these changes.
Andrew, who has more than 24 years of leadership experience at top technology companies, including Tata Communications, says: “Covid-19 has accelerated the need for companies to have digital capabilities, such as bringing the office to employees’ homes or a store to customers’ homes. This is a huge challenge for many organisations and we find that what they want is a secure platform that also fits their business model.”
“AS THE WORLD BECOMES MORE CONNECTED, IT’S IMPORTANT THAT ORGANISATIONS LOOK AT HOW INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGIES ARE DISTRIBUTED.”
It is a challenge that Tata Communications is familiar with – having worked with many organisations to plan, design and build their worldwide networks for over a decade. Its wide-ranging work focuses on network infrastructure as well as solutions relating to mobility, the Internet of Things, cloud enablement and cybersecurity. Despite the scale of his company, Andrew emphasises the importance of considering each client’s digital readiness, needs and budgets, in order to provide tailored solutions.
Shares Andrew, “We operate in more than 200 countries and territories today, creating what we call a Secure Connected Digital Experience, to enable enterprises to build agile, future-ready businesses. They are returning to business in an environment that’s different from pre-Covid-19 times, and need to evolve accordingly. During this transition, there are three Cs to consider. The first C is customer experience. The second is consolidation; how do you make the most of a company’s existing resources? The third C is cost of ownership, which includes monetising the digital footprint.”
Improving global connectivity will become more important as the world becomes more linked. In these times, technological advancements that were once considered nice-to-haves have become must-haves. Referring to clients in the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) industry, he shares, “Currently, it might be enough to have a chatbot or a call centre with remote agents, engaging with banking customers. In the future, this will not suffice. Banks will want more analytics and technology that let them know their customers better while customers will demand ultra-rich media such as having a video chat with a live person. This is not just about the digital service experience, but also about cybersecurity – a bank’s customers want to know who they are talking to.”
Ensuring information is distributed in an equitable way is something “close to his heart”, says Andrew. “It’s important that organisations and governments ensure information reaches as many people as possible in a fair and safe manner. We want information to be fairly distributed, along with technologies that are out there – be it artificial intelligence, augmented reality or machine learning. Information should not broaden the divide, but narrow it.”
Text Lynette Koh Photography Veronica Tay