News, Opinion

MAST Consulting founder makes the case for ‘business intelligence’ in the digital economy

Abhay Pandey, Founder, MAST Consulting Group believes that it is imperative that enterprises infuse business intelligence and analytics in their operational models in the new digital economy in an op-ed for

The Global Innovation Index (GII), which ranks world economies according to their innovation capabilities across 80 indicators, awarded the UAE the first position in the region.

Among the key indicators is business sophistication, whose determinants include knowledge workers, innovation linkages, and technology absorption. So, it is safe to deduce that the UAE has, thus far, excelled in knowledge flows and incorporating best-in-class practices and novel technologies. Where does it go from here?

Let’s see the status quo: The contribution of the UAE’s digital economy to its GDP stands at 9.7% — which is exemplary. The authorities have been vocal about increasing the contribution to 19.4% within the next ten years.

Though a realistic target based on the UAE’s stellar track record of accomplishing its goals, it will nevertheless require overwhelming participation from critical sectors and consumer-facing businesses.

Retail, in general, and FMCG, in particular, merit greater attention within the innovation framework. This is because retail is, first and foremost, a customer business. And FMCGs represent the dynamic side of it. So, they represent customer movements and sentiments like no other.

The scope for greater efficiencies

When we talk about efficiencies in sectors with a long value chain, such as retail, the considerations are many. From a customer’s standpoint, there is a need for greater transparency, easy service and support, e-warranty (no paperwork), etc.

Most importantly, customers — who are well-informed and digitally savvy in the UAE — expect superior brand experiences. From a brand’s standpoint, effectively engaging the customers, reducing the communication gap between vendors and end-users, personalizing the marketing, etc. take precedence.

The white goods segment, especially, is prone to issues such as missing warranty documents and unresponsive service partners. In addition, brands contend with revenue leakages, which deter them from making strategic investments into novel tech solutions.

While there are multiple, unique challenges, the solutions aren’t elusive. In fact, for modern consumer brands — which tend to have a considerable digital footprint — the answer lies in data, or, precisely, in integrated data.

The integration of people, processes, and technology functions on a single platform allows efficient data collation and application of analytics to derive intelligence, the utility of which is profound. For starters, it unearths gaps across the value chain, enabling brands to take proactive remedial actions and monitor enterprise risks thereon. Business intelligence also enables effective implementation of AI and automation, which can take efficiencies up a notch while reducing go-to-market times and overall costs.

How platformization unlocks efficiencies

Brands subscribing to the integrated approach tend to unify all functions under a single platform, preferably app-based. For starters, this gives greater visibility of organization-wide functions on a cloud-enabled connected device.

Brands can monitor the performances of service partners, create an internal rating system, and enhance accountability. On the other hand, customers can be given access to liaise with service partners on apps, where contracts, e-warranty, and other pertinent information can be readily accessed.

So, platformization, within the context of retail, creates a transparent avenue where brands, customers and service partners can connect and operate efficiently while safeguarding each other’s interests.

In a recent survey, 83% of respondents in the UAE said they are more likely to purchase from retailers that use technology to improve the customer experience. Brands can tap into this sentiment by leveraging enterprise-level analytics apps that provide the intelligence required to personalize customer engagement. Secure data sharing and proactive issue addressing, which constitute good CX, can also be achieved through such apps.

Meanwhile, by virtue of enhanced collaboration, efficient data management, and the scope for constant improvement in operational efficiency, brands can enhance in-house productivity and employee experience, which have a direct bearing on financial outcomes.

Most recently, intelligence and analytics apps have found utility in ESG measurement, compliance and reporting. This is consequential in a sustainability-driven nation like the UAE, where the government is increasingly bringing economic sectors under the larger sustainability purview. ESG-centric initiatives are also likely to increase in the run-up to the UAE-hosted COP28.

The retail sector — and FMCGs like appliances with high energy and carbon footprint — are thus likely to be under greater scrutiny. Under this scenario, along with the aforementioned CX and business priorities, intelligence and analytics do make a clinching case for themselves.

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