Is BOPIS emerging as the future of Retail?

3 min read

BOPIS (Buying online and picking up in-store) is becoming a new trend. Brick-and-mortar stores that also offer e-commerce or m-commerce are actively promoting BOPIS, which works to best of the combination of online cum brick-and-mortar existence. BOPIS also gives the unique advantage of providing the customer the choice of his channel and thus customer feels empowered when he chooses BOPIS. Older generation customers feel the benefit of the combination of traditional and digital experience, something that soaks into their acceptance easily

BOPIS calls for a real-time stock update and online visibility of stocks to customers across a retail enterprise and swift movement of stock replenishment in an automated manner. Most legacy retail ERP systems have end-of-day batch run to update stock balances and are not suitable for BOPIS enablement. Customers demand service, would like to shop online, and desire to pick-up in the next two hours. Retailers would not be able to service customers confidently if their stock update is not in real-time and cannot guarantee stock delivery to a customer due to poor visibility of stock at store or warehouse at any moment. Further, legacy retail ERP do not practice stock reservation for ordered but undelivered. Stock reservation is one of the fundamental business processes for omnichannel readiness for a retailer. Fundamentally, BOPIS to be successful, online stock visibility is a must, as echoed by Gartner in Retail CIO new year resolutions, 2020.

COVI-19 pandemic initially put the logistics and supply chain in disarray for two reasons; firstly, they were all diverted to serve emergency medical supplies; and secondly, they were unable to operate at one hundred percent efficiency due to lockdown conditions. Hence, customers opted for BOPIS as an alternate strategy. Further, customers find BOPIS as an effective way to shop due to the saving of shipping costs. Customers found park-in or curbside pick-up as a natural and time-saving option while giving them the comfort of contactless payment options. Since safety also played a predominant role as to how customers shop, BOPIS became one of the apparent choices for items that customers required immediately for consumption or use.

Customers can be given the best experience in BOPIS by giving them clear instructions about their parking lot at park-in or curbside slots and can gain a no-wait experience which otherwise they experience by standing in the line at brick-mortar. BOPIS experience so far had proven that more than 75% of BOPIS customers also shopped more items when they came for pick-up, thus providing an opportunity for cross-selling and up-sell.

While designing Retail ViVA, we provided BOPIS right from the beginning of its launch and giving flexibility to the customer to pick up from any store of her/his choice, truly to omnichannel customer experience. Retail ViVA Mobile APP offers customers the choice of a store for pick-up in person at the time of check-out.

Technology is making a difference and is driving the future of customer engagement and experience in the retail world. Retailers who are adopting omnichannel solutions will be far ahead of the competition, and all early adopters will reap the advantage of pandemic and post-pandemic business growth. E-commerce is here to stay, so is Brick-and-mortar, so is BOPIS as well. BOPIS may well turn out to be the new normal of retail, soon graduate to the normal-normal of retail and thus be the future of retail. Retailers will innovate with BOPIS to make a customer do the impulsive shopping at park-in or curbside through the adoption of augmented reality techniques to create a physical walk-through of stores towards business growth. BOPIS is certainly turning out to be the smart choice of retailers as well as customers and thus a win-win for both.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

100 marks in 100 days for SERP Ranking of retailviva.com

5 min read

SERP is an abbreviation for “Search Engine Results Page,” and Ranking stands for “Position,” among others. Together, they represent the position of your website or blog or article on a search engine result page. When we query for a “Keyword” in a search engine, results get displayed based on our query. Search engines follow their algorithms to populate results in relevance to the Keyword. The keyword is the word what a user thinks about when he desires to search. If I am looking for a summer cruise ride and stay in California, my keywords for search maybe “Summer cruise from California.” There are many search engines in the world. Google occupies the number one spot, followed by Bing.

We have pets at home, and they love to play with us. They demand attention and importance. My friends have been telling me how they have been playing with their pets all through the day due to lock down and working from home. Similarly, you should treat your website as a digital pet and bestow attention and importance. The importance it seeks is to wine, dine & dance on the first page of Google and every website’s heartthrob is Google SERP ranking.

Google and Bing have their algorithm to show up a website on the first page or first in the search listing. It is a golden principle that no search users go beyond the second page of search engine listing and most do not even go beyond the first page. Hence, your website must get listed on the first page of google search so that your site comes up for the relevant keyword. The process of growing natural traffic to your website both qualitatively and quantitatively is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). When we started our google SERP ranking improvement project for www.retailviva.com, our objective was to get ranked on the first page. We are a team of four that wanted to attempt this. It is all started on 17th April 2020 with our first meeting to debate and discuss and lay the path forward to achieve this. The first step was to understand google webmaster guidelines in toto. This strategy much helped us to understand all the little nuances that we need to care for in a website.

We scheduled one-hour meetings thrice a week and a day in the middle was left to accomplish changes that we must make based on our previous day understanding of SEO techniques. Simultaneously, we realized that content is king and to confess, we had poorly written content on our website then. We started re-writing content for about 35 pages, with a clear articulation of relevance of content for each specific page, plagiarism-free. The related pictures selection also was a task added to content preparation. The keywords were the riddle and puzzle to be solved, with questions like single keyword per page or multi-keyword per page or which relevant keyword search users will think first. We quickly realized that one must make several strategic decisions along the pathway of the website SEO process. We applied collective decision making after consideration of all contexts. We sometimes agreed, few times agreed to disagree, but all times agreed to the conclusion.

When we started, our SERP ranking was at the bottom of the 120th page in google search and we could see us forging forward every week as we began making changes in tune with our learnings on SEO strategy. The motivation of small success made us finish the google webmaster guidelines from the first word to the last without missing any side links and when we finished, we were more than ordinarily confident that we have at least done everything right as per the author. We did a similar exercise for Bing as well quickly in the next few days. It was 90 days of learning something from scratch and we moved to the third page in SERP by that time.

We had a unique website design wherein our home page was the visualisation of our module icons with links without any wordings at all. Google loves unique websites and we consider our site as unique, quite unusual to other product websites. We then realized that we must have wordings to represent our home page for Keyword tagging and with a single line wording and tag line, we hit our last nail to finish it in style.

The D-day was the sweet 100th day, and we noticed that we are at a numero uno spot in SERP in google occupying the very first position in about 35 developed countries starting from the United States and ending in New Zealand for “cloud retail ERP” keyword. The simple learning was that follow the author’s instructions meticulously to get the best results.

I will fail in my duty if I do not mention three colleagues who contributed the maximum to this project namely Santosh Kumar Chakilam, Sudhakar Emani, and Neha Velshetty. Kudos to my colleagues who scored 100 out of 100 in 100 days. They are on to their next mission to maintain SERP rankings and that discovery will give us more knowledge to pen sometime in the future. Until then, please try and make your website wine & dine on the first page of Google SERP.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Enterprise Content Management – A cure or a curse?

3 min read

Enterprises are full of content and float in content every moment. There must be a system to share, store, protect, control, and destroy content so that only authorized content is shared or stored. In the absence of a content management system, documents may be lost or destroyed or distributed unauthorizedly or stored in the wrong locations. So that content is properly managed, enterprises adopt a centralized Content Management system, which is popularly known as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) or Content Services (CS). Both of then represent the way content is organized and systemized in an enterprise.

Traditionally, enterprises managed content in a scattered manner, some in the storage location of individual employee’s computers or the more organized ones pointed storage in one central drive in their network. However, this is rule-based, and success depends on employees following the rules to store as per corporate policy and procedure. They were indexed to search but did not have any associated taxonomy tags to group them for easy retrieval. Keywords search within content was also not possible easily.

Cloud-based content management systems coupled with file sharing and file synchronization services became quite popular during the last decade and occupied center stage in corporate adoption. However, there were concerns about security for adoption at a faster rate and became more popular as an employee’s personal cloud content management system quickly. Some of them have improved and are addressing the gaps for being a full-fledged enterprise content management system with robust collaboration features. Multiple users collaboratively manage web and enterprise content, synchronizing their thoughts, actions, and expectations. ECM systems have brought the vibrancy of active collaboration for concerted effort and shared storage, avoiding duplicate storage of the same documents within a single network. The deduplication of document circulation has saved a substantial amount of space and corporate bandwidth usage in their buy operational timing. In one of our client locations, the average saving on deduplication noticed was close to 50% of data circulating over email.

Retail ViVA, our Retail Management System, has integrated ECM across the other 25 modules and stores data with intelligent taxonomy for easy retrieval. The accountability matrix created for content access is in adherence to corporate governance policies of the enterprise. Retail ViVA stores all reports in ECM and circulates a link for access, providing transparency of who has consumed or otherwise. ECM helps retailers to achieve the efficiency of content storage coupled with ease of content access.

ECM is green, clean, and is the cream of corporate governance objective. Retailers must care about what content is distributed and who has authorized such content for distribution. We can achieve the best accountability while avoiding duality of authority, bringing in clarity in the organizational hierarchy towards faster achievement of enterprise goals and objectives.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Driving Employee Engagement with Chatbots – How Important?

4 min read

A bot is a software backed application that can converse like humans either via text or text to speech to another individual on the other side, for information provision or clarify a query. Due to this conversational capability, bots are also known as conversational bot or chat(ter)bot or virtual agent (meaning a customer service agent) or smart agent or other similar names. Chatbots got developed to enhance human efficiency and to take care of routine or repetitive actions so that human’s precious time can be applied to do something more value-adding. In modern times, chatbots have gained popularity, more in customer service, and much less for enhancing internal efficiency.

We always opine that customer service is personal and needs a personal touch. If a chatbot is involved with a customer, maybe, we can finish it with a personal touch by way of chatbot transferring the conversation to a physical service agent. Similarly, if the chatbot can be applied to internal processes saving precious time of employees, employees have more time to indulge in customer conversation or create a good experience for customers. I strongly feel enterprises must first start using chatbots internally to improve efficiency rather than jumping to use it for customer service. All of us spend several minutes accessing information, either in search or navigating a series of menus in an ERP or eCommerce application or travel site. If we can save that time spent, we will have more time at our disposal to read or attend to more value-adding tasks. Employees are motivated as it takes lots of routine and mundane tasks out of their functions.

Let us imagine a situation of generating a customer outstanding aging report and mailing it to my boss for a forthcoming review meeting. I may spend between three to five minutes to accomplish this task, depending on the smartness of the ERP system that is in use. If I can indicate the same in a chat with a bot as “mail debtor aging report to the boss and me now,” it takes less than ten seconds for me to type. The time saving is enormous, and the task gets accomplished. Here the bot understands the debtor aging report, and looks for it in the report menu, understands my boss from the organization chart, runs the report, gets the report, and mails it to both. I can give my best each day by delegating my routine tasks to the bot and I can do more productive work. This new way of engaging makes me motivated to contribute to enterprise goals and success. I become an engaged employee ever working towards enhancing enterprise agility and growth.

While designing and developing our Retail Management System, Retail ViVA, we decided to internalize the chatbot for improving employee efficiency before using the bot for customer service. We got Tulsi, our chatbot trained on all twenty-six modules before embarking on training the bot for customer service. We could sense enhancement in employee engagement and productivity in a short period of two months. Employee satisfaction surveys also indicated a more robust engagement than before. Employees also loved the way they can get information on demand and that information being live without any lag.

Any employee would love time-saving methods. Employees feel empowered when they can get information on demand and feel motivated as well. Information on demand helps in their decision making and becomes a sound decision support system. Access to information and delivery success boosts their confidence to grow to the next level of the hierarchy and contribute to enterprise goals.

I recommend implementing a chatbot for internal systems first and then plan to implement for customer service. By getting used to the chatbot, employees can better articulate chatbot design for external customer service options, so that brand equity enhances.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

How to emotionally invoke employee Seeking System?

4 min read

The Seeking System (SS) is one of the seven dominant emotional tendencies of the brain of every mammal and probably, the most fascinating one of the seven. The SS is the primary system that is responsible for creating the urge or motivation for our desires and survival. Primarily, SS helps us to nurture our motivation, urge to explore, and desire to understand. It is the first point of trigger for every mammal to reach out in an expectant mode. By activation of the SS, all mammals try to seek positive experiences. The SS is also called the science of motivation. If one can always invoke SS, one will perpetually discover knowledge out of sheer curiosity. The chemical Dopamine, play the pivot role of activating the SS, and is often referred to as the “motivational” or “feel good” chemical of the brain.

Every human has an active SS. Let us take the example of receiving a surprise gift. It is human tendency to open the gift and seek what is inside. The SS invokes the urge and expectation to know what is inside and motivates us to open the gift for understanding. Seeking urges one to look for places where resources are available. Every google search is a seeking system invoked, and we go and find a website that can provide us information to learn or study or discover.

Similarly, in the corporate world, structured ways can be created to invoke the SS in every employee. It can be during one’s day-to-day activities or as part of Learning & Development (L&D) or as part of group introspection or combination of them. Every attempt must invoke the element of surprise or curiosity to invoke the SS in an employee. Hence, it is essential that on the job SS can be created that links up to employee’s behaviour and advocates the right training with the extreme curiosity of looking forward to that. If it is linked to L&D, the curiosity and desire must be inter-locked to employee self-development, and self-motivation environment must be created to seek out. Whichever way we look at it, the Human Resource system must be capable of addressing this SS concept by inter-linking organizational process and results into creating the right curiosity and desire.

We live in a knowledge economy, and a learned employee is a gainful employee. Employers who care for creating the right launchpad for active learning is providing purposeful employment. In the knowledge economy, humans want to thrive in the seeking system permanently for perpetual improvement. In our company, we give utmost importance to invoking the SS. One question which dares and stares at us every year is what is that we have put into our employees by way of they seeking more than what they already tried and have in them. We have been very successful in our approach of self-development, and that is demonstrated in our four years of consecutive Great Place to Work certification.

The core to creating the SS is to have well designed Human Capital Management (HCM) Module with matured Learning & Development Module. HCM must take active and real-life business situations that circles around the employees and convert them as curious Seeking System opportunities for employees. If a customer rates an experience as poor or exceptional in a Retail environment, the whole sequence of operations that led to that rating must be converted into an opportunistic seeking system of improvement and curiosity to engage in discussions for betterment. If every single score can be motivated towards active seeking engagement, we can conclude that a successful SS is present. Primarily, situational learning must be initiated, and a loop must be created to actively invoke the SS to the desires of all motivated employees.

While designing the Retail ViVA, the flagship Retail Management System, we have kept a motivational seeking system as one of the ends and built it with an open architecture system for L&D. Any Seeking System must be flexible and configurable for creating surprise and curiosity. I am sure if Retailers can work towards creating the right environment for invoking the Seeking System, they can enjoy the benefit of motivational workforce desiring to achieve the ultimate success of customer satisfaction.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

The power of one is smarter than the pieces of many.?

3 min read

Enterprise adopts Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) products to digitize their operations. Some enterprises settle for one single ERP product which may cover most of their operational needs. Others may opt for multiple products that claim superiority for a specific function and integrate them using the integration method. The first is a single solution approach through a single vendor and in the second, it is a multi-solution approach using multi-vendors or using one system integrator to integrate and maintain them. With the cloud slowly becoming the norm, the single solution of multi-solution has taken the discussions to the next level of debate, as it may be possible to integrate solutions in a hybrid cloud environment. My understanding by way of consultation with several Chief Information Officers (CIO) indicates mixed reactions; for some, multi-solution is a win-win while for some others, it has become a nightmare.

Modern business applications come with connectors for external systems to draw and put data, thereby creating permanent connectivity between two different software systems. Application Programming Interface (API) or other similar interfaces help achieve interaction between multiple systems. However, when two systems interact, there is more exposure to security risk due to users using different connectivity and what is technically known as transport security. Further, cloud hosting has created another new concept known as a hybrid cloud where you connect with multiple systems residing in various clouds, also exposing to security risks. While one can mitigate these security risks through proper security protocols, a risk exposure remains even though mitigation measures are put in by way of encrypted transport protocols.

Let me take, for a moment, example of buying a new motor vehicle. We test-drive many and finally settle for one. We may like individual features of some but may not find all those loved features in the final one we decide. However, we settle for the final one only because it has the most features that we liked, while it certainly lacked few that also we loved. Similarly, in software products, the easiest way to avoid much of security risks, cost of integration, cost of unification and cost of attaining equilibrium in version update between different software is to opt for single solution.

But the future of software is drawing us to same conclusion. When NoCode platforms mature, users can create or add features of their choice to an existing software they use. If the software is built entirely on NoCode platforms, they can add whatever they need or desire. Time is not very far off when this becomes a reality and then, I am unable to see traction for corporate CIO to opt for multi-software combinations. It will be interesting to buy the one which has most features like the example of the motor vehicle above and add the features the enterprise desire using NoCode platforms.

Seeing this future trend, which is emerging, we built 16 of our 26 module Retail Management Software, “Retail ViVA” using NoCode platform of ours, giving absolute freedom for Citizen Users to add features of their choice or re-configure it as they like. If the platform is NoCode rather than LowCode, users can customise the solution to their specific needs under common corporate standards. If a Citizen User can model her/his needs by themselves, why do they need to opt for multi-products of speciality and take the hassles of combining them to one bundle? In the NoCode environments, self-modelling does not consume much time and one can quickly model and achieve desired results. As we mature into advanced NoCode platforms, users may rethink of moving away from specialist SaaS software products to one unified ERP product of their choice and cascade it up by themselves to their most needs. I strongly feel that NoCode platforms will change the landscape of cloud software and its subscription and see some significant disruptions coming along in the medium term of two to three years. Until then, it will be life as usual with multi-software thriving and gaining market share with their excellent specialized offerings. I opine a single solution approach is safe and secure and has long term sustainability so long the solution provider is credible, stable, and resilient.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Customer Financing: Will it convert those on the fence?

4 min read

Customer Financing is a facility wherein customers choose a pre-defined payment plan options rather than paying the full price of a product upfront. Customers choose to pay in easy weekly or fortnightly or monthly installments. Customers get to use the product right away but pay in easy installments. Retailers promote customer financing as it helps to improve their sales. Simultaneously customers enjoy immediate use of the product while they pay in future.

Customers find products affordable when they can pay through a payment plan. Retailers, in turn, provided multiple financing plan options, so that customers can choose the plan that best suits their requirements. Customers are also able to plan small installment payments in their weekly or monthly pay checks, and their personal budgeting becomes much more comfortable and manageable.

Anyone who does customer financing, be it Retailer by themselves or through a third-party financier, takes the credit risk into its books. If the Retailer is financing, then it becomes a trade-off between increased sales versus delinquency that they need to handle for bad debts. Making Customer financing through third party finance has the benefit of increased sales while not taking any delinquency risk. However, the service and customer relationship are at the discretion of a third party, which might affect long term customer loyalty. One another smart way to handle this situation is for Retailers to finance customers by themselves to keep service and customer relationships at a high degree but securitize the receivables at the back end to reduce their credit risk.

While building Retail ViVA, the 26 modules integrated Retail Management System; we integrated a full-fledged Ready Finance module to provide Retailers the option to provide customer financing. The module covers score track, credit limit generation, credit disbursement, portfolio monitoring, re-aging, tele-caller follow-up, bailiff, repossession, and re-sale as an end-to-end credit management module. It also facilitates third-party financing and portfolio securitization as well. Giving the benefit of commencing customer financing any time is the key objective behind the incorporation of this relevant module into our Retail ERP product.

I have the first-hand experience of involving in over 200,000 customer financing accounts per annum for the last 20 years and have seen the dominant role customer financing plays to enhance sales. I have seen the ratio of customer financed sales nearing seventy percent and delinquency ratios well under two percent. Securitization is an ideal situation of double benefit where a Retailer builds strong loyalty by believing in customers to advance credit while simultaneously reducing the risk of delinquency. We have seen several customers availing repeat financing which demonstrates true customer loyalty. Customer financing pushes customers to Retailers rather than Retailers struggling to pull customers inward.

We are slowly moving to an era of subscription economy where every capital item or service is becoming a small monthly or yearly payment plan. In the new trend of capital spend turning to monthly service subscription, the Retailers providing customer payment plans will be the thoughtful winner and sustain long term customer loyalty.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Citizen Developer: Who is she & What she needs?

5 min read

Gartner defines Citizen Developer as a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT. I, instead, define it as a user who has software solution creation capabilities without indulging in code writing using non-technical platforms that help her develop or maintain software. The variation in the definition is the line drawn between LowCode and NoCode. These two are the significant contributions in recent years which not only help fasten software development but also help to avoid the misery triangle of often delayed IT solution development.

Traditionally, we have been following the concept of central IT department being the torchbearer of software development, and they become the intermediary broker between end-user who desire a systemic digital process and a software development firm that is capable of that digitization. However, in the whole process of ideation and exchange, several communication pollutions creep in leading to delays and imperfect output. While generalizing this aspect, there are also smart tools that create excellent collaboration capabilities across involved stakeholders, but still, more must be done for a user to feel satisfied that they have got precisely what they envisioned. The three-way communication and collaboration process are the misery triangle resulting in the output that is not to the expectation of the user who conceived the digitization.

The Generation Z employees are technology savvy but may not all be technically savvy to write code and fulfill their digitization needs by themselves. In the alternate, they can design solutions based on their needs due to their digital intimacy right from the early stage of their learning. They crave for something that can help design by themselves and invisibly code by themselves for their needs, without indulging in code writing. LowCode and NoCode platforms are born to serve this need and have become quite popular in the recent past. Every fortune 100 technology company is into the race of creating these platforms to capture this steeply increasing market need.

Most platforms today are mainly LowCode, wherein most development work is performed through non-code writing tool with final finishing touches done by a qualified code writer. LowCode method of development is agile and shortens the whole software development lifecycle to successful implementation. There is also NoCode platforms which can do one hundred percent of the work of software development and bring up solution in a ready-to-use form without a code writer writing a single line of code. In the LowCode, the pain of the misery triangle remains but at much-reduced level, while in NoCode, the freedom of self-service excels.

Modern enterprises need to be agile to succeed, and stakeholders demand quick actions, be it customers or vendors or employees or government or civil society. Primarily, they must be responsive to emerging needs and must be able to adapt and adopt quickly. NoCode platforms help enterprises to be agile and take to new situations as it comes without internal or external dependencies. However, this may not be accepted from the Corporate Governance perspective as it advocates central governance of common attributes and not distributed management at everyone’s discretion. The maturity of NoCode tools to centrally configure “must-have” or “cannot have” features, while giving flexibility for citizen(end) users to create their solutions may be the right answer to this dilemma of freedom versus control.

The world of software development is going to explode with NoCode development tools and make every user a citizen developer. The complexity of creating a user-friendly non-technical NoCode platform will be the challenge of repute code writers. I can see the shift from code writing for solutions to code writing for platforms or tools. Code writers need to enhance their skills to develop code on macro-level rather than micro-level development of specific processes or rules or situations.

Retail ViVA, our Retail Management system software, has 26 modules, and 16 of them are designed and developed using our NoCode platform known as “CodeSelfie.” Our agility to re-design or cater to a user request is so fast, and I can see our scalability to build better products. NoCode is the future of software development for citizen users and NoCode platform development is the future of code writers. NoCode is one other fantastic concept that keeps us on edges like AI, IoT, robotic automation, and blockchain. I firmly believe the future belongs to NoCode platform developers.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

The Journey of (native) Embedded Analytics: Why & Where is it today

5 Min read

Analytics is a systemic way of discovering data for aligned or non-aligned patterns and presenting it in a visualized manner that the human mind cannot miss the apparent trends that presentation is highlighting. The summarised highlights of data presented in charts and graphs pave the way for easy understanding. Analytics became popular right since accumulatio of business data coupled with the introduction of specialist analytics tools in the marketplace that claimed exclusive data discovery familiarity.

As these tools became popular, we noticed corporate houses performing various analytics for top management by way of relevant charts. This kindled human reaction to those visualization and thus was born data-driven decision making. Senior management makes strategic decisions based on data visualization presented to them. However, in the early days of these tools, the analytics visualization was restricted to senior management, and scarcely, the operational team had access to these analytics platforms. Dashboards were not used by the operational team, least to create it by themselves for their own data analytic needs. However, all the analytics were batch driven then, not providing helpful insights on a real-time basis. It is like the report card of our children which we get every quarter from the school to know what scores they have got and being blank until the end of the quarter to see how the child is progressing in studies.

With the advent of the Millennial and Gen Z workforce, the appetite for self-service and drive for making decisions on their own gained momentum. Their independent cum collaborative working styles required that they own their data, network about their thoughts on data analytics in close circles, and pursue actions from their consideration. Self-service analytics and on-demand analytics came into play to their advantage. On-demand analytics is not possible in batch mode, and the absence of embedded analytics was an apparent frustration to them. All the frontline analytics vendors rushed in to fill the gap with connectors that can export data almost in real-time to provide real-time analytics. Some created common platforms to connect reputed ERP, and other popular cloud software and others provided a generic model of configuring connectivity between systems to pull data almost instantaneously. The Embedded Analytics became the basic norm, not even as a unique feature beyond the primary offering.

However, still, the third-party embedded analytics had its limitations of not being fit for fast throughput online customer-facing data roll situations like stock market transactions or online revenue management systems or the like. Further, some of the online ERP systems cater to high volume eCommerce transactions, and embedded analytics fell short of configuring for alerts integrated with workflows linked to those transactions.

It is in this context, natively embedded analytics came in, developed natively by software product owners, not to miss even the split of seconds that is involved in the transfer of data to the third party data model and produce analytics based on such transferred data. Natively embedded analytics uses the same database rather than using another database replicated online from the central action database. Natively embedded analytics stands superior to third party embedded analytics. However, third party specialist embedded analytics were much superior in product features and performance being specialist products. The trade-off then was what to choose between embedded and natively embedded or hybrid of them. The natively embedded has the advantage of showcasing what-if situations as transactions are captured even before a transaction commit is made if situation demanding and warranting. While one may not do transaction-based analytics in an online manner, there may be situations that require predictive analytics for transactions in the offing. A natively embedded one has an edge to provide that instantly like an instant coffee.

While building Retail ViVA, our Retail Management ERP software, we developed a natively embedded analytics platform of our own so that users need not miss out on their abilities to use the analytics even for transaction-based decisions making. While the senior management may be involved in data-driven decision making, the operational team may be involved in transaction-based decision making. Further, a unified database used for analytics produces one truth which is core in corporate decision-making.

While embedded analytics war is on between various specialist business intelligence vendors, large ERP product vendors have created their own native embedded analytics given largeness and complexities of their data model. Who will win this war is an interesting question and time alone will answer? Whoever be it, the native has an edge, being really at the Edge. Maybe, a hybrid model may best fit to serve multi-purpose needs of modern growing retail enterprise.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Do engaged employees’ matter for excellent customer experience?

3 Min Read

Engaged employees are those who emotionally connect to their work and performance goals. They perform beyond their call of duty to enhance their employer reputation and derive satisfaction. Engaged employees display a positive attitude towards work and always strive to provide the best in their delivery of work

Gartner defines customer experience as “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.” Forrester Research defines customer experience as: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” Primarily, in a nutshell, customer experience refers to gatherings from interaction and consequent perception formed in the minds of customers. Customers form an opinion about the Brand in isolation and also compare it with the competition. If their view is superior to the one they have on competition, the positive experience gets established in the minds of the customer.

Let us, for a moment, think which channels are responsible for creating a better or bitter experience in the customer’s mind? It must be either digital or physical interactions or a combination of both. Whichever be the channel, it is the human mind that is behind the creation of both. In physical, human plays a predominant role in creating a pleasant experience. In digital, human indirectly plays the role of designing it for an enjoyable experience. When an employee is fully engaged and motivated to perform beyond his normally expected lines, she/he strives to create a good experience for the customer. The moot point to understand is how employee engagement drives creating an excellent customer experience

To have engaged employees, Retailers must have a robust Human Capital Management system, that is not only transparent but also fosters an open culture of exchange. In designing Retail ViVA, we kept these critical criteria in mind and integrated several tools that will foster collaboration, open communication, peer learning and trust creation. The modules and tool also indirectly bestow corporate cultural impartation.

Retailers need to create an environment that kindles employee engagement proactively. Driving engaged employees to pursue the mission of excellent customer experience becomes a simple self-derivative in the minds of every employee. Customers then start sensing a good feel at every touchpoint and start gaining positive experience. In conclusion, if a Retailer can create an atmosphere for employees to be engaged with the enterprise deeply, a sound foundation is laid for establishing excellent customer experience. I firmly believe that if we can take care of employee engagement first, they will, on their own, strive for creating an exceptional customer experience

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com