Digital Transformation in Curtailing Inflation

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technology to transform business operations, and it has been a trend for the past few years. The process of digital transformation can be broken down into three phases:

1) The first phase is to identify the business needs and what are the goals that need to be met.

2) The second phase is to identify how technology can help meet these needs and goals.

3) The third phase is to execute the plan by implementing new technologies and processes.

Digital transformation has led to automation and automation in industries have made everything affordable. Automation is the name given to the system that is made to reduce human dependence or completely eliminate it to function. Some of the significant examples of automation making everything affordable are:

Automobile industry has replaced most manual functioning with automatic transmission systems making life easier and better.

Power backup devices, such as UPS, generators, etc are perfect examples of automation systems where we make use of the stored energy whenever there is a disconnection with the energy and the system charges itself automatically once the energy/power is restored.

Medical devices, such as ventilators work on automation systems ensuring that sensors tell whenever there is a drop in for example a patient’s oxygen level. This system saves the cost, time and energy which would be dedicated by more than one medical staff.

Throughout the world, especially America, a lot of agricultural labor work has replaced humans with robots.

Such prospects in automation will drive automation in services, which will further lead to access of premium services at lower rates to all.

The digital transformation has been a major force in curtailing inflation. The internet and digitization have changed the way we live, work, and consume. This transformation started with the introduction of e-commerce and has continued to grow exponentially with the advent of social media, smartphones, wearable tech, AI assistants and more. Inflation is the rate at which the price of goods and services is rising. It’s a natural phenomenon that’s typically caused by an increase in the money supply. The best way to curb inflation is by digitizing assets.

Digital transformation has given rise to the ‘big data’ and ‘data analytics’ technology especially in the banking and financial systems and industries. Big data is generally referred to very large structures and unstructured data sets containing tens of thousands of observations on bank customers, users of online payment platforms, holders of insurance policies, etc. In addition, textual data can also be digitized and made available for the computer-aided analysis of content. For example, digitization of documents continuing the latest financial regulations to incorporate them into the compliance routines, newspaper articles to aid in the search for indicators of economic uncertainty and resorts by the investment banks, which may show market sentiment giving significant information for the regulators.

Thus, digitization has saved the cost of researching data and analyzing it in the banking and financial sector to a great extent with the aid of big data technology. Scholars also predict that the future of traditional banking is digital because payment procedures through traditional mediums will be replaced by social mediums. CEOs of big corporate companies took the decision of redesigning their products and services to adjust to the new realities caused after the pandemic. It was mainly done to curtail the cost and so many companies are still continuing with the decisions to counter inflation. One of the industrial technology companies redeployed more than 50% of a single unit’s engineering capacity to rapidly redesign products in order to use the semiconductors available in the market.

Automotive manufacturers facing semiconductor shortages de-featured products to maintain production and sales in the face of these shortages. Overall, global supply chains are overburdened and disrupted resulting in congested ports but the bottlenecks are enabling acceleration of technology adoption across the supply chain industry. This will prove to be efficient in curtailing global inflation.

In conclusion Digital Transformation is a strategic process that has been adopted by many companies to stay competitive. Digital transformation has been adopted by many companies to stay competitive. There are various use cases of digital transformation in curtailing inflation, such as:

Using Big Data for predictive analytics to forecast trends and make better decisions.

Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning for decision making.

Building a data driven culture and environment for faster decision making.

Customer Experience is the Key to User Growth

Whether we talk about acquisition or retention, customer experience is the key to higher conversion rates. In the era of immediate gratification and countless studies of hooking the customer online in just 6 seconds, it is imperative that online customer experience of a brand is on the spot. The world, that was shaken up recently with the COVID-19 pandemic, digital exposure is typically the first experience point for a large number of potential customers.

For a given brand, the digital assets are owned (Websites, Blogs, Chatbots etc), Earned (Social Media) and Paid (Media). Generally earned and paid media drives the traffic back to owned assets. In order to provide a great customer experience, there needs to be two elements in the place; a great landing page strategy and an experience engine.

Understanding that people are unique and like different elements, when they are interacting with the brand, that is where there is a higher conversion rate. Experience engine is an easy-to-use platform for designing and managing your website’s dynamic experience. It provides you with the tools to easily create, manage, share and scale experiences across devices. Experiences can be customized based on:

  • Previous browsing behavior of the customer (on your website)

This includes tagging the customer based on the landing page they landed on. If a Paid media campaign is targeting mothers; there is a very high chance that clicks coming through are from mothers.

  • Device Based Experience

Want to run videos on your websites. Great idea but is it? Maybe instead of videos load images for people accessing from mobile devices or slower connections. All this is possible doing some intelligent coding or using tools.

  • IP Based Experience

IP Address is a unique address of every browser and we can figure out where the traffic is coming from using the IP address. You can perform different actions for people coming from different demographics. Most usable examples of what Centric has seen over the years is ensuring right distributors / brand partners that are listed for the specific geographic region; showing correct inventory to different Geographies and having the right compliance data.

In terms of tools, Experience engines are typically costly in terms of CAPEX but with the right strategy it can pay itself (ROI) within 6 months. This all depends on how much of traffic you are anticipating on your website and what type of Earned media (Social); Outbound (Email, SMS) and Paid media you are planning to use.

Centric is a partner of Adobe and implements Adobe Experience Manager, Target and Analytics with efficiency. Adobe is by far the market leader in this regard and the fact that practically any automobile brand website proves it, validates this statement. Not only are they able to provide respective regional experiences but also track everything centrally.

For others, where the requirement is mostly regional we recommend using Pimcore; an OpenSource PIM/MDM/CMS/eCommerce with Experience Engine built on top. Centric has used it successfully at scale of multiple clients. Pimcore also supports visual workflows to enrich the data for products or services in its enterprise edition.

Now that you are aware of what Experience engines are, review your marketing budgets and see what it means to your company to increase the conversion rate by a couple of percentage points. If you need more help in understanding this, please write to us at [email protected]

Digital Marketing Trends for 2022

Digital marketing is getting complicated and exciting with each passing day. Digital marketing essentials, such as SEO, PPC, UX and branding have become even more complex and diverse with emerging social media platforms and evolving regulations. Content, personalization and automation are some of the digital marketing kings, which are shaping the digital trends of 2022. These trends are the recipe for maximizing revenue and boosting awareness. The basis of these trends is personalization. This generation, which is glued to Netflix and HBO because they offer customized content options when it comes to being entertained, want a similar kind of experience in shopping as well.

One of the industries spending and working in customer personalization is the airline industry. They observe and evaluate their customer behavior, social appointments and preferences to analyze when is the right time to increase the airfare per ticket. More and more marketing companies are following this trend to utilize data in order to give a breakthrough result in content delivery and marketing.

Some of the biggest digital marketing trends in 2022 are:


The World Augmented

The world of augmentation is synonymous with the multiverse world of Facebook. However, the world has become augmented with a multiverse beyond just Facebook. It has created a virtual world of augmented reality, 3D holographic avatars, virtual reality and video. It has created a gaming environment where customers not just play but socialize and work.

Inclusivity

With the world of marketing meeting social media to make it digital, things and trends are becoming more inclusive. Social causes and issues across the world have let marketing agencies feel the pressure of social responsibility as well. When traditional advertising disrupted digital advertising, organizations worked more on creating advertisements that are more socially appealing then just direct call to action. In 2022, brands will become more inclusive with their marketing strategies. Recently, Victoria’s Secret hired a model with Down’s Syndrome to gauge its audience and diversify customers with an exceptionally inclusive and socially responsible brand identity.

Sustainability

With Global Summits and environment perceived at an alarming priority through social movements, digital marketing brands are moving towards a more sustainable brand identity. In this trend area, things have changed drastically this year. A brand’s association with an NGO for example is not enough. Companies need to be more clear and open about their sustainability policies and product formation.

Content as a Game Changer

When it comes to digital marketing, personalization is the price trophy everyone is competing against. Living in the digital age of data, knowing the preferences, needs and interests of your current or future customers can be a game-changing strategy for you. According to a survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group in 2022, it is most likely that $800 billion in revenue is going to shift to the marketing firms that do personalization right. With regard to personalization as a digital trend, content; both descriptive and visual plays an integral role in targeting the customers, who might be interested in the products your company sells or markets.

Knowing the needs and interests of the customers digitally can be a really endearing task with the amount of marketing workload. Adobe Experience Manager is the new trend in 2022. It makes sure that through end-to-end digital forms, customers are retained and personalized in an effective and hassle-free way. Today, marketing brands desperately need to fulfill the rising expectations from their customers by delivering more and more content. In order to do this, an efficient content management platform is essential to build and manage mobile assets, forms, websites and more. Adobe Experience Manager makes this customer-end experience an easy and efficient one.

PimCore Experience Platform also allows a more personalized customer satisfaction in the digital world. PimCore Digital Experience Platform allows your audience to live a contextualized, personalized digital experience at every touchpoint. It allows you to choose from a purely GraphQL-API-based headless content delivery approach, a decoupled web content management strategy and even work in a hybrid mode to benefit from the best of both worlds with the DXP/CMS system. touch points, such as websites, IoT devices, email, social media and many more, if connected via an adequate platform, it allows marketers to deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.

Google has recently announced that it will phase out third-party cookies by 2023. This will enable advertisers and digital marketers to navigate towards other social media channels in order to reach their target audience. Centric.ae enables you to market products and services through the latest and most popular social media platforms. Storytelling is an ancient art but the digital revolution has allowed this art to be done and experimented in unique ways. Today, customers do not want to know about the features of your product but rather they want to hear its story. In addition, no matter how technological your product is, there is always an emotional appeal that has to be added in its story as a marketing pitch.

Social Media Commerce

Rising popularity of Instagram and TikTok will create social commerce after e-commerce in 2022. This is where social media and digital marketing agencies merge in order to yield most profiting commerce for their companies. Even the smallest brands in America, such as Plant Mother increased their sales after they launched an Instagram shop in 2021. In 2022, we will witness brands setting their social media shops for maximum customer engagement.

In conclusion, Centric.ae understands the platforms your customer uses to create a dynamic personalized marketing appeal for them. Demographics can make sure that the digital message reaches the right audience and hits the right spot to make them your most loyal customer. When it comes to digital marketing, it is not just about tailoring preferences for each social media platform but it is also about more complexity in terms of cultural associations, locations and festivities. As a digital marketing agency, it is always about working with the belief that the consumers will view your campaign at different touchpoints and will be influenced by different content at different times. If we understand this, our customer feels understood and the goal is accomplished!

Automating Government Relations Department for United Arab Emirates’ Firms

The GovTech Maturity Index by World Bank (GTMI) is a measurement tool that provides a comprehensive view of the nation’s digital transformation and performance.

The GTMI is calculated with four measurements:

– Core Government Systems: The Federal Government’s ability to maintain and deliver services through digital channels.

– Public Service Delivery: State Governments’ ability to provide services to citizens through digital channels.

– Citizen Engagement: Local Governments’ ability to engage citizens digitally.

– Enabling Infrastructure: The Nation’s digital infrastructure, including broadband access and cybersecurity.

The World Bank GovTech Report ranks the United Arab Emirates as the leading country in the GCC region in using technology to deliver public services. The report ranked the UAE first in the region, followed by Saudi Arabia in second place and Qatar in third.

World Bank Report highlights that there are a number of reasons why UAE ranks higher than other countries on their list. One of these reasons is due to their strong commitment to open data and e-participation. UAE ranks first for open data and second for e-participation out of all other countries on this list.

The government relations department is the liaison between a company and the government. They are responsible for ensuring that the company is following all of the regulations and laws in order to avoid any penalties or fines. The government relations department has to be proactive, which means they need to stay on top of any new developments that might affect their organization.

This can be difficult because there are many archaic systems that are still in use by this department. This includes printing everything out, which is not only time-consuming but also expensive as well as collecting at a slow pace.

All businesses have to comply with government regulations whether for work visas for expats or work permits for locals. It is important to provide an environment where the new employees feel welcomed and appreciated. A negative onboarding experience will lead to low morale and high turnover rates in the company.

Centric developed a solution to automate the process of in-organization government relations (OGRS). This is done by automating processes like visas, medicals, compliance, amongst a list of around 130 processes.

OGRS is a web-based application that is used for managing government relations. It has a feature to connect with Oracle and SAP for Master Records and payroll. OGRS can be integrated with SharePoint to store documents, which is a great way of keeping all the information in one place.

The Centric OGRS is a solution that is created to help people navigate their way through the initial onboarding period as well as automate and enhance the output of Government relations department of every organization in United Arab Emirates.

The three portals are all part of the Centric OGRS, but each one serves a different purpose. The self-onboarding portal helps users find and sign up for visas, family, visit visas, maid visas, other compliance processes. The medical insurance portal provides information on what medical insurance plans are available to the employees and helps the organization in registering the employee including automating all paperwork. Finally, the government relations portal is for Government relations employees to ensure all the checklist documents are collected; automatically generate salary certificates and other company documents to submit without missing out on any documents.

For further information on the portal please write to [email protected]

ACC and Al Hokair acquire a majority stake in Online Fashion Retailer

Al Hokair and Arabian Centers Company has announced this week that they will acquire a majority stake in online fashion retailer Vogacloset, a UK Based fast fashion platform offering over 400 brands to the Middle East.

This acquisition speaks volumes about how big groups perceive the coming era. Al Hokair is one of the largest franchise owners in the Middle East boasting representation of over 90 brands and over 1800 stores. Arabian Centres Company on the other hand is one of the largest shopping mall owners in the Middle East.

How do they perceive the future?
The future is based on the share of the wallet. And across the globe, the share of wallet is fast-moving from in-store to online. When we look at these giants and their purchase; which is around 30 Million dollars; it is less than the cost of remodeling a mall. So there is nothing to be surprised about this purchase as the role of retail will stay.

Boutiques or Shops?
Starting with the car brands which are fast converting their showrooms modeled around glorified warehouses to a more subtle VIP concierge experience. Tesla started with it and Rolls Royce is following the suit. Will we see more and more brands converting their existing spaces to more experiential? our bet is yes, and the customer can always purchase online. This helps the brand by ensuring lower inventory costs and lower rental costs.

eCommerce
eCommerce is not only convenient for the customers but also for brands that pay far less compared to what they have to do with third-party retail. Taking the example of Noon and Amazon; the share that these marketplaces take is typically less than 20% for most of the product categories while when we talk about mass-market retail or pharma retail; the centers demand north of 30% on a good day as their cut and typically reached 50%. This forces the brands to provide better deals on eCommerce platforms compared to retail stores and only accelerates the move towards digital. Retail with a different type of cost structure can not possibly compete with eCommerce and in the coming days, we see difficult days for multi-brand stores. Want to develop Amazon or Noon storefronts? Centric offers this as a service; to know more; please drop us a message at [email protected]

Shopping Mall or Experience Center?
It is quite evident that shopping malls suffered a great deal because of COVID lockdowns. The typical model for a shopping mall had been rent-seeking landlords but this will have to change for them to stay successful. Malican, a shopping mall loyalty solution by Centric, provides loyalty solutions to malls with no integration required with tenants. This enables the mall to do personas on their best customer and develop services catering to that segment. Besides, to find out which brands should they attract to double down on their most profitable segment. To know more; please drop us a message at [email protected]

In the end; we believe by 2030; shopping malls will segment for different personas instead of trying to appeal to all the demographics.

The eCommerce channel is exploding

Here are some basics.

We have been advising clients on eCommerce for many years; one thing we find lacking is knowing the various digital platforms and how their product fits into it. Our latest launch of ViroMasks shows that Centric can build a brand from scratch and take it internationally in the middle of the lockdown, with work from home for most of our offices (including one that is actually underway in UK), and overall the edginess towards health.

So let’s take a look at eCommerce for your brand. First things first the brand has either an affinity or no affinity. As a brand owner, you will normally know about this, or you might hire a third party consultancy to do a consumer study.

Affinity: Is it already there? Let’s switch to the next level.

No Affinity: Get your budgets ready to use people who already have affinity. Mainly social influencers and other well-known faces to push the brand.

Now comes the second step, identify your product. Can your product do well as a stand-alone product? Or is it going to be part of the basket. By being part of a basket means that consumers would not usually buy your product on their own; they will purchase several products and then add your product to the end. Items that are generally cheaper come in this realm.

Standalone Product: You should start thinking about developing an eCommerce platform now.

Part of Basket: Use an agent to take you to eCommerce marketplaces and other eCommerce retail (Yes, there is a difference and Centric offers this service)

If your product is part of a basket; then use an enticing brand recognition website to engage the visitors; hold the primary KPI for the website to dwell time. The goal is to make sure that your brand is “top of mind” when the visitor goes shopping.

For eCommerce Portal; what we’ve seen in the region is honestly well below the global quality. Including payment gateways that usually block all cards issued in North America! Can you believe that? Some of the eCommerce sites we audited were unsafe; poorly structured; and largely motivated by creative demands instead of UX/UI skilled user journey design.

Second, any platform that does not have a built-in Experience engine should not be considered. If you’re testing the idea; you can certainly go to Shopify or WooCommerce; but at some stage in the future; you’ll need to create a more robust platform.

Third, I will leave discussing the structuring of business to ensure distribution is smooth and VAT liability is reduced by placing goods in Freezone. This is especially important in the light of 15% VAT in Saudi Arabia and SAR 1000 limit for B2C shipments to pass through without VAT applied. Finally, let’s talk if you want a reliable business to take your brand online; sell it around the region and sell it well. From the Centric point of view; take a look at ViroMasks.com and what we’ve done with it in the last 4/5 months. Looking forward to hearing from you.

eCommerce the Road ahead

Amazon for the first time in its history has topped the Brand Intimacy report for UAE published by MBLM. Brand Intimacy is emotional science that measure the bonds we form with the brands we use. Amazon to the best of our knowledge has never advertised offline in the region.

The retail is going through a though time with Al Hokair of Saudi Arabia dropping franchises like Marks and Spencer and other non-performing one.

All this is pointing towards one data set; the current GDP contribution of eCommerce in the GCC region is around 3% which is set to increase to over 10% like the European continent in the coming few years. Bain & Co. is especially optimistic with the expectation of 3.5X increase in the next 3 years that will see eCommerce sales top the 28 Billion USD mark.

So if your business is slow, do not blame the market; it is fundamentally changing. With millennials spending increasing by 15% in 2020 and baby boomers decreasing by 10% (Global Figures).

While heading Centric; we have seen it all too common that clients were offered wrong ‘advice’ on the investment required for a successful eCommerce platform. These people spent years and countless hours with sub-standard partners trying to save pennies while losing on profit opportunity as well as first movers advantage.

So what should your eCommerce budgets ideally be ? We are mapping for you retail store costs with the eCommerce store.

Retail eCommerce
Store Fit-Out cost (to be done every 3 or 4 years) eCommerce Platform design and development cost
Rental Cost Marketing Costs (Brand awareness)
Store man-power cost Content development cost for site as well special landing pages and social media
Electricity / Cooling bills Hosting cost
Revenue sharing with Mall Marketing Costs (15% to 25% of lifetime value of your customer – eCommerce conversion marketing)
Other Miscellaneous Costs Free shipments
Additional Budget eCommerce across the region; the budgets need to be distributed as per the markets.

Centric has successfully helped many clients in their eCommerce journey; starting from Strategic consulting, warehousing strategy, payment gateway consulting as well as design, build, operate and market.

Ready to make your business ready for the 21st Century ? Lets get in touch.

On demand viewings for Real Estate

From Dubai, we have seen the growth of Careem which was bought for more than 3Billion USD by Uber. Sharing services of ‘Gig’ economy is picking up pace with Swvl from Egypt raising another USD 42 Million USD round.

Having lived in this region, my biggest headache has been buying, selling, renting or leasing real estate. This needs significant disruption not only in Dubai but also elsewhere in the world. Just in Dubai broker commissions were in excess of 1 Billion AED or 300 Million USD. So not only the market is significant but the service satisfaction level of buyers/tenants/sellers and landlords is very low.

When Careem started, Dubai Taxi revenue (in 2015) was AED1.4 Billion AED, a number amazingly similar to the current revenue of brokers of Dubai.

Airbnb has already proven that technology as well as trust can be built to let strangers into your home. Whether using a key combination lock at the door or a QR scan with electronic locking mechanism.

Dubizzle, PropertyFinder and Bayut are platforms that are already controlling most of the leads to the brokers in United Arab Emirates and wider GCC region. When was the last time you went to a brokers website ? Probably, never.

The initial investment to pull this idea will be quite heavy but we believe that this market is ripe for disruption and someone should acton this potentially 3B USD (Careem exit valuation) opportunity before one of the incumbents or someone from outside of the region takes the credit.

About Centric:

Centric is a digital transformation agency with strategic insight in the Middle East market; providing services to clients across the full spectrum of digital. From strategy to execution to marketing and brand building.

We would love to hear from you. If you feel that we should share our expertise on a given topic; please send suggestions to [email protected]

How to promote your brand in Ramadan

Ramadan is set to start around 5th of May this year, which is observed around the world by almost a quarter of the global population. Consumer behavior during this time changes significantly and you should be aware of what to expect to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.

Online Retail Sales:

In 2017; the online retail sales increased by 42% in theMiddle East region. To top it off 74% of retail sales were on mobile devices. The peak period is just before Iftar time between 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Could this be brands employing instant gratification tactics or people browsing mobile devices while sitting in traffic?

Do not put your potential customer on rational decision-making during this time; focus on funnel and provide no disruptions for quick checkout.

Gift Shopping:

Ramadan is a very social month with evening feasts celebrated amongst family and friends. The month ends with Eid Al Fitr which is three days of feasts. This means a lot of gift shopping.

Concentrate on providing an easy gift checkout process with ideally, assisted gift shopping funnel. To cross-sell and up-sell, ensure you start the marketing before Ramadan and provide incentives to buy multiple gifts in a single basket.

Online Travel Bookings:

In Gulf countries; a decent chunk of population are expat workers; they travel during Eid holidays. In the third week of Ramadan the travel bookings spike by 75%.

If you are not in the travel industry; then use personas to promote your ‘gift’ merchandise to take home with them. Offer destination delivery. 

Screen Time:

During Ramadan screen time of consumers increase drastically. With brands focusing on TV and consumers moving to paid subscriptions like Netflix without ads; the optimal way would be online video streaming services.

YouTube viewership increases drastically during Ramadan for following categories: TV & Comedy, Cooking and Recipes, Religion and Beliefs, Gaming and Automobiles. Clearly evident from the searches is gender gap in viewership audience. Use it to tailor your marketing messages.

Promotions:

Concentrate on promotions as consumers expect better deals during Ramadan. There is an overall increase in search during this month for deals and offers. Amongst these, “Hypermarket deals” and “car deals” are significant.

Online grocery stores should concentrate on their supply chain and try to provide delivery before Iftar (evening) feast time. Coupling this with lower cost of operations; we believe this category can grow their market share significantly. 

About Centric:

Centric is a digital transformation agency with strategic insight in the Middle East market; providing services to clients across the full spectrum of digital. From strategy to execution to marketing and brandbuilding.

We would love to hear from you. If you feel that we should share our expertise on a given topic; please send suggestions to [email protected]

2019 (First Episode) : Year of Artificial Intelligence

With Omni-Channel experience now an old term, this region needs to make some large strides when it comes to engagement with technology. Year 2019 will be the year of artificial intelligence globally and companies in the region will have to take notice. The red shift companies will jump on the bandwagon while slow movers will see their market share shrink.

The forces in play are two fold:

Effect of GDPR on marketing in 2019:
European consumers now have a right to view the profile information any brands store for them. Studies have shown consumers are using their “right to forget” for the brands that are not cautious about what is marketed. Artificial intelligence and context-based personas are imperative for data to be used effectively. Market only what the consumer believes is valuable to them. Otherwise over mining of data or irrelevant marketing will cause consumers to delete their data; resulting in less data with the organization.

Chatbots and Voice Bots in 2019:
With Google proudly presenting a live demo of their AI powered voice bot in May 2018, things have moved quite fast. With over 100 million smart assistants already in homes across the globe and over 15 million sold every quarter, the voice search will increase its share in eCommerce. Thankfully, Amazon, IBM Watson and others have released these as cloud based services so even SMEs can utilize these services. Chatbots are imperative for social media where numbers are still increasing across the globe. These need to be AI driven as manning 24/7 on social require a minimum of 6 people including shift-based work and weekend coverage which can become abhorrently expensive.

Centric is a digital agency with a long list of transformative projects for private sector as well as government. With cloud based modelling from the likes of Amazon, IBM and others, these technologies can be within your budget if you decide to move forward.