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Episode 8: Tech Trends & Predictions 2021 – Customer Experience

March 03, 2021 | 22 min 32 sec

Podcast Host – Madhura Gaikwad, Synerzip

Podcast Guest – Vinayak Joglekar, CTO at Synerzip

Summary

Companies in every business space continue to prioritize customer experience. This is evident through the increased investment in front-end and design technologies such as React, Angular, and user experience for customer experience optimization.

In this episode, Vinayak shares his perspective as a CTO of a technology company and covers the following:

  1. Acceleration of digital transformation due to the pandemic
  2. Businesses shift focus on end-user experience optimization
  3. Collaboration of software development, deployment, feature validation, deriving insights using AI ML, and habit forming products

Transcript

Madhura Gaikwad (00:07)
Hello, and welcome to zip radio podcasts powered by Synerzip. I’m your host Madhura Gaikwad. And I’m joined today by one of our regular guests Vinayak Joglekar who is the CTO at Synerzip. In today’s episode I going to talk to Vinayak about customer experience being one of the top priorities for software companies in 2021 companies in every business space, whether it is B2B or B2C are prioritizing customer experience. They are investing more in frontend technologies, artificial intelligence, and user experience skills to help them improve and optimize their customer experience. So, in this episode, we will talk to Vinayak about how and why, does customer experience become a top priority for businesses in the coming years. We will also talk about the shifts in software development industry due to the pandemic and its impact on business investment. In the end, we will also talk a little bit about software development and deployment, validating software features from customers, deriving insights using AI and ML, and also habit-forming product. So welcome onboard Vinayak and thank you so much for joining us today.

Vinayak Joglekar (01:13)
Thank you, Madhura. Thanks for your kind words of introduction.

Madhura Gaikwad (01:16)
So to start off the conversation, I would first like to share a fact from our recent survey, we did with 150+ CXOs and technology leaders, where we understand that 65% of these leaders have said that they would invest in talent with relevant skills in front-end technologies, such as React, Angular, user experience across specific domains. And also, these have been impacting, I mean, the pandemic has impacted lot of transformation in the digital space in the industry. So, what do you think is the impact and how exactly would you word that?

Vinayak Joglekar (01:49)
Yeah. So first of all, there are three things that I would like to state here about the question you asked. You said software companies. Now I would like to state that there is nothing such as a software company, every company going forward is a software company, correct? So, you don’t need to call a company as a software company is in fact redundant. You can just call it a company and it holds good for all companies. So that brings me to the second thing that I want to talk about your, about the impact of the pandemic. Now, this is widely known that we had reached a tipping point where almost everyone was saying what I just said, that all companies, were on the verge or on the cusp of becoming software companies, because everyone had realized that technology is known longer, a good to have, but it is strategic.

Vinayak Joglekar (02:47)
It’s a must have. And that is what will drive the companies of tomorrow. So as a result, we were already at a place where almost all of us were saying that, look, you want to do it. And if not, today, we’ll do it tomorrow. And that’s when the pandemic happened, and it pushed us over the edge. So, we were contemplating, but now it’s not an option anymore. Everything, every relationship, every communication, every transact. And that was by default, not digital, like, you know, you had the digital option as something that you could do. You could, you know, do it online, but most of it was offline, but because of the pandemic, the default model had changed. Now the default model is you do it online. And then if required, you may travel and go to your office. If required, you may actually go to a physical brick and mortar shop to buy your garments or whatever, but by default, you’ll do it online.

Vinayak Joglekar (03:52)
And same thing is true about communication, whether it is with friends and family or whether it is for business with your clients or vendor by default, you would get on a call like this. And I mean, just look at the way we are recording this podcast today. I mean, by default it is the zoom kind of model that we are using. Whereas one year back when we were doing the same thing, we used to walk into our audio-visual room and that was the default model, right? So, the models have changed. And, that is something that has kind of made it imperative for all companies to take up the digital journey as the top priority. I mean, it’s a matter of survival. It’s not an option anymore. So that brings us to the it’s certain thing, that user experience and the surgeon demand for UI professionals.

Vinayak Joglekar (04:47)
Now, the experience that a user, whether it’s your employee in the case of enterprise software, who’s using maybe your banking or insurance software, or whether it’s a customer using an e-commerce platform in either case, the individual is probably going to expect the same level of experience or same level of sophistication in the experience that he would experience when he does his regular shopping, whatever he on online e-commerce platform, or he has so many apps that he uses for, you know, whether it’s a payment wallet platform or whether he’s buying stock in the stock market, or whether he is communicating with friends and family or doing some kind of social network kind of posts. The experience there is, has kind of, created a lot of expectations in the minds of the, so these aspirations or these expectations are, is what is driving the enterprises to offer the same experience that their end users have and the same look and feel the same intuitive nature of apps that they use in their day-to-day life in their enterprise software as well.

Vinayak Joglekar (06:09)
So that is what has increased the demand for the UI and UX professional. Now, the next question you might want to ask me is what is the relationship between digital transformation and customer experience? I mean, why is it one understands that yes, digital transformation is there is no imperative, one understands that that customer experience is something that everyone wants top-notch customer experience, but then, what one has to do with the other. This, you know, let’s step back and talk a little bit about the business models of yesterday, there was B2C and B2B that you mentioned, right? Yes. I have, read recent articles, large services companies, such as, PCS, Infosys or Cognizant, they’re putting a lot of money on moving the model from B2B to what they call as the B2 B to B2C. So B2B model finally is not creating value by itself.

Vinayak Joglekar (07:15)
It depends on a customer for creating value. Let me explain this a little bit. So, let’s say a B2B model. You are a software company providing software product to a bank or to an insurance company, but the insurance company or the bank is not going to deliver value without getting their end customer service, which could be the policy holder in case of the insurance company, and it could be the bank account savings bank account holder in the case of the bank. Now these are the end customers, now you can’t lose sight of those end customers. The reason being the sustainability of the model is important. So, if you just keep the interest of the bank or the insurance company in mind, that would be incomplete, it could not be a sustainable model. So, when you are dealing with a bank, you have to always think that look, I’m actually serving the bank’s customer tomorrow.

Vinayak Joglekar (08:17)
If the bank’s customer is unhappy with bag because of my software, I’m not going to have business with the bank, correct. So, this is something which has dramatically changed. And one more triggering event that has happened, or I would not call it a single event, but it has been a transformation over the last few years that most of us are software, which used to be what we call as, CAPEX model, where licenses were sold on a per seat or per user basis. And that decision was made as a onetime decision where the CIO would get involved and he would buy the software product. And technology was always the thought of as something that is a staff responsibility, not the main line responsibility, if you distinguish between the two, and it was always the headache of the CIO of the company to select the right software.

Vinayak Joglekar (09:13)
And he would have the budget to make a onetime investment to buy that software. That was the model. But over years, what has happened is because of cloud migration and because of internet, most of the enterprise software offerings are now moving to the SaaS model – Software as a Service model. So, it’s no more onetime capital expense, but it is an ongoing operating expense because these software are available now for subscription. So, whether it is, you know, you can take example like SAP has now my SAP, even Salesforce, you can name any good enterprise ERP or our customer CRM software. In all such cases, you’ll find that their main offering is their SaaS offering. So, Software as a Service. So as a result, what has happened is the decision, which was a capital expense decision or CAPEX decision has become an OPEX decision.

Vinayak Joglekar (10:15)
Now it’s no more in the hands of the CIO. It is the operating department. Now let’s say a software that has to do with payroll. The operating department could be HR, the software that has to do with accounting, it’s the accounting or the finance department, which will have the say. Yes. So increasingly the end user or the customer who is putting that software to use is having higher say in deciding the decision making is now in the hands of the end user. Now with this shift, this explains why customer experience has become very important. You not only have moved to the SaaS model, but also the customer who’s sitting there in the accounts department in HR is probably having high expectations from the user interface, because he’s now so spoiled by what he is doing on a daily basis, using his mobile phone to order food or do his banking, or do whatever he does for traveling and other things.

Vinayak Joglekar (11:17)
So the expectations are high, and that’s what has made it central. That if you have to keep the B2B to B2C model in mind, if you have to keep the sustainability in mind, if you want to survive, because the actual value addition happens when you, the business with whom you are dealing actually delivers value to their, their customers. That’s a sustainable model. If that has to happen, customer experience is a must for digital transformation. There is no option. So that is the correlation between that is why you see customer experience as become all important. And overall customer centricity is the name of the game today. You’ll see that, you know, recently I saw a survey that customer centric organizations are, you know, more profitable than those who are not. So, customer centricity is extremely important. So that is what has resulted in this transformation, Madhura.

Madhura Gaikwad (12:16)
Absolutely. And that is a good insight into how even the spending patterns of companies have changed and shifted from CXOs and CIOs to the actual team level. So, my next question to you, Vinayak is, how do all these things work together? And by all these, I mean, software development deployment validating the new features from customers and collecting the data, using this data and deriving insights from it, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. And then of course, a lot is being talked about habit forming products. So how does all of this tie together and how does customer experience play a part in it?

Vinayak Joglekar (12:54)
Yeah, I tell you, just visualize know if, if I had a whiteboard, I would’ve drawn four circles on the whiteboard. Now the first circle is, you know, your agile software development loop. Now that you are very familiar with where you do iterative development, you inspect and adapt by learning from the previous mistakes from the previous iterations. And it’s like a developed test developed test kind of cycle. You keep driving your development map, writing new test cases and you pass those test cases by writing new code. And that cycle goes on and on. And that is very, very familiar for everyone. So, the next circle is where you are trying to validate, or it is the build measure learn loop. So, whatever your build is, it may be passing the tests or the QA as we call it in software parlance, but it has to pass their test of the end customer who is using that product.

Vinayak Joglekar (13:57)
So you have to build that product and measure the effectiveness of that product and learn from it. And then again, so your no customer can tell if you ask the customer what the customer wants, he or she won’t be able to tell you, so you have to keep monitoring. So, there are sophisticated monitoring that are available today and you keep monitoring the data. So, whether it is, tools like Hotjar, Optimizely, or Google analytics, you keep getting tons of data about the user. Sometimes I say that good, well informed, software knows much more about the end user than the end user himself or herself. Yes. So, there is so much information, so much data that is coming in and keep learning from your previous cycle and then, you know, improve your product. So, it’s a build measure and learn loop, that Eric Reis and the lean start-up and the lean UX folks talk about.

Vinayak Joglekar (14:54)
So that also is a, you know, something that, with which we are familiar. Now move to the next circle, this is a circle where you have so much data in today’s day and age about the customers. Like, you know, there are hundreds of sensors in a department used to, or there is a camera. And, you know, there is a lot of data about the environment in which the door is operating, or if you are working in a factory, there is so much data that is there about the operator, about which shift the operator is operating. And, you know, what is the current state of different plant or different machinery in the plant? And there’s so much data that is flowing in that the action that the user takes in your end software or the behaviour that the user exhibits is something that, you know, is not just observable in terms of one or two metrics, like, you know, previous, it used to be number of page visits or how long the customer or the visitor stays on a page, et cetera.

Vinayak Joglekar (15:59)
So those were the, like very, let’s say preliminary metrics to measure the behaviour of the user, right? But now we have so much data about the environment, about the user, to know why he’s doing what the user is doing that to get an insight from that, just not easy. So, you require that brings us to the third circle. That is that of the machine learning. So, in machine learning, what you do is you take data based on that data, you build some kind of algorithm to learn and create a model, which gives you some inferences. Now, once you have that inference, based on that inference, you derive the next action that, okay, here’s what the user will want. So let me stop XYZ brand, because this is what the user is going to need because there is going to be game in their town.

Vinayak Joglekar (16:51)
There is going to be rain on that day. And there’s so, and so things is going to happen, which happens every year and this month. And for all these reasons, I’m going to get X brand. I need to stock it up. Now, all these things correlated are going to gimme insight into what I need to stock or what I need to do to satisfy the end customer. So, you are actually doing some kind of prediction, or in other cases, you have seen that some of these algorithms are so smart that they tell the customer what the customer wants. So, when you go to buy something, you already have several things which you would love to buy. It’s a recommendation engine that tells you that, look, this is what you might want to take a look at. Or if you’re watching a Netflix film, Netflix already makes a situation that there is this 97% match based on what you have watched in the past.

Vinayak Joglekar (17:43)
So these are the smart algorithms which are built on this third loop. That third loop is, you know, you are doing data, then you’re doing machine learning based on that, you’re creating some kind of inference and using that inference to again, affect the user’s experience and the action. Again, you’re collecting data based on what the user does. So, your predict may right. Maybe wrong. So, it goes on becoming smarter and smarter with every iteration, because the first time you use your Netflix may not be as smart in telling you what you like, but after you do it several times after you’ve watched several films, it becomes more and more accurate. It becomes smarter and smarter in predicting what you’re going to like. So, this is the habit-forming thing that I talked about, you know, and that brings us to the fourth loop.

Vinayak Joglekar (18:35)
That is that of, you know, this is something that comes from the world of games. So, the fourth loop is where you have some kind of trigger that makes the user want something. It’s the desire that the user has to, it’s an unmet need that, you know, it’s a craving or it, what do you call it? It is internal. And then that kind of provokes the user to take some kind of action. And when the user takes that action, the user gets some kind of reward. And so, this is like a trigger action reward kind of cycle that the user is kind locked in. And when you keep getting that trigger, when you keep getting that suggestion, which is kind of generating that, each or that unmet need in your mind that now I need to watch this film because everyone else is doing it is trending or it’s matching what I like or whatever you obviously do that.

Vinayak Joglekar (19:29)
You probably, you know, use switch on your remote and start watching the film. And based on that, you get that reward. Hey, this is exactly what I like. You know? And then that kind of reinforces the machine learning model that has off you as an individual or of your likes and dislikes, and then zone becoming more and more accurate predicting what you like. So, these are the four loops that are interwoven. And the beauty of that, none of these loops is perfect. They’re ever, ever, ever going per perpetual loops. You take, for example, the software development loop, no software is bug free. So, you have to keep testing, keep fixing, keep testing. So, there is no end to it. Also, no product is perfect, right? I mean, products keep evolving forever and you have to keep measuring customer satisfaction. There is no end to it.

Vinayak Joglekar (20:26)
Same thing, true with machine learning algorithms. There is no perfect. You don’t have a hundred percent accurate algorithm at all. You can become 90, 95, 99, 99 0.99 accurate, but you never reach hundred percent. So, you keep on improving, keep on doing. So that is also a perpetual cycle. And the last one user wants and needs aspirations. I mean, that is the human nature, right? We want more all the time. So, give us more. You want we’ll want more. So, every scratch will generate a new each kind of cycle that we are perpetually caught in. These four perpetually running cycles is what I see as the reason behind existence of many of our companies and businesses that we see today. And those are going to be perpetually running, growing businesses that are driven primarily by the end customer experience and the aspiration of us as human beings to do better and better.

Madhura Gaikwad (21:24)
Right? Yes. So that was really great. Is there anything else that I haven’t asked you and we should cover in this episode about customer experience or user experience?

Vinayak Joglekar (21:35)
I don’t think there is something that I have missed in this all. I’ll just put it in show notes, but I think we have pretty much covered everything that we wanted to cover today.

Madhura Gaikwad (21:47)
Okay. Okay. I think it was a good session. We covered a lot and we talked both on a technical aspect in a business aspect in this episode. So, thank you so much for Vinayak. That was a great chat we had. And thank you again for joining us and, thank you everyone for tuning in. If you want more detail insights on such technology trends and predictions for 2021, download our eBook on the nine tech trends and predictions for 2021. The link to download is in the description and thanks, Vinayak.

Vinayak Joglekar (22:14)
You’re welcome.

Madhura Gaikwad (22:16)
Thank you. And if you’re looking to accelerate your product roadmap, visit our website, www.synerzip.com. For more information, stay tuned to futures Zip Radio episodes for more insights on technology and agile trends. Thank you.

For more insights on technology trends and predictions, download  – 9 Technology & IT Trends and Predictions 2021

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