Rapid digitalisation has been one of the defining enterprise phenomena of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business opportunities turned into necessities overnight, prompting decision-makers to focus on agility, scalability, and investing in innovation.
Despite the challenge of breaking old habits, new systems and processes are illuminating a path towards the future. Hyperconnected ecosystems are at the forefront of this revolution, improving the customer and employee experience. But what is the daily impact of hyperconnectivity on businesses?
To connect the dots, several executives across verticals gathered for a panel discussion entitled “Hyperconnected Ecosystems for Sustainable Growth,” organised by Tata Communications as part of its WeConnect event.
As Sumeet Walia, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Tata Communications, has observed, customer expectations have greatly evolved compared to pre-pandemic times. This has added pressure on businesses to up their game, particularly from a data communications perspective.
“In today’s definition of customer experience, the classical touchpoint has become multiple touchpoints, hence the current connected ecosystem is not good enough,” he said.
The solution, he pointed out, was to go for a hyperconnected ecosystem.
“Simply put, hyperconnected ecosystems mean anytime, real-time exchange of data. And it’s not just the exchange of data: If you’re talking about using intelligence, you talk about embedding financial services into the device, as an example,” Walia continued.
Banking on hyperconnectivity
More than any industry, banks have no doubt reached unparalleled heights, thanks to hyperconnectivity.
According to Michael Raynor, Executive Director, Head of Strategy, Enterprise Technology, Standard Chartered Bank, the metrics for success have radically changed for financial institutions, because everything that consumers and organisations need can now be accessed via mobile banking.
“We all have different expectations around what we want to get from financial services, but convenient personalisation — to be able to have access to financial information, anytime, anyplace — is the minimum bar now,” he asserted.
While innovations in mobile banking have been taking place alongside the smartphone revolution, what the financial industry is currently witnessing is the hyper acceleration of these trends, Raynor remarked.
“We have an ecosystem of financial products. We have virtual agents to support us anytime, anywhere, without visiting a branch. We have data and analytics to help us understand our customers a little bit more, and offer them diverse services and customised products that suit their needs,” the executive added.
Meanwhile, banks are now more in tune with the psychology of their clients, Raynor said, building ecosystems around customers’ problems, instead of the other way around.
“We’ve been quite successful in areas like open banking recently. The open standards have been a huge advantage both for clients and other banks, as they create some standardisation around the way we can connect services. By embedding our APIs directly into client services and ERP systems, we can massively improve the productivity of clients,” he noted.
Standard Chartered offers Nexus, a banking-as-a-service platform that enables it to embed financial services into popular consumer platforms.
“That allows us to offer transaction payments and lending services to consumers in a platform where they can fulfil their needs. Additionally, it provides us an opportunity to reach and serve new markets, including other companies, organisations, and ecosystems, by delivering financial services to them,” the executive explained.
The future of sport
As with any other sporting event, golf fans watching at home would want to feel the action as if they were on the course themselves. For the European Tour Group, this meant leveraging the latest technology and partnering with several experts, such as Tata Communications.
Michael Cole, CTO of the European Tour Group, highlighted that with 156 players and 18 fields of play, the organisation faces a level of complexity that is unique in the sporting world. In light of the pandemic, the European Tour Group had to quickly adopt new ways of operating.
“During the pandemic, I can break everything down into technology, process, and culture. For me, technology is about how we simplify the complexity, but technology isn’t just the answer. You have to address the process and culture, which is a lot harder,” he recalled.
The CTO added that COVID brought about a change in culture in his world. People were forced to work in a way that they had no experience in, and there was no pre-existing blueprint to follow. This was also true in the sports industry — to comply with pandemic guidelines, a contactless environment had to be created.
Just recently, the European Tour Group hosted the Singapore Classic, returning after a nine-year absence. Traditionally, around 300 to 300 people were required on site for TV production. However, through their partnership with Tata Communications, the organisation was able to significantly reduce its personnel without compromising content delivery.
“Tata Communications ensured that we were able to operate as if we were on the course itself. What does that achieve for us? It meant that we had over 30% fewer people on site, and this number will only improve as we refine the process and change our culture. We’re not alone in this approach; F1 and ATP also use similar communications infrastructure extensively to facilitate their roles,” Cole said.
Meanwhile, sustainability is also at the forefront of enterprises’ priorities, with tech companies like Alibaba keeping up with ESG initiatives even as it enables hyperconnected ecosystems for sporting events, such as the Olympics.
“By far, we already have more than 200 compliances. From a region, country, and industry perspective, we have compliances so we can provide our solutions. These digital tracks are really important, especially with recent talk about web3 and blockchain,” noted Selina Yuan, Group Vice President & International President of Cloud Intelligence at Alibaba.
As many enterprises have since adopted a digital-first mindset, trust has become a more crucial differentiator of success online.
Indeed, as ecosystems become more and more hyperconnected, especially with the emerging metaverse, organisations like Standard Chartered Bank know that digital trust and security must be integral parts of the conversation.
“We saw the exchanges in the crypto space, and there’s a huge role for banks to play in providing the type of trust, custodial services, and exchange,” said Standard Chartered’s Michael Raynor. “There’s an advantage with these emerging technologies being in a regulated space.”
Raynor also stressed the consequences of failing to protect customers’ data, which not only leads to fines and sanctions, but loss of customer trust as well.
“When we are together, we think about society’s expectations changing around fairness, trust, and inclusion. It’s really incumbent upon us to be responsive and responsible to these kinds of trends, whether it’s sustainability, or with the type of security and trust that we’re building here, as we start to build these ecosystems in the future,” he concluded.