Customer centricity is about putting your customer first and companies that believe in this principle are leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, among others, to deliver the best possible experience and build long-term relationships with their customers. In an interview with TechCircle, Yash Dayal, who quit quick-commerce company Zepto to join sleep and home solutions company Wakefit last month as its chief technology officer (CTO), sheds light on how companies can use AI and Machine Learning (ML) to build an omnichannel strategy, and why it is necessary for consumer-focused companies to constantly dabble with the latest technologies. Edited excerpts:
What technologies excite you the most and why?
I have always been excited about building Omnichannel solutions that can provide a seamless shopping experience across all channels, including in store, mobile, and online and it is all about putting the customer first. It may sound simple but if you dig deeper, it’s all about building robust technology systems which can handle the complexities and nuances of the sales channels, multi-channel personalisation, demand and supply forecasting and inventory management.
The challenge is to make all of these complex systems and AI models work together to provide this seamless experience. For example, embedding an AI-driven video conferencing Application Programming Interface or API into your company website or platform allows for a personal approach to connect with your customers. Combined with intelligent chatbots and instant messaging, it facilitates a unique immersive customer experience that provides immediate connection with your company, service, and product lines. At Wakefit too, we are constantly working on creating and optimising omnichannel experiences by leveraging data science, AI and fostering a customer-centric approach, whether the customer is shopping on the Wakefit.co website, retail stores or even the app.
How do you think technologies like Cloud, AI, and others, can help a consumer-focused company like Wakefit differentiate itself from competitors?
Technologies such as AI-ML, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) technologies are already transforming our interaction with customers and are offering a personalised and immersive shopping experience. Today, AI and ML are no longer a luxury for brands, rather a necessary for customer-centric companies. We’re already using AI-powered chatbots for customer support and assistance. Additionally, AI algorithms are analysing customer data to provide personalised product recommendations and promotions, as well as feedback, making the shopping experience more convenient and relevant. AR technology allows customers to try on virtual products before making a purchase, providing a more engaging and immersive shopping experience and VR is used to create immersive product demonstrations that allow customers to experience products in a more engaging way.
Further, AI algorithms can analyse customer purchase data to predict product demand and optimise inventory levels, reducing the risk of overstocking or stockouts. And more recently generative AI can be used to drive further personalisation and change the way we connect and communicate with customers.
Speaking about generative AI, why would a mattress company like Wakefit.co use generative AI?
Wakefit.co has always been a tech-first organisation and we see strong potential to leverage technologies like generative AI in the organisation across many use cases. For example, we are already using generative AI in various phases of customer journeys including pre purchase assistance, purchase flow and post purchase experiences. One area we are improving with gen AI tool like ChatGPT is improving conversational commerce. Generative AI tools can also be used to generate large datasets of relevant training data for AI/ML algorithms which leads to improvements in their efficiency and effectiveness. Embedded into the enterprise digital core, generative AI can further help in optimising tasks, managing data, help create faster insights and new customer experiences.
In order to survive and thrive in today’s time, what kind of tech skills should IT professionals develop? Do you see that kind of upskilling happening in the industry?
While upskilling has become the need of the hour for IT professionals, they must also unlearn and relearn to stay abreast with technology changes. For example, when I started to work with NoSQL data stores, my experience and best practices of traditional databases were not as relevant in this new paradigm and I had to unlearn and relearn how to build applications in this new world of collections and non-normalised data. I believe, upskilling is happening in the industry, but the pace of change due to digital transformation is even faster and hence upskilling is a continuous process for professionals to stay relevant. Continuous learning and upskilling highlight an individual’s adaptability and personal growth, making them valuable contributors to their workplace.
Privacy and security are important considerations in an AI-driven world. How can CTOs ensure the protection of data and address concerns related to privacy?
IT security and privacy are always critical areas of focus for any organisation in today's times. CTOs need to continuously invest time and right technologies to improve security of systems and processes. For example, AI makes it possible to learn about and analyse potential cyber threats in real-time. Companies are already using AI and ML to analyse logs and identify improbable or failed logins, unauthorised access attempts, and other suspicious activity.