Social listening is a proactive process

Sameer Narkar, Founder & CEO, Konnect Insights – Prudence Analytics and Software Solutions, talks to ICR about the importance of technology and innovation, and why Business Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence will be game changers.

What is your observation on the overall cement industry in India?
The demand for the cement industry is growing exponentially because of the industry’s upsurge in commercial, housing, and industrial construction. The housing sector is the key contributor in the overall development, the activities declined or halted due to the lockdown during the covid 19 pandemic, however, significant market growth is expected in the coming years. Production-wise south India has maximum production capacity which adds 33 per cent overall cement production. In the wake of the Covid-19, the production has been affected due to the intermittent work and restrictions on allocating work.

India has seen a spur in the construction and infrastructure activities, what role would transformation and innovation play to enhance the customer experience in the cement sector?
Digital transformation and innovation have been key aspects for companies across every industry survive the pandemic over the last couple of years. Yes, there have been challenges but these have led to an important evolution leading to the digital first economy. While the cement industry is extremely traditionally driven, the brands have been forced to evolve and adopt digitally.
While the spur in construction and infrastructure activities spells more demand for cement companies, customers, being at the center of the complete buying cycle, are empowered to re-evaluate their choices and their interactions with these brands. They have power of information to make decisions that can work in favour of one brand or the other. In the same way, the organisations also need to reconsider the current or the potential ways they can influence the customers. All this mandates that cement brands have to be innovative and become digital savvy to attract, engage and get the new age customers interested in their brand.

Over the years what initiatives by the government have given a boost to cement sectors and business transformation has been a key aspect?
The Government of India is strongly focused on infrastructure development to boost economic growth and is aiming for 100 smart cities. Additionally, the Union Budget allocated Rs 13,750 crore (US$ 1.88 billion) and Rs 12,294 crore (US$ 1.68 billion) for Urban Rejuvenation Mission: AMRUT and Smart Cities Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission, respectively and Rs 27,500 crore (US$ 3.77 billion) has been allotted under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
These factors contribute to the increased demand for the cement industry and cement companies are surely capitalising on this. Reiterating the fact that the demand is controlled by the customers and stakeholders in the supply chain, and they are the ones who will choose one brand over the other. That’s where technologies such as social listening, analytics and AI play an important part.

How would solutions such as social listening, analytics and AI help companies move to the next level and how do you see this impact the overall cement business?
Social listening is a proactive process, where with the help of a platform such as Konnect Insights, brands can listen to conversations of what is being spoken about the brand, its competition and the industry in real-time, across the web, social media, mobile apps, conversational channels, physical stores and so on. With this data the brand can determine where they stand in the market, how they compare with the others, what is their influence in the industry, what kind of customers are associating with the brand, what are the upcoming trends to expect.
With respect to customer experience management, AI-driven automation can come in handy when it comes to responding to customer queries for better productivity. Advanced workflows can reduce time taken due to manual processes, thus reducing customer churn and positively impacting customer loyalty.

How does Konnect Insights fit into the cement industry requirements and how are you able to technologically enable your customers in this domain?
Konnect Insights is an omni-channel customer experience management platform that enables cement brands take care of their identity, perception, positioning by ensuring complete customer experience management, no matter they channel they choose to interact, engage or voice out their opinions and experiences regarding the brand. Konnect Insights is used by some of the major players in the cement industry to offer value to their customers by unifying customer experience, marketing and analytics.

What technology trends do you foresee enabling the concrete sector?
Digitalisation and data will continue to drive evolution for the concrete sector. Business Intelligence technologies will play a crucial role to fuel decision making with regards to every aspect of the business be it processes, customer management, marketing, among others. AI is also definitely going to be a game changer that will improve processes and drive productivity. With automation and RPA, the cement industry can definitely amp up their production quantity and quality to meet the growing demands as well as provide superior products.

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