• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print

Ashok Lalla

Ashok Lalla is an Independent Digital & Marketing Advisor who helps enterprises use digital to accelerate business impact and growth.

More From The Author >>
BW Businessworld

From Digital Destinations To Digital On Demand

The new digital-on-demand world demands a comprehensive relook at everything a business does. It demands businesses to take a rebirth of sorts, so they are ready and in robust shape to win the battles of the on-demand economy

Photo Credit :


There was a time not long ago when businesses built what I call digital monuments to themselves and their brands. These were usually websites that were meant to serve as the shrine for the brand at which visitors came to ‘worship’. That worked well in the early days when having a digital home was all it took to attract an audience.

Back then, larger was usually seen as better. That led to the digital portalisation of businesses and brands. The one place where anything and everything about the brands resided. And it was up to people to come and look for whatever they wanted. Much like going into a warehouse store and digitally rummaging through the wares.

It was the time when business owners could control the nature and flow of their story, the narratives for their business and brand. And often, these digital homes were the only place where people could go to access and interact with brand information 24x7.

Speaking of 24x7, it was one of the popular early hooks used by businesses making strides into the e-commerce space. They pitched their e-commerce offering as a store that was open 24 hours a day, and one that allowed people to shop whenever they wanted. E-commerce was nascent, and the most popular use of digital was to serve as a show window of brands to consumers, who could see online but buy offline.

Digital interactions were largely limited to email, and between businesses and consumers, but rarely between consumers themselves. Word of mouth was still largely word of mouth, though early forays into creating consumer review sites by folks like Trip Advisor moved word of mouth to what popularly became known as word of mouse.

Cut to more recent times, over the past 3-5 years. The increasing number of digital citizens, proliferation of social networks, growth of user-generated and peer-to-peer content and communication, and growth in on-the-go digital have all contributed to changing the fundamental dynamic of digital. From the portal-focused, grand digital destinations to the more distributed, dispersed digital footprint of businesses.

But this change has not come about because businesses chose to address digital differently. But because in today’s digital ecosystem, the controls have shifted from brands and businesses to their consumers. The most fundamental outcome of this shift is that businesses now need to be prepared to provide digital-on-demand to their customers. Wherever they want it. Whenever they demand it. In whatever form and manner they prefer.

Digital-on-demand has forced businesses to adopt a new agility. Like it is with getting started with a new fitness programme, some businesses have discovered creakiness as they attempt to make the leap into becoming brands-on-demand for their customers.

Making the metamorphosis is not a 100-metre sprint but more like a cross-country race. Winning it starts with a mindset to change, and then the willingness to make the first steps, and then quickly accelerate on this journey of digital rebirth to become a more agile, accessible, listening, responsive, adaptive business.
It is not about creating multiple digital presences across platforms or merely developing and pushing out more content in varied formats. That is just a tiny part of addressing customers where they are and in a manner that appeals to them.

To build a robust digital-on-demand ready ecosystem, it is important to start with examining all the crucial parts of the business, internal and external that serves to keep it alive and thriving. To review all current processes used. To understand the sort of personnel a business has currently and their understanding of the changing digital scape and inclination to make the leap of change themselves. Knowing how partners work and how the fabric of partnerships are changing through digital. And of course, how consumers are behaving and what their changing expectations and rising demands are.

Most businesses often try and win the digital-on-demand game by focusing on low-hanging fruit. While that is good for showing change for a quarter or two, it misses a fundamental point. That cosmetic digital change is just that, cosmetic.

The new digital-on-demand world demands a comprehensive relook at everything a business does. It demands businesses to take a rebirth of sorts, so they are ready and in robust shape to win the battles of the on-demand economy. The time to think about it is gone. The time to act is now.