“With the right content and live video solution, businesses can create inspiring experiences that increase engagement, brand awareness, customer loyalty, and sales. The key strategy used by businesses is to seamlessly replicate real-life experiences into an online channel to avoid customer loss and retain brand loyalty,” says Ranganath Jagannath, Director, Agora, in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.
TCMO Bureau: How have businesses adapted real-time engagement into their business strategies? How is it helping them grow in the new normal?
Ranganath Jagannath: Amid the ongoing global pandemic, businesses have started to realize the power of leveraging real-time engagement (RTE) in keeping people socially connected along with their business needs. From live streaming, broadcasting, to video chat and beyond, RTE technology is helping businesses bring new services and communication capabilities to the masses in new ways.
With the right content and live video solution, businesses can create inspiring experiences that increase engagement, brand awareness, customer loyalty, and sales. The key strategy used by businesses is to seamlessly replicate real-life experiences into an online channel to avoid customer loss and retain brand loyalty.
TCMO Bureau: In your opinion, which technologies can help enhance customer experience with real-time engagement?
Ranganath Jagannath: A digital experiential revolution is happening on the backbone of real-time engagement platforms, helping businesses enhance customer experience by using technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Witnessing an upward trend in the adoption of AR and VR technology, businesses are coming up with innovative solutions to engage customers in the new normal.
An AR-based solution can be used for virtual try-ons allowing consumers to wear glasses, accessories, face wear via web and mobile, or for gaming with video chats where users could stream and play together.
Similarly, another concept called Metaverse uses VR to create digital avatars of yourself to experience real-world experiences virtually. For example, by donning a VR headset in a Metaverse environment, a consumer can travel to Paris for a virtual city tour along with a friend. VR is being used in shopping applications, e-commerce sites, virtual conferences, and real estate to increase customer engagement by successfully infusing 3D vision.
Marketers and brand managers must use emerging technologies to replicate the in-person experience for people when they are at home while also making it a shared experience, which is a growing trend.
TCMO Bureau: Which are the unexpected sectors that are benefiting from real-time engagement?
Ranganath Jagannath: At the onset of the pandemic, sectors that immediately adopted real-time engagement, and where we saw the steepest growth, were the education and health sector. Real-time engagement platforms have the capability to ease the transition to an online education system in a seamless manner through live videos, a virtual whiteboard, screen share, and full-length recordings. Similarly, while we expected significant growth in telemedicine, we were also pleasantly surprised to see the growth surge of real-time engagement for mental wellbeing and fitness. Similarly, Real-time engagement enabled live streaming to simulate in-person therapy sessions.
Some of the other sectors that showed massive benefits from RTE were gaming, e-sports, social media, entertainment, and OTT. The pandemic has propelled growth in gaming and e-sports that is also supported by the increase in usage of customers. RTE has allowed gaming and e-sports companies to integrate live interactive voice and video capabilities with features such as in-game voices, live interaction streaming, and fun AR effects to create an engaging social experience around gaming.
Similarly, RTE is providing a transformation in entertainment and social media. Worldwide, we are seeing an increase in demand for audience-to-host, host-to-host, and co-watching experiences.
TCMO Bureau: What strategies would you recommend in order to successfully leverage RTE PaaS?
Ranganath Jagannath: The strategy to successfully leverage Real-time engagement PaaS differs based on the use cases and the industry one is trying to address. For example, in the gaming or e-sports industry, the strategy for a game producer could be on offering high-fidelity, seamless live voice capabilities. For e-commerce platforms, the focus could be on visual appeal and quality of the live engagement. For EdTech companies, reach, accessibility and optimal bandwidth consumption could be very critical whereas for telemedicine it may be a completely different set of parameters. Irrespective of the industry, identifying the most appropriate use case, target audience, and picking up the right set of features are keys to successfully leverage RTE PaaS.
TCMO Bureau: Live Streaming is becoming a popular real-time business trend. Do you feel it has a bigger impact than traditional marketing tools?
Ranganath Jagannath: I see both working in unison and not in isolation. Situations, brands, and stories that demand a higher level of engagement and immediate involvement from the consumers will benefit from real-time engagement. At other times, traditional marketing might work better. However, what was considered traditional marketing a few years ago is probably obsolete today and what is traditional today might be obsolete in the foreseeable future. One trend that we are seeing however is that Real-time engagement is getting bigger, better, and bolder and its transformative influence on brands and consumers.
Ranganath is the Director-Growth for Agora. He is responsible for the overall business and operations of Agora.io India and the SAARC region. His directive includes growing market share and driving healthy ecosystem growth among both partners and customers in the region. He comes with a strong Sales & Business Leadership background with over 25 years of in-depth industry experience. Prior to joining Agora.io, Ranganath co-founded Fetchon.com, worked with Syniverse Technologies, Verisign Inc, EFI, Unimobile and Micros Fidelio India in various capacities. He holds an Executive MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and is a graduate in Arts from Osmania University along with a diploma in Hotel Management and Catering Technology.