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BW Businessworld

MS SME RT: Decoding Digital Disruption

The BW Businessworld Leadership Discussion on ‘Leading through Digital Disruption’, in association with Microsoft, saw leading business leaders deliberating on the key digital drivers, challenges and opportunities

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

Everybody talks of digital transformation today. Organisations of all hues are harping on to it to stay relevant in the market place. A new broader set of capabilities is required to help enterprises navigate the digital disruption. Renowned Digital expert David L.Rogers, in his book The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital, aptly says that digital transformation is not just about updating your technology, but about upgrading your strategic thinking.

While the broader consensus among enterprise IT decision makers is that digital is an inevitability and those who fail to transform to the new normal IT will become laggards. It is in this context that the Delhi edition of the Businessworld Leadership Discussion sought to look at leading trends shaping the enterprise IT organisations and how they are approaching digital and benefitting from it.

Daya Prakash, Consulting Editor, Technology Projects, BW Businessworld set the tone for the discussion as moderator by stating that digital has wide-ranging ramifications and probing key tech and business leaders to share the impact of digital disruption and how it is changing the fabric of IT organisations and the strategies required to transition to digital.

Disruption From Up Close
A CIO of a leading enterprise once said, “Every business is getting uberised right now.” In a way, it reflects how technology has taken the driver’s seat and completely changed the taxonomy of enterprise computing. Reflecting on this, Neeraj Goel, CFO, Jaquar & Company says, “Per se the word disruption has negative connotations but in technology, it’s bringing in a lot of positivity. From my company’s perspective, we embraced digital a couple of years ago and since then there’s no turning back. It has helped us to understand our customer needs at a granular level and come out with better products. Without the infusion of digital technologies, this would not be possible.”

But digital is sometimes called as a double-edged sword, a judicious blend of technology and strategy that comes in concert to create a seamless interconnect of many things within and outside the organisation. For born-in-the-cloud companies, digital is a given hygiene factor as they do not have any legacy baggage, but for companies from traditional verticals it becomes quite challenging to put in place a digital roadmap.

Says Saurabh Gupta, CIO, Kent RO Systems; “ I see digital disruption in two different perspectives. One, organisations with a clean slate -- like startups and two, organisations which have pre-existing IT. We belong to the latter. At Kent RO we have set systems and processes that are driving our IT organisation and to digitally leapfrog to a new IT, we find that difficult. So we take one step at a time, go on a pace that does not upset our core business processes. I am not saying that we are moving slowly, but we are moving with caution and inculcating digital in phases and appropriately aligning tech to business. Through digital we are upping our overall efficiencies and also aiming for greater customer centricity.”

Looking at companies like Kent RO, it becomes pertinent that vendors in the fray also need to up the ante and offer more verticalized offering that will hasten the overall digital adoption dynamics and a change in the organisational cautious mindset as well.
“Digital is completely a new way of thinking”, says Vinod Sood MD, Hughes Systique India. He says that digital is all about the pervasive use of technology that cuts across the organisational processes and ushering in an enterprise-wide transformation. “In order to derive the true value of digital transformation, the organisation should not think in siloes, rather it has to be meshed as part of the business strategy itself. For instance, if I can talk about one of our clients, the world’s largest cruise liner, digital has impacted them right from the moment they onboarded a customer to serving all their needs. Digital has to be an end-to-end engagement with benefits percolating across the organisation.”

Sanjay Mahajan, CIO, Stain Creditcare Network agrees: “For me, digital disruption is any technological change that is impacting the traditional way of working. One has to be on guard all the time. From my industry, if I take an NBFC perspective, three things define digital and how organisations can tame this disruption. One, the mindset approach of the organisation, digital should be seen as an opportunity and not as a threat. Two, organisations must have a culture of continuous innovation and be nimble to change. And finally, a clear-cut strategy with due diligence on what is not working and what is working. At the end of the day, it’s all about being a disruptor, rather than being disrupted.”

Rahul Parikh, CEO, Bajaj Capital takes a different view. He says, “We possibly give more hype to digital and need to realise that we are serving a human being as our customer and not a robot. Digital is now a must for every business and hence it is an imperative, not a choice. An ostrich mindset will not work; I firmly believe that every business will have their ‘Kodak’ moment which will act as a tipping point for transformation. I see only two kinds of businesses in the future – the disruptors and the disrupted!”

Clearly, digital is not a one-stop solution and it’s different for different organisations, but there are some key commonalities that act as a common denominator for going digital.

Putting this thought in perspective, Ajay Sethi, Managing Partner, ASA & Associates says that he faces quite a bit of challenge in navigating the technology maze. For instance, one of the biggest challenges he is facing on the road to digital pertain to managing technology obsolescence, securing remote access, managing the siloes and addressing stakeholder challenges within the organisation like enabling HR with tech et al.

So for companies that are in a niche area of business, like the CA firm Ajay heads, they face multiple challenges in evolving a digital roadmap.

“We need to have a multi-pronged approach to digital,” avers, Amit Sinha Roy, VP -- Strategy & Marketing, Tata Communications. “I think new businesses are making it easier for the customers to consume the services and for any digital transformation initiative to succeed we need to engage the client all through the process and it is clearly a continuous process. It is a big puzzle we need to solve and there are so many elements that go into making a successful digital rollout, like strategy, kind of solutions, the security backbone, change management and a whole lot of others. All these create a successful business transformation riding on digital,“ adds Roy.

Gaurav Kumar, COO, The Smart Cube says, “We serve a lot of clients in their transformational journey and what I can say is that it’s a collaborative approach between the vendors and the clients. In my opinion, digital transformation calls for overall change management and data is at the centre of this disruption. It’s about the seamless cohesion of ‘Data, Processes, and Distribution’. A waterfall model approach will no longer work, we are now moving to an agile approach that will align analytics and technology with business demands. We are moving to an experience economy in which customer is the king.”

“Digital disruption in a way is manifesting democratisation of technology and organisations are being disrupted at varying degrees. I fully agree that the customer is at the centre of all things digital, this disruption is only fostering new age entrepreneurship,” says Amitayu Basu, CEO, Rebuscode Information Solutions.

The Digital Impact
“Digital transformation is all about change and it’s a process of continuous innovation. At the base level, the new models are replacing the old style of IT,” observes Daya Prakash.

The real test is when the rubber meets the road. Look at how digital has impacted enterprise at ground zero -- it has absolutely redefined the whole scheme of things. Take the case of Satin Creditcare Network. Going digital has completely transformed their business. Says Mahajan, “We are the second largest microfinance company in India with a customer base of 3.5 million, majorly from tier 5 and tier 6 villages. One can imagine the state of tech infra in these villages, and it posed a big challenge for us. In 2016 we inked a tech transformation plan and after many iterations, we decided to build our own IT platform based on an agile approach. After the digital rollout, we have had spectacular success. For instance, the loan disbursement process right from onboarding a customer to the actual payout used to take 18-20 days. After going digital, this process has now come down to three minutes. We have given 8,000 tablets to our workforce who engage with our customers day in and day out and our system works both online and offline. Today everything is real time, and 70 per cent of our business is cashless as we have brought our customers under the ambit of financial inclusion. Digital for us have ushered in numerous tangible benefits.”

Says Sood, “In our case, we found that transforming within also matters a lot. For instance, taking feedback and hearing out young employees and meshing the digital solution that appeals to all stakeholders within the organisation is very important.”

Saurabh Gupta, talking about the transformation within his company says that the biggest impact digital has had lies in understanding the customer needs. “We have rolled out a leading CRM solution that has brought in huge benefits, whether it is customer experience or addressing customer complaints. The CRM has ushered in a sea change in the way we deal with the customers.”

“I think if I look at the whole digital disruption, we need to take an AI first approach. Today we have an abundance of data and to arrive at meaningful insights, we need to seamless marry data with AI and that has far-reaching ramifications for the organization in reaching out the customers and also creating new business models. My belief is that device, infrastructure, and applications will be commoditized, and using a data platform we need to capture the micro-moments with the customers and that will translate into offering customer-oriented services”.

What emerges at the end of the day is that digital is ‘all pervasive’ and the writing is clear on the wall: “Go Digital or Perish”. This might sound like a cliché, but going digital is no longer an option, it is a critical factor in enabling businesses to transition to the next orbit of growth and opportunities. Moreover, there is overall agreement that a nexus of new and emerging tech forces will blend together to enable digital transformation. For instance technologies like IoT, AI, machine learning, analytics, cloud, AR/VR and quantum computing will gain more traction as we move forward.

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