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BW Businessworld

The Road To Digital

Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination; it’s an evolutionary paradigm that takes into ambit a culture of continuous innovation leading to defined benefits

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Business leaders are gearing up for the new normal where every organization irrespective of size and what their core industry is, has to adopt ‘New IT’ to transform to the next level of maturity. Organizations of all sizes have consumed technology in many different forms over the last many years and technology in many ways have enabled the business and simplified the scheme of things for those organizations, which are able to align IT with business.

But there is a fundamental shift that is happening right now and changing the way businesses are being done, traditional business models are increasingly getting redundant as the new economy is completely changing the rules of the game. Over the years, IT, which in the initial days was seen as a cost center, has passed the test of time and now seen as a profit center with lots of tangible and intangible RoI. Today, IT is creating the next level of value proposition, much beyond just technology enablement.

The next level of the value proposition is what is manifesting as digital disruption, it is giving more muscle to enterprise IT in the way of radical new technologies like AI, Machine Learning (ML), Blockchain, Quantum computing, Analytics, and IoT. At the heart of this radical technology shift is the emergence of ‘Data’, which has become the new fuel of the digital economy.

How are organizations embracing this digital disruption and taming the nexus of technological forces? What kind of strategies, they are putting in place to go forward with digital? How are they navigating the technology maze? And how digital is changing their business models and bringing the much-needed business agility and competitiveness?  These are some of the major areas of deliberations the ‘Business World Leadership Discussion’ in association with Microsoft took on to in the Mumbai edition.

WHY DIGITAL IS THE NECESSITY
While setting the tone and context for the entire discussions,  Daya Prakash, Consulting Editor - Technology Projects, BW Businessworld reflected on how digital is a given hygiene factor for any business and new business models riding on digital are enabling the organizations to tap into newer opportunities and leverage new technologies for an enterprise wide transformation.

The core essence of this discussion is ‘transformation’ and that was well captured by all the business leaders who participated in the discussion, aptly titled: ‘Leading Through Digital Disruption’.

When it comes to digital, it’s not necessarily a big bang approach. Reflecting on this, R Baskar Babu, Co-Founder, Suryoday Microfinance India says, “ Being a start-up bank has put us in an advantageous position and we have leapfrogged in many aspects. Compared to the past, the affordability of technology has increased many folds, and for adopting a range of digital technologies, you necessarily do not require huge solutions or big budget. One can make their own tech adoption plan and start small and scale as they move along.”

The ramifications of digital are felt across. Kapil Kuwelker, Founder & CEO, Cirrius Technologies says, “ Digital has changed the fabric of even some of the most traditional verticals. I believe that digital disruption has already happened and customers are driving this change. So organizations have no option but to go digital and embrace it.”

Sunil Khosla, CMO, AGS Transact Technologies feels that: “ Post demonetisation, digital is the new normal. I see there are three stakeholders of digital; Companies, Partners and Customers- all three are driving it. Digital has ushered in many disruptions like card-less ATM cash withdrawal using QR codes and integrated PoS solutions enabling digital payments across MSMEs. In areas like cash management, digital is enabling better forecasting and cost savings through predictive technologies.”

Digital clearly is adding more value and recalibrating the service delivery. Putting this thought in perspective, Rajesh Mirjankar, Managing Director & CEO, Co-founder, InfrasoftTech says “ For us digital has disrupted us across the board. The true digital wave in banking started when smartphones came in. I think simpler tech at a lower cost can give huge benefits. Banking has seen many waves of tech adoption and the emphasis now is to offer more services using tech and the next disruption in the banking sector is all about ‘Open Banking’.”

Meanwhile Kumar Karpe, CEO, Tech Process Solutions says, “ Being in the digital payments space, we need to be always agile and digital has redefined our customers' services and their interactions with the organization have changed exponentially. Payments are a mission-critical business and there is no scope for delay. The learning here is how do you adapt to disruptions around you and bring value to customers.”

Agrees Samir Hosangady, MD, Brinks Arya India, “ We are a cash management company, digital has a great impact on our organization. We have always embraced technology but after demonetization, the pace of technology adoption is at a faster pace. I feel that we need to adopt digitalization to usher in greater productivity, creating a leaner and effective organization. We use digital even in those areas like route optimization.”

Digital is also about making things easier. Sanjay Vakharia, Director & COO, Spykar Lifestyles says, “ For me digital means more operational efficiency. It has worked well for us on multiple fronts. For instance, today AI and predictive technologies are enabling a lot of design. This has made the job of the designers far simpler. For instance, analytics has given us better business forecasting for the next season. “

Om Ahuja, COO, K Raheja Corp says, “ Digital has had it ramification across our organization. It has brought in huge changes in the way we do our architecture and many of the design elements have been empowered by digital and give us control over that designs over a period of time even after the project has been executed, the maintenance of the infrastructure has become easy.”

“We need to constantly innovate to stay relevant. That's how we have evolved with the times,” says Siddharth Raman, Chief Business Officer, N A Sportz Interactive. “ We strive to deliver the best in sports fan experience using innovations in social media content, broadcast solutions, mobile products, analytics, fantasy games and video solutions,” adds Raman.

Digital in many cases are also playing an enabling role. Take the case of StarAgri Finance. Abhinav Bhalla, AVP - Product Head, StarAgri Finance says, “ We are part of the agri value chain and provide financing solutions for diverse agri-assets. Our customers are in tier 3 and 4 locations and one can imagine the tech challenges. To enable faster disbursal of loans we toyed with the idea of providing tablets devices for our sales force and after that felt a mobile app is most suited, as it can be deployed at the customers end. My point is organizations must be nimble for change and must look at what technologies has the best leverage and be able to quickly change tactics as per the ground realities.”

"I see digital disruption from a different angle. Industries are going to merge; verticals are going to get connected. As an example, if you take the telco industry, video streaming services use their infrastructure but the telco does not get the money. So the typical telco is looking at adding more revenue streams and service monetization by way of offering meshed up verticalized services,” says Lalatendu Sahoo, Associate Vice President - Technology & IP Intelligence, Netscribes India.

“ If we look from a technology perspective, I foresee the merging of 5G, IoT and AI creating a unified ecosystem for a range of services, this confluence will bring to the table the real value of disruption. I believe 5G will jumpstart the next wave of disruption with IoT and AI riding on it for greater benefits,” adds Shoo.

Gautam Jain, Owner, Seshaasai Eforms says, “ In our line of business, digital has changed the way of doing business and altered our business models. From a brick and mortar we have transitioned our services online and that has had a huge business uptick and opened up huge opportunities for us.”

Janak Malkani, Executive Director, CBRE says, “ We have embraced technology aggressively and a big percentage of our investments goes towards technology adoption. For instance, digital has enabled us to offer such services to clients who can now compare office space  (rental) v/s co-working space and which help them make more informed decisions.  Using a web-based office management tool, our clients  can get a custom space recommendation in minutes and 3D images of their office design , another unique feature which we have called ‘Host’ - an experience offering that connects the employee to their environments – via technology, amenities, and communities that matter the most.”

Even at this time and age, some industries find it difficult to find the best-fit digital offering or the one that enables it to operate more intelligently by technology interventions. Reflecting on this Bhavesh Sanghvi, CEO- Wealth Management, Emkay Global Financial Services, “ The wealth management industry could not leverage the digital disruption fully as we could not find a solution that can empower our operations. This is a huge vendor opportunity area. Even though we use IT, but I am talking about solutions that can help in giving a granular view of our clients' assets with forecasting, risk analysis et al, that’s missing now.”

Alok Tandon, CEO, Inox Leisure, “  “We are in the business of entertaining, and cinematic entertainment is about handling stirring emotions. Therefore for us, the most exciting challenge in any digital intervention is to humanize the technology and deploy it in a way that ensures that while the experience keeps getting enhanced, the emotions remain intact. We are glad that we have been able to strike the right balance in all our digital interventions.”

“Digital needs to bring in more intelligence, the next wave is automated programming, and that has got far reaching ramifications including the number of developers we need. This will also bring more customer specific solutions,” says Milan Ganatra, MD, EbixCash Financial Technologies. 

SUMMING UP

If one looks at the key takeaways out of the ongoing digital disruption is that no one can afford to ignore it, time is now for the organization to embrace in a way that best fits them. On the road to digital, organizations not only need to navigate the technology maze but a range of change management and cultural issues.

To tame the cultural issues, a top-down approach to digital is a must and handholding with all the stakeholders within the organization. Yet another big takeaway is profiting out of data, which is the crux of digital disruption.  Using predictive mode, the attitude has to be: ‘How can I become a leader and not a laggard’. With data, organizations keep learning, because they fail, and learn to transition to the next orbit learning from the failure.

At the end of the day, the business leaders across the table agreed that digital is a seamless blend of technology, people, process and technologies. In other words, it is the blend of the machine, the human and the data.


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