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Innovations Can Come From Anywhere: Aruna Jayanthi, MD, APAC & Latin America, Capgemini

Aruna Jayanthi, Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Latin America at Capgemini asserts that India is seeing unprecedented digital inclusion that will impact all businesses

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When all channels to contact and communicate with consumers was cut off, technology-led solutions subtly drove a massive movement.

Among the many takeaways from the Covid crisis, perhaps the most key is how technology has accelerated digital transformation. For Aruna Jayanthi, the Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Latin America at Capgemini, the simple reason for this was that digital and virtual were the only means to reach consumers and operate in crisis times. 

"The starkest example of where this change is most evident is healthcare. The doctor-patient relation was once sacrosanct. You had to see the patient, in person. If that industry can change to tele-medical healthcare, you can only imagine the overall impact across industries," states Jayanthi.

She also quoted the example of schools as a second case in point. Irrespective of whether a household in India owned a laptop/ tablet or not, schools had already begun the move to online classes. 

"The likes of retail or banking are the more obvious examples of technology adoption, but to me, when you see sectors such as education and healthcare changing in the manner that they did, then you truly feel the pace of transformation," Jayanthi notes.

Companies & Changes

A direct fallout of the pandemic was that companies that had yet not begun their digital journeys, are now bereft of choice. "Some companies had begun early but the crisis precipitated change across most. The bigger question, however, is how you go about it," Jayanthi says. 

She points out that transformation can be done via two approaches - a quick fix or a structural change to the offer itself. Citing the example of education again, she explains that a teacher speaking to the students through a screen, like she would speak in class, is an example of the former. "The same approach, despite a different channel, is a quick fix. But can you fundamentally change the way learning happens by shifting time and pace or moving to open book. Can you redesign it and maximise the opportunity presented? This logic holds true for businesses as well," Jayanthi reflects.

Her argument has a deeper implication on several factors including business models, processes, and even the very position that a business holds within its sector. "Many changes were already in play. The injection of artificial intelligence or machine learning, for instance, is not new but now it has a more widespread and deeper presence. And it is here to stay," the Capgemini MD asserts.

Innovations Unbarred

Jayanthi reiterates that no one would be spared in the current scenario. Even the long tail of businesses, some of which had still managed to operate with minimal adoption of new age technologies, will be affected. "They are perhaps the most vulnerable and they would need to reinvent as much as others. But if you see this from a different lens, many innovations coming in today are really coming from the smaller players. In the last few weeks, I have logged on to every trading portal just to see the difference and what they are offering, and it is amazing. The smaller ones have the ability to be far more agile," she states.

Capgemini too had to undertake several measures to navigate the industry crisis. The first was infrastructure mobilisation in order to prep for work from home. "We had to ensure that people had secured, connected devices at home, and we had to do this rapidly. We had to also inform our customers clearly that nothing gets affected and explain the new model of working. We had to give them the comfort and assurance that neither their work nor security would be compromised in the new way of working," Jayanthi informs.

Road Ahead

The crisis has created a situation where companies and people were more openminded towards accepting changes as well. The overall consumer acceptance of digital too has increased, and it is irreversible. This is evident across platforms including digital payments, means of connection and consumption, and companies will have to take this into consideration moving forward. 

Jayanthi is of the opinion that disruption, convenience and flexibility will have a place in the road ahead. "You will see many fintech companies and other startups coming up that will disrupt business models. We will also see people opting for what offers them greater flexibility and easier access," she says. 

The developments such as scaling up of players like Reliance Jio or investment in the data infrastructure in India accentuates that there is unprecedented and growing digital inclusion in the country. "We are in a place where the gap between digital haves and have-nots is reducing. This is what creates the ability to change. We have to ensure that we are ready for this change," Jayanthi remarks. 

Tags assigned to this article:
technology transformation COVID-19 Aruna Jayanthi capgemini