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Digital - At the Heart of Business Transformation

“Go Digital” is a key theme with every business today. Last month, I had an opportunity to dipstick various perspectives from the Indian market, at two CIO roundtables themed Digital Transformation: Leading with "Digital Ready" Infrastructure Management Services 3.0.

IDC’s Shalil Gupta and NIIT Technologies’ Arvind Mehrotra engaged about 30 CIOs in a very intriguing dialogue on how Digital is shaping the business landscape and placing IT in the driver’s seat for next wave of business transformation.

Digital means different things to different companies and people. For some, it is a lifestyle statement, for others it may mean Agility, real time availability, paperless operations, information accessibility or as someone simply said – “Business at the speed of thought.”

Key macro-economic trends such as rapid urbanization, higher disposable incomes, stupendous growth in mobile adoption across urban and rural sectors, and supportive demographic shift are driving rapid change in consumer expectations and behavior. So much so that industries are being disrupted with new technology driven business models and there is a sudden surge in Billion dollar unicorns from startups, bringing new models or experiences to customers. Uber has completely transformed the surface public transport industry with its Analytics and App driven business model. Oyo or AirBnB have changed the inventory concepts in hospitality sector. Disruption is all-pervasive, impacted through changing business models that leverage technology to change customer acquisition, engagement and delivery models.

So the opportunity and threat of ‘digital’ are real. And almost all companies present at the roundtable identified with the intensity and commitment their organizations were demanding for responding to the digital change. Everyone mentioned that this was a CEO agenda in their companies being directly driven by CEOs themselves.

The impact of digital technologies will also vary by industry. Ex. Banking will lead pharma amongst regulated industries, since one has direct consumer engagement while other has indirect consumer engagement. Consumer facing industries like Banking, Finance, Airports etc. leverage integrated IT frameworks whereas non-end consumer facing industries such as Manufacturing leverage staggered or shadow IT strategy. Digital adoption is likewise.

Is this only affecting the private sector. Not really. Even Governments are under pressure to change – some leading the change, others being compelled to move. An example would be the tax filings, which have now moved online and millions of transactions have to be managed within faction of seconds and with zero tolerance for errors. This situation will further aggravate as the nation moves towards a singular GST framework taking into account all business transactions.

Most of the businesses are yet to understand the full scale of digital impact. Sporadic attempts are being attempted on frontend experience or performance or backend integration. However, adapting for digital requires a holistic approach to technology, especially the IT infrastructure strategy needs to undergo tremendous change while adapting businesses for the new norm.

What do businesses need to respond to this rapid growth of technology driven business transactions, how are the overall measures for success different and what key challenges present themselves in the journey. Watch this space for next and concluding blog from the roundtable.

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