Digital Transformation: A Bare Necessity To Survive In The Market Successfully

By Subram Natarajan, Chief Technology Officer, IBM India/South Asia

Subram Natarajan, Chief Technology Officer, IBM India/South AsiaAccording to Prescient & Strategic (P&S) Intelligence, the Indian digital transformation market is projected to advance at a CAGR of 74.7 percent during the forecast period (2019). In your perspective, how do you see this market evolving in India?

This will continue to gain momentum because of two reasons. One, there are still a lot of enterprises that need to make significant progress in digital transformation. So, there is a lot of ground we need to cover. Second, as a natural extension to this transformation, enterprises are looking for digital reinvention. That is, using the digitally transformed workflows and user journeys as a launchpad, how can one add value to customer experience, create newer business models, identify areas of cost reduction, etc. Data, analytics, and security play a key role in this phase of the reinvention.

Employee pushback, lack of expertise to lead digitization initiatives, organizational structure, and lack of overall digitization strategy are some of the common challenges faced in the process of digital transformation. How can companies overcome these challenges to enable a successful Digital Transformation?

Creating a cognitive enterprise requires a significant amount of changes to the way legacy systems and processes are handled. Firstly, having a strong strategy that has 100% alignment to business outcomes is a basic requirement. Secondly, reimagining the workplace organization and processes to be agile in all ways - agile processes, teams, methods, etc will mould the thinking processes to overcome the objections arising out of legacy methods. Lastly, a transformation won’t be possible without a workforce that has the skills and tools to bring the strategy to life. This means continuous and structured enablement specifically in the new age technology. Take a holistic approach to close the skills gap that is focused on reskilling workforce through development that's multi-modal, personalized to the individual and built on data. This means creating educational journeys for employees that are personalized to their current experience level, skills, job role, and career aspirations.

“A digitally transformed enterprise can provide superior customer engagements, build newer business models and expand the revenue base, while simultaneously attacking the cost base”

It works well when companies start with these changes in small scale, establish success and expand to the rest of the organization.

In all transformational processes, customer experience has been a key driver. Today, we live in a hyper-connected world, where information is the commodity, the Internet is the supply chain and Cloud is the warehouse. In what ways do you think a Customer-Centric Digital Transformation approach can be more beneficial for a business’ success?

It is very evident, that a customer-centric business model continues to revolutionize and disrupt. Uber's of the world are great examples. Customer centricity is no longer an option, it is 'the' factor that will differentiate between a successful organization and those that are not. Customer-centric offerings have been proven to create more successful engagements, primarily because of the specificity and relevance that they bring. Such engagements not only build loyalty base, it helps companies expand wallet share with the existing customer base and also build and reach newer markets.

Do you consider Digital Transformation as an add-on benefit or an utmost necessity in today’s world and why?

We have witnessed the disruption that digital transformation has brought to several industries. So much so, companies that are not on the transformation path are bound to perish. Simply put, a digitally transformed enterprise can provide superior customer engagements, build newer business models and expand the revenue base, while simultaneously attacking the cost base. In the current market scenario, all of these are bare essential activities to run an enterprise. Therefore, digital transformation is a bare necessity to survive in the market successfully.

Tells us how Cyber-security, IoT Technology, Multi-cloud Environment, and AI have been the major driving forces behind Digital Transformation?

The advent of cloud allowed us to reimagine how infrastructure, platforms, the software can be provisioned and consumed. While close to 80% of legacy applications are yet to move to the cloud, enterprises have started creating a truly hybrid environment, where part of the applications and data live on-premise, whereas some of the other applications could be in public clouds. What allows them to seamlessly interoperate between the environment is a standardized way of deployment using cloud-native principles. In a digitally transformed enterprise, the digital journeys are represented through multiple micro services all deployed on the containerized environment with complementing DevOps setup. When you the data and artificial intelligence to this, the digital journeys become far more powerful - this is where one can create hyper-personalization and therefore highly relevant engagements. Technologies like IoT provides the necessary data to make the analytics possible. Of course, the underlying arterial component that runs across and along the entire stack is cyber security.

What are the industries that have been most successful in adopting Digital Transformation and why?

Almost all segments are transforming in their way to remain relevant and competitive. Whether it is telecom, Financial Services, Government, Industrial, Retail, etc, all of them have been successful in programmatically driving digital transformation projects. These industries offer services to end customers, who are continuously looking for better service experience. In almost all cases, the need germinates from reimagining newer business models through enhanced customer experience.

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