Category Archives: Transformation

Be Digital or Be Extinct – the existential question!

The era of Digital Darwinism is upon us. Businesses have no choice but to adopt digital technologies or disappear. Traditional businesses which do not leverage digital technologies risk becoming irrelevant or losing business to native digital companies which understand technology better. The good news is that most companies realize the importance of digital. However, the not so good news is that many still approach digital as “nice” or “cool to have” rather than treating it as an important aspect for business. Digital is no longer good to have: either be digital or be extinct – there is simply no other option.

Most businesses realize this today and strive for a footprint in the digital world. Many have refreshed their web presence, are taking orders online, creating mobile apps, running social media campaigns, etc. to reach their customers. Several banks have mobile apps which enable remote deposit of checks and online transactions; retailers have mobile apps for online ordering and tracking etc.; and utilities companies have mobile web presence for bill payments and customer engagements. While these are laudable initiatives, the digital customer or user experience is just the starting point of the digital journey and not the end game. An effective digital enterprise is one that integrates front-end digital customer / user experience with the system integration value chain and brings the entire organization onto an integrated digital platform. True digital integration is as much about middle- and back-office system integration as it is about front-end systems. It not only enables a seamless and consistent customer experience across all touch points but also create significant supply chain efficiencies and unlocks the true potential of data analytics.

Highly successful native digital companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, Facebook, etc. have been built with true digital system integration that spans the entire value continuum, and not just the front-end apps. That is what makes them successful. For example, Uber has effectively leveraged Google Maps and online payment systems to create a frictionless experience for the taxi business and eliminated two major inconveniences – the unpredictability of hailing a taxi and the payment after a ride. It has also efficiently integrated engagement with its drivers, their onboarding and settlement, etc. on a weekly basis. For digitalized business, their mobile presence is just the beginning. Their true strengths come from the digitally integrated value chains that allow them to predict and respond to market changes.

Traditional enterprises which are being reincarnated as digital have decades of existing systems and processes which need to be digitalized and integrated into the value chain before impacting the customer / user experience. When a customer deposits a check using a bank’s mobile app, the initial convenience of remote deposit fades if the funds are not credited within a day. Sometimes, due to integration issues between the front-end and back-end systems, it can take 3-5 days before a check is credited and the funds become available. The financial world is getting ready for crypto currencies, messenger-based payment systems, instant mobile payments, etc. Digital will impact the entire financial value chain. Native born digital companies have created massive disruption in every industry and have also forced traditional enterprises to become more agile, effective and market relevant.

Digital transformation for traditional enterprises must have CEO sponsorship, talent, collaboration across multiple business units and relentless user (internal and external) centricity. Several companies have created an exclusive digital centric team anchored by the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). CDOs have the mandate to architect an enterprise wide digital strategy, manage the implementation and drive business results in collaboration with the business units. Since technology is the biggest competitive advantage and a major ally in the digital pursuits, relevant partnerships with platform, software, digital solutions and services companies are important elements which can be leveraged well by enterprises.

Digitalization is a marathon and not a sprint. Design thinking, platform development and support, global launches, business units, partner and eco-system integration, digital run, operations and continuous improvement, etc. are key components of any successful digital enterprise. Security enabled technologies are essential for the long term success of digital programs. The ever-expanding global internet penetration, new platform and technologies, mobile and wearable devices, industrial and consumer IoT, cloud, analytics and big data, social collaboration, etc. will accelerate digital adoption across the globe and impact all industries. All businesses need to fast become digital-led. Either be digital or be extinct. Digital is the new D – Darwin.

Big data and its impact on One

Big data and predictive real-time analytics are critical dimensions of technology which have wide applicability across industries. IDC forecasts the big data technology and services market to become a USD 41.5 billion business through 2018. This market is growing with a CAGR of six times faster than the overall IT market and the growth rate of data and information has been incredible. As per IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated every day from the internet, posts on social media sites, emails, ecommerce transactions, website contents, videos, digital photos, sensors and more. All this, with only 41% of the world connected to the internet. Imagine the colossal amount of data that will be generated when the entire world is online and hundreds of billion devices become connected through the Internet of Things, IoT. Read more

Do we ask the right questions?

On a recent flight, I had an engaging conversation with the CEO of a large global company. After broadly discussing the business environment and how he is leading his organization through the changes taking place globally, I asked him about some of the current issues and challenges that he is currently focused on. Among the top 3 mentioned were:
– technology is the business now, not just the enabler;
– bridging the skill gap required for his vision of the company; and
– pushing the team to learn to ask the right questions with customers, partners and suppliers.
It was the last one that caught my attention as I was intrigued by the behavioral issue he had raised, “Are we asking the right questions to learn and listen more, build collaborative solutions or are we just putting out there about what we know”? Read more

2015 – Welcome to the second half of this decade!

The middle of this decade is here. Much has been achieved in the first half and much more is expected from the second. While there are several key areas of focus which deserve attention and can create impact as we look into the next 5 years, the following 5 are the pivotal themes in my view. Each of them, on their own, has the mega potential to transform the world. Read more

Keep an open mind

Last week I visited one of the top universities in the US, renowned for its educational programs and world class research facilities. All the meetings were pre-planned, well organized and proceeded as per the schedule. It was a phenomenal experience to be with some of the brightest minds and discuss, debate and learn from them. It was also extremely insightful to see the labs with experiments in next gen technology and human interface, among several new ideas. There is just so much to absorb and learn from the university environment. Walking the halls of these magnificent buildings is always refreshing and rejuvenating. It is amazing how these iconic institutions, year after year, continue producing some of the sharpest minds, bringing new thinking and new ideas, and constantly innovating. Read more