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HCL Technologies

The 21 CE DNA – Why Innovation is Key to Tomorrow

The 21 CE DNA – Why Innovation is Key to Tomorrow
Mani Nagasundaram - SVP & Global Head of Solutions – Financial Services, HCL Technologies | May 5, 2017
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Business ‘traditions’ and operational norms are out of sync in today’s dynamic landscape.

The shelf life of a typical Fortune 500 firm has reduced by 60 years – and continues to fall as we speak. In fact, since the turn of the century, over 50% of the original Fortune 500 have failed to deliver long-term value.

Burdened by resource-heavy operations and rigid processes, companies are struggling to ensure an end-user experience that will delight the millennial customer.

Enter the ‘born-digital’ organization – riding the disruptive wave in technology and backed by bull market optimism, these unicorns are changing the CX game across the board. Uber, Airbnb, and Snapchat are now part of daily speak – and their contribution to technology is powering a larger revolution.

Customer-centricity is at the very core of their business models, impacting every strategic decision and every deployment blueprint. Consider how Uber has redefined cab services for good, and is constantly innovating to further refine user experiences. The Uber story is now an archetype for digital transport solutions around the world.

Customer-centricity is at the very core of business models, impacting every strategic decision & deployment.

Clearly, legacy companies must recalibrate themselves for the 21CE – leveraging the digital paradigm as a backbone, while constantly advancing towards ‘more’. Now defined as experience-architects, these enterprises must endeavor to be first, service-oriented; second, agile and lean, and finally, ecosystem driven.

This results in a seamless marriage of an unwavering focus on user journeys and tech-led process orchestration – a truly 21st century enterprise built for outcomes.

This revolution has three critical aspects:

  • Business innovation enriched by technology
  • Operational agility enabled by lean models
  • Unified experiences propelled by design thinking

Digital transformation is different from simply articulating a strategy – encompassing a host of functions, from broadening market reach to changing the very ethos of an organization. Such a comprehensive plan demands the perfect combination of leading-edge tech (artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and more) alongside next-gen tools (such as robotics and sensors).

Moreover, business processes have to undergo a complete overhaul, factoring in current best practices, as well as future trends and opportunities. This will consequently free the company’s resources from its monolithic restraints, encouraging collaboration and communication.

While innovation is key for real transformation and change, the two terms refer to different goals in the digital context. Transformation is long-term and sustained, innovation is ‘right here, right now’ – the tangible response to an idea. And innovation never rests – excellence will always foster competition as other market players aim for similar breakthroughs. At the current pace of rollout, popularity, and subsequent obsolescence, it’s essential to challenge existing capabilities.

I will deep dive into 'Innovation and Digital Transformation in the 21st Century Enterprise' at the Netherlands India Business Meet, 2017 in the Hague.

Transformation is long-term & sustained, innovation is ‘right here, right now’ – the tangible response to an idea

Put simply, the 21CE company cannot afford to be complacent, and like Uber and its peers must constantly push the envelope. A volley of factors has fueled this inflexion – social media, for instance, has rewired the dynamics of how the millennial generation shares information. Initially a giant leap in terms of networking, it has changed how we look at (and create) news, content, and entertainment services. This steady disruption of the status quo needs an architecture that’s agile, responsive, and in-sync with the market flux.

So, the challenge is to make disruption work for you instead of being derailed by unprecedented currents. Continuous re-invention must be the fulcrum of the 21st CE firm – an essential for achieving outcomes across all corners of an increasingly diversified business landscape.

In fact, the boundaries between a company and its surrounding ecosystem (technology, vendors and customers) are becoming increasingly blurred. Both internal and external stakeholders must share a unified vision – working together to extend the ambit of what we know as ‘enterprise’.

At the heart of this vision lies customer-centricity. The Chief Experience Officer (CXO) is now an integral spoke for any future-forward organizational wheel. Today, it’s simply not enough to adopt a customer-oriented model when building end-user experiences. UX design is more than the final step in a product’s lifecycle – it is a fundamental pillar of the 21st century enterprise.

A report by the Bank of America report suggests that by 2025, robotics and other forms of artificial intelligence will reshape the world as we know it. The business practices of today will become irrelevant – morphing, mutating, and evolving into simpler, more resource ‘lite’ solutions. Digital transformation will unlock the next bend – as the 21st CE enterprise traverses from uncertainty, to unexplored terrains of progress.  

Recently, a leading Indian financial institution introduced smart vaults – giving customers access that’s free from the constraints of lengthy paperwork, official intervention, and banking hours. A simple change like this can substantially impact the customer experience – and that’s what digital innovation is all about.

Ideas led by tech and built for CX-first outcomes will empower organizations in the 21st century.


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