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Into the Future, Together: Enhancing Collaboration to Drive Digital Acceleration
Sachin Bajaj Senior Vice President, Digital & Analytics | May 31, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us quite a few lessons. For me, there have been two major takeaways. The first is the fact that the pandemic has shown us how much of our freedom and time we take for granted, and how easily it can be taken away by something as small as a virus. The second is the fact that humans are resilient. Despite lockdowns, quarantine measures, and general socio-economic upheaval, we have managed to not just get back on our feet, but also adapt and grow through this uncertainty.

This is best illustrated by the rapid digital acceleration taking place at a time when disruptions are shaking industries across regions to their very foundations. Let me share an example.

HCL’s recent Digital Acceleration for Business Resilience report identified the various degrees of supply chain disruptions taking place across different geographies. Among them, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region seems to be suffering the greatest with a significant percentage of organizations reporting disruptions across operations and supply chains. At the same time, they are also exhibiting a greater than average rate of adoption of technological enablers like big data and analytics.

However, even the most well-defined and promising digital transformation strategies are difficult to execute, especially at time when they must be expedited. Initiating and managing enterprise-wide change in large organizations with incumbent complexities in their technology core can be a challenge. According to the Boston Consulting Group, 70% organizations  fail to achieve their digital transformation strategies and objectives, and this includes top performers and market leaders.

A failed digital transformation strategy can have multiple reasons. However, one of the most common underlying factors is organizational inertia, because as important as technology is, the people dimension can make or break any number of digital transformation strategies.  

Harnessing Cross-Functional Collaboration: A Growing Need

The people dimension is a collective term that defines areas like operational models, processes, cultures, and skills. Yet, when it comes to threats against digital transformation, organizations often tend to underestimate the skill levels of people required to execute these strategies effectively. In fact, the Digital Acceleration report reveals that about 35% organizations consider their lack of in-house skills to be one of the largest impediments to their digital growth.

In a digital ecosystem, where data has become the lifeblood flowing through the organizational structure, simply upskilling can only take progress so far. What companies must now focus on in this digital ecosystem, is the cross-skilling of their people and breaking down silos that limit visibility across the enterprise.

After all, isn’t that the core principle of a digital revolution?

Yet for the most part, business functions share a competitive relationship rather than a collaborative one. This often leads to lost opportunities for a digital revolution, not to mention the friction against digital growth. The ripple effects of such a situation includes a negative impact on the top- and bottom- line as well as on brand presence, both of which result in hindered growth in the new normal.

Troubles like these only underpin the need for cross-functional, collaborative teams in the age of digital acceleration, which, along with cross-silo collaborations, are an invaluable requirement of the digital transformation journey.

A powerful collaborative environment provides a twofold boost to the digital acceleration of businesses.

A powerful collaborative environment provides a two-fold boost to the digital acceleration of businesses.

Firstly, the enhanced flow of information and clarity provides them with the confidence and insights to invest in the right technology and propel their digital journey. Secondly, more insightful investment in technology gives them an edge in their digital journey that improves their revenue gains and growth.

Beyond Intra-Organization Collaboration: The Importance of a Strategic Partner Ecosystem  

Traditionally, organizations have had complete control of the delivery mechanism of their products and services. From analysis to customer behavior to product innovation, most functions are executed in-house, with a minimal transactional relationship with their partners.

However, with the current digital acceleration trend, collaboration with partners must become a matter of strategic collaboration defined by relationships beyond the contract.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of having a strategic partner ecosystem is the availability of a multi-directional approach to digital transformation. A parallel focus on cross-functional collaboration (as described above) and leveraging technology partners for strategic innovation can significantly improve operational efficiency, increase profitability, and enhance customer experience.

To know more, read HCL’s survey-based Digital Acceleration for Business Resilience report.