January 13, 2017

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Towards A Responsible, Digital Future

Few trends have received more hype and attention, in the past couple of years, than this broad-based phenomenon termed as “Digitalization”. If one were to do a simple cause-and-effect analysis, then it would be easy to arrive at a definition which would attribute Digitalization to Digital Technologies such as Mobile, Social, Analytics, Cloud, IoT and others like robotics, cognitive intelligence and augmented reality. In all my experience in spearheading HCL’s digital engagements with our customers, I can safely say that a technology-centric definition would be a radical over-simplification. I firmly believe that Digital Transformation much like The Fourth Industrial Revolution might be technology led; but the change itself is much deeper. The change has the potential to disrupt societies and organizations. Organizations on the road to true Digital Transformation have to plot their course across 4 major themes:

Leadership Culture: Digital Transformation is less about one brilliant idea or one smart individual - but more about integration and teamwork. The impact of Digital Technologies is so universal that the opportunities for transformation lie across teams, functional silos and even organizations. Leaders similarly have to step up, and focus on the larger picture, play the role that is more Integrator and Orchestrator; and less Manager. Effective Digital Transformation leaders will have to invest in building these skills.

Digital Leaders have to focus on the larger picture and be more of the orchestrator and less of a Manager

Business Process: This is an obvious one – but has a new dimension to it. BPM (Business Process Management) is not only enabling Organizations to re-imagine existing business processes to make them faster and more efficient, they are opening new vistas for imagining entirely new services. This can be a game changer in terms of entirely new ways of running businesses or engaging with customers.

Customer Engagement: This again is an obvious outcome of Digital Transformation; but the impact is beyond just providing “new ways” to engage/sell to customers. Digital Transformation is an opportunity to re-imaginei the Enterprise-Customer relationship. Organizations with successful Digital strategies have converted point-of-sale interactions to continuing relationship journeys and a one-dimensional view of the customer to a 360-degree view. This changes the positioning of an Enterprise from “seller” to “trusted partner”.

Digital is not only a technology initiative but an opportunity to re-imagine the Enterprise-Customer relationship

Ecosystems: If Digital Transformation is about creative integration of people, process and technologies; its impact can be multiplied many times over if organizations integrate across ecosystems of partners, vendors, customers and even competition. Successful digital-native companies such as Uber or Airbnb are transforming entire industries and showing stupendous growth by creating a unified experience across ecosystems. Digital aspirants need to look beyond their boundaries and integrate the best of the world has to offer and create unique products and services.

I believe, as Enterprises chart their own course towards a “Digital future”; they will have to create a strong business strategy first and look at the “business” aspects of Digital Transformation; rather than dive headlong into implementing Digital Technology. I have been fortunate to have been a part of many such well-thought out Digital Technology implementation journeys. Admittedly, in my daily corporate life, I am more exposed to the implications of this Fourth Industrial Revolution in business enterprises. Hence, I am delighted this year to be attending the World Economic Forum that draws leaders across the social, business and political spectrum. This year’s theme is Responsible Leadership – a truly relevant theme considering the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on societies and businesses alike.

See you at Davos and stay tuned for an exciting post-Davos update!