Understanding the nuances and best approach to Digital Transformation in Indian enterprises

Enterprises embarking on digital transformation should realize that it involves deeper planning and evaluation around technology, people, and process.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”  — Charles Darwin

Understanding the nuances and best approach to Digital Transformation in Indian enterprises

Representative Image.

The above quote best fits the definition of Digital Transformation (DX) in today’s enterprises. The message is clear: to remain agile and face competition, organisations need to evolve and respond quickly to market changes. In today’s context, digital strategy of an organisation revolves around major improvements in three areas – Customer Experience, Operational Processes and Business Models.

Emerging Technologies are helping accelerate digital transformation journey and SMACi (Social, Mobility, Analytics, Cloud and Internet of Things) is at the front. These technologies act as the five pillars of digitisation, working in tandem to improve efficiency across different value chains. Right from operations to innovation, SMACi can add value by bringing in Agility in processes, creating a digital workplace, having a data-driven approach, knowing customers better, etc.

Digital transformation is a multi-pronged strategy that can impact all aspects of a business – be it operations, sales, marketing, and customer support.

Digital transformation at Indian enterprises: Key concerns

Digital transformation brings enormous opportunities for Indian enterprises, especially the small and medium businesses (SMBs). With fewer processes and less complex network infrastructure, SMBs are at a great advantage to benefit from SMACi. However, reports suggest that India is behind the global average and Asia-Pacific in terms of the level of digitisation. This is expected to change in the coming years with most of the Indian companies expecting to reach a digitisation level of around 65 percent in five years as against 67 percent in Asia-Pacific (Source: PwC).

The topmost challenge ahead of Indian enterprises is the lack of digital operations vision from the leadership. Globally, enterprises have developed a tendency to correlate “digital” with Information Technology (IT), thus leaving the non-IT functions from the core of digitisation.

Dedicated teams are active at the development stage but unfortunately, fall at the implementation stage mostly because discrepancy arises from different teams during implementation. Since digital journey of an enterprise calls for adjustments in business process and technology, they should seek an integrated approach that will help the teams share their best practices leveraging common methodologies. According to Gartner, the integration of IT (Information Technologies) and OT (Operational Technologies) will see a major trend in the coming years, especially in the field of data analytics. The study says that by 2020, 50 percent of OT service providers will create key partnerships with IT-centric providers for IoT offerings.

Improving operational processes: The bimodal approach

The challenge is more evident in traditional Indian enterprises with complex core IT infrastructure, which requires a lot of focus on operations and limits innovation and also resists disruption of any form. On the other hand, new-generation businesses take advantage of the latest innovations in Cloud, Big Data, IoT and Mobility accelerating their move towards Industry 4.0 and beyond. In order to match their competitions, traditional businesses need to embrace innovations, but without disturbing the harmony of their IT and business processes. And, here lies the challenge.

A bimodal approach has been discussed as the ideal way out to address the digital transformation dilemma faced by today’s enterprises. In fact, Gartner justifies this approach by saying, “digital transformation should not be disruptive to core business requirements.” Gartner further explains the concept, “Marrying a more predictable evolution of products and technologies (Mode 1) with the new and innovative (Mode 2) is the essence of an enterprise bimodal capability.” Ideally, the blending requires technologies and processes that can bridge the infrastructure, data, and the information between Mode 1 and Mode 2.

The converged infrastructure (CI) concept, which provides a unified computing infrastructure to manage different environments including physical, virtual and cloud, goes well with the bimodal IT approach. Convergence here reduces the involvement of IT staff for installation, maintenance and other management functions helping IT shift focus to innovations.

To be precise, the converged approach focuses on optimising Mode 1 infrastructure and providing a technology environment that can bridge into Mode 2 systems with minimal cost and complexity. Leveraging advancements in Cloud and Virtualisation, the converged infrastructure allows enterprises to deploy new applications and services which can respond quickly to changing business needs.

Further, the all-flash storage implemented in this stack helps bridge the infrastructure from Mode 1 to mode 2 by accelerating performance and optimizing storage with minimal environmental impact. Overall, the CI strategy helps reduce IT management costs and complexity associated with typical digital transformation scenarios in both SMBs and large enterprises.

With data becoming the new currency, the challenge ahead of enterprises is to procure and govern this data in a secure manner. The data emerging from mobile and IoT apps pose a major challenge, demanding huge resources just for handling this data.

IoT in India is expected to witness a rapid 31-fold growth to reach 1.9 billion by 2020, said Deloitte in its recent report. The bimodal approach opens an innovative path for information integration in the above scenarios, ensuring flexibility and interoperability across all types of data and protocol gateways. With this, enterprises can gain from seamless data mobility and storage across both private and public Cloud services with all advanced capabilities like encryption, access control, compliance and more. Considering the ongoing developments around Big Data and IoT, the relevance of such converged platforms grows only higher.

Improving customer experience and creating new business models

For improving customer experience, one must know the customer better. Digital Customer Experience Management (DEM), for example, helps bring a 360-degree view to customer experience by integrating data from different touch points. Here, organisations not only know customers from their business transactions but also from interactions, sentiments, behaviour, preferences, etc. With DEM, businesses can quickly identify performance issues before they impact customer experience.

The insights gained from the customers’ behaviour across multiple channels enable organisations to devise better marketing and product innovation strategies. Emerging technologies like Social media analytics and IoT are driving the world towards “Everything-as-a-Service” realm, enabling enterprises to create new business models to help them generate more revenues.

To sum up, Indian enterprises embarking on digital transformation should realise that the process involves a deeper strategic planning and evaluation around technology, people, and process. The success of DX is not only measured by an organisation’s revenue growth and cost reduction, but also, by its ability to innovate. As the year 2020 approaches with several milestones to achieve, Indian organisations have no time to brood over the implications of such transformation. It’s time they identify the right technology partner to enable those changes before the bell strikes.

The author is the Director of Platforms and Solutions Group for Hitachi Vantara India.

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