Becoming a Future Ready Digital Enterprise!

Suresh Iyer, CIO, Blue Star Ltd. | Thursday, 05 October 2017, 12:47 IST

Organizations of tomorrow have to be young, agile and vibrant to cope with the digitally savvy customers and employees of tomorrow. They would need to be contemporary, reflect the theme of the times and be relevant – to its customers, employees, partners and investors.

To achieve this, organizations need to start working on becoming Future Ready. And thereby become a part of the Digital Revolution unfolding all around us.

The high-tech weapons used in this digital revolution are technologies such as Social Media, Mobility, Analytics, Cloud and a bouquet of trending technologies such as Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchains, Bots, etc. to evolve and create new products, business models and services.

These technologies bring in efficiencies, reduce costs, and more importantly, provide new avenues of growth. However, while these are attractive options from a technology perspective, they need to be looked at purely from a business perspective. This will also imply organizations adopting new integrated ways and techniques of working thereby leading to their transformation into a ‘Digital Enterprise’.

This Digital Enterprise is essentially a connected entity – digitally connected to customers, partners, suppliers, logistics providers, financial institutions, and its products. The Digital Enterprise will have structured electronic data flowing through its bloodstream and providing information and knowledge to all those who interact with it further resulting in forward-looking insights and deeper understanding of its ecosystem. This will enable faster reactions to market conditions, predictive decisions, and more importantly, a superlative Customer Experience.

So how does one go about becoming Future Ready?

While there are multiple ways, there may be no right way or wrong way. What matters is putting together an approach that suits your organization (and budget) specif­ically. Three critical aspects to be factored are the current state of internal process au­tomation, the current state of IT infrastructure within the or­ganization, and the digital awareness and capabilities of employees. All these factors have an intrinsic bearing on the veloc­ity of digitalization and adoption of digital technologies. Craft your digital roadmap accordingly.

Apart from these, there are essentially three core areas to deeply assess and understand – environmental landscape, business objectives and customer dynamics.

From an environmental angle, there are multitude of factors that could impact business models, services and products. The numbers of 3G/4G users are expected to touch 300M by 2018. By that time, the overall scenario would be such that the smartphone would be less of a phone and more of a computing device. This will result in an increased activity on social channels fundamentally altering the customer dynamics and behavior. Apart from the growth of IoT, the push towards digital payments will also influence how companies do business.

From an organizational business standpoint, ensure that you understand your business lines, and partner and customer landscape thoroughly. If possible, meet vendors, dealers and customers. Hear what they have to say about your company’s products, services, responsiveness, professionalism and accessibility. Get a feel for the ‘ease of doing business’ part. This will give you enough insights into which and how processes and products could be transformed and simplified through appropriate use of technologies.

When talking to customers and sales/service people, gauge what they feel about ‘customer experience’. Look for issues or bottlenecks faced which prevent faster delivery of a product or service or delays in responding to customers.

Customers are increasingly getting exposed to digital technologies. Books which used to be a personal shopping experience is now online as well –thanks to the price discounts on offer. Uber and Ola are fully leveraging the smartphone and have completely revolutionized and disrupted the taxi industry. With customers becoming more digitalized, they will have a similar expectation from your product or service as well. If you are in the B2B space, there are numerous opportunities to exchange data electronically or even integrate systems depending on the need and benefit.

From the overall broad canvas of challenges for transformation, some of the key ones are related to managing priorities (current vs. future or tactical vs. strategic), making people digitally aware, change management, and security. ‘Change’ is primarily associated with making people think more strategically and applying digital thinking with a fresh perspective.

With increasing volume of data getting stored digitally and people getting more exposed to the electronic world, the degree of risk has gone up. Security tools can only do so much – the major vulnerability is the person itself. Almost all issues happen on account of human failure. It is no longer an option for any person to be not aware of digital technologies and the risks.

And one last challenge is ‘harvesting’ –reaping the benefits of digitalization. This can be handled by having a strong governance model and constant follow-through to ensure constraints and issues are eliminated. In short, the closer you are to the business, the higher the likelihood of success.