Digital Transformation: Upgrade Strategic Thinking not Technology

According to Prof. David Rogers, a professor at Columbia Business School, author of The Digital Transformation Playbook and a globally recognized digital expert, digital transformation is not only about updating your technology but also about upgrading your strategic thinking. He believes that pre-digital-era companies can reinvigorate their game plans and capture the new opportunities of the digital world.

But what were the Indian IT giants, in partnership with international companies,   doing in the name of ’digital transformation’ (DT) or what they thought DT was. Let us look at a few of them.

Infosys-Vanguard – US-headquartered investment management company Vanguard partnered with Infosys to digitally transform the Indian company’s operations. Vanguard would adopt technology-driven approach to plan administration and fundamentally reshape the corporate retirement plan experience for its sponsors and participants. Infosys will assume day- to- day operations supporting Vanguard’s defined contribution record keeping business.

TCS-Vistaprint – The tie-up helped the Indian company to transform and migrate 3 years of historical data comprising 4 billion finance documents that spanned over 100 entities and 6 global manufacturing sites. It achieved a data compression of more than 60 per cent. TCS leveraged its Secure Border Workspaces (SBWS) operating model to switch over to the new solution during COVID -19 lockdowns. A new benchmark in minimising downtime to less than 2 days.

Wipro-Google Cloud – Wipro’s President and COO Bhanumurthy B.M said that as provider of digital transformation services to some of the world’s impactful businesses, it was critical that  its own core systems and technologies  are running on intelligent and modern platforms.

Similarly, Infosys-Con Edison will implement Customer Service System. Infosys-LANXESS will set up end-user centric modern workplace. MindTree-Husqvarna will apply agile and DevOps concepts.

With the pandemic impacting all aspects of life, businesses across varied global markets have suddenly realized the need to shift their services and offerings online.

To cut a long story short, what the leading Indian IT companies think about digital transformation is a combination of some or all of the following:

  1. Shifting businesses online
  2. Shift operations to the cloud
  3. Apply agile concepts
  4. Migrating data
  5. End-to- end programme management
  6. Take  on day-to-day  operations

But NO these are not digital transformation.

According to a recent survey of CEOs, Directors and Senior Executives, 70 per cent of all digital transformation initiatives do not yield results. Of the $1.3 trillion spent on Digital Transformation last year, $ 900 billion went to waste. This is because people lack the right mindset to change and the current organizational practices are flawed. Digital Transformation will simply magnify the faults, if you do not leverage the lessons learnt to initiate this journey.

They are:

  1. Redefine your business policy
  2. Redesign customer experience from outside in
  3. Engage insiders
  4. Recognize employees fear of being replaced
  5. Bring Silicon Valley start-up culture inside

Today the essence of business and organizational transformation revolves around ‘Strategy’ and ‘Customers’ and ‘Management and NOT ‘Technology’. Technology will come afterwards. Doing things differently is different from doing different things. The Indian IT companies were ‘doing things differently’, while real Digital Transformation is all about ‘doing different things’.

According to David Rogers, traditional businesses need to rethink their underlying assumptions in five domains of strategy—customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. He says customer networks, platforms, big data, rapid experimentation, and disruptive business models have to be harnessed. And you should integrate these into your existing business and organization. This requires a holistic view of business strategy. Transforming for the digital age requires your business to upgrade its strategic mindset much more than its IT infrastructure.

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