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Digital Transformation and Beyond

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Sudhir Kanvinde, Chief Information Officer, The Supreme Industries Ltd

Caterpillar to a Butterfly
The best example of inspiring transformation that nature provides us, is the complete metamorphosis of a caterpillar, into a butterfly.There is hardly any similarity between the original caterpillar and the eventual butterfly. They are completely different creatures. However, this is neither a quick nor an easy process. The caterpillar literally dissolves itself in the chrysalis, and there are big changes happening on the inside in spite of the outward calm. Only this can lead to the emerging of a grand butterfly.

‘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.

Similarly in the natural world, the dynamic business world demands this kind of change, from an organization to meet its current and future challenges. The agility of an organization could well be the deciding factor for its survival. It has been predicted that 40 percent of the businesses would shut down in the next 10 years if they don’t figure out how to change the entire company to accommodate new technologies (John Chambers, Cisco).

Most businesses cannot continue to operate the way they did in the past, no matter how successful they are in the present. The market ecosystem now poses challenges through customers, competitors, supply chains, regulatory requirements which must be met at a fast pace.

Envisioning Change
There can be no real transformation without a vision leading it. For the top management, it is not a delegable task. The willingness to reinvent and acknowledging the need to innovate, must begin at the top and must actively involve all the internal stakeholders.It is necessary that the company vision percolates down the organization hierarchy to become a shared vision of the entire organization.

There is a need to carve out near term and long term strategies keeping in mind the new vision and the business purpose. Priorities will define the direction in which the organization will advance. It will require decisions that seem too bold or even irrational in the present times.

A fresh look across the value chain with a neutral standpoint identifies hindrances, as well as, opportunities within the organization.

Rethink Technology
Information Technology is hands-on for digital transformation. The IT department shoulders the responsibility of carrying through the desired changes and innovations in an organization. It is through implementation of new and trending technologies like, IoT, CRM, Cloud solutions, Big Data and BI, Advanced Analytics and such, that a change is sought to be brought about in the entire organization. It is through experimenting and prototyping new technology solutions, that early gains can be achieved. Data becomes a key asset here and advanced data analytics can provide insights, not imagined before. It can help shake the previous beliefs and norms and make way for new ones, better substantiated by facts. Synergies are achieved through multi-dimensional teams with both business and technical capabilities.

Human Centric Approach
Though digital transformation is mainly driven by technology and appropriate tools, it is fundamentally about people. It is about people willingly accepting the difficult transition phases and embracing the resulting changes in processes, operations and thinking patterns. The transformation process always requires a cultural shift within the organization. The new phase demands a culture of innovation and experimentation in almost all business areas. For new ideas to generate and for some of them to reach fruition, the organizations must be accepting of failures, must be willing to allocate resources and time required for experimentation and be willing to learn through the processes. It is necessary that everyone understands the benefits of the changes to the roles and processes.

It is all about securely empowering people through technological innovations to develop a change ready mindset

Developing a Culture of Security
With the ever increasing dependency on the connected systems and the internet, cybersecurity is a perpetual concern. The digital transformation of an organization, requires developing a security conscious workforce, with shared values and a cohesive approach to security. Excluding the technical security mechanisms and IT tools deployed, to promote the desired security behaviors among the people, it is imperative that the company atmosphere allows concerns to be frankly discussed, cyber incidents worldwide to be highlighted and remedies studied and that awareness programs are conducted regularly. It is not always easy getting everyone to comply with the protective security measures and concrete steps are needed in the direction.

Living the Change
The digital transformation certainly begins through resolve and determined actions but once the ball sets rolling there is no definite end to the journey. It becomes an ongoing process, a way of operating, for the organization. There may be setbacks and detours on the way but it is necessary to ensure continued alignment with the company’s strategy and goals. Learning and development of the people along with upskilling and retraining will always need focus. Good communication can be a favorable catalyst in the digital transformation journey. Traditional methods of communication that support only one-way communication will no longer deliver the desired outcomes. Interactive platforms for internal communication and social media platforms for communicating with external stakeholders is the new norm.

We all exist in the digital era where organizations must now choose to look inwards to transform proactively rather than just respond to market challenges and opportunities. It is all about securely empowering people through technological innovations to develop a change ready mindset.

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