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Digital Transformation: Steering Today’s Business Landscape

Namit Agrawal currently serves as the Director of Delivery at Material, based in Noida. In his current capacity, Namit oversees a global portfolio of digital transformation projects for Materialplus.

With over 24 years of experience in Service and Product Delivery, Namit has contributed his expertise to renowned global IT service and product development companies, including Adobe, GreyOrange, and Innovaccer. His proficiency extends to aiding companies in transitioning to Agile methodologies, and he has previously played a pivotal role in establishing and managing Program Management verticals.

Namit is an active presence on professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. In an insightful discussion with The Interview World, Namit delves into various facets of digital transformation. The conversation covers topics ranging from challenges and obstacles to best practices, the key components of a successful digital transformation strategy, measuring success, and emerging trends in digital technology. Presented below are highlights from his interview.

Q: Can you briefly explain what digital transformation means in the context of today’s business landscape?

A: Digital Transformation is one of the biggest drivers today which shapes the needs and expectations of a business if it wants to succeed. It is the state of perpetual agility for businesses. We are also seeing below drivers which are leading to an increasing need to have a digital transformation agenda and readiness.

The shelf life of organizations is increasingly decreasing, hence their relevance. From an average enterprise tenure of 35 years in the 1980s, the average tenure of enterprises now is down to 18 years by the year 2016 (as per a Standard and Poor report).

  • CMOs now have less time at hand to create an impact
  • Customers now are a bigger disruptor than the competition itself
  • There are dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour – shift in focus to health and wellness, focus on experiences, remote working, and prioritization of family in the aftermath of COVID as a few examples
  • Technology adoption is getting faster every year. It took 62 years for automobiles to reach 50 million users but it took only 4 years for YouTube to reach the same number of users. This is getting further disrupted by companies like OpenAI.
  • Start-ups are disrupting monopolies and keeping larger incumbents on their toes
  • Trust in brands has eroded over the years and the erosion of trust is much faster with social media coming in

All these factors are forcing enterprises to reimagine their business propositions.

Q: What are the typical challenges or roadblocks that organizations face when implementing a digital transformation strategy?

A: Here are a few palpable challenges:

  • Not having the right technology available in-house
  • Existing workforce lacking the key skills needed to scale and transform as per the needs of the customer
  • Resistance to change stemming from job insecurity
  • Budget constraints – balancing the cost of technology with the potential returns can be challenging
  • Lack of clear vision – Executing strategy without a clear vision put in place by leadership can lead to wasted resources

Q: How should organizations define their digital transformation goals and objectives?

A: Digital Transformation goals should essentially be defined in the context of who your customer is and how your service or product impacts them. Your objective should be to reimagine your customer experience

Other goals should be to become excellent at customer experience. Companies that do great at customer experience outperform the market in terms of topline and bottom-line growth.

Acquire the ability to learn more about your customers faster and then have the ability to turn that learning into action faster. To do this you have to become customer-centric and have organizational agility

Q: Can you discuss the importance of cultural change and employee buy-in during a digital transformation process?

A: Culture can be the most significant barrier to digital transformation. The supporting culture that is needed is that of collaboration, data-driven decision-making, customer centricity, fast, agile and iterative ways of working, and finally decentralized ownership.

Q: What are some best practices for data management and governance in the context of digital transformation?

A: Here is a list of best practices that enterprises should internalize:

  • Define data governance policies in the context of industry regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, etc
  • Implement ISMS practices like ISO 27001 to safeguard the Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability of Data
  • Invest in continuous education and skilling of employees as humans are behind most data governance issues
  • Encourage Cross-functional Collaboration – so that data governance aligns with the business and customer objectives

Q: Can you share examples of successful digital transformation case studies or real-world implementations?

A
: Some prominent examples include:

Tide: We know as a liquid detergent Tide has been able to transform into a “neighbourhood laundromat” now. They have taken digital transformation initiatives like an online subscription service, Tide wash club, and an Amazon Dash button to order detergent on Demand. They have been adding neighbourhood drop-off lockers to grow rapidly. They climbed from rank 97 to rank 70 on the Fortune 500 list.

Macy’s: It has launched technology that allows customers to skip the line at the register increasing customer satisfaction. It is also expanding virtual reality technology in furniture and cosmetics sessions. Mobile is now Macy’s fastest-growing e-commerce channel.

Lego: This company was facing challenges as its primary customers; kids’ play habits were shifting towards digital experiences. Lego developed LEGO Life – a safe online platform for kids to share their creations and participate in building challenges online. This platform has Augmented Reality capabilities to enhance the play experience. It also did product innovations like LEGO Boost and LEGO Hidden Side bombing physical building sets with mobile app-based interactive experiences.

Today, any organization that cares about its customers should be invested in some other form of digital transformation.

Q: What role do agility and adaptability play in the long-term success of a digital transformation strategy?

A: Agility and adaptability are the key pillars of a successful digital transformation strategy, and how.

  • The technology world is changing at a rapid pace and hence being agile allows organizations to adapt to new technologies faster
  • Market dynamics and customer preferences now change in months and not decades, requiring much more adaptability
  • Implementation needs to be more agile, readiness to embrace change and adapt the project as per the environment is more critical now
  • Employees need to be more adaptable to embrace this change and advance their skills to meet the demands surfaced by this evolving landscape

Q: How do you recommend measuring the ROI and success of a digital transformation effort?

A: Here are some thoughts:

  • The sponsor of such an effort should define business KPI in measurable terms. These would be quantitative metrics
  • Define qualitative metrics which include intangible benefits
  • Define current benchmarks so that post-implementation revaluation can be done against these benchmarks
  • Evaluate time to realize value and then report against actual time to value

Q: What advice would you give to organizations that are just starting their digital transformation journey?

A: Be mindful of these stages or aspects of the transformation journey:

  • Customer Acquisition and Engagement through personalization
  • Redesign the customer experience by empowering the customers
  • Reimagine your business models – Focus on new value creation
  • Focus on Enterprise Modernization –by moving to Cloud, Automate and be Agile

If these pointers are kept in mind the steps will automatically align correctly.

Q: Are there any emerging trends or technologies that you believe will significantly impact digital transformation in the near future?

A: Below are some of the disruptive trends that we see happening in this space:

  • AI is the flavour of the season and will continue to play an ever-increasing role in Digital Transformation
  • Edge Computing – This requires processing data close to the source and the proliferation of IoT devices
  • Blockchain – Continues to evolve strongly by providing secure and transparent decentralized systems
  • Sustainability and Green-tech – are getting increasingly incorporated into digital strategies

Each of these is a very broad topic and deserves a separate focussed agenda.

Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation
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