This article is a perspective on the importance of digital transformation for businesses and its continual nature.It is authored by By Dr Keshab Panda, CEO & MD, L&T Technology Services Ltd
The last few years reflect two distinct trends- one being that the business environment has become highly competitive and the other being rapid adoption of digital transformation. A closer look reveals that both the trends are in fact interrelated and digital transformation has rather assumed the role of a saviour. Thus, the scope of relevance of digital transformation only widens with each passing day. Research shows that close to a third of the global CEOs and Senior Executives already regard digital transformation as among their top three priorities.
It is Engineering, Research & Development (ER&D) which lies at the core of the ongoing digital transformation of enterprises, with engineers the world over creating smarter solutions using engineering analytics, IoT enabled sensors and perceptual technologies that facilitate Human Machine collaboration.
My own personal interactions with the world’s top 100 R&D spenders reveal that digital engineering remains a common agenda for all though at different stages of adoption. This is due to their desire to generate revenue streams through new product development & value creation. While earlier business aspects used to hardly change every couple of years, presently there is a new breakthrough every four to five months that changes the way business is done.
We are also progressing towards the era of asset light conglomerates from traditional asset-heavy brick and mortar organizations. If we look at the digital companies, they have double the sales and perhaps trillions of dollars in valuation; this is the balance organizations should intend to attain. Organisations are now increasingly making themselves more digital, agile and attractive to be where they want to be. And ER&D companies with a strong innovative mindset have a crucial role to play as facilitators in this digital journey.
At this juncture, let me give you LTTS’ own examples – from developing the world’s Smartest Office Campus in Israel, setting up the first ever commercial network for grids for an American utility to creating the world’s first dual screen smartphone, digital transformation is evident in all our endeavours for many of our global customers.
Roadmap for digital success goes through People, Process and Technology
While digital capabilities are definitely important for the future of business, leaders have to evaluate all aspects of such a transformative initiative before launching it in full scale. Such evolutionary steps require time, concentration and investments. Therefore, a step-by-step digital roadmap is crucial.
- Identify your digital transformation requirements
- A clear vision
- Areas and scope of improvement
- Comprehensive research
- Creating culture of change
- The employee-technology connection
- Formulate a strategy – The organization should evaluate its digital preparedness and set clear targets for the next five to ten years. Initiatives that are expected to bring most value to your business should be given highest priorities and are aligned with the overall plan.
- Think Big & Bold! – Fortune favours the brave and risk taking appetite is a factor that distinguishes the truly successful entrepreneurs from the mediocre. Out of the box ideas combined with the ability to think big can go a long way in making a business successful.
- Eye for detail: While boldness of vision is critical, the devil lies in the details. To get even the minutest part of a program right, merely a top down approach may not work. Instead the people at the core of the innovations, the R&D practitioners must be given a free hand to create Proof of Concepts that can become the next Big Thing.
- Pilots leading the way – Pilot projects act as proof of concept and demonstrate the potential business value of digital transformation across various existing and upcoming missions. Successful pilots can help companies gain traction from the customers and secure investments for a larger implementation.
- Workforce 2.0 – With the advent of Industry 4.0, the requirement to build digital capabilities among the existing and future workforce to meet rising customer demand is indispensable. Talent development has thus become an imperative for many organizations and training modules across AI, Machine Learning and Embedded Technologies are key to attracting new people and nurturing talent. It is thus important to reskill and upskill the workforce on a continuous basis. Moreover all employees should be encouraged to think and act like digital natives and learn new ways of operating.
- Remodel the organization into digital startup – Today, a start-up can easily disrupt the well settled business of an established conglomerate riding on the digital wave. In fact, if you look back at the start-ups from previous couple of decades; they have all become digital giants now. The leadership should set the tone with clear mindset and vision to foster a culture similar to that of a start up, regardless of an organization’s actual scale. Its an HR challenge sure, but if implemented can be the difference between success and failure.
- Be Agile: Customer’s appreciate faster go to market hence it is necessary to execute fast and not worry about faltering. Even if setbacks occur, the winning team always believes in successive upgrades and iterations and moving fast.
- Don’t do it Alone – Companies can leverage partnerships to develop a complete offering internally. Companies can also co-develop with customers and other companies various new solutions and platforms. Going solo has become passe.
- And don’t stop! – Organization should understand that digital transformation is not a single-off event. It is a continuous process of business evolution. Therefore, companies should also re-invent their capabilities at faster rates to stay ahead of the curve.
Some of the digital developments are occurring presently while others are expected in the time to come. But as far as the adoption of digital transformation is concerned, organizations across all business domains are embracing it at an increasing rate. This is becoming progressively important as organizations explore ways and means to stay relevant in the era of a digitally-connected smart world. Organizational culture is often a barrier to adoption of smart technologies and hence it is important for companies to instil a culture of change and innovation and ensure all employees are kept digitally agile and up to date.