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Digital Transformation: Making Impact On Business And People

by Rajiv Srivastava, MD, HP September-2016

Welcome to the digital revolution that is now literally transforming every aspect of our lives at home and in business. Innovation in technology has been a great enabler and we look at digital delivery of products and services to match with the pace of our lives.

Technology has blurred the distinction between our work life and our personal life. We work at home and network socially at the office. A few colleagues and a Wi-Fi connection is all that it takes to set up an office, irrespective of the location. At the same time digital transformation is moving deeper into the industrial domain- speeding up manufacturing, establishing new frontiers in artificial intelligence and virtual reality, creating automation that allows business to innovate faster and smarter.

The world has gone through many shifts in technology- industrial revolution, beginning of the era of computing, the age of internet- and I can say with a fair degree of confidence that the scale, expanse and speed of this transformation is absolutely unparalleled. The most heartening aspect of this transformation is the fact that it is not restricted to a select few in metro cities. Because of the all-pervasive nature of technology, it will impact every individual and all verticals and help solve real life problems. I am going to use a few areas as an example to amplify the point.

Changing Customer experience

Digital transformation has brought customers “from long lines to online”. Take travel for instance- when was the last time you travelled to book your ticket? Travel websites do the job. Or banking- you may not even remember when you last visited a bank branch as most of the banking services are available online. Bill payments, money transfers all happen within the comfort of your homes on your device and no longer the need to stand in long queues for hours to carry out such mundane jobs.

This is the change digital transformation can bring to a consumer’s life. And the latest game changer for Indian customer is in the experience - of choice, convenience, speed and value - we get when we shop online.

Transparent Governance

In India, a large part of government machinery runs in the age old ways of files and note sheets. But if the standards of governance have to improve, digitisation of data is must. Digital India initiative by Government of India is the right step forward and if all central departments show the desire to transform digitally, it can change the way governance is done or delivered in India.

Digital transformation can help remove digital Divide and bring in much needed transparency to the overall system. Initiatives such as Aadhaar linked benefits transfer, online availability of citizen data, time bound single window clearances- processes that require a minimum of people interface - are positive case studies that other government departments must follow.

Digital backbone for Small Businesses and Start Ups

There is no doubt that initiatives like Make in India, Start up India and Skill India will positively impact our economy. And it is pretty certain that to realise that potential, we would need to technologically empower our Small and Medium Business and Start up eco-system.

Only very handful of start-ups would be fortunate to get financial support through venture capitalists or angel investors. Majority of them will have constraints of money and manpower. To execute a good business idea, technology will be the key contributor and digital is the only way to go.

The same mantra applies to small and medium businesses.  India has lakhs of SMBs and most of them are not digitally aware or exposed. Today majority of these entrepreneurs cater to a small localised market, a restricted set of buyers due to limited access. Use of digital platforms such as creating a web presence, enabling digital transactions through e-commerce, presence on social media can take their product and service offering to customers’ pan-India or
even globally.

Solving real life problems

800 million youth are looking for opportunities to unleash their energy and creativity for the growth of the country. Our challenge is to touch the lives of these people, mostly living in small towns or villages of India in the shortest possible time and skilling them to enhance employability, facilitate job creation. And there are similar real life problems to solve to provide quality and affordable healthcare and education to all, improve agricultural productivity and enhance quality of life all around.

No amount of brick and mortar work can help. India does not have the luxury of time to wait for thousands of schools or hospitals to be constructed for basic education and health facilities. Instead time has come to deploy cloud based future schools and mobile healthcare centres. Even the vocational trainings through future classrooms can be a game changer. With technological evolutions like 3D printing, we are poised for the 4th industrial revolution in the world and India needs to equip itself adequately to be the driver of this distributed manufacturing technology marvel. And this will lead to immense job creation
in India. 

In summary, it is obvious that Digital transformation will be all pervasive. It is not just a way to stay competitive but a pre-requisite for success in the 21st century world. For our diverse country, it has the potential to help us leapfrog and to create & provide uniform opportunities to every Indian. Isn’t that a great step towards a healthy, happy and prosperous India?