The waves of Digital have created exciting opportunities for businesses and spurred rapid transformations in business and organizational activities, culture, processes, and IT. But marrying new technology with old is not an easy task as well as changing the mindset. Lingraju Sawkar, General Manager, Global Technology Services, IBM India/South Asia speaks on the digital maturity of businesses, and why it isn’t a One-Size-Fits-All solution.
Where do you see Indian companies on the digital maturity curve and also in terms of creating and building the true digital core?
That depends on the technology legacy of the organization. Like most parts of the globe, there is a new generation of companies in India as well which do not have the technology legacy or baggage and they can straightaway skip a whole lot of technology. They can just jump-start and get straight into a full-fledged digital world.
But the companies which have been there for a while, jump-starting into the full-fledged digital world is not easy. Hence, they are picking up key projects that make a business impact. Those projects that they pick up are the ones through which they are able to show business benefits and then replace some part of the legacy technology simultaneously that still exists with them. So I think that’s where the dilemma is and different organizations have different strategies based on where they are.
It’s also very difficult to put all Indian customers into one frame, as I noticed even companies from the traditional manufacturing industries have actually taken the leap to appoint the chief digital officer and are driving successful digital initiatives.
For example, today there is not a single bank which can stay away from the digital, whether it is for improving business outcomes or for customer engagement, acquisition and retention. Likewise, the automotive companies are also gradually shifting from the “Come to my store and I will serve you” kind of a model to rethink new ways of providing customers with a smooth buying experience without even them actually walking into the showroom.
Things are changing at a very rapid pace in this digital era. Could you tell us about some of the new and emerging areas and technologies where you see the next wave of traction coming from?
Digital transformation will continue to be the prime driver of technology consumption. Almost all the enterprises will migrate a significant amount of the workload to the cloud and move into the hybrid multi-cloud world. Now that you have opened up your environment not only to your internal constituents but to the external constituents 24×7 as well, security will also become a very critical consideration and there will be a significant spend on security also. You also need to have a highly resilient infrastructure which allows you to recover in the event of a failure.
To sum up, I believe digital transformation is driving businesses to a hybrid multi-cloud world which needs to be backed by a very strong and resilient business continuity solution and a solid security culture.
‘Artificial Intelligence’ and ‘Machine Learning’ are two hottest buzzwords right now. Could you tell us a bit about the customer maturity that you see in terms of the actual adoption of it?
We have seen a lot of work around AI and ML and we are applying that too when we are managing client environments to bring automation and reduce human errors. We are also bringing in AI and ML for self-healing purposes as well.
We are seeing a lot of companies embarking on digital transformation journeys. Could you tell us about the hindrances they are facing during adoption?
I have a slightly different point of view on this. The customers I am engaging with, I think they don’t have any digital dilemma anymore. There was a reluctance or resistance initially, but today almost every single client that I engaged with, I think that barrier has gone away and unlike the yesteryear’s “Should I?”, we are hearing “How soon, and how much” kind of conversations more these days. Today the experience of consumer IT is way better than the enterprise IT and that has raised the bar on expectations altogether from enterprise applications as well. With the new generation of workers coming into the workforce, and their new ways of working are also triggering the needs to rethink IT in the context of digital. A significant amount of time and effort go into driving effective change management as well.