Need to modernize IT strategy with accelerated digitization

You have to be a student of your business and understand the pain points. If there is a way that can change the customer's lives, it should be prioritized

Pradeep Chakraborty
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CtrlS and Cloud4C Services recently organized a webinar titled: Modernize your IT strategy.


Welcoming the audience, Sridhar Pinnapureddy, founder and CEO of CtrlS and Cloud4C Services, said: "We have received an overwhelming response. We have done a lot of research. We definitely need to modernize. Example, Best Buy is a US retailer. They have changed the way they work with digital. They moved to a turnover of $1.7 billion in 2020, from $1.5 billion losses in 2012."

DBS also did IT modernization. 52% of their customers are now digital and profitable. Swiggy provides a digital experience as well. They give a digital experience at less than $5 per meal. Are we ready to face such competition in our industries? If my skills are not useful to the digital world, what will happen to our careers? We are dealing with MCA. It stands for Movies. Competition. Aliens. On the question of how are CIOs optimizing budgets, he said we need to come up with an innovative, value-driven initiatives.

Modernizing IT


Help for customers

Deb Deep Sengupta, President and MD, SAP, said that nobody has ever faced a situation like Covid-19, ever, in their lifetimes. There is help provided to our partners. One, we have a global taskforce based out of Germany. In India, we also have a taskforce. We are having conversations with our customers. Two, we are putting due diligence into the taskforce. Our priority is to the highest ranking customers that are the most impacted. We have extended the terms of payment to most of them.

SAP has been in India for over 20 years. In Karnataka, SAP has put up a Covid-19 digital dashboard with the Government of Karnataka and Nasscom. We have also created employment opportunities. We are supporting the teachers and centers. In the area of health, we are ensuring that the track-and-trace platforms are fully enabled.

Pinnapureddy asked the question: where do you begin with IT infrastructure? We need to make a movie of our customers purchasing and interacting with products and services in the last 10 years. Therefore, what kinds of IT platforms would your competition leverage? Do we need to watch out for aliens? There are companies using digital, like AirBnB, Swiggy, Uber, Oyo, etc.


Sanjay Kotha, Joint President and Group CIO, Adani Group, said, we started with the infrastructure modernization. We are among the fastest growing companies. We started this process two years back. We needed to keep things simple. We have partners like SAP who come into play. We created simplicity. We looked at our applications and infrastructure.

SAP cuts across the entire conglomerate. We started a project and completed it in a year. Many companies are also moving to SOH (stock on hand). It is not about cost savings. We also need to modernize. We need to have partners who can design modern solutions. We see cloud as one of our strategies. We are looking at cloud very seriously. Right now, every organization is in their own phase of development.

Sumit Roy, Group CIO, Jindal Stainless, added that today everything is available as a service. It helps us a lot. The team at Jindal Stainless is very techno functional. Hitesh TK, CIO, Vodafone Idea, said that we are now in transformation. When we have a larger footprint to manage, we use ERP. We have also moved to the SaaS model with SAP. The warehouse is connected to the ERP. It helps us in availablity, management, etc.


Accelerated digitization

Deb Deep Sengupta, SAP, noted that there is the accelerated digitization. We are moving from physical to digital. We have witnessed something in the last few months. We suddenly moved to a turbulent situation. There is now a need to get off our trainer's wheels and work in real time.

The survival of the companies will depend on their agility, and how fast you move to the digital assets. The CIO is at the eye of the storm. They have to enable everything. They have to decide whether it is a simple lift-and-shift, or is it a task? Large companies have announced events that are completely digital. SAP had to shift overnight. We had to recurate our entire annual event, the SAPPHIRE NOW. We looked at an immersive experience. How do you curate at such a massive level? Sapphire will commence soon.

We are now living in the age of experience. The age of information started from 2000, and the age of the customer started from 2010. The decade of 2020 will see the age of experience. The role of the CIOs will also change.


Next decade

Sumit Roy added that over the next 10 years, companies who are handling transformation better, will survive. Transparent way of working has to be adopted by the organizations. You need to be a step ahead of your competition, You will need AI tools to predict. Organizations will have to invest in these. They will also have to change the way they are working. The way of implementing IT solutions should be better than what we have done in the past. Customers are very choosy about the products.

Sridhar Pinnapureddy added that today, 90% of our business comes from PaaS. By 2030, intelligent robotic automation will take over our manual processes. There will be new roles, such as automated/intelligent coding experts/programs, intelligent channel management champions, hybrid SOC (security operations center) or threat experts, and experts working on the automation to manage the infrastructure. The SAP product automation footprint is vast, covering intelligent monitoring, auto reaction methods, proactive monitoring, etc.

Sanjay Kotha noted that 10 years is very difficult to predict, thanks to Covid-19. However, digital will be the game changer. The efficiency and productivity for customers and employees will also happen. We have B2B customers. We need to also help them. Next, how many of the processes are IT locked? The more there are, the more efficient you are.


We are looking at modernizing our infrastructure. He cited an example: 'There are decades where nothing happens. Then, there are weeks where decades happen.' We have had over 100,000 calls since March 2020. Everyone wants to get into change management.

Hitesh TK felt that the digital experience is prime. The focus is on the customers. Lot of investments have been on the digital platform. We focused on how we can improve the experience for our customers. We looked at automating with our customers. We also implemented chat bots. Modernization is not limited. We need to look out for the channels that customers are adopting.

Sudhansubhusan Satapathy, Group CIO, RSPL Group, added that they have seen 99.99% uptime for last three years. Byju Joseph, CTO, Future Generali India felt that we need to re-invent the business. We have the priority to overcome the challenges and bring our business back to stream.


Survive, transform, thrive

Deb Deep Sengupta's mantra is clear and simple: survive, transform and thrive! These are words for all the companies to follow. How do you use this opportunity to transform and accelerate? Our level of employee engagement has gone up every two weeks. We saw customer engagement rise by 40%. There has been creativity happening. The Tata Group has been looking at the health of the suppliers. They used a Supply Pulse.

As for balancing between IT budgets, Sanjay Kotha said that we need to balance. You have to manage. You have to be a student of your business and understand the pain points. If there is a way that can change the customer's lives, it should be prioritized.

Advice for CIOs

Finally, what would be the advice for the CIO community? Sumit Roy said that we need to understand the business part of the IT. There is also a need to use the technology, where, you can get the maximum. We need to understand what is making the IT successful.

Next, when do you need to remodel the existing infra apps? Most of the CIOs are getting busy. They are launching new business applications. Modernization projects take a significant amount of time.

Sanjay Kotha said it all depends on the business that you are in, and how are we getting the value. The need of the hour, for your business, is the most important. There should be work-based modernization. AI/ML will definitely have significant impact. Data analytics and analytics are also going to be very demanding in the future.

Hitesh TK noted that we are forced to do work on the apps. We got into modernizing in a week's time and moved to WFH. We have VC solution for better collaboration. Every area has seen implementations of VC, VPN solutions, etc. We were doing large system migration. We moved to remote migration, deployment, etc. Roy agreed that there is need to do things remotely. We have face-to-face meetings. We are also modernizing our large projects.

Sengupta said that when there are times like this, we should not loose our imagination. Cloud computing went like a rocket. A similar thing will happen post Covid-19. Every company will become a technology company. Product consumption will change to subscription.

Roy noted that people need agility to move through these times. Agility will be very critical. Kotha agreed that there is a need to make your choices and plan your work. Hitesh said that the faster we adapt to the situations, we will be able to overcome all situations.

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