How Digitally Versatile Are We?

Samir Duggal, VP, Symphony Teleca | Wednesday, 28 December 2016, 12:45 IST

Digital technologies are fundamentally reshaping our environments, and more importantly that of our customers. To serve our customers and to stay ahead of competition, we need to assess our own 
digital capabilities. 

“Leading Digital”, a book from Harvard Business Review Press is an interesting read and I have been able to apply it in the work that I do. In this article, I have used it as a reference in many places. I have focused on its ‘applicability’ for offshore centers- both IT services and Product Captives.

Are we thinking like Beginners or Fashionistas, or Conservatives or Digital Masters? 
A quick set of results within a set of friends who were surveyed showed the following results. You will be surprised that even though we are all claiming to live in the digital era, we might actually be quite behind. If we need to lead our customers through a digital transformation, we better be ‘Digital Masters’ ourselves.

Businesses can be divided into four major digital users group based on their adoption of the technology. Beginners are at the start of the digital journey. Then there are the Fashionistas who are doing a lot of digital activity and flaunt technological trendiness but change what is behind the veneer. They are also wasting a lot of capital. Conservatives assess every digital technology investment with prudence. They aren’t losing money in the digital platform but they aren’t earning profits either. The Digital Masters are exploiting digital advantage to build superior competitive positions in their industries. 

It is crucial to follow the ‘’points” listed below for us to move to a leadership ‘Digital Mastery’ Quadrant- 

Building Digital Capabilities Internally is Crucial.
- Customer experience & engagement at the center of any digital transformation - In the context of the Indian IT industry or Captives, we are serving two customers- our direct customer who gives us the business and the customer’s customers. Both are important- any one missing customer experience can put the engagement at stake. Our direct customers are facing the same challenges and are trying to move to ‘Digital Mastery’.

-Exploit power of Core operations- Look at bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the processes and consider whether new digital technologies can help rethink our operations- we cannot influence our customers if we do not first eat our own dog food. Many a times, we are holding back our people and ‘digital innovations’ because we are too caught up in the process that may not be adding any value in the ‘customer experience’ value chain.

- Re-invent Business Models of delivery - Consider creating brand new digital businesses using your core skills and assets. Consider re-configuring our delivery model by connecting our products, services and data in innovative ways to create extra value. A starting point would be to assess our current situation and where we want to be one year, two years and three years from now.

Building Digital Leadership Capability
Leadership capabilities are essential to think and execute as ‘Digital Masters’ for our customers. The four key elements of the digital capability are:

- Define a Digital Vision- Create a compelling and transformative digital vision. Make it specific to give employees a clear direction, while giving them flexibility to build on it. Keep in mind that only the senior most executives can create a compelling vision of the future and communicate through-out the organization.

- Building Technology Leadership Capability-Leaders will need to exhibit technology leadership and understand what the digital future holds and translate it into a learning map for the organization. Business leaders and the technical leaders will need to collaborate- the delineation between technical skills and leadership skills which is blurring fast. It also means breaking siloed behavior- digital innovation is happening at an overlap of Cloud, Security, Analytics and Big data, Mobility and Social influence.

- Engage the Organization at Scale- Lead employee engagement effort to energize employees to make digital vision a reality. Raise the digital IQ, co-create, have digital champions, encourage hackathons.

- Digital Governance - Turns diverse employees throughout the organization into a coherent engine that drives digital transformation. Govern this transformation through digital leadership roles, shared digital units. 

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