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February 24, 2016

How Not To Be Disrupted by Digital

Posted by Krishnamurthy Shankar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:19 AM

How Not To Be Disrupted by Digital

The last telegram was sent out in India in July 2013, ending the service that was introduced more than 160 years ago. Frankly, I find myself wondering what took them so long. I, for one, don't remember the last time I sent a telegram. Yet, every morning - there are at least 100 emails waiting for me to read!

The telegram-to-email journey got me thinking about the realness of the irrevocable digitization around us, a phenomenon that is touching almost every aspect of our lives. How many apps do you have on your phone? When was the last time you held an analog camera, or spoke to a telephone operator for a long-distance call?

The way organizations are responding to this enormous change, even while being actors in effecting it (well, many of them), are interesting. The ubiquity of digital infrastructure is presenting endless opportunities for organizations to innovate and bring alive their ideas quicker than ever before. At the same time, digitization is also bringing the challenges of legacy systems, processes, and mindsets. How can an organization prepare to exist in a world that is constantly evolving and will continue to be in that 'steady state'?


At the heart of any organization lies its people and this will not change, digital disruption notwithstanding. Only people, people with incredible passion and unfettered imagination, can help organizations to thrive in a world that will be vastly different from the one in which we live today. Difficult as it may be for us to envision today, automation of jobs will eliminate only the mundane, repetitive, algorithm-worthy jobs. Leaving people with the time and the space to explore newer pursuits, go after better efficiencies in a world amplified by technology, and solve larger problems. The Paleolithic technologies, the Neolithic revolution, the Industrial revolution - we have continued to improve. We are on the cusp of another revolution today - the human revolution - made possible by technology.

As an organization, we have taken the initial steps to prepare for this revolution - or succeed in it, if it has already started. Can't put a date to such movements, can we? A historian in the future will do so in retrospection, and after erudite study.

We are living it.

Encouraging our people to do more, be more. We are arming them with lessons on Design Thinking (79,000 Infosys employees have been Design-trained on the last count). We are encouraging them to think about creativity, and how to bring innovation to everything that they do. To every project. Our Zero Distance initiative, which is yet to complete one year, is already making waves in approximately 8,000 projects - that's 90% of the delivery organization.

Dr. Vishal Sikka, in a recent BBC World Service interview, talks about an "enlightened organization" that delivers the best products and services, based on what is available and relevant, driven by education and learning. He emphasizes that in a pervasively connected world, the challenge is not so much being better than competition, but being better than the threshold of relevance of the customer. Like I said, we are living it. And Dr. Sikka articulates our actions par excellence.

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