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September 14, 2016

Preparing Your Enterprise to Be Zero Distance to Digital

Posted by Sajit Vijayakumar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:02 AM

Corroborating the point made by Sajit Vijaykumar is Indranil Mukherjee, VP and Global Head - Oracle Practice, Infosys, who explains how Infosys can help enterprises identify areas for digital innovation. [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEBkbwrAYss]

Consumers and technology are going digital. But what does this mean for enterprises? In this interview, Sajit Vijayakumar, VP & Delivery Head, Oracle Practice, Infosys, shares his thoughts on how the enterprise landscape is changing in this new era of digital, and what organizations need to do to prepare for it.

How is digital shaping the ERP landscape?

'Digital' has become core to an enterprise, ushering significant changes to the ERP landscape, and this change is driven by multiple factors.

Firstly, core business models of an enterprise are becoming more consumer-driven than ever before. Secondly, consumer preferences and the modes of engagement are changing. Thirdly, the software development process is also rapidly changing to align with the needs of the enterprise and consumers.

Today, 'Consumer grade' is the standard, and the enterprise follows and delivers based on customer demands; a very different scenario from what it was a decade ago. Aligned with the rapidly growing proportion of millennial workforce, it is mobile first, with extreme focus on user experience.

With technology becoming rapid and dynamic, enterprise Facebooks, collaboration, peer-help, knowledge base and social support are the new 'must haves' for enterprise systems. Real-time integration with sensor data is a pre-requisite for efficient and effective enterprise systems. Improvement opportunities are driven primarily by deep and insightful analytics as opposed to user requirements. Agile, cloud-based is the preferred method for technology deployment, with crowdsourcing gaining popularity and acceptance in functions like testing.

What is the role of cloud migration in this journey of digital transformation?

When we talk of cloud migration as part of digital transformation, three things come to mind:

  • The cloud enables us to break away from conventional, restrictive practices we have followed thus far. For example, infrastructure is no longer a constraint. The cloud enables us to access an agile infrastructure where users can access new computing power, technology and begin developing a product within minutes.
  • Cloud enables us to buy when we need, use what we want, and pay for what we used. This is a shift from traditional models to an on-demand, value-driven, fail fast and learn faster model.
  • Ecosystems and market places (i.e. in SAAS models) focused on cloud products significantly drives the utility and usability of these products.

Given your experience, what is the X-step journey from analog to digital?

I wish we had a simple answer. When the new business models, driven by digital transformation, are themselves changing, who can provide a template? The key to digital transformation is to dream up or innovate a unique 'digital' business model, and be very agile and committed in embracing the same. As you can see, these models have been very different across industries, be it banks, retailers or hotel room aggregators. Agility is the core.

What do you think are the pitfalls companies need to look out for during their transition to digital?

Two pitfalls that companies definitely need to look out for as they transition to digital are,

  • Cultural stiffness - Companies need to be ready to unlearn and relearn quickly, and be willing to prioritize newer business models over the tried and tested business models that may have helped them succeed, even lead in their industry earlier.
  • Contracts to drive change - Since migrating to digital is a collaborative process, contracts have a central role here. However, no longer can these be hard and fast, rather they have to be responsive, flexible to change and iterative. Enterprises need to drive spending (discretionary) decisions based on impacts to business such as faster time to market, rather than budgets and SLAs.

What according to you are the few things companies cannot compromise when they becoming truly digital?

There are broadly four aspects that companies need to get right before they can call themselves truly digital, and these are:

  • Customer Experience -Needs to be instant and seamless across touchpoints and/or channels of interaction. The first touchpoint itself has to be perfect and impressive enough to build a positive experience and loyalty.
  • Quality of Service - Since self-service is integral to digital interaction, where the human element is activated as and when required, quality of the product or service is the only benchmark, and it has been set very high. Enterprises need to be geared up to meet the high consumer demands and stamp in a strong element of trust.
  • Customer Loyalty - Enterprises need to keep their customers engaged at frequent intervals to ensure that loyalty stays high, as well as measure them for life-time value than tactical outcomes, and this is a huge and progressive challenge for all digital companies.
  • Financial Performance - Profitability is key to any successful business model. Today, many digital start-ups avoid addressing this issue and focus on building a customer base instead. This strategy enables startups to build the valuation of their company and cash in on a quick sale, but does not make for a truly digital business model that is sustainable in medium to long-term.

What are the benefits of companies going digital and cloud-based?

Today, enterprises do not have a choice about going digital, rather it is an imperative. We already have examples of these in Nokia, Kodak, Blockbuster, and it's not because their products weren't good but because they were not prepared to deal with the competition from digital business models. The need to go digital is so critical, even partial attempts will not prevent the inevitable, as in the case of Nokia. Two immediate benefits of going digital are:

  • Higher Productivity: In the digital world, product development has to be so rapid that every individual should be targeted to create automation and move up the value chain - inability to be nimble makes way for competitors to coast in and grab your market share.
  • Access to new revenue streams: Investing in the new 'digital' business model you identify is key, and an enterprise needs to do it with full intent and on time, before the existing business models fail completely.

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