Organisations have been constantly working towards improving the digital efforts to catch up with technological innovation. The COVID19 pandemic has changed the journey of digital transformation. Many things that were planned for later had to be adapted earlier and organisations had to accelerate their journey of digital transformation.
These areas were discussed in detail in W.Media’s first physical event ‘Mumbai Cloud & Datacenter Convention & Awards 2021’ in a panel discussion titled ‘ Digital transformation Trends & Know How for Harnessing the needs of future’. The session was moderated by Dr. Mukesh Mehta, Chief Technology Officer, Batlivala & Karani Securities Ltd. The panelists included Prashant Ahire , VP – Head PMO & Service Delivery, Technology Solution Group, IIFL Finance Ltd, Prasanna Lohar, VP – Technology (Digital, Innovation & Architecture), DCB Bank, Sankarson Banerjee, Chief Information Officer, RBL Bank, Avinash Velhal, CIO Growing Markets – India, Middle East & Africa, APAC & South America VP IT & Process, Atos and Prakash Dharmani, Global CIO, EPL Limited.
Challenges faced in the journey of digital transformation due to COVID19
Everyone is aware about the transformation of data centres from on-premise to cloud and with hyperscalers in place the way in which they have migrated and transformed in a similar way the applications and customer experience is getting augmented. It is being addressed through a digital journey.
“Digital journey is the enabler; it looks for new ways of keeping the customer engaged, productive and making the product more profitable. The challenges with respect to digital transformation include connectivity, availability, application upgrades, application deployment time and the ability of the customer to be connected at all times without disruption,” said Prashant Ahire, VP, Head PMO & Service Delivery, Technology Solution Group, IIFL Finance Ltd.
Today after 18 months there are various challenges that organisations are facing, such as working from home. Some people are working from home, some are working from the office.
“In this situation a hybrid model will be helpful. It will evolve but will take some time but at the same time instead of digital transformation I will treat it as a digital reformation. In February 2020 for example we started adopting a work from home model during that time the strategies that organisations had for their business model had to be redesigned and reframed within a few weeks. The initial challenge was how organisations will provide the tools to its employees for working from home,” said Prasanna Lohar, VP – Technology (Digital, Innovation & Architecture), DCB Bank.
He further explained that when it comes to the customers of a bank for example, no one wanted to come to the bank and providing the services digitally was a challenge and the banks started providing the services online.
“People started working cohesively and a lot of collaboration took place within and outside the organisation. At DCB Bank the pace was 20 to 30 apps per year which went over 200 during the pandemic. Although the last 18 months have been challenging the reformation has helped the organisations accelerate their journey of digital transformation,” added Lohar.
The manufacturing industry poses different challenges. Many manufacturing companies were on a different scale of operation.
“Like many other companies our company was also on the path of digital transformation. We started this journey three to four years back when COVID hit us. We were prepared to handle it and we were equipped enough to run from remote and we were also able to run our critical application from remote locations and our business did not impact negatively. Since we were into essential services the challenge in our case was to manage the loads. One challenge that we faced was how do we scale up the skill required to do certain digital transformation. We were struggling to get the right kind of people,” Prakash Dharmani, Global CIO, EPL Limited.
Mistakes organisation made during COVID19 pandemic
“In the beginning of the pandemic we decided that the pandemic was going to cause a downturn and started reducing our workforce. We planned for a smaller demand and economy but it completely went the other way round which led to an opportunity loss and the catch up cost was high,” said Sankarson Banerjee, Chief Information Officer, RBL Bank.
It was seen that in some regions the demand in the market came back very strongly. “The mistake that we had made was a delay in buying some of the IT goods. Last year in the month of April and May things were very bad. Today if i have to buy a server or any equipment the delivery time is about two to three months. Now I think that I should have not delayed in buying some products. We could have at least booked our material,” added Dharmani.
Most organisations took the pandemic as an opportunity. There were initially a lot of expenses that organisations had to undertake of setting up a contact centre and providing the equipment for the employees to work from home.
“What we had done at a business level was to try to identify the opportunities that we had during the pandemic. We thought on how to reform our architecture, business model, new products and other aspects. We started looking at ways in which we could digitally provide assistance to our customers.
The organisation also looked at hiring more people and adding to the team to help with the process of digital reformation. Looking at the way in which our business was performing our team came up with various products and ideas. Now I think every bank is prepared for any difficulty,” said Lohar.
He further explained that it is also important for organisations to re-strategise their business models as the expectations of the customers have increased.
Are organisations ready for optimisation?
Optimisation and productivity improvement are two important aspects of the digital transformation journey. “The digital era is enabling us to serve better to our customers with the next generation applications. Productivity is increasing and is the driving force of business. CIOs are re-thinking on their business models and every IT professional is thinking on the lines of making their business better and are in tune with the customer engagement,” said Ahire.
“Digital transformation is primarily now 3.0. Earlier, the ecosystem was not supporting the transformation and today the ecosystem has completely changed. Now we are reaching the final frontier which means virtualising the server and network. Now is the time we have to virtualise the business. The digital business virtualisation is the need of the hour,” said Avinash Velhal, CIO Growing Markets – India, Middle East & Africa, APAC & South America VP IT & Process, Atos.
He further pointed out that data is the new oil for organisations. The dependability of data is going to increase in the near future in order to optimise the systems. The data demands in the virtual world are immensely high. Increased focus is coming on AI and MLops and improving the business via MLops is high. All of this would require data and data looking. There is going to be more data and what are you going to provide as a service and how will the organisation contribute to the shared economy.
“Rapid automation can have some dangers. Capital markets have gone through the runway algorithmes, crashing market prices across the board. There are many instances where we did not understand either the biases in our data or the checks and balances in automation or the possibility that there was a small bug that got amplified by volumes and these we will not understand in the beginning hence we should be very careful,” concluded Banerjee.