Dr. Manish Sinha*
Is digital transformation making its presence felt? Surely, if one goes by the contribution that only apps have been making to our national income. Data suggests that in 2015-16, apps have contributed 1.4 lakh crore to our GDP. This along with other facets of digital revolution may well take their contribution to more than a percent of GDP. So, what exactly is digital transformation? It refers to innovations that connect technology, data science, devices and business strategy leading to improvements in a business process or customer experience. Customers are moving more and more towards technology that adapts to their needs. Digital transformations focusing on improving customer experience are an instant hit. Today, when I get into an uber, there is hardly any oral communication that I need to do with the driver. Technology performs all the jobs from giving directions to paying money. Digital transformation has created markets which hitherto were beyond our imagination. Airbnb has taken the help of technology to make sellers and buyers from all across the world to meet thereby greatly reducing search costs for both. It is no wonder therefore that their market capitalization has had an exponential growth. Jeff Bezos of Amazon is giving competition to Bill gates and will replace him as the richest person on earth.
For any company that exists, this exercise has become critical. Free markets have ensured that only the most competitive firms survive. Transforming digitally gives that opportunity to a company to get miles ahead of their much slower competitors. In an otherwise oligarchic market, it offers an opportunity to the company to become the leader and rewrite the rules of the game. The innovative showroom concept launched by Audi in 2012 called Audi City provided the unique opportunity to visitors to explore the entire range of cars without having a large showroom. Their inventory levels came down and sales went up by 60%. General Electric Wind Farm, another digital transformation that pairs turbines with digital infrastructure is estimated to general $50 bn value for the energy industry. NETESPRESSO’s digital intervention helped it to understand the millennial customer crowd with much clarity. It offers a full fledged sales solution which can handle the entire buying cycle from pricing to quotes to orders. Although these are examples from the best companies, there is a wide recognition amongst companies that digital transformation is the key to their survival. A survey conducted by PWC states that 85% of enterprise decision makers say that they have a time frame of two years to make significant inroads into digital transformation or they will suffer financially and fall behind their competitors.
For survival in the time to come, it is imperative to understand that every business is digital business. A start up in Pune called ‘Early Salary.com’ provides urgent and quick cash personal loans at low interest rate to those who are broke on month end. However, they call themselves a Fintech company. They have appointed a Chief Technology Officer who oversees their digital and analytics exercise which helps generate more business and cuts cost. In bigger organizations, it is estimated that more than 75% of the time of Chief Information Officer is focused on analytics, cyber security and creating new revenue streams through digital services. CIO’s are increasingly supplementing the role of HR managers in terms of building capabilities that can bring business results. Technology purchase decisions are no longer the domain of IT department per se but every line of business in an organization is independently making such decisions.
As with Organizations, Business Schools also need to reorient themselves in adopting this new lingo. No longer one can afford to make Analytics and IT as elective subjects. All students need to learn them in great detail. At the same time, Analytics students cannot simply work on technologies and ignore business.
*Dr. Manish Sinha heads the MBA (Analytics) program at SCMHRD. Views are personal