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How CIOs Can Lay the Foundation of a Digital Future


The phrases digital transformation and cloud-first strategies have become common place in enterprise vocabularies and in boardrooms as companies brace for the future.

However, while we have been hearing these terms for over a decade, with businesses plotting long roadmaps for their adoption, the pandemic and the changes it induced has made their importance even more apparent and urgent.

As businesses embark on this digital journey, the following considerations will be crucial:

Rethinking the cloud strategy and prioritizing data 

The emergence of cloud was primarily driven by the performance benefits, elasticity, and significant economic advantages that it offered over traditional data centers. But the onset of the pandemic and the increased focus on ensuring resilience has prompted the driving factor behind cloud adoption to shift from mere cost optimization to technological simplification and modernization. This in turn requires the development of a better backplane in the form of cloud and its ancillary services – upon which to modernize the application stack, build new capability at speed, and draw upon the collective innovation in the ecosystem to achieve leverage.

This shift points towards adopting a more dynamic approach to cloud adoption. A cloud smart approach addresses the concerned business process first, and helps redesign the value chain and operating model around it to fit the needs  of a post pandemic world. The business roadmap is then converted to a cloud journey laying the foundation for an agile and flexible setup.

Cloud adoption has also catalyzed the emergence of data as a much more crucial part of the equation for businesses. While the increased understanding of the inherent value of data plays a key role in this change, multiple other capabilities that data can provide have also been made accessible with the emergence of cloud.

Take the online entertainment space. While the industry is largely based on the ability to stream from anywhere, the key to success  lies in the quality of recommendations that the platform offers, which are ultimately driven by the  data sets. In the same way, other industries are realizing that data is a key asset they must learn to monetize.

Digital is easy, transformation is hard

The term “digital transformation”appears to be made of two inseparable words. But it is in fact an amalgamation of two separate concepts: Digital and Transformation.

Digital is a set of technologies to support a business process. With the pandemic driving the need for resilience and agility, there is an increased impetus on pushing innovation to develop newer capabilities. The technology evolution of elastic compute on tap and the availability of mature hyper-automation software as a service are responding to this requirement. This innovation is indeed a complex task as it requires layers of experimentation and testing while also running the IT backbone of the business. Thus, many might assume that the tech execution aspect is the area of prime significance for CIOs.

The reality however is quite the contrary. CIOs no longer believe that digital is the primary area of concern in their digital transformation plans. Instead, it is the transformation aspect that involves the business ideation, insights monetization and process innovation that keeps CIOs up at night. What makes transformation harder is that it is about simultaneously orchestrating change across four different dimensions – technology, data, people, and process across the corporation.

As per Genpact’s recent report, Digital Transformation Insights from CIOs for CIOs – over the next two years, CIOs are planning to prioritize technology investments in operations/production/manufacturing, followed closely by product research and development. About one-third plan to spend on sales and marketing, supply chain and procurement, finance and accounting, and risk and compliance.

Brace for Pace

Human history is testament to the fact that times of calamity often overlap major revolutions and innovations.

Similarly, the pandemic has ushered various changes in the general way we look at things. With businesses transforming to adopt newer and more resilient means of operations, digital adoption has become faster than ever.

This change has not only helped us counter the effects of the pandemic but has also provided us with the digital foundation that we never had before. When we couple this with the increased confidence in change owing to our learnings from the pandemic, the pace of change will only be faster as we move forward.

(Sanjay Srivastava is Chief Digital Officer at Genpact and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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