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Last Updated : Oct 24, 2019 06:10 PM IST

Digital Transformation and the role of a CIO from a CEO’s perspective

The following article is an initiative of Dell Technologies and is intended to create awareness among readers

In this era of digital transformation, organizations from various sectors and industries are embracing change. Modern CIOs are constantly reimagining their businesses to enhance their productivity, speed and agility. These and other related issues were at the heart of the discussions at the Dell Technologies Forum, ‘Connected CIO’. The forum brought together the crème-de-la-crème of CIOs, CTOs and industry experts, to explore efficiencies possible at various levels and how enterprises could enhance customer connect and delight, in this digital and highly connected world.

The event commenced with powerful keynote addresses by Alok Ohrie, President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies, India and Patricia Florissi, VP & Global Sales CTO, Dell Technologies, who presented the audience with a vision of the power of technology in various aspects of life. This was followed by a series of four panel discussions.

The highlight of the event was a session with the Power CEO Panel on Digital Transformation: Empowering Businesses and Driving Change. Comprising CEOs from various domains, including Kewal Handa, Non-Executive Chairman, Union Bank of India; H. Srikrishnan, MD and CEO, Jio Payments Bank; Vishal Dhupar, MD, NVIDIA - South Asia; Shibasish Sarkar, Group CEO - content, digital and gaming, Reliance Entertainment; Yugal Sikri, MD, RPG Life Sciences and Alok Ohrie, President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies India, the session was moderated by Mridu Bhandari, Editor – Special Projects, Network 18.

The discussion began with Kewal Handa offering insights into his bank’s experience with digital transformation. “Technology is not usually the challenge. It is making people think differently. When we talk about data warehouses and streaming analytics, it entails a different way of doing business altogether and a different capability requirement too,” he said. “We’re building relevant capabilities inhouse to enhance involvement, which in turn will lead to a culture change.”

Vishal Dhupar offered his perspective, “When we transformed from a visual computing company to an AI computing company, we experienced a profound change. We realized that software would write the software. So, effectively, software determines the product, the company, the lab and everything that surrounds you. These two changes make the role of a CIO that much more crucial. He and his team need to understand the domains and what innovation can be undertaken. To me, a CIO is as big as a CEO as he takes the company’s vision and translates it in a very agile manner.”

As Dell Technologies is a digital transformation agent, Alok Ohrie recounted how his company facilitates CIOs. “The CIO’s function is all about adopting new technologies to create new environments, which can help serve customers better and improve experiences and customer engagement. It is also about empowering the field force to be more effective in what they do on a day to day basis. Finally, it is about creating a customer satisfaction that is world class.” He also talked about two main functions that take place in his organization – running the business, in terms of ensuring that regular day to day processes go smoothly, and innovation – which is more futuristic.

Being the head of an organization that was born in the digital era, H. Srikrishnan noted three fundamental differences between the expectations from a CIO in his company, as opposed to one that manages digital transformation for an older manufacturing or services company. “We expect our CIOs to make our business present where our customers are, rather than drawing them to a central brick and mortar branch or outlet. This means that he has to understand the business and align his approach to its goals rather than restrict himself to understanding technology. Secondly, he has to leverage technology to ensure that the customer has a superior experience. Lastly, the CIO is expected to create awareness not only within the organization but amongst other stakeholders as well.”

With an explosion in the revenues of the global Media and Entertainment industry and a large part of these revenues coming from digital, Shibasish Sarkar shared his experience, “Businesses like ours have been forced to undergo dramatic changes, which I must say have been for the better. We have become more conscious about the mediums through which our content will reach consumers and have been tailoring it accordingly. Another positive change has been that digital transformation has reduced the distribution cost for media houses.”  He concluded that every aspect of his industry was in for change on account of the digital transformation wave that was sweeping over it.

Yugal Sikri explained how digital transformation addresses the requirements of exports and domestic sales in the pharma industry; while manufacturing excellence is crucial in the export segment, in the domestic segment, share of voice and reach and sales and marketing excellence are requirements.  “A CIO has to know about complex pharma products and understand processes in manufacturing and marketing. This is a big expectation. Further, pharma products are highly regulated, with stringent specifications, in the product and in process manufacturing controls; this is where digital can play a big role.”

On a more general note, Alok Ohrie explained how cloud storage and computing was becoming very relevant and critical for Indian companies as data availability was mushrooming, leading to the use of AI and all its benefits. He also talked about various types of cloud set-ups and how the choice of which of these would be most suitable would depend on the industry. However, irrespective, the relevance of having access to adequate cloud infrastructure was gaining by leaps and bounds.

The session concluded with each participant very briefly listing the one quality they expected from the Connected CIO and offering one tip to Indian businesses to enable them to future proof themselves.

Vishal Dhupar advised Indian businesses to be bold, think big and never compromise on infrastructure; he believed CIOs need to stay alert, be agile and figure out domains that are really important for the business to grow. Yugal Sikri emphasized that Indian companies must adopt digital, especially if they wish to see their exports grow; he advised CIOs to develop versatility. H. Srikrishnan suggested that Indian corporates should look at rural markets as these present a huge opportunity; he urged CIOs to explore GTM (go to market) in depth and last mile experiences and make sure that the features they develop address on-ground realities. Kewal Handa expected a mindset change from CIOs. He also entreated them to see how they could further customer delight and company revenues by reducing costs. Being passionate about quality himself, Shibasish Sarkar advised Indian businesses to never compromise on it. His words to CIOs were: “Take the job of your CEO; own the No. 1 role in the organization.” Alok Ohrie closed the session by once again guiding businesses to embrace digital transformation so they can build enough capacity for the future and encouraged CIOs to lead the innovations.

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First Published on Oct 24, 2019 05:52 pm
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