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On The Digital Bandwagon

16 APR 2019

When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents an opportunity ― John F. Kennedy

Every transformation has its transition pangs. And digital is no exception. Across the world, business models are changing as they engage in the consumer in many different ways to gain a competitive advantage. At the heart of this change is technology, which is ushering in new tech-enabled business models, rapidly upping scale and recalibrating traditional business processes.

The Bengaluru edition of 'Business World Leadership Discussion' on 'Leading through Digital Disruption' in association with Microsoft took on to leading forces shaping the digital economy and how organizations are gearing up to this disruption and profiting out of it.


There are two ways of looking at every disruption, in the case of digital; there is no looking back. Whether one is a supplier or a consumer of tech, the transformation is imminent and inevitable. For instance, thirty-one percent of CIOs in Asia/Pacific have evolved their digital initiatives to the scaling stage, up from 19% in 2018, according to a survey from Gartner, Inc.

Moreover, the Gartner survey results indicate that digital business has reached a tipping point. Around 47% of Asia/Pacific CIOs report their enterprises have already changed their business models or are in the process of changing them and consumer demands are driving their business model change.

Clearly, digital is the name of the game and how it is impacting organizations? This is the backdrop of this leadership discussion. Quips Daya Prakash, Consulting Editor - Technology Projects, BW Businessworld, who engaged the key business leaders on the multi-dimensional ramifications of digital disruption says, “ Digital is not just a nice thing to have, it’s a must. Digital is ushering in the next level of maturity to organizations and it’s all about innovating and transitioning to the next level of growth and to set up new benchmarks and gain competitive advantage.”

Agrees Manav Garg, Director, Eka Software Solutions, “ Digital disruption is all about business model disruption. In the bargain what this is leading to is convenience and price disruption. Take the case of disruptive businesses like Uber or Netflix and a whole lot of others, the customers found it easy to adopt these models. The crux of digital disruption is technology and a disruptive business model is fully driven by technology.”

When we talk about business model reinvention, it's easier said than done. But this reinvention has to happen, even if you are part a traditional vertical. Take the case of the real estate industry; digital is impacting it in many different ways.

Reflecting on this thought, Ram Chandnani, Managing Director Advisory & Transaction Services India, CBRE, says, “ When I look at the unique demands from my vertical perspective, we serve two main buckets- owners and occupiers. With digital, these two buckets are going in for a big change. How digital has impacted us? In many different ways, I would say. For instance, it has completely redefined our customer experience, as we are now able to offer a virtual 3D walkthrough of the potential facilities and give them a real-life feel before the actual site visit. On the development side, we are going much beyond 3D elevation, we are now getting into analytics that gives us a perspective as granular as how many bricks are needed to build a facility, the completion timelines. In sum, we are capturing the entire development workflow going digital.”

Says Manish Gupta, Chairman and CEO, Indegene “ For me, digital transformation is all about enhancing your customer value proposition. Every robust business had compelling value propositions before but digital offers tremendous opportunity to reimagine them and as a result bring enhanced value and a stronger customer connect.”

Digital clearly is the biggest business enabler and also simplifies the workflow. Quips Vivek Chaturvedi, CMO, Go Digit General Insurance, “ In any industry, if you can identify the key customer pain points and address it using technology, that’s a digital disruption. For us, digital made insurance simple from a once tedious process. Take the case of vehicle damage. In the traditional approach, a surveyor goes and assesses the damage and files a report, this takes about 5-7 days. But with Digit’s Self-Inspection app, you can DIY (Di-It-Yourself) with your smartphone. It has become as easy as taking pictures of the damages and sending. And this process just takes 7 minutes to complete as against the 7 days. Post the images comes to us, we assess them and share the claim estimate with the customer. And on the customer’s acceptance, an Advance Cash is released for them to start getting their car’s repair done at the garage of their choice. This speed has enabled 90.4% of our motor own damage claims settled to be settled in just 30 days”

Moreover, being an early adopter also helps. Says Marco Valsecchi, CEO, Adecco Group India, “ We took an early lead in digital and adopted AI and RPA and other progressive technologies and meshed on to our business model. For instance, the entire recruitment model right from securing the candidate and doing the due diligence on the potential candidates in a traditional model is cumbersome. So here, by using Robotics and AI we have made this entire process recruiter friendly and digital has transformed the whole process.”

Observes Bhavik Kumar, Founder, Medibox, “ Pharma is a huge industry with its own complicated taxonomies in terms of classification of drugs by various IT systems, particularly the ERP systems. Overall the industry has in excess of 70K distributors and 3 lakh brands. How does one manage this complexity? Here is where Medibox comes into play. Medibox is a B2B deal discovery platform for OTC, OTX, pharma, healthcare, and allied products. This collaborative trade platform enables business entities to discover products at better rates, buy and get products delivered everywhere in India.”

Meanwhile, Umesh Bajaj, CEO, HealthAsyst says, “ Our patient engagement platform helps in the better enablement of EHR. Our digital patient intake solution is designed to improve the quality of patient experience, accelerate collections and maximize efficiency.”

Capturing the very essence of the transformational power of digital, Srini Rajam, Chairman, Ittiam Systems says, “ I will advance three trends that are significantly altering the way we see the scheme of things. One, the unit price of our software is approaching zero and the number of units you can reach is infinity. The price is falling and the reach is increasing. The second one is the shift from CAPEX to OPEX- shift to the cloud and everything as service. The third key trend is the intervention of AI.”

“I can cite an example, take the case of video capture. When analytics is embedded, it completely changes the game. Take the case of a retail store, moving beyond surveillance, using analytics one can get granular details about the consumer and what they are shopping, how many minutes they are spending in one aisle and whole lot of stuff that leads to proactive customer response. Today it is less about computing and more about cognitive,” adds Rajam.

Probably what digital brings to the table is change. Sujatha Balakrishnan, MD, Valtech Industries says, “ If I look at the whole digital disruption, from an IT selling perspective, we have morphed into a digital technology agency, not just an IT company. Traditionally we have been engaging with the CIOs and CTOs. Now we are also having conversations with CMOs and CDOs and that’s brought in a huge change in advancing digital to our clients and satisfying the needs of different stakeholders.”

According to Sanjay Koppikar, CEO, Quadwave Consulting, “ Digital is about change in people, process and technologies. I agree there are many challenges on the road to digital transformation. For instance, our solution Amper ushers in digital transformation seamlessly. It’s a rapid application development platform with integrated ML/Analytics. The key feature of this platform is the drag-drop development that makes for embracing a whole lot of progressive technologies.”


What matters at the end of the day is how digital is having its impact across the stakeholders of the organizations and addressing the unique needs. Digital is not one solution that fits all. Organizations need to evolve a strategy and a continuous digital adoption plan that is evolutionary. Also, the digital ecosystem in its ambit must factor a confluence of new age technologies starting from AI, ML, Analytics, Blockchain, AR/VR, IoT, Automation and RPA.

Quips Manish Gupta, “ Technology adoption is not a challenge, it’s the organizational mindset to adopt it and map people and processes and tune its resources to a digital-first approach”

Agrees Sujatha Balakrishnan, “ Organizational mindset towards digital is a big priority and a key driver in going digital, we need to become strategy agents and assume the role of a digital evangelist. Certainly, a top-down approach is the key to digital transformation.”

“Reluctance to change is a big inhibitor on the road to digital,” says Sanjay Koppikar. “ I think the two significant pillars of digital are RPA and Application Automation. We need a model-driven implementation than a code-driven one for digital transformation.” Meanwhile, Srini Rajam feels that taking an open source based digital transformation brings in defined benefits but easier said than done.

Clearly, as we ponder over the key manifestation of the discussions, the speakers are in concert when it comes to the fact that digital transformation is a must and organizations need to embrace it and create new business models. In the bargain, they need to create a digital deployment that best fits their business priorities and transform at a pace that is in sync with business demands.

What was also evident from the discussions is how digital is scaling the service delivery to new heights. Whether it is - smart farming on the agri-sector or bringing in the 3D walkthrough in the real estate space or simplifying the entire insurance processes – digital benefits are far-reaching and help in de-risking the business by opening up newer opportunities.

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