ET Bureau: What are the effective digital transformation strategies that can help enterprises in the post-COVID world?
Ranjan Singh: An effective digital transformation initiative aims to deliver a more productive and efficient experience for employees, partners, and customers compared to the status quo. This is done by digitizing information and operations across the organization and committing to continuous measurement and improvement. Before planning a digital transformation strategy, you must first start with what you wish to accomplish as an organization.
Though every enterprise faces a unique array of challenges concerning communications and collaboration efforts, there are five general digital transformation pillars that enterprises ought to consider.
The first is a workplace experience that facilitates flexibility. This means implementing upgrades to make the workplace more intuitive, mobile, productive, and secure. The idea here is to create a better work experience by allowing work to happen from anywhere.
The second involves automation of workflows enabled by APIs – this is especially important in a post-COVID world. Tasks that previously required a certain level of physicality can be entirely automated and thus, touch-free. The idea here is to offload menial work from people to products for safety and speed.
Service models that sit within the customers’ existing processes and toolsets are the third area to address, supported by scalable and secure cloud services.
The fourth digital transformation strategy will come in the form of commercial models that deliver the best TCO. With business done these days differently, enterprise products and platforms needs have changed as well.
Business intelligence is the fifth pillar. Digital transformation products and policies are designed to create an immense collection of data – enterprises must use this data to drive business decisions. Collecting real-time data about how and where workplace tech is being used will be essential.
ET Bureau: What are the common challenges faced by enterprises when developing a DT strategy for the phased return to work?
Ranjan Singh: A digital transformation initiative should create a better experience, regardless of how different it may be. Determining what workflows and experiences constitute “a better experience” is, therefore, an early challenge that enterprises will face. Establishing which technologies and what data will be relevant to the future is a key concern as well.
Data collection will be a major factor moving forward. Ensuring that data collection and business decisions are consistent with employment policies and regulations will be a challenge. Boundaries will have to be established.
An obvious challenge that lies ahead of any digital transformation initiative will be managing the adjustment period as the workforce, and customers get accustomed to the new ways and means of doing things. Running pilot programs on a smaller scale first before rolling out company-wide is another smart tactic to help support adjustment periods.
Another common challenge that enterprises face when developing a digital transformation initiative is that the job is never finished. The primary value from digital transformation technology is not what it does right away but rather what it allows you to do overtime, so once an initiative is implemented, an IT leader’s job is just beginning.
ET Bureau: How can enterprises effectively satisfy the changing workplace needs post-pandemic?
Ranjan Singh: Enterprises can prepare themselves for unexpected change by implementing digital transformation technologies that track their own usage and performance and then adapt over time. Technology that gathers data about how your employees communicate, collaborate, and convene informs a view of the evolving workplace.
As this happens, flexibility, scalability, and safety will become paramount. The flexibility to host both parties is critical because creativity and innovation needs collaborative thinking, brainstorming, and spontaneous solution development – that can only happen when teams are accurately connected, even if it is only in a hybrid style.
Scalability is equally important, which is really about solving the space reservation and availability problem. Designing the workplace to account for unprecedented scenarios is impractical as it is not the 80% scenario, but it is still crucial to outfit each room with necessary collaboration tools
Safety is another key point of focus. Visible process checks and information dissemination via digital signage, mobile applications, and bulletins can ensure employees’ safety when they enter the building to the moment they walk out. Sensors, office automation solutions, and room scheduling services will help ensure employees follow safety protocols during the pandemic but holding systems accountable will matter just as much as holding staff accountable. Making sure technology is working properly is no longer an option – it’s a requirement.
ET Bureau: What is the role of a corporate automation technology provider in a digital transformation initiative?
Ranjan Singh: Once a business has decided to embark on a digital transformation initiative, they should look for a technology solutions provider that acts as a partner and advisor, rather than simply a product supplier. A digital transformation is less of an effort with a set destination and more of a journey towards continuous improvement with countless stakeholders along for the ride. Having your technology partner alongside throughout that journey is key to enduring success.
Ranjan Singh is Executive VP, Product and Technology for Crestron. He oversees Crestron’s global product portfolio, responsible for setting the product vision and strategy, and driving product development. Prior to Crestron, Ranjan was Head of Product Management at IPC Systems for the communications business unit. At IPC, he drove the strategic vision for expansion into Managed Services, Compliance and Cloud Services, serving global financial institutions. Prior to IPC, he held various roles in the telecom vertical at Dialogic, Intel and Signal Processing Associates (now part of Analog Devices).
Ranjan holds an MBA from New York University, Stern School of Business in the United States and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.