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Roadmap to success in this age of digital revolution

Setting the Context

Some key themes have become instrumental in the significant changes we have seen in the Indian financial services ecosystem and have led to a rapid Digital Revolution and India's competitiveness are

1. Digital public platforms - Aadhar, UPI, Fastag, Bharat BillPay, etc.- have created and made the Indian digital space competitive. Thanks to the focus of the governments, this has been the biggest backbone in creating a digital-led economy.

  • UPI: The complementary landscape of product development and use case through start-up Ecosystem and investments into UPI-backed products has made UPI the hero of this India digital story. Just to give you a glimpse of UPI's growth, which will give the perspective of how digital payments have grown in this country.

  • Fastag and, very soon, ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) will also follow this digital bandwagon and revolutionise the way we travel and order things online, respectively.

2. Demonetisation and Covid 19 led to behavioural changes amongst the population and a large extent, can also be credited to the users' adoption of digital. Digital payments, work-from-home (WFH) and acceptance of electronic documents also helped accelerate the pace of making India digital faster.

3. Cloud and the Usage of data for driving decisions and personalisation.

  • The overall Indian public cloud services market is expected to reach $13.0 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 23.1% for 2021-26, according to research firm IDC.

  • Some of the most demanded public cloud service areas include:

    1. A surge in the adoption of cloud-based AI platforms and

    2. Cloud-native application development

      1. Microservices

      2. Container-based.

      3. API based.

      4. Dynamic orchestration

    3. collaboration applications

    4. computing

    5. storage

    6. customer relationship management

    7. enterprise resource management, and

    8. security.

4. 5G – 25000 telecom towers in the next 500 days

  • Expected to open several opportunities for enterprises undergoing digital transformation, said IDC India.

  • It will deliver a 10 to 100 times improvement over the current 4G LTE technology with a data rate of up to 10 Gbps.

  • WAN connections will finally have enough capacity,

  • Cellular is now a feasible solution for branch office automation.

5. AI and ML

  • Coupled with business intelligence, big data, data mining, data science, and natural language processing (NLP), Machine Learning (ML) is a general-purpose technology; the other technologies need investments in internal innovation and academia.

  • Going to disrupt the market, including the job market and hence CEOs need to make a note.

  • An inclusive adoption will make orgs successful in the long run.

Challenges with Technology

  1. Heightened customer expectations

  2. Speed of change will create ambiguity.

  3. Many techs require investment and sponsorship to gain that advantage.

So the key themes that will help institutions scale up and survive in this fast passed digital world are

1. Leveraging data to create or enhance customer value.

2. Building competitive advantage with digital technologies.

3. Buiding a non-end-state mindset

4. Reimagining retail banks of tomorrow

5. Build Technology as a core competency for orgs

1. Leveraging data to create or enhance customer value.

  1. What is Customer Value? Orgs need to discover what matters most to their Customers through extensive engagement with them, internal reorgs, realignment of processes and building decision-making capabilities using data.

  2. Frame Customer problems first before you start any data journey. Ask different questions, and using the five whys help us frame the situation better.

  3. Manage Data Lifecycle to personalise offerings and offers for customers:

    1. Plan,

    2. Capture,

    3. Manage,

    4. Analyse,

    5. Archive and

    6. Destroy data.

  4. Take essential decisions on how data will scale.

    1. Usage of Cloud computing model

    2. Cloud deployment - on-prem Private cloud, Public or hybrid

    3. Scalable storage of any data through models like a data lake.

    4. Cloud and distributed file systems (like Kafka) allow Orgs to store large quantities of data.

  5. Give due consideration to data security.

    1. GDPR and Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022.

    2. Pay attention to data security.

      1. Remediate cyber threats,

      2. Enforce real-time controls and

      3. manage regulatory compliance.

  6. Get the Structure Right

    1. Technology Org and Data Org need to collaborate extensively.

    2. Create a Data org structure that facilitates your data journey. You may need units focusing on data analysis and science rather than just business intelligence concentrating on metrics.

    3. Have a dedicated team for creating personalised offerings.

  7. Invest in Capabilities

    1. In real-time data analytical capabilities. New tools allow for these.

    2. Use Machine Learning and AI to learn and obtain intelligence without cognitive bias.

    3. Data and analytics are catalysts for transformation.

  8. Some other data approaches, as below, also help.

    1. Early response,

    2. Predictive warnings,

    3. Prescriptive Solutions,

    4. Lead indicators and

    5. Data visualisation.

2. Building competitive advantage with digital technologies

Suppose CEOs can think about a 5–10-year horizon to be relevant. In that case, they can build an org that continually looks at creating a competitive advantage that's more effective in the incumbent market in months, if not years.

As we have seen, a traditional competitive advantage is built around the following:

- a unique product,

- intellectual property or barrier to entry

- pricing differential

All these will last much shorter in today's world than they used to. It now takes months, not years, for competitors to catch up. Vs products and services built with digital technologies and an Agile mindset.

Market forces challenging tech and Technologies disrupting the market and user behaviour is a continuum.

Critical themes for building competitive advantage.

  • Make Everything Agile: Agile mindset, agile teams, and agile software development methodology.

  • Have Speed to market – Learn fast, build fast, fail fast, learn quickly.

  • Build products and services iteratively with a continuous feedback loop.

  • Creating value for customers should be the core mantra.

3. Why do Orgs need a non-end-state mindset?

  • Where Digital evolves continuously (Digital Evolution), there should be a Non-"End State" mindset within the teams.

Often, I used to be asked what the end state was and what success looked like. I believe that part of the reason for using the word "end state" is to declare victory, move on, and get back to business as usual. Transformation is a difficult job.

  • In the digital world, an "end state" does not exist outside the organisation, so it cannot exist in it.

  • The mindset must change how they do things, not just the organisational structure and process. Orgs should also look at future changes and how they respond to them.

  • Invest in culture: This continuous learning, iterative product creation, and constant change mindset and innovation must become part of the new corporate culture.

  • Account for inertia and fatigue factors: Pushing against the system inertia and learning new things requires additional effort and creates fatigue. Foster an innovation and collaboration culture that nurtures people and does not burn out teams by getting them to do too many things.

  • Any change means implementing the faster learning required in the Digital Age and taking advantage of new ways to capitalise on learning from the growth of Technology.

  • Pick on technologies that deliver twin objectives of creating customer value and ROI for investors.

4. Reimagining retail banks of tomorrow

Banking customer behaviours have got shaped and re-shaped post-COVID-19.

  1. Using last-mile digital technologies puts power in customers' hands anywhere, anytime and makes them responsible for their own decisions.

  2. Using data to direct customers' decision-making processes is the new tool with Orgs to make an impact and create value for customers.

  3. Break the silos: Move organisations horizontally in line with customer journeys vs vertically as units A, B, etc. Here accountability is accounted for.

  4. Build cultures worth emulating (e.g., Netflix, Zappos, etc).

  5. Create Org-wide KPIs rather than individual KPIs.

    1. Create shared success goals and shared KPIs/OKRs. (e.g., Amazon, Google, etc.)

    2. Build self-sustaining teams around customer outcomes.

    3. Create cross-functional teams aligned with end customers and have a shared vision.

    4. OKRs will help. Move the orgs to an annual or semi-annual OKR process. (e.g., Amazon, Google, etc.)

  6. Create digital experiences that are more outcome-based and are not just mere outputs.

  7. Customers are spoilt for choices; even if they don't have the option right now, they will get them soon as the competition always works to catch up. So,

    1. Think modular while building Technology.

    2. Ensure customer feedback and research are looped into the product creation process.

    3. Keep metrics and measure all that matters.

    4. Make data-based decision-making a process (habit).

5. How to build Technology as a core competency for orgs?

  • Technology excellence is a choice. Orgs must go for it. A case in point is the advent of ChatGPT and how it will disrupt the world's workforce.

  • Adopt agile engineering practices. Make any one of the frameworks (like SCRUM, Kanban, etc.) mandatory so that all requirements are created as backlogs.

  • Whatever the tech stack,

    • Maintain a healthy balance between BAU and change management. Embrace DevOps.

    • Release software early and continuously. IT operations teams can provide early feedback to the software development process.

    • Focus on metrics for success.

    • Position CIO and IT as agents of change

    • Manage IT as an integral part of the business.

    • IT must be practical and not just efficient.

Ravishankar Gopalan

CEO and Managing Partner - Execute Partners & Consultants LLP

We at Execute Partners have extensive experience in the execution and transformation of organisations. If you are looking to change your org or have a problem that you need help with, reach out to me today at


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