By Prasad Rai
The pandemic has impacted geographic, demographic, and economic domains concurrently in the short as well as in the long term. Times like these need leaders who are resilient in the face of such dramatic uncertainties. Technology leaders are no anomaly. The challenges they have been forced to face are among the most multi-dimensional. Changing customer demands on digital channels, reconfigured supply chains, additional necessary workforce collaboration capacity and bandwidth, licenses, and equipment to support remote work, and a litany of other issues requiring immediate scale and resiliency— everything had to be done all at once.
However, the quick fixes and patchwork solutions adopted during the response phase may not stand up to rigorous testing. For most technology leaders this will mean stabilising and strengthening many of the solutions and processes rushed into place, by being more strategic about their deployment, developing the support infrastructure around them, and fully understanding the impact they will have across their organisations and partner networks.
The companies that could draw on their understanding of their customers and combine it with an ability to adjust their business digitally to meet those needs were able to create “moments that mattered” for their customers. The challenge for technology leaders is finding which of these enhanced features are worthy of being made permanent. These decisions can prove to be crucial as it is likely that companies will be faced with a different value chain, addressable market, customer preferences, and competitors than they experienced in old normal.
The cloud solutions helped Hindalco to create collaboration between the finance and the IT functions effectively. It also harnessed the power of data and smart automation with cost effectiveness and helped deliver sharper insights.
Artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation innovations enabled organisations to function in the absence of the human workforce.
The task at hand is to scale rapid-response innovations and previous automation pilots to move to a more robust augmented way of working. Apollo Tyres, one of the largest tyre manufacturers, has been working on upgrading software and taking advantage of cloud-based technology.
Apollo has radically changed its supply chain with an integrated cloud application suite embedded with evolving technologies like AI, IoT, etc. Now, it is able to track its shipments everywhere via a weblink and hence have brought in transparency in the whole supply chain. RBL Bank opted for technology solutions to track the disease amongst all the employees (including remotely working employees).
Rapidly evolving simulation and modelling capabilities, better interoperability, and IoT sensors, and greater availability of tools and computing infrastructure are closing the chasm between the physical and digital worlds. Technology leaders need to consider how they’ll incorporate the factors supporting these technologies—advanced simulation, new sources of data, interoperability, visualisation, instrumentation, and new platforms—to design new services and drive growth in existing markets.
In many ways, the pandemic showed some chinks in the “digital transformation” and how some underutilised technologies could have restored some of the worst impacts. Video conferencing and remote monitoring are two technologies that have both been available for at least a decade. The same reluctance has been seen with remote working and online learning tools. Hence, business leaders need to take up the mantle, get ahead of this rapidly shifting landscape, and be better equipped for the next crisis.
The writer is head, Applications, Oracle India