CEOs are now the new CIOs with increased focus on digital initiatives: Alok Ohrie, MD, Dell Technologies India

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December 07, 2020 4:00 AM

This year, businesses—ranging from large corporates to small and medium businesses (SMBs) —were forced to transform digitally, in ways that would have normally taken years to accomplish.

Alok Ohrie, President & Managing Director, Dell Technologies IndiaAlok Ohrie, President & Managing Director, Dell Technologies India

Dell Technologies recently launched the third installment of its Digital Transformation Index 2020. Some of the key interesting findings were— India continued to remain the most digitally matured country in the world with 94% of Indian businesses reporting they fast-tracked at least some digital transformation programmes this year vis-a-vis 80% globally; digital adopters in India increased to 55% in 2020 in comparison to 34% in 2018. Life sciences, telecom and financial services were the best performing industries globally with reference to digital transformation acceleration. “It’s important to remain optimistic as we navigate forward and view technology as a force for good,” says Alok Ohrie, president & managing director, Dell Technologies, in an interview with Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:

What are the top areas that Indian organisations have looked at in order to fast- track their digital journey?
This year, businesses—ranging from large corporates to small and medium businesses (SMBs) —were forced to transform digitally, in ways that would have normally taken years to accomplish. As per Dell Technologies’ Digital Transformation Index 2020 study, 94% of the businesses in India have fast-tracked at least some digital transformation programmes this year while 68% of Indian businesses responded that they have accelerated all or most of their digital transformation programmes. Many changes were at 20-25x the pace as per McKinsey reports. What we are seeing in the market is that the CEOs are now the new CIOs with increased focus on the digital initiatives. It had become their top priority with majority of the board of directors expecting ~6.9% budgetary increase in their IT/technology spend as per Gartner.

While the pace of transformation accelerated, businesses adapted to the current times faster than expected. The top areas preferred by Indian organisations to fast- track digital transformation were building cyber security defenses, transforming services and consumption models, rolling out broader remote working capabilities, digitalising their go-to-market models, improving operations through digital initiatives, adopting a hybrid cloud model for data management and using advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning (AI/ML) in business decision making.

What were some of the barriers faced by Indian organisations in 2020?
Though the unpre-cedented times have catalysed digital transformation across the globe, however, continuous digital transformation is not going to be easy. The Digital Transformation Index 2020 highlights that 97% of Indian businesses faced entrenched barriers to transformation. In fact, it isn’t surprising to note that data privacy and cybersecurity concerns were the number one barrier to transformation for 47% of Indian businesses. This was followed by businesses’ lack of capability to extract valuable insights from data (38%). Moreover, 36% believed that lack of economic growth acted as a barrier to their transformation.

Which areas would you advise Indian firms to focus on in order to continue their digital progress?
In my opinion, in order to pave the way for success in the future, organisations need to focus on four key aspects – cybersecurity and privacy to safeguard the critical data, data management & analytics to derive valuable insights, digital workplace to empower the workforce and on-demand digital service to seamlessly maintain business continuity.

Dell Technologies recently announced Project APEX. What is your take on the future of IT-as a service in India?
Basis our interaction with customers, we identified one common trend, that is, they are looking for solutions that work best for them in terms of cost, business needs, etc. Therefore, the idea behind Project APEX was to provide customers with a consistent experience for their workloads across on-premises, edge, and public cloud environments. IDC also predicts that by the end of 2021, as-a-service consumption model will have the power to drive 3x increase in demand for on-premises infrastructure.

In my opinion, in a time of vastly accelerated digital transformation, IT-as-usual also needs to evolve. IT-as-a-service is the way forward and organisations which are open to embracing this change will have a significant competitive edge. We also offer flexible payment options to our customers that can be leveraged.

What technology trends do you foresee emerging in India, post Covid-19?
The response to the pandemic has illustrated that businesses can be nimble and have the potential to transform quickly. Going forward, we can expect six key trends sprouting up— increased investments in hybrid cloud operating models, 5G, edge to gain more prominence as a solve for data gravity, new-age technologies such as AI/ML to drive decision-making, data management and cybersecurity. It’s important to remain optimistic as we navigate forward and view technology as a force for good that will lead all of us to transformative future outcomes.

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