Digitalisation @ Automation Expo 2019
Published by : Industrial Automation
Automation Expo is an eagerly awaited annual event.
Digitalisation is the theme of the 2019 edition, the 14th of the series. Even as vendors have the solutions, the manufacturing industry is still grappling with several issues pertaining to implementation. On the eve of this mega event, Industrial Automation sought the views of experts across various disciplines in the manufacturing domain their opinions and suggestions on how to go about where and how to begin the process, when it comes to implementation.
“The first step would be to identify the small win projects with high impact and low turnaround time (early success is key). Next, take C Level commitment and buy-in. This should be followed with identifying or hiring the right mix of talent who are innovative thinkers and challenge the current status. Basically, they would help bring in the agility and change with right culture,” says Amit Phadke, a senior executive with over 21 years in international IT management, and a Digital Transformation Leader. Amit Phadke feels silo rivalries are highly toxic. “Customer experience data in one place, performance data in another, security data in yet another, etc., are serious business problems. Breaking down data silos enable more effective decision-making and increased likelihood of success with digital. A business which has all its departments working towards a singular goal or common objective is unstoppable,” expresses Amit strongly on the subject.
That’s one of the biggest obstacles, right at the beginning, more so in a growing economy where the ‘C Level’ is fighting the battle on too many fronts. “Today, more than 85% of digitalisation projects fail because companies jump into technology too fast. Digital isn’t about technology but about business and change. My 2 cents for the CEOs – Digital is a board agenda. The board and the CEO should actively drive this agenda for best results. Hiring a CDO alone isn't enough. CDO or a Digital Leader is an anchor but it is the entire management that should drive this agenda even to make the CDO succeed,” stresses Boomi Bala, Founder, IntersectIQ. A digital business strategist and enterprising leader, Boomi Bala is an exponential thinker, problem-solver and thought leader.
It is in the nature of organisations that any change faces resistance. “Silent or passive resistance is an enormous challenge. Organisations need to communicate information about transformation consistently and accurately, as well as explain and facilitate understanding and acknowledgement of unpopular measures. Organisational transformation requires iterative processes,” says Francis Padamadan, Senior Director APAC – RPO & BPS Practice, KellyOCG. A seasoned Talent Management Professional with more than 13 years of experience, Francis currently is the Country Director for Kelly’s Outsourcing and Consulting Business and has in the past managed the largest operations team at Kelly’s, responsible for 13 P&Ls.
“For any effort, leave alone digitalisation, there is a need for maturity. This maturity is a precise understanding of the Status Quo (where one is) and Desired State (where one needs to be).
This is a journey and not a discrete event. And as the question suggests, this is a process in continuum. Enterprises have mostly jumped into this digitalisation as they have done with other initiatives in the past; just wade into it without preparation and then wing through it,” says Subbu Iyer, Agilist Industry 4.0 Leader, driven by Design Thinking, Digital Transformation & Innovation at Hreemm. The enterprise of Hreemm is to promote Transformative Growth in Individuals, Enterprises and Society. To enable Innovation that connects Conceptualisation through Commercialisation as a Continuum for startups as well as established ventures.
“One way of initiating and expediting implementation is through collaboration with an ecosystem of partners as no longer is a single organisation equipped to solve all problems by themselves. And even if they do have the ability, they may lack the mind-set and agility to bring the required change in time. An ‘inside out’ approach helps deliver on multiple priorities simultaneously with the same rigor through multiple specialist teams working together. Following an agile methodology, the team can deliver iteratively which can help either validate their deliverables (prototype, product, service) or result in failing fast and exploring alternatives sooner,” stresses Namrita Mahindro, Senior General Manager, Digital Transformation & Innovation at Mahindra Group. Namrita is a senior strategic executive with CXO level success in leading organisations transform their businesses leveraging digital and technology.
Breaking the silos
Another stumbling block is the silos, which ironically, digitalisation seeks to break. What is the ideal way of dealing with this? “Given that a change management mandate can force break the silos, to be able to leverage the benefits of digitalisation by enterprise, showing the right digital vision with road map is important. Eventually different departments or parts of the organisation possess the specific information, which needs to be leveraged so that silos do not form again,” opines Lokendra Panwar, Chief Revenue Officer, Algorhythm. As a Digital Transformation evangelist, Lokendra has seen the entire digital product evaluation over the last twenty years, having been on the enabling side of technologies as contributor, and has also been on the service provider side.
“Digitalisation is a business transformation journey and any new journey will need to begin with positive intent. So the blocks can be removed if we clear the intent. When we start in silos, people have no idea on what’s happening and the black box approach leads to anxiety which leads to resistance,” explains Manikantan NS, Global Delivery Head – Oil & Gas, Tech Mahindra. As digital transformation leader, Manikantan is responsible for designing and delivering compelling digital transformation solutions and services.
There are always ways to deal with issues. “You break silo by fostering collaboration, so the question is how do you foster collaboration? Collaboration is based fundamentally on the function of two core things. The first thing is people-to-people interaction, so the question becomes – how do you create an environment where people are able to comfortably talk to each other? The second thing is – how do you create opportunities for people to have a collaborative function?” asksMayank Jain, VP – Global Automation Leader, BCG. Mayank is working with several leaders to establish digital blueprint for their organisations and execute on the digital technology driven transformation agenda.
Should one opt for a platform?
With the proliferation of Digital Platforms, is joining one the only way for an average enterprise? “No it’s definitely not the only way. It’s the fastest way. But that is assuming that the digital platform of choice addresses the business processes of the organisation. Otherwise customisation can prove to be quite expensive, time consuming and sub-optimal. So if any organisation is going the platform route then it’s extremely important to scan the market for the platform that best suits their business processes,” emphasises Mohua Sengupta, Senior Business Leader. With 25+ years of experience across the globe, both in financial and IT services industry, in the past decade Mohua has focused on Digital Transformation, Digital Banking, Distributed Ledger Technologies, Application of Emerging Technologies in Banking, Insurance Healthcare to name a few.
“Joining or using a ready digital platform maybe convenient for some organisations but it is not mandated. In the digitisation journey it is not 'one size fits all'. Start with what you need and then see if you need a full-fledged platform and look for one. There are organisations who have been able to build their own platform – both have their pros and cons which need evaluation in the first place,” says Nimish Danani, Director, Hitachi Consulting, where he leads the west region for India Go-to-Market for Digital Operations. Nimish comes with a mix of technology and consulting experience and has 17+ years of diverse experience in multiple roles across Consulting, Client Engagement and Business Development.
“Absolutely, not. Every enterprise is unique and requires unique solutions. In the manufacturing world, platforms are still evolving. As of now, it is not feasible to utilise one platform for all digital needs. There are five elements of future manufacturing platform: devices in-network, connectivity and data aspect, enabling a process to handle structured and unstructured data, cognition in process and data layer and industry-specific comprehensive abstraction layer. Till the time some platforms are achieving that feat, a combination of platform and non-platform solutions is the only way forward,” opines Prabhakar Shetty, Global Head Digital Manufacturing Services at Larsen & Tubro Tech Services. Prabhakar has over 30 years of international work experience within the manufacturing, retail and CPG space with repeated success guiding multimillion dollar portfolios with P&L responsibility.
“Joining a digital platform will certainly accelerate the transformation journey, however I believe each organisation is unique and they need to plan their digital transformation journey in a way best suited for their current state of affair looking at their digital culture and maturity. It all depends on your business if you are dealing with large of transactions and have huge data like ecommerce or banking you would probably be good with Amazon or Microsoft. If the data generated by your products are quite unique you may want to have your own platform,” says Lokendra Panwar.
“These are long term strategic choices and often very difficult to reverse once decided. There is no cookie cutter approach to this. Many go with open source technology stack, in some cases a particular digital platform will make sense. I have achieved this through even strategic acquisitions in some industries. This is an important decision for the company,” says Boomi Bala, based on personal experience.
The role of the CTO
Often, companies get bogged down in discussing technologies rather than outcomes. How should an effective CTO deal with this? “Yes that’s where the strategic objectives and intent becomes critical – not only at the beginning but regular appraisal of the progress basis. What is in it for me? And what is in it for customers? Hence the tools and platforms should be seen as means and not the end and business should be leading the digital transformation rather than keeping solely as an IT/CTO prerogative. The CTO should play the role of a facilitator and a visionary but the accountability should be firmly with the head of business or the Chief Digital Officer to make the implementations successful,” says Rajnish Khare, Head Digital Transformation, Social Business & New Media and Mobility Banking, HDFC Bank. Rajnish is responsible for Digital, Social, UI/UX, API Banking & Mobility Strategy for HDFC bank and inculcating Innovation as a culture & using innovation as a strategic differentiator to gain leadership position in chosen markets.
According to Rohit Mathur, CEO, Exponentia Datalabs, the answer is setting clear KPIs and concrete goals at the start of the exercise, and then an execution which focuses on these goals thoroughly. “While
technology is what digitalisation implements, CTOs need to maintain and drive a realisation in their team that technology is an enabler to drive a business goal and not an end in itself. Hence teams should focus on the effectiveness that technology is bringing to the process in form of better productivity, enablement, customer service, etc., and doing so often leads to an optimal path of use for the technology,” says Rohit, is a visionary with a goal of leveraging high-tech and data-science to create tangible impact on the traditional industries and practices.
“This is one of the major stumbling blocks of the digitalisation journey. Traditionally, the CTOs and CIOs and sometime even the Procurement Office were making the IT decisions and hence the decisions were based only on technology or price. In the digitalisation era, Business needs to play a key role. The decisions need to be driven by business outcomes and business priorities. Hence it’s extremely important that the CTO collaborates with the Business Heads to ensure that the decision meets the desired business outcomes,” opines Mohua Sengupta.
“The starting point for any transformation journey is ensuring that the problem statement has been defined accurately. Experimenting with technology for the sake of technology is the wrong use case to work on. It is imperative that a business problem is identified and once that has been framed correctly, potential technologies can be evaluated to solve it. Additionally, defining the deliverables and success metrics also upfront plays a key role in ensuring that future dialogues are outcome oriented as opposed to focusing solely or primarily on the technology,” adds Namrita Mahindro.
“Every leader in an organisation needs to “understand technology” in the same way or for the same purposes. It is of utmost importance to have someone in the C-suite who is responsible for knowing which new, potentially disruptive technologies are surfacing, to grasp both the dangers and the opportunities they pose for the firm, and to see and act across the organisation to help formulate and execute a company-wide response. That’s where a CTO plays pivot,” says Francis Padamadan.
Technology is a means to an end, not the end itself, maintains Prabhakar Shetty. “There are 2 types of digitalisation projects: Financial outcome based and Non-financial outcome based. CTOs need to bucketise both type of outcomes for each area of digitalisation,” he adds, and enumerates the steps:
• Understand challenges in achieving business objectives
• Put “Design Thinking” to identify digitalisation interventions
• Outline financial outcome and impact
• Outline non-financial outcome which can open up financial outcome once digitalisation is achieved, and
• Take outcome commitment from stakeholder and case approval from senior management.
Multiplicity of vendors
Finally, with a wide variety of devices and solutions now widely available, is multiplicity of vendors creating conflict in the process of this much needed transformation? “The vendors and teams who raise and drop the curtains for this show, have to be motivated and managed. During this journey some will have heartburns and some will turn non-responsive and some will become overbearing. Again, a clear handshake and purpose should be our guiding light to emerge at the other side of the tunnel, though it helps lowering the complexity if the number of vendors are lower,” says Siddharth Bhardwaj, Digital Transformation & IT Manager with a Paint MNC. Siddharth has 17 years of experience spanning over high-impact professional marketing in paints, lubricants, luxury bath fittings, auto and auto ancillaries, e-commerce and online sales, digitisation and change management in B2B and B2C spaces.
“Organisations have benefited from vendor multiplicity as it gives choice and brings in a healthy competition. It is important for organisations to be well informed, have a well-defined process to deal with vendors, 360-degree
Evaluation criteria in place for selecting the fit for purpose vendor for the business need. As technology becomes more available and affordable there is a risk of losing the right product on the basis of price. Vendor landscapes will continue to influence the digital agenda of an organisation, conflicts arise when technology drives the agenda of digitalisation allowing vendors to dictate the 'What' and the 'How' while the 'Why' remain unclear’. Such situation can be avoided by taking a business lead approach and aligning technology with the business outcomes through an effective process and governance,” expresses Srikanth Arya, Group Head of Digital Enterprise, Enzen Group. Srikanth is an experienced business leader focusing on transformative enablement of digital technologies, with a strong domain and technology experience spanning advisory, architecture, systems integration, pre-sales, new business development and execution.
Subbu Iyer too does not believe multiplicity of vendors is a problem. “Not really. It is bringing more variety and like all natural things in life, when there is a certain maturity, the process of Convergence and Stabilisation will begin. These are extremely exciting times for experimentation. Jeff Bezos of Amazon says they start one or more experimentations every day. That is the truth for the new enterprise,” he concludes.
(Note: The responses of various experts featured in this story are their personal views and not necessarily of the companies or organisations they represent. The full interviews are hosted online at https://www.iedcommunications.com/interviews)