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Digital Transformation: Open Source imperative

Sachin Dabir | Founder & Director, Ashnik
USA, 10 Mar 2016

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The industry and businesses have gone through some high impact technology waves – such as MRP, ERP, client server architecture, Internet, 3 tier architecture, SaaS, PaaS, Cloud etc. Impact of these technologies or waves have largely transformed organization’s internal processes and IT architecture. In other words, businesses have responded to the technological developments and adopted them to improve their business parameters.

However, what we are witnessing now is a totally different paradigm. While businesses continue to adopt these technologies and try to create differentiation, there is totally a new consideration that is driving CEOs and business heads to think very differently. This consideration requires companies to go through Digital Transformation that goes beyond technology, giving insights on the ‘customer behavior’.

Combined impact of SMC (Social, Mobile and Cloud) has given enormous power in the hands of customers. Even the B2B businesses have seen big change in their customer’s buying behavior. According to one study, in case of B2B, customers carry out 57% of their buying process without involving the vendor (seller) organizations. In case of consumer goods this percentage would be even higher. E.g. When we go out to buy a TV or smart phone, we do lot of study (primarily through internet and social media) and thus a salesman’s ability to influence has reduced significantly.

This kind of change means, it is no longer good enough to improve product quality, customer service, sales and marketing or manufacturing processes – though they would continue to be improved – but businesses have to transform entire organization holistically to align with customer behavior. This transformation is being broadly labelled as ‘Digital Transformation’. The boundaries of physical and digital aspect of business are blurring. On one hand technology has entered in every aspect of business while on the other hand every ‘thing’ is becoming digital.

Making infrastructure agile

In this new world nothing is static. Continuous change is new normal. Among the top areas of Digital Transformation project or journey, are the reimagining your technology platform. It has become critically important that your technology platform is agile enough to deliver value to the evolving business processes. In the old days, technology platforms, application architecture, development cycles etc. were oriented to cater to relatively static processes over a period of 3 to 5 years. In the new age of Digital Transformation everything has to adopt in an integrated manner.

Unlocking the value out of existing platform

To support this vision, you have to relook at your technology adoption process – applying it to new projects and extending it to existing infrastructure. Creating agile platforms for new projects is one of the key areas but orienting existing platform to deliver the value in the new context is also very critical. Very often, the cost of maintaining existing platforms becomes a hurdle in introducing new technologies. Similarly, rigidity of licensing and terms and conditions of deployment of these old technology platforms come in way of supporting agile business needs.

People and skills – key to bring about digital technology transformation

It is very obvious fact that digital technology transformation is based on new technologies and you need people with these skills. However, when you are saddled with old technologies it severely affects your ability to attract new talent (which is looking to work on newer technologies). One of the ways organizations are addressing this challenge is by building separate teams. But this creates organizational imbalance leading to inefficiencies. Another way some organizations are addressing, are by embarking on replacing older technology platform with newer one. This is a process that has to be planned in parallel to acquiring new technologies.

Open Source technologies leading the way

It is important for you to consider the fact that almost all the new age companies that have transformed customer behavior are powered by open source technologies.  Then the question is why would you not consider them for your business? The virtues of open source technologies – lower cost, security, no upfront cost etc. are well documented. But these new age companies these are not the only motivation to prefer open source software. Going beyond these, there are other factors that matter even more –  ability to innovate and improvise, respond faster to emerging trends, start-small-grow-big model of consumption and deployment, attracting top talents.

On one hand the model of open source development is directly aligned with the process of digital transformation and on the other hand its commercial model is aligned with the agility part of your technology adoption cycle.

These are interesting times.


  • Sachin is veteran in IT industry and brings over 25 years of experience in setting up new businesses, leading high performance sales teams and executing growth strategies. He is passionate about open source and is an acknowledged leader in open source in Asia. As a founder of Ashnik he is leading the growth initiatives and taking Ashnik global. His stints in Asia, UK and USA enables him to bring unique perspective to entrepreneurship and life. His interests in writing, reading and mentoring makes him an excellent networker. Currently he is learning to be a patient father to teenage sons and striving to be a good husband.

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