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Power of Digital Transformation for young and mature organizations, globally!

Kaustubh Patwardhan I Head of Business Development and Strategy, Ashnik
Singapore, 6 Apr 2017

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“We don’t have any IT infrastructure and thus we don’t have the burdens of legacy systems. We are completely open to new ideas and innovations. We can only fast track from here in Digital Transformation,” a Myanmar delegate attending pgDay Asia in Singapore said, as she opened up her mind. To my delight, this passionate, technology-charged atmosphere is what I observe today, in many South East Asian organizations.

The business setups of even global organizations in South East Asia are relatively young and many traditional businesses here have just embarked on their digital transformation journeys. Hence, they are relatively free from the baggage of the legacy systems and outdated business practices. They have access to younger talent pool. They can quickly adapt to new, innovative processes and can take greater risks. The digital transformation wave certainly seems to have transcended to every business in this region today. Extending to the ideas shared in Who Needs Digital Transformation by our founder and Director, Sachin Dabir, the drivers for digital transformation mainly originate from following concerns –

1) Need to align with digital expectations of customers

With 4G/LTE networks penetrating in the region and customers having cost effective smartphones, laptops or tablets at their disposal, having a good internet connection has also not remained a challenge for the bigger chunk of our population. Even in case of slower bandwidths, there have been innovative ways to bring the power of banking, payments and social media to customers right on to their mobile devices .Widely used text-based social media usage for feature phones in Indonesia and Paytm kind of wallet systems in India are very good examples of these bright innovations. As every hand in this region possesses a digital device, it is imperative for organizations now to make their businesses service-focused for their end customers and thus equipping themselves to go digital.

2) Competition transcending industry borders

In a digitally evolving world, competition is increasingly transcending industry borders. There are hardly any entry barriers for businesses. Even highly-regulated industries, such as Banking and Financial services, are under intense pressure to redefine their operations. The recent rise of Digital or Mobile Banking platforms such as Atom are very good examples of challenging the status-quo and asking fundamental questions such as, why do banks need to have a physical infrastructure in place and why not entirely all the infrastructure be virtual? Another similar example is from the payments area (accounting for 20% to 25% of a bank’s revenue) that is undergoing a profound transition as newer digital payment entrants like Mint in Australia, Alipay in China and Paytm in India that have been challenging many long-established incumbents.

Hence, executives from traditional businesses are facing competition at every turn, from disruptive startups to existing partners or suppliers bypassing the traditional value chain and serving customers directly.

Little wonder, we notice that digital transformation for enterprises has evolved from ‘nice to have’ to ‘a must have’.

3) The big push to convert data liability to data asset

As the digitally empowered customers are leaving their digital fingerprints through every interaction and transaction, there is a constant pressure on businesses to collect, analyze and act on a daily basis to serve the customers better. To stay ahead of competition and generate smart revenues, businesses are inclined to engage with customers by the use of this metadata and thus converting earlier data overload and liability to business assets.

4) Operational efficiency and cost reduction

Beyond customer focused engagements, companies are also realizing the strong benefits of transforming internal processes by improving operational inefficiencies and reducing costs on traditional and legacy systems. These improvements and cost benefits then can be channelized for further customer-focused activities and innovations.

In fact, this digital thinking injected in the business leaders because of these drivers is leading the digital transformation wave in South East Asia. Recently, when I was with one of the senior executives from a leading bank in Singapore, I was amazed to see her speak so passionately about their initiatives in Hackthon and Hack2Hire. The bank employees are encouraged to create new apps, processes and organizational prototypes by collaborating with relevant startups to tackle business and societal challenges – a great move for a large enterprise such as theirs. Exemplary business leaders like these are taking their ideas and transforming them by maximising the ‘power of digital’ with the ultimate goal of leading as a digital-first company.

– Kaustubh Patwardhan I Head of  Business Development and Strategy, Ashnik 

Kaustubh (KP) is the Head of Business Development and Strategy at Ashnik. His role comprises of heading Strategic Partnerships, Channels Management and Business Development for ASEAN. With his expansive experience in IT, he plays a pivotal role in strategic initiatives undertaken by Ashnik. Apart from his usual responsibilities at Ashnik, he is passionate about photography, cricket and other sports. He is also an enthusiastic participant in poetic circles and plays.


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