‘CIOs need to educate stakeholders on the benefits of digital technologies’

‘CIOs need to educate stakeholders on the benefits of digital technologies’

Suresh Kumar, Partner and CIO, Grant Thornton, discusses how a change in mindset is necessary when it comes to digital transformation.

Digital transformation is no longer a distant goal for brick and mortar companies, but rather an urgent requirement. Digital maturity is emerging as a key differentiator across industries. But it isn’t easy for brick and mortar companies to transform and adapt. Suresh Kumar, Partner and CIO, Grant Thornton, a professional services company, believes that a major challenge lies in overcoming mindsets.

“Digital transformation is a major change for these organisations and they want to be sure whether the spend on digital technologies will help them grow their business or increase profitability,” he says. “The average age of the board members of these companies also plays a significant role in decisions regarding digital transformation. A younger board is more open to digital transformation and ready to experiment with digital technologies.”

In contrast to many other enterprises, it was easier for his organisation to embrace digital technologies. “Since we are a professional services firm and have our own service line, Digitech, that advises clients on digital transformation, I did not face any challenges internally to roll-out digital technologies,” he says. “In fact, Digitech helped me educate key stakeholders on the benefits of digital technologies, which helped in faster decision making. We have now gone live with Business Analytics, Mobile Apps and Robotic Process Automation.”

Processes, people and legacy infrastructure are some of the challenges enterprises have to overcome. This is where Digitech steps in. “Our Digitech service line helps companies across sectors create their digital transformation strategy and roadmap,” he says. “We study their existing processes, infrastructure, pain points, etc, and share case studies on how similar challenges in other organisations have been overcome using digital technologies. Once the stakeholders are convinced about the efficacy of digital technologies, we help them with strategy as well as actual deployment of these technologies.”

While enterprises need new technologies for analytical insights and faster decision making and rollout of business applications, budgets are a constraint. Enterprises are also under pressure to optimise infra costs while delivering greater productivity. In such a scenario striking the right balance and delivering change becomes a challenge for the CIO. Suresh believes that once the benefits of digital technologies are demonstrated to key stakeholders, it is easier to obtain budget approvals. “CIOs need to convince key stakeholders that deployment of digital technology will help increase revenue or profitability or both. There are instances where benefits of digital technologies are not immediate. Then there are instances where deployment of digital technologies helps in enhancing people experience or customer experience, which also adds to an organisation’s growth objectives. Lastly, some digital technologies are helping CIOs reduce IT infrastructure costs as well,” he notes. This is part of the changing role of the CIO, from a technology leader to a business leader. “A CIO is expected to participate in the company's growth discussions and contribute by offering innovative solutions to business issues.”