01 Oct 2019 19:49 IST

Businesses must embrace new technologies or risk being left behind

Vignesh Jeevanandam, winner of 'Chanakya - The Mastermind - The Best Management Student of the Year 2019'

Experts say going digital is imperative for survival; LIBA’s J Vignesh is ‘Chanakya: The Mastermind”

“The world is going to be run by data. If you don’t know how to analyse data, you will be at a loss,” said Suresh V Shankar, Founder, Crayon Data. He was speaking as part of the panel on Analytics Transforming Companies at the 18th All-India Management Students’ Convention, themed ‘Digital Transformation: A Reality’. The event was held at the Madras Management Association on September 30. Stressing the importance of personalised experience, he said that Spotify delivers personalised music experiences to millions of people, and this is possible because of digital disruption.

R Chandrasekaran, former Vice Chairman, Cognizant, said, “We are uniquely poised to take advantage of the technology evolution that we are witnessing”. Quoting data, he said, “We have crossed one trillion digital transactions. That’s phenomenal in such a short period of time. The pace of change is rapid and that is very exciting.”

From left: Suresh V Shankar, Founder, Crayon Data; R Chandrasekaran, Former Executive Vice Chairman, Cognizant; Venkat Viswanathan, Chairman, LatentView


“Companies which are data-driven and take meaningful decisions are far more successful than those organisations that do not focus on data. Data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire a new customer, six times more likely to retain a customer and 19 times more profitable than others,” he said.

Venkat Viswanathan, Chairman, LatentView Analytics, said, “We are now used to real-time alerts because of digital transformation.”

Digital-first businesses

The second session was on Creating Digital-First Businesses. On what makes digital businesses different from e-business, entrepreneur Chandu Nair said, “Digital disruption is not an IT project. It is much more fundamental than that. It is the future of business and how business is going to be done by default.”

Suresh Sambandam, Founder and CEO, OrangeScape, said that there are four clear trends that contribute to the digital-first model. “First, is the subscription economy, Netflix being the best example. Second is inbound marketing. This is different from the traditional outbound marketing, where you send emails or put interruptive advertisements. Inbound marketing is centred around the customer; when a customer looks for your product, visits the site and if he/she likes it, the person enquires and then the company goes ahead and provides services. Essentially, inbound marketing can be termed self-selecting.”

From left: Suresh Sambandam, Founder, OrangeScape; Chandu Nair, entrepreneur; Karthik Kumar, Director, Rage Communications


“The third paradigm is the rise of the citizen developer. With the changing of demographics, all of us have become some sort of content developers without even realising it. The fourth trend is the death of rolodex selling,” Sambandam said.

Karthik Kumar, Director, Rage Communications, said, “If you are customer-centric, marketing will happen naturally. The product that we make is not the source of revenue, the consumer buying the product is the source of revenue. So, we need to keep the buyer happy. That will help us to create and grow an enterprise.”

Societal impact

“There’s always an element of fear when adopting any new digital technology, and this is largely because of the unintended consequences that often accompany such a shift,” said NS Ramnath, journalist and co-author of The Aadhaar Effect, speaking on the panel “Societal Impacts of Going Digital”.

Ramnath added that: “The risk of such unexpected outcomes is, however, no reason to deny people the benefits of technology that can save time and transform lives, especially if it can make a difference to the marginalised sections, whether urban or rural.”

Maximising governance

“Ease of transacting business, especially in government-to-people interactions, is now a key focus of select State governments across India, especially in technologically advanced regions such as Tamil Nadu and Telangana,” said Santhosh Babu, IAS, Principal Secretary to Government, IT Dept, Government of Tamil Nadu. “Technology plays a vital role in good leadership, and this is especially relevant for you MBA students, who can leverage it to become transformational leaders,” he said, addressing a huge gathering made up largely of management students. Pointing out that tech helps one acquire specialised knowledge, he said that while generalist skills were sought after in MBAs earlier, corporate nowadays are looking for specific domain knowledge experts.

From left: NS Ramnath, Journalist and Author; Krish Ashok, Global Head, Digital Workplace Practice, TCS; Dr Santhosh Babu, IAS, Principal Secretary, IT, Govt of TN


“Recognising the importance of generating expertise in emerging technologies such as blockchain, analytics, AI-ML, gamification, VR-AR , and so on, the TN Government has set up a Centre for Excellence in Emerging Technologies, hiring the industry’s best brains to ideate for better governance, and to minimise personal interactions between the government and citizens,” said Santosh Babu. The Government has also put in place a vibrant and enabling start-up policy that hopes to encourage the launch of hundreds of start-ups in the State that will give technology a further push and widen its adoption, he said.

Krish Ashok, Global Head, Digital Workplace Practice, Tata Consultancy Services, raised the issue of technology and regulation, pointing out that we seem to have jumped from too much regulation to zero regulation in some sectors, and giving the example of cinema vs OTT content, and regular taxi services vs ride-share companies. It will take time for the regulatory aspects to catch up with tech innovations, said Ramnath.

Chanakya title

The event concluded with a final round of rapid, on-stage questioning of the ten finalists by the jury members. Vignesh Jeevanandam of Loyola Institute of Business Administration won the ‘Chanakya: The Mastermind — The Best Management Student of the Year 2019’ award. He received the trophy and cash award from chief guest Munish Sharda, MD & CEO, Future Generali India Life Insurance, during the valedictory session.

Six key factors

Addressing the students thereafter, Sharda said that today’s MBAs will go to work in a world that’s changing at a frightening speed, with digital transformation impacting manufacturing and services sectors. He said it would be useful to keep in mind six factors that are at play in the current environment. These are:

Convenience drives loyalty: Brands must remember that the more convenient companies make things for the ecosystem of distributors, retailers and customers, the stronger the brand retention possible.

Simplification: Managerial minds are wired to believe that complexity is needed to solve complex problems. But the reality is that the more we simplify, the greater success we achieve.

Human touch: Tech may be at the heart of UX design but human interaction is vital in the effort to build enduring businesses

Customisation: With individual customer data now available, it’s possible, and profitable, to minutely customize solutions for individual users

Keep learning: Businesses must embrace new technologies or risk being left behind. So it’s worth investing time and effort in these new learnings.

Data: Costly to acquire but invaluable, getting comprehensive data for even one customer is difficult therefore companies must find ways to get the maximum revenue from one client.