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At the heart of going Digital

Venkataraman Subramanian, CTO, Columbia Asia Hospitals, talks about digital journey
Venkataraman Subramanian, CTO, Columbia Asia Hospitals

In the last few years, we have seen companies radically alter the face of their business leveraging digital. For those who operate at the cusp of IT and business, I would like to present a few points that may pique their interests. No digital journey can succeed without a clear vision and burning aspiration.

Shifting to digital is a rather tectonic and often it becomes easier with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, rather than aiming for humble incremental benefits. As we chart the journey in terms of business outcomes, we will have to re-evaluate our constraints – often what is thought traditionally as constraints result from a certain emotional orientation to the problem space. Are the constraints still relevant?

As we make an intentional move to focus on customer experience and data, we have to ask ourselves, what would it take for us to match up to the daily dose of digital in the everyday life our customers. What would we need to invest in to collapse the digital and physical world of our patients?

We cannot possibly lead our customer on a digital journey of our internal digital IQ is not high enough. If we have to reconfigure value delivery models to create additional lines of revenue built on top of the digital platform, our employees must tango. A company that thinks digital, would tend to leverage the power of employee crowds and align rewards to the transformation agenda.

Most companies have a conundrum – how to balance ready to use cloud based subscription solutions and legacy operational systems and workforce. To pursue a transformation agenda, a short term dual speed IT is almost a given – one leverages cloud consistently, the other transforms legacy elements piece by piece using agile thereby rewiring the foundational capabilities.

Social, mobility, analytics, and cloud are critical tools for a digital journey, but it can deliver only when there is business IT alignment. This needs organization structural rearrangement and a deep engagement across all rungs of the workforce. It also requires us to identify the nature and expectations of foundational and early stage investments.

The biggest hurdle in a digital journey is leading the change. Perhaps the most important activity to be on course is to have the resolve to weed out activities that counter intuitive to the digital transformation agenda. Another important step would be to stop local investments and drive enterprise wide initiatives especially if it warrants cross departmental collaboration. Address the naysayers by building a coalition of believers. A coalition need not agree on everything but must believe in the transformation agenda.

The digital journey is not about technology. It is about business, emotions, and fears. Unless there is a crystal-clear visualization of the future, we cannot run an effective digital game plan.

Lastly, I view digital journeys as a direct result of Blue Ocean thinking. It allows us to convert non-customers; challenge the emotional orientation of customers and prospects; maximize buyer value; create exceptional buyer utility; and redefine market boundaries. While a lot is trending today in terms of data analytics, telemedicine, we need to have a deeper understanding of the decision behind such investments, rather than the technology involved. That is in my view is at the heart of a makeover of an organization today.

Leading Digital from HBR press and Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, are wonderful reads for those who would like to dig deeper.

The article is authored by Venkataraman Subramanian, CTO, Columbia Asia Hospitals

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