India@75: A nation in the making

TCS CEO shares the secrets of building a smart enterprise

N Chandrasekaran believes there is tremendous potential for traditional businesses to adapt to digital technology

Shruti Venkatesh
Published: Feb 10, 2016 03:18:17 PM IST
Updated: Feb 10, 2016 04:33:37 PM IST
TCS CEO shares the secrets of building a smart enterprise
Image: Mexy Xavier
N Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

“What we call ‘digital technology’ is evolving so rapidly that the number of disruptive opportunities is mind-boggling,” said N Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), on the inaugural day of the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum in Mumbai.
 
“While ‘disruption’ may have a negative connotation, ‘technological disruption’ is always positive,” said Chandrasekaran. Case in point: Historical disruptions like electricity, computing and internet. These technological disruptions have provided opportunities to create new businesses, huge economic growth and tremendous job opportunities.
 
In a similar way, Chandrasekaran believes that there is tremendous potential for traditional businesses to adapt to digital technology and transform into smart enterprises as they are already equipped with a proper business process, revenue stream, domain expertise and clients. They also have access to the same technology and skill-sets as the startups or the born digital companies have. It is all about recognising your strengths and innovating. ‘Smart enterprises’ are essentially companies which make use of modern technology such as Internet of Things, big data and machine learning.
 
“So far, it has only been about science, engineering and technology. Now we need to put arts into it by getting in more arts, liberal arts and people with different backgrounds because the whole concept of building solutions is changing,” he said.
 
Here’s what smart enterprises do best, according to Chandrasekaren:
 
1. Dematerialise: It is all about recognising the opportunity to build a huge digital interface to everything that is physical, whether it is infrastructure, manufacturing or any other asset an enterprise has. When an enterprise dematerialises, it creates new business options, as the world is becoming increasingly software driven.
 
2. Agility: In a software-driven world, agility is most important. Since everything about the business, be it a product or a service, is based on software, it is essential to make things happen instantly.
 
3. Hyper connected/ real time and data driven: Machine learning is becoming better at an exponential pace. Since it is software-driven, a lot of data is bound to be generated and the core of digital disruption is data. It is important to make proper use of this data and that is only possible when an enterprise is hyper connected. Data, coupled with ability for real time response and experience for anyone in the ecosystem is unparalleled.
 
For example, a retailer can now make use of data analytics to understand which days his customers shop for which product and trace their consumption pattern to improve service.
 
4. Experience: Lastly, the most important aspect of a smart enterprise is providing a good experience. An enterprise will need to use tools like design thinking to enhance experience of the product or service. For example, every Apple product has a new feature which enhances user experience.
 
In conclusion, he stated that collaboration is the key for building a smart enterprise, because ideas and technologies can come from anywhere. He also sees the potential of a multi trillion dollar business, because digital revenue is driven by real time ability to assimilate process and data.

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