India Inc's Strategies for the Digital Juggernaut

By Jayesh Ghatge, Market Principal, ThoughtWorks India

When discussing the idea of this article with colleagues and friends, most were surprised and fascinated by the word ‘Juggernaut’ in the subject. Many suggested going with the conventional, but perhaps more familiar ‘Transformation’ or ‘Strategy’.

However, India Inc. needs to ride this Juggernaut (a huge, powerful and overwhelming force) with a never-before-attempted scale and precise transformation, to be relevant and profitable in an ever changing world.

Every business today is facing pressure from within and outside its organization. The employee and customer preferences are changing, their consumption and engagement needs are evolving and there is stiff competition from unrelated or unknown places.

Indian enterprises will have to look at their future investments in 3 specific areas or horizons, to build solutions and new businesses that allow for significant disruption that will keep these enterprises relevant in the future.

  • Horizon 1 Strategy:
    • Revisit existing investments and traditional approaches to overcome current challenges at a fast pace and extend investments, where needed to defend their positions.
  • This phase is also where businesses grow to redefine existing capabilities, revisit the core of their business, rationalize their offerings and explore partnerships
  • Horizon 2 Strategy:
    • Invest in building new business models for creating new markets, products and services and unbundling existing offerings.
  • These are investments made in technologies and approaches that have been developed outside of India but have a future within the country as the market, the business and its customers evolve.
  • Horizon 3 Strategy:
    • This is where disruptors completely reimagine the future and build products or services for an entirely new generation or even skip a generation.
  • Exploration, experimentation and preparation create viable options for the distant future using technologies that may still be in labs at a very nascent stage.

Insights and Questions from the Trenches

Constant engagement with Indian enterprise and thought leaders, who are contemplating or are already on the inevitable Digital Journey, has resulted in a sort of guide. A guide that gets India Inc. to answer pertinent questions, the answers of which will not only help the enterprise ride the Digital Juggernaut but emerge victorious.

  • Rise of the connected and empowered consumers:

An information overload world is taking shape as technology infrastructure improves and more and more people come online.

This is the world where data leads to insights and eventually empowers consumers and businesses alike, in their decision-making. This empowerment will skyrocket consumers demand for more value, better quality and convenience from products and services.

Data will get businesses to rethink their business models to deliver (hyper personalized) services to individuals, while growing profitably.

The Question: What is your data strategy to meet your customer demands?

  • Evolving flexible and adaptive operating models:

Indian consumers are always looking for various channels of engagement with businesses, while searching for value. Which means businesses, while evolving newer operating models that are lightweight, flexible and adaptable to the customer, while have to keep looking for different opportunities of engagement and delivery using technology.

The Question: How does your business strategy leverage technology when looking at new channels of distribution, delivery and engagement?

  • Building ecosystems and partnerships:

Indian businesses are investing within their organizations, to build capabilities that will ensure the former’s relevance in the market of the future. What might work for most organizations is, creating larger ecosystems (government, social sector, institutions and environment) of innovation and forging new partnerships simply because creating and nurturing all the required capabilities, in-house, will require significant investment and time - not always available for organizations wanting to capitalize on trends and technology.

The Question: What is your organizational strategy for building long-term partnerships and creating a sustainable ecosystem of growth?

  • Nurturing growth and innovation:

Indian enterprises must nurture innovation to capitalize on opportunities arising from digital technologies, while keeping in mind their consumers needs. The former must invest in R&D to unblock the path to a new attitude and ideas.  Not just accommodating but celebrating failures which removes the fear associated with them is paramount.

This is where most start-ups trump established enterprises in bringing newer ideas to market faster. They have a higher tolerance for failure as they see it as an opportunity to pivot around another idea while failing fast and validating the new offering with customers through a regular feedback loop.

The Question: What is your business’ innovation pipeline and how does it look at investments and feedback in an uncertain future?

  • Investment in sustainable growth:

While on the growth trajectory, Indian businesses need to align their workforce to be accountable, with a focus on responsiveness and business outcomes. While doing so, organizations will have to embed sustainability, diversity and social impact as the core values. Collaboration within and outside the organization will have a broader impact on the ecosystem and society, that the organization both, functions in and intends to impact.

The Question: What are your businesses’ core values and do they invoke a sense of responsibility towards growth, sustainability, diversity and social impact?

Many organizations still do not realize the opportunities that technology can bring to them while some of them who do, are not reacting fast enough. Only a few organizations in our experience and research are embracing disruption with a focus on unbundling their organizations and bringing about a cultural shift that is needed to win in the world of tomorrow – with new business models, new solutions and new capabilities.

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