AI To Impact

PODCAST: COVID 19 | Redefining Digital Enterprises

Episode 10: COVID-19 | Evolving Trends of Digital Transformation

Listening time: 12 minutes

COVID-19 | Evolving Trends of Digital Transformation

In this episode of the AI to Impact Podcast, Anand Ganesh and Vignesh CV delve into the various facets of digital transformation in the aftermath of COVID-19. They discuss the impact of the pandemic on enterprises and the need to adopt parallel windows – a short term window to get an enterprise’s operational system up and running as effectively as possible, and a medium-term outlook to mitigate the supply chain shocks and risks. The bottom line is that despite these uncertain times, this situation presents fascinating learning outcomes for all. Tune in, and don’t forget to subscribe!

Vignesh: Hi there. You are listening to BRIDGEi2i’s podcast, AI, to Impact. My name is Vignesh, and I help companies succeed in their AI-enabled digital transformation. I am a director with BRIDGEi2i. I often work with CXOs and senior leaders across a range of our customer segments, look at the business with an AI lens and help them design digital programs that can hopefully find interesting ways to solve these challenges. And, in continuation of our conversations around the impact of COVID-19 on enterprises with thought leaders and industry experts, today we have with us Anand Ganesh – someone who brings in over two decades of experience in leadership positions across technology and consumer markets. Ganesh leads our digital practice and is also responsible for several strategic growth initiatives at BRIDGEi2i. Thank you for making the time, Ganesh.

Ganesh: Always a pleasure, Vignesh.

Vignesh: Ganesh, such unprecedented times all over the world. And the crisis must have a far-reaching impact for a variety of enterprises across the world. What are you hearing from clients, and what strategies are they adopting to remain resilient at these hard times? What are you seeing as emerging themes?

Ganesh: Vignesh, you’re absolutely right. When I speak with our clients, industry leaders, opinion-makers, none of us have encountered such scenarios in our experience, in our history. There’s very little benchmarks that we can rely on. But we are seeing two clear managerial themes emerging. We are seeing methods by which senior managers, executive leadership are approaching these interesting times if I may. I’m seeing my clients approaching this in probably two dimensions. The one is how we look at planning and decision making itself in a managerial capacity. Our planning cycles have changed dramatically. The ability to manage risks and manage risks dynamically is becoming increasingly critical because scenarios and circumstances are changing at scale globally, and changing very fast.

The second is a dramatic change in behavioral nuances. While risks and planning are structural dimensions, behavioral nuances are fundamental systemic impact. The way we engage with our consumers is changing; the way we engage with our suppliers and partners is changing dramatically. The way we enable our workforce to use digital tools, technologies, and methods to still be as effective as possible is changing.

This fundamental behavioral change is very interesting, and a step-change impact to overall value chain business processes itself. So, we’re hearing a lot of conversations from our clients and industry leaders on how they could look at digital transformation injecting digital technologies in enabling all of their business processes in being more effective and efficient. But Vignesh, right back at you. You have the ear of a lot of CXOs in your own engagements. What kind of themes are boiling up? What are you hearing as major pain points, major opportunities for change, and impact?

Vignesh: Ganesh, you really highlighted some very important themes. These are strange times. This is probably the first time ever that we are witnessing a demand, a supply, and also a resource uncertainty. And all at the same time. So, what do I mean by this?

So, let’s say you are a CXO in a retail or consumer goods barring essentials. You’re wondering how to boost consumer demand. If you’re, say, selling disinfectants or essential goods, you’re wondering how to manufacture and ship these goods to the consumer. We see that even in the case of, say, things like IT and consumer electronics, while this whole work from home era is providing very strong tail-winds, or so they say, complex global supply chains are forcing businesses to be really cautious now. And if you’re a banker or an insurer, you’re probably busy figuring out how to measure these risks, mobilize these resources, and fund capital that’s going to provide strong growth. The leaders that I am talking to are really clearly focused on tackling these risks, and they’re thinking of intervention in some important areas.

Number one, most of them, that I speak to want to manage their supply chains better. In the short run, this means they have to get their demand forecast right. Now, how do you use signals from a pre-COVID world to predict a post-COVID demand scenario? Their head is like can we augment data from other data sources that can give us a glimpse into the future. Can we model the impact for such structural shocks? How do they translate into real-world behavior? They’re clearly thinking along these lines because, you know, it’s really on the unmanaged crisis at the moment on the supply chain side.

And clearly, some CEOs are seeing a big opportunity in this adversity. Now they are seeing this crisis as a great opportunity for increased digitization and automation of their processes. They’re talking about what is called hyper-automation, where you use AI to augment cognitive tasks. And it’s a big value add in terms of increasing productivity of everyone in these hard times.

Number three, most of these leaders are also very keen on watching out for dangers. What do they mean by dangers? These are risks right like you pointed out – credit risks, business risks like decreased payment activity, any kind of anomalous patterns that can quickly snowball into a much larger problem. In the last three months, believe me, or not, we’ve had over ten of our customers trying out, and even more, asking us about what we have as a solution, a watchtower solution.

This clearly states how much emphasis is going on in the market around managing businesses through monitoring anomalies. And this is becoming a very, very big trend. Last but not least, the crisis has also gotten enterprises to think of a lot of newer business models. The emergence of newer channels of customer engagement, especially digital channels, digital products, and services that are a much, much bigger opportunity, as well as the problem.

Vignesh: Ganesh, now, going back to you. The real big million-dollar question, I know you’ve been trend-spotting much better than most of us do. Could we finally say that there is a widespread consensus in the community that data is more important than ever now. And that’s why you’re seeing AI play a very big role like never before. That companies have been using their digital transformation journeys, and the COVID crisis is going to definitely lap upon it. Is it true, and how do you see that translate into reality?

Ganesh: Vignesh, you’re very kind. Let me first respond to something that you said. Recast it a little bit. As senior managers, we are now forced to look at all of our decision making in probably two parallel perspectives, two parallel windows, if I may. There is a short-term cycle, six to twelve weeks, within which we have to quickly get all our organizational, operational systems up and running as effectively as possible. And there’s a medium-term horizon, maybe six to twelve months where we’ve to grapple with some of the things you mentioned, mitigate the supply chain shocks and risks that we’ve encountered. In parallel, be as efficient and resource allocation to be able to reinvigorate demand. I think we, as managers, are faced with those two levers, which is where digital transformation and AI interventions are seeing the maximum resurgence and interest. Effectiveness, which is, how can any form of digital information help us drive business metrics. Toplines, cost lines, profitability, productivity, or any combination thereof. In some of my conversations, we’re talking about brand equity in the low-touch digital age. Very critical long-term business metrics: How can digital contextual interventions impact effectiveness of these business metrics?

The second is efficiency, especially in these times, resources are a constraint. We need to be doubly careful on the way we allocate our resources: man, machine, money, material, and how well we manage the efficiency with which those resources are deployed and the choices we make to extract the maximum impact from those digital initiatives, and those resource deployments. This is where data, analytics, and AI is playing a crucial role across the spectrum of descriptive and predictive analytics that we’ve always seen, and increasingly prescriptive AI that is helping senior managers guide decision making in as near real-time as possible. Much as it’s a crisis, it’s a fascinating time for us to be able to observe these changes, to participate in these changes into just be log-step with our clients in guiding them through these journeys
Vignesh: That was indeed a quintessential Ganesh response. I love your optimism Ganesh, and I love the fact that you are able to abstract information in such clear buckets. Well, I will interpret it as a lot of work coming our way to help our customers navigate this crucial phase and really emerge stronger and better. Ganesh, it was such a pleasure talking to you today and picking your brain. Thank you for joining us.

Ganesh: Always a pleasure chatting up with you, Vignesh.

Vignesh: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the AI to Impact podcast. That was such an interesting conversation with Anand Ganesh, Digital Practice Head at BRIDGEi2i. He leaves me personally with a lot of thoughts, ideas, and actions. Do subscribe to our channel as we will continue these conversations with experts and thought leaders in our upcoming episodes. Till then, stay home and stay safe. Bye!

2020 will long be remembered for the pandemic that wreaked havoc on the global economy and disrupted communities and businesses in unprecedented ways. In our latest podcast series: COVID19 | Redefining Digital Enterprises, we will be interacting with several thought leaders, BRIDGEi2i Business Heads, Domain Experts, and reputed AI and analytics leaders to understand the various challenges emerging out of this crisis and the way forward for enterprises in the new world order. Tune in to know more!

Meet the Speakers

Speaker Vignesh C V

Vignesh C V – Director & Digital Consulting Practice Lead

Vignesh works with CXOs and senior leaders to understand their business problems and to deploy AI and advanced analytics solutions on projects to ‘Deliver Outcomes that Count.’ He has been involved in the conceptualization of many solutions and products such as graph powered CX watchtower, SFDC based Sales decision engine, and compensation optimizer.

Vignesh is an alumnus of Symbiosis Centre for Management & HRD, Pune, and is in the final stages of completion of a Certificate Program in Leadership and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.

Speaker Anand Sri Ganesh

Anand Ganesh – Chief Digital Officer

Ganesh leads the Digital Transformation Consulting practice at BRIDGi2i and guides global brands and corporates through their digital journeys. He helps conceptualize and roll-out large-scale programs that embed AI systems to execute customer growth and operational effectiveness strategies and develop new ways to deliver products and services.

Ganesh has over 20 years of experience in leadership positions across technology and consumer markets. His past experience has been with Manthan, HP, and Pepsi Co. He is an alumnus of IIT Madras and IIM Ahmedabad.