CXOs from India-based multinationals articulate the challenges in the New Normal and how they are tackling them
Adversities make us stronger and more resilient. The current pandemic has not just made us stronger, it has helped us discover new things and redefine the way we have looked at things, was the consensus among CXOs of India units of non-Indian multinational companies participating in two separate round tables, organized by CIO&Leader, in association with Microsoft.
The first roundtable also saw a presentation by J P Gownder, Vice President & Principal Analyst, Forrester.
Among other things, the panelists specifically referred to:
- New cultures in the organizations. We have been sensitized to rediscover human values.
- New work models. While remote working as a concept was not new, the pandemic helped us test its breadth and depth. Newer industries and newer business processes discovered the virtue of remote working while those practicing it found newer things to achieve through remote working.
- New offerings. As participants from the services industries pointed out, the new life in the New Normal requires newer products and services and many of their clients are creating new customer offerings.
- New customers. In one of the most interesting observations, it was mentioned that the industrial equipment manufacturers of late are increasingly meeting the CIOs rather than production managers in their client calls. Even interoperability of industrial equipment, which has been discussed for years, is finally happening.
- New business models. As many panelists said all this is leading to completely new business models and some companies are looking at it holistically from an organizational transformation point of view, as elaborated by one of the panelists.
One thing that was common to all these interesting observations is the role that technology is playing in discovering and building the New Normal.
The first roundtable, organized on 3rd December 2020, saw participation of senior executives from ABB India, Siemens, EY-Parthenon, Atos International, Canon India, Johnson Controls, KPMG LLP, GlaxoSmithKline, Capgemini India, Societe Generale Global Solution Centre and Panasonic Appliances India.
The First CXO Virtual Roundtable
J P Gownder, Vice President & Principal Analyst, Forrester gave an insightful presentation on the Four Shocks of Future of Work.
The second roundtable, organized on 16th December 2020, saw participation of representatives from companies like Pfizer, ISB, PwC, United Technologies Corporation India, Cargill, Unilever, PepsiCo (India) Holdings and FSS.
The Second CXO Virtual Roundtable
Both the discussions were moderated by Sachin Mhasilkar, Executive Director - B2B Tech, 9.9 Group. Amrita Sapre, India First Party Devices from Microsoft summarized and shared her insights on the New Normal, as observed with the company’s clients.
We present here the insights from the roundtables.
Divyansh Nasa, Director - Strategy & Operations, EY-Parthenon
COVID has brought a drastic shift in the way the Boardroom is looking at the digital journey. Digital adoption was forced upon on various industries and most have managed to cope very well.
Sridhar TK, CFO & Head of Investor Relations, ABB India
We are a tech-based organization. We have to make sure productivity enhancements take place during this pandemic situation. The products are sold more based on digital conversations. Our systems should be able to cater to that.
Jayaprakash Kalappan, CFO, Panasonic Appliances India
IoT and Automation are more relevant to us as products are spread all across India. Tracking of products purchased is also done through emerging tech.
Santosh Jagtap, Director - Operations, Johnson Controls
COVID has accelerated our digital journey. Safety of our own people, customers and partners is paramount for us. We have in place contactless access and tracing systems. Customers are more interested in connected equipment in a remote working environment.
K Bhaskhar, Senior VP - Business Imaging Solutions, Canon India
Every adversity brings along an opportunity! Keeping our customer relationships intact is important for us. Supporting our customers and maintaining high levels of service is crucial for us. Challenge yourself to change and get adapted to the New Normal!
Avinash Velhal, Certified Independent Director & Group CIO - APAC, India & ME & VP, Atos International
Remote working is the New Normal. There has been a huge digital shift. Now, all that is required is ‘business re-imagination’. Business processes are changing. We need to look at connected things: IoT & Analytics. We also need to look at various collaboration tools. Further, businesses need to be more agile.
Amrita Sapre, India First Party Devices, Microsoft
There has been a rise in the number of active users in MS Teams, which depicts our growth in the digital collaborative environment, especially in the current pandemic situation. At the same time, we are mindful of security and privacy aspects. One of our customers uses Power Apps. Another customer, Paisa Bazaar, uses Cloud Computing and AI-ML. Yet another customer, Myntra, has re-imagined their business completely by using AI-ML capabilities and has helped other brands in selling their products online.
Kaushal Shetty, Global Director, Digital & Technology - Emerging Markets (R&D and Medical), Pfizer
Digital technologies have actually helped us stay in good stead even during the pandemic. Telemedicine, specifically, has helped us. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed not only by Pfizer but everyone around the world.
Samit Ray, Regional Director, United Technologies Corporation India
Air travel collapsed completely in the last 6-8 months globally due to the pandemic and all manufacturing literally stopped. The challenge was how do we ensure continuity in our processes. So, we invested in IT capabilities, tools and technologies and worked with the government. It took 3-4 months for us to keep all processes up and running and ensure our workforce is working remotely. Hopefully, business will pick up more for us in the 1st quarter of 2021.
Sanjay Gandhi, IT Director - Global SAP Technical Services, Unilever
We had to fast track adoption of MS Teams to overcome the challenge of collaboration of people working remotely. We had to fine tune our delivery models to address the new business requirements.
Sankarnarayanan Lakshmanan, CIO, FSS
We had to look at various workforce layers: management layer, developer layer and operational layer (technical & business operations). We had to ensure all necessary work tools are present at all these layers even during adverse situations.
Anil Sharma, CTO, PepsiCo (India) Holdings
IT-OT is the next big agenda for us. We are trying to ensure full security of our OT environment. We also ensure flexibility and resiliency in our decision-making. Further, we are going to fast track our cloud adoption. One good thing which we did was enhance VDI solution and create a virtual helpdesk.
Sesanka Pemmaraju, Director - Enterprise Technology, ISB
From 23rd March 2020, we went online with our classes. We anticipated and evaluated all adverse possibilities and modelled our semesters and exams online accordingly. We have in place LMS to aid our students as well as our teachers. We also started our own digital platform, ISB 2.0, by the middle of this year to ensure continuity in our education process. We also ensured our infrastructure and applications are resilient and robust and focused on automating our processes.
Sumit Gupta, Country Head, Cargill
We ensured VPN and alternate supply chain was in place by the time lockdown occurred. We had to re-tool our business processes, connect with customers strategically, and use the right tools and technologies during the pandemic to overcome all our challenges. Just that we need to work on ensuring the right culture is still in place among all of us.
There was also an interesting demo by Microsoft experts on the all new Microsoft Surface Hub 2S during both the roundtables!
Microsoft Surface Hub 2S Demo