Chill! Technology is not here to harm you

By C Vijayakumar President, HCL Technologies

“Looming crisis”, “End of Globalisation”, “Slow growth a new normal”, “Mass unemployment“! Too many doomsday headlines have been taking ink space of late. I am not attempting to question the validity of all these concerns. They are each a matter of intense debate (in which, of course, I stand on the side of the optimists). But what is unquestionable is that together they are creating an atmosphere of overriding gloom across the world which is not doing anyone any good.

Fear is good only so long as it triggers action. When fear leads to a panic reaction, or worse still, procrastination, it could hurt a business far more than its fiercest competitor.

When the industrial revolution swept across the world, the companies which displayed courage and embraced new ways of doing things amassed a massive lead in their industries. Despite the noise the advent of machines created in sensationalised rhetoric, the majority of modern economic historians who study the industrial revolution believe that increase in the material standard of living occurred in this era and that real wages rose.

As we stand on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution we should draw confidence from these statistical truths of the past and the present, namely that fear only hurts our very competitiveness and that technology is one valid response to fortifying our business models.

With so many advanced technologies at our discretion today from AI to digitalisation to IoT to biometrics to bitcoin, we need to cut through the noise and take firm decisions around employing some of these levers to make companies future ready.

Of course, the picture isn’t all dark and downcast. Many forward-looking organisations are moving forward with bold investments in realigning their business models to the new normal through digitalisation and other cutting-edge technologies. Looking around, there are several instances of these early birds. But more needs to be done and by many more.

The only way forward is to step up pace as the choices have become binary now. McKinsey estimates “digital laggards could see up to 35% of net profit eroded, while winners may realise profit upside of 40% or more“.

One way of approaching and leveraging this new normal is through a simple three-step process I call Mode 12-3. Mode 1 entails a sharp focus on maximising your key differentiators today or your core business. While doing so, introduce a parallel focus on Mode 2, which pinpoints and expands growth levers of tomorrow. This includes exploring the best ways to embrace new technologies in high impact areas of your business. The often-overlooked Mode 3 requires a parallel focus on developments that might impact your industry in the future, such as partnerships within ecosystems of collaboration. It may not sway your business today, or tomorrow, but will ensure you build a moving track forward that will future-proof your business.


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