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The pandemic has pushed the global economy into its first economic downturn since World War 2, with almost a minus 3.5 per cent GDP de-growth year on year. The Indian economy was even worse off, with a minus 8 per cent decline year on year. But, despite a decrease in traditional spending, there has been a sustained growth momentum on digital with almost a plus 10 per cent year on year positive growth.

In a post-Covid world, digital transformation is no longer just a competitive edge which is “good to have". It is now considered critical for business resilience around the world, especially as Cloud computing enables a variety of industries to dream of things that never existed.

Evidence shows that businesses that have already started their business transformation journeys feel better equipped to respond to swift changes while more digitally prepared organisations now have an advantage in navigating the upheavals and challenges presented by the pandemic.

The latest session of ‘Trending Now: ITes- Technology makes the future resilient’, in partnership with Microsoft, saw industry experts come together to discuss how ITeS tools can effectively be deployed to make your business resilient in a post pandemic world.

“In the Indian context, the IT industry which was estimated to degrow has actually grown to up to 194 billion dollar revenues up to March 2021. This is an addition of about 4 billion dollar revenues. New workforce models have emerged – about 1.38 lakh new jobs have been created in India over the past year in digital sales and concepts of gig economy and enterprise talent cloud have emerged," said Dhanniya Venkatasalapathy, Senior Director and National Head - Information Technology Vertical, Microsoft India.

“There is a lot of focus towards digital – digital talent acquisition, upskilling the workforce, M&As through digital acquisitions and towards improving overall customer experience. All that can be achieved only by moving away from the legacy model and spending on digital," Venkatasalapathy further said.

The past year has been about thinking out of the box and using ITeS to transform business practices. Some of the changes of 2020 are here to stay and are going to transform the way the IT industry will work in the future.

“First, there was Y2K. After that, this is the next big event that is going to move us ahead and throw some new ways of working into our enterprise. Earlier, digital was a WOW factor. But the past one and a half years has seen a conversation shift that is mindboggling. The key factors that encapsulate the change are agility in the industry, catalysts for digitalization and the shift to Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/ Machine Learning (ML), and the workforce of the future," said Tushar Phadnis, Senior Director at Global Delivery Partner, Cognizant Technologies Solutions India Private Limited.

The ITeS industry needs to see what kind of a workforce they need to invest into today, that will be relevant a few years later. The existing workforce needs to be transformed and roles across all functions will need to adapt to AI/ML, Cloud and automation.

“The cliché till even two years ago was that AI will come and take jobs away from humans. But, it is actually turning out to be a force multiplier. I believe that the roles are going to change and how humans interact with digital will transform," Phadnis added.

Business transformation is synonymous with digital solutions today. Even with advanced tools, solutions tend to focus on data aggregation without offering any kind of true insights. The need of the hour is to tailor the solutions to cater to the changing needs of today’s work order.

“We are helping our clients pivot from looking at historical data and moving it to more predictive modelling, statistical regressive techniques that take the historical data into context and build the information for the future," said Mudit Kumar, VP-Consulting & Global Delivery, Global EProcure.

Mixing of data mining in day to day business operations is a practice which is fast gaining popularity across industries to improve growth trajectories and gain competitive business advantage.

“The efforts for digitalization have been on for a long time. What the pandemic did was accelerate the process by 5-10 years. And, the reason why this happened is because one of the key bottlenecks that is user adoption was no longer a challenge. With the power of data, every customer can be treated as a micro segment and we can build services, recommendations around the entire journey to improve revenue realisation and customer lifetime value," said Birender Sen, Business Leader-Business Process Services, Tech Mahindra.

The key challenges that the IT industry is facing today is that synching the customer’s requirements with a hybrid work strategy, competing with global players for a share of the digital wallet and the fact that companies want to charge more for digitalization as they are hiring more specialists and upskilling existing talent. Now more than ever, it is imperative that stakeholders have an unified view of the operational and commercial side of a business.

Certain digital tools will be indispensable for this transformation. “The key tools that our customers are investing in include anything towards building a secure hybrid workplace. The second one is about improving the employee experience and their productivity by enabling them with tools which are low code. Then, building the entire internal efficiency and how Cloud is playing an integral role in DevOps. Last, is data analytics to help companies make quick and informed decisions and improve operational efficiency as well as productivity," said Venkatasalapathy.

With democratization of data come challenges of security. As operations continue remotely, there has been an alarming increase in cyber-attacks across the world and India is no exception.

“One of the most important challenges that I have faced was always security, from the point of view of the customer, IT company as well as employee or end user who started working from home since March 2020. While a lot of anti-intrusion tools and technologies have been put in place, the end user appreciation of it has changed in a remote working scenario," said Phadnis.

Over the last 25 years, there has been a brutal focus on efficiency and cost saving. The result was that there was just no redundancy in the system. After the pandemic hit, the top priorities became resilience and continuity vs efficiency and savings. This seems to be the way forward.

“There are three building blocks towards this – supply chain visibility, looking at end to end value chain using digital tools that allow for collaboration, advanced of advanced digital tools to pull in real-time information from the market," said Kumar.

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