Exploring how technology can strengthen business resilience in the post-COVID era

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History has shown that every crisis presents an opportunity for organisations to emerge stronger. Amidst the socio-economic disruption caused by COVID-19, businesses with technology at the heart of their operations have demonstrated superior performance and a sustainable competitive advantage.

At the Connected Executive: The Boardroom Unplugged, a virtual conference held on September 23, 2020, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and Alok Ohrie, President and MD, Dell Technologies India, engaged in an interesting conversation to discuss how organisations can leverage technological advancements to fulfil their responsibilities towards all stakeholders, more effectively, especially in the post-COVID era.

Industry-technology convergence to drive future innovation

COVID-19 has posed an enormous challenge for nations and policymakers, but it’s all about looking at these challenges as an opportunity to push for reforms, to introduce technology-driven interventions and to take a nation on to a very high-invention trajectory. "It's an opportunity for India, together with the private sector, to lead from the front. We just need to be bold, proactive, imaginative, and think out of the box," said Amitabh.

Alok concurred with the view and stressed that enterprises across industries, sectors and services of all sizes must use this time to redefine their business models and transform through technology. He further stressed on his belief that India has a significant advantage when compared to other geographies to pivot on custom, cutting-edge and agile solutions to suit the changed business dynamics.

Orchestrating the 'future is digital' journey

While there are leading concerns about the future being all-digital, it's important to remember that the future of digital is equally human. The entire convergence of digital and technology with human capital clearly promises unprecedented gains.

Amitabh Kant explained how the crisis has enabled them to push for reforms in a big way across several sectors.

"Technology will be the biggest driver of growth and India will solve many of its challenges by providing solutions that are contactless, economical, digital, equitable and fair," he said.

At Dell, Alok said that they have been helping customers progress their business and serving the government and society at large. "We see ourselves as nation builders when it comes to providing the much essential IT infrastructure," he said.

Fostering the spirit of innovation

Amitabh said a lot of innovation in the future will be driven by data. They are now channelising this trend and cleaning up humongous sources of data and creating structured sets that will power AI algorithms, which India will need. "India will position itself as the tech garage of the world in the next few years. India's problems are far more complex and it provides an opportunity to use technology, data and innovate at scale," he said.

At the enterprise level, Alok spoke about how they foster innovation with a societal and personal dimension.

"To be able to really solve India’s challenges, it's important to create an environment in which curiosity among children is maintained and fueled by giving them environments in which they can continue to experiment with their ideas."

Leadership tips to navigate a complex and uncertain future

According to Amitabh, a great leader is always full of optimism and trying to break the status quo. India needs to have a vast number of young leaders who crave unique products and create cutting-edge global companies of tomorrow.

Alok said, for a great leader, first, staying positive and staying the course is imperative on the personal and business front. Second, adapt to the changing environment. The third is to be resourceful and leverage your network. Fourth, be bold and outrageous in your aspirations. Finally, focus on execution more than strategy.

Live Q&A session

The panelists also addressed the questions raised by participants during the virtual conference. On how much Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) will power future innovation, Amitabh said that institutions must restructure themselves to pave the way for future careers like AI scientists, product designers and so on.

On the innovation roadmap that can be expected from Dell for the future, Alok spoke about the five solutions areas they are working on -- coexistence of public and private cloud, AI/ML, 5G services and IoT, cybersecurity and the future of work. "It's not about the location anymore, but the output. We are working towards transforming the workforce to remain productive in any kind of environment," he said.


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