Digital revolution: The change that is taking us by surprise


There are so many discussions around digital these days and most of them talk about the next industrial revolution that we have started calling as “Digital revolution”. I have heard few thinkers talking about how the digital technologies are going to make life of mankind easier and better, while few others caution about the possibility of mass scale job losses due to technology doing the work so far reserved for humans.

digital revolution

While this debate will continue to rage and the perspectives will continue to change as new inventions and solutions keep pouring, there is one thing that is becoming obvious: Next generation is not for digitally illiterate people and societies. The most alarming part of this statement is the word ‘generation’ that will not be of fifty years but at the most, just a decade.

Digital technologies are emerging to change the way we worked and even behaved. The impact digital technologies have made in a short span of few years is just a reflection of what is in store for us in future. The fact that every person is now carrying a highly powerful smart phone, the telecom carriers are unleashing more and more bandwidth that is making these devices even more powerful. On top of it, innovation is no more just confined to few streets of SFO, but is now a global phenomenon. It is no more few universities, but entire nations backed by ambitious governments are changing the way technology is being used.

Few examples of how big data was used to analyse the effectiveness of election campaigning by President Obama was dwarfed by the way social media and analytics was used in elections in the world’s largest democracy, India. Since then, social media is being used not only for person to person communication, but for governance in India. Recent news about the national party the BJP, asking the aspirants of upcoming state elections in India to bring twenty-five thousand likes on their Facebook pages before they could be considered for getting election tickets. While it might look a bit over the head for a country where majority of the population is poor, it is something that even Mark Zuckerburg would not have thought that how popular Facebook is in India. Latest Facebook acquisition ‘WhatsApp’ has become so popular that majority of Indians have forgotten the use of good old SMS. It is now even jokingly termed that WhatsApp is national pastime of India. Every passing day we get to know how governance is being made easy by the use of social media and also how quickly the population is consuming them to their benefit. The best part of this digital revolution is the opportunity and the reach a common man has got with so many communication channels opening up for them to speak out and communicate.

One day when my driver sat by my mother and helped her buy blood sugar checking machine from an ecommerce site over his mobile phone, I was convinced that this time the pace of change is faster than any previous revolutions.
While the digital revolution is yet to touch several global corporates who are still slow in accepting that things are changing faster than they can handle, a country like India is racing ahead with adoption and innovation around the use of simple digital technologies that is bringing visible change to the society and governance. With a mobile penetration larger than the population of Europe and younger generation that is yearning to reach out for all new opportunities, India seems to be doing just the opposite when it comes to adopting the digital technology. It is not the corporates and select groups that are leading the change here, but the government and the common man. This is a big enough signal that gates of opportunities will be opening up to global companies in India in coming times.

Finally, with such a change digital is bringing to our society and the way we live our lives, corporate houses who are led by those who are too slow in adopting this change would soon see their demise. It is not unfair to predict that next decade will not see half of the companies that are now slow in adopting digital and opening up for a change.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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