Nikesh Prasad is at the forefront of digital transformation initiatives in his role as head of APAC Digital at eClerx. He works with some of the biggest global brands and regional leaders in Asia Pacific, partnering with them on driving transformation initiatives.
As Europe maps out a path to the digital decade, there’s much to learn from the digital boom underway in APAC, where everything from online retail to ride-sharing services to exporting online labour, has reshaped almost every aspect of business and social life in this region. Nikesh Prasad has not only had a front row seat to this transformation, but has been responsible for anticipating future trends and developing capabilities as well as building go-to market plans.
“Nowadays, everyone talks about digital transformation, but we have been doing it for the past 20 years – the only difference is it was then isolated services and now it is an interconnected strategy.”
Over the next few years, Prasad anticipates that the number of channels for customer outreach will continue to expand around accelerated social commerce offerings and the Metaverse. “Brands will continue to look at how personalisation can be activated across these expanded mediums of outreach. Blockchain is being touted as the next big revolution and brands have already started investing efforts towards that.
“The end goal is meeting the business requirements, whether you solve it manually or through software is a question of mechanics, scale and efficiency. Start with getting to the root of the business problem you are trying to solve and then determine what would be the right mechanism to satisfy the requirement. I feel people get bogged down with developing products first and then thinking about use cases to solve. Yes, software is essential for efficiency and it is definitely advantageous, but don’t forget what you are trying to solve!”
He’s firmly on the side of the buy-rather-than-build software debate facing many businesses lately. “I personally favour buy rather than build. Every company has its own core competencies – for example a retailer is better off focusing energies in developing a compelling online experience for conversion rather than investing in developing a marketing automation software, a problem that has been solved by companies dedicated to building best in class marketing automation platforms.”
Recruiting developers across the industry has been an enormous challenge to digital growth strategies, but Prasad has some practical advice on engaging computer developers more: “Give business context!” He says. “Yes, developers get a business requirement document, but giving them a good view of what you are trying to achieve for business and the competitive landscape is probably a better standing point. Requirements from business usually turn out to be instruction manuals rather than focussing on the what and why of business needs.”
So how does the average organisation get started on their digital transformation journey? “Learn from other industries,” suggests Prasad. “Some of the best companies have understood cross-industry trends and have been early adopters of digital in their respective industries. For employees, I would say don’t get too caught up in the buzzwords thrown around, like Blockchain, Metaverse, etc. Instead, focus on the company’s vision, what use cases are they trying to solve and how? Once there is clarity on the fundamental reasons for digital transformation, you can move forward.”
As for measuring successful digitalisation, Prasad says ask what digital transformation means to your company or your department. “The success measures of digital transformation should be viewed based on what industry you operate in and within your company which department is adopting digital transformation. The success measure for the supply chain team would be different from the e-commerce team within the same company. Once we put it through that lens, the relevant KPIs can be defined.”
The good news for workers is the creation of new roles. And while most people will be familiar with the buzz around the area of analytics, Prasad suggests paying attention to “Cloud Security, Data Ops engineering and Robotics Process Automation as emergent roles. Workers can see what adjacent skills are needed to upgrade to stay relevant, and I think the easiest to start with is Robotics Process Automation.”