What Does A 21st Century Enterprise Look Like?

Anant Gupta, President and CEO HCL Technologies | Wednesday, 01 June 2016, 05:22 IST

A friend of mine was very worried the other day. His son, based in Toronto, had just informed him that he was transferring his savings from one of Canada’s largest and most established banks to one that had virtually no physical presence. He asked if he should stop his son from switching banks as such a “virtual” institution did not inspire his confidence.

I could not help but smile. “Welcome to the 21st century enterprise,” I said. “Get used to the new paradigm.” His son was moving banks for a simple advantage: A “no-fee” chequeing account with a convenient banking experience. Even though there was no imposing brick and mortar building proclaiming a strong (and costly) presence, this lean and agile financial institution was in fact rooted within a complex ecosystem of specialists collaborating at the back end.

It’s not just the banking industry that is witnessing such a transformation. We’re seeing this change in the entire business landscape with new technologies levelling the playing field and reducing entry barriers causing widespread disruption.In the world of computers, this would be called nothing short of a reboot.

For organizations to survive and thrive in this context, they have to remodel themselves as a 21st century enterprise – a “21CE” – which displays five distinct characteristics:

• Experience-centric: The 21CE strives to offer a unified experience. It is acutely aware of the fact that customers today have a distinct expectation of a consistently satisfactory experience end-to-end, and that they are no longer satisfied with point solutions as has been the case so far.

• Outcome-based: As a direct consequence of the first characteristic, the 21CE applies technology to transform its business model and deliver “outcomes” which cut across value chains. It no longer operates or measures performance in input silos. Agile and Lean:  To ensure a swift response to changing market conditions, a 21CE is “optimized” in size for fast paced manoeuvres.

• Service-oriented: Irrespective of the sector it operates within, the 21CE is in the business of ensuring high customer satisfaction within a dynamic market landscape. To do so, these organizations are cognizant of the need to change their operating models and become technology agnostic.

• Ecosystem–driven: Finally, and most importantly, the lingua franca of a 21CE is non-homogenous “ecosystems.” These are complex specialized networks wherein employees, suppliers, providers, freelancers, smart assets and consumers collaborate to extend the ecosystem beyond the enterprise with one common motive – to weave together an experience that enhances customer delight and provides predictable service outcomes.

If you were to look at these tents from the lens of Technology provisioning, then I believe a 21CE will need the following core IT/Technology Services:

• ‘Beyond Digital’ Services to Build Unique Consumer Experiences: Within this new landscape, technology lies right at the heart of the 21 CE, as it builds the digital universe that lies behind its customer experience. This not only entails the right IT services to build the digital products and services consumed by its customers, but also the complex analytics that go into understanding customer preferences before designing them, and facilitating channels of collaboration within a unified ecosystem that orbits around the customer.

• Smart Machines Solutions to embed intelligence in asset value chains: In order to thrive in an interconnected world, the 21CE will necessarily need to embrace the all-pervasive Internet of things and the Industrial Internet of Things, aka smart machines. This induction of such smart assets would require a confluence of technologies and specialized IT support to seamlessly integrate physical and digital worlds, weaving the power of big data with machine-to-machine communication.

• Next-generation ITO to create a lean and agile IT Landscape:  Having made the switch-over, the enterprise would then need to ensure that its operations run smoothly in a lean and agile manner. This may as well call for beneath the surface and above the surface automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, thereby making enabling IT support for hardware, infrastructure and even core applications, a mission critical piece of the jigsaw.

• Orchestration Platforms for Services & Ecosystems – earlier in the blog I talked about ‘collaboration’ being the core DNA of a 21CE, technologically speaking this concept can only be rendered or realized through deployment of platforms that can orchestrate Services and Ecosystems to provide catalogues outcomes across Business, Consumer, Employees and Smart Machines like Process Utilities, Function Utilities, Technology Utilities and emerging XaaS formats etc.

Unlike the brutally competitive landscape of yesterday’s business, the nimble-footed 21st century enterprises thrive in a shared environment. They gladly strike alliances with like-minded organizations and the right technology partners, to collectively provide the best customer experience. Together, they are resetting the winners’ mould.

As for my friend, he is still pondering over the new definition of a successful enterprise. How would you describe the change to him?

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