- Leaving the IT department in charge of digital innovation is a wrong move
- Companies don’t have to be as small as startups to be lean and agile
IN THE race towards digital transformation, businesses and large corporates must employ sound strategies – instead of simply placing the responsibility of innovation on the IT department, says Bikesh Lakhmichand (pic), the CEO of 1337 Ventures.
In a talk titled ‘Raise your Digital Quotient’ at Digital News Asia’s What’s Next 2018, Bikesh shared his know-how for companies going digital. As an innovation consulting firm, 1337 Ventures does not only work with startups. “With our design thinking methodology, we help people figure out their businesses, whether you’re a brick and mortar company or a large conglomerate.”
Among the companies 1337 Ventures has worked with include Maybank, Digi, CIMB Bank and Naza Group. “We’ve been doing it across many different verticals and there’s a reason why – the customers demand it,” Bikesh says.
He explains that customers are keen on reduced friction in processes. “It’s not about the tech, it’s still about experiences. It’s just that tech enables that particular process and makes it easier for customers to be serviced.”
In addition to the customers, Bikesh stresses that a company’s capabilities depend on them going digital. “You can do more now than what you could in the past. If you don’t leverage on technologies, you’re going to lose out on the market itself.”
Where to start?
“If you set up an innovation team or if you push innovation to the IT team, you’re already doing it wrong,” Bikesh says, adding that the IT department does not make up the core business, it is only a support structure.
The digital strategy of a business should not merely exist at its periphery, Bikesh stresses. “When IT leads the digital transformation, it’s usually about building and launching a simple website or app. But it has to go back to your core, starting with adjacent services and slowly expanding.”
Also, having the IT department take the lead on innovation is ineffective because they lack understanding of customer wants. “To go digital, it is important to enhance capabilities within an organisation.”
According to Bikesh, empathy and design thinking is the main thing lacking within companies. Rather than just taking direction from the management, he says, “Put yourself in the customers’ shoes. Think about what they want, then build it.”
When innovating processes for customers, it is also important to consider if the technology is accessible to customers. As an example, Bikesh says those considering virtual reality (VR) as a solution must consider, “Will customers need VR headsets? If yes, do they own VR headsets?”
With a strategy in place, the next step for companies is execution. Often, the perception is that startups are able to execute faster through being lean and agile. But Bikesh says, it all boils down to mindset. “Lean and agile basically means you have less people to do something faster on a lesser budget.”
He tells company leaders, “Startups are made up of people and so are your companies. Anything startups can do, you can too.”
However, to execute plans and implement changes, the innovation culture within organisations must be addressed. “The biggest challenge for top down administration is supporting employees to try something new internally, that may or may not fail, and allowing them to experiment.”
To ensure that lean culture is enforced throughout the organisation, 1337 introduces business intelligence within the system. Bikesh shared, “In some companies, we introduce micro-learnings using apps to provide bite-sized learnings for employees that they can apply to solve a real-world problem.”
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