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technology: Indian CEOs are investing more capital in technology than their global peers, but winning with tech needs more than just money


The recently published KPMG 2022 India CEO Outlook report has highlighted that both in India and globally, CEOs have identified emerging technologies as one of the biggest factors of growth. Interestingly, 72 percent CEOs in India are placing more capital investment in buying new technology compared to 56 percent of CEOs doing the same globally. Moreover, there is also a substantial increase in this trend compared to last year as only 52 percent of Indian CEOs prioritized technology investments in August 2021.

There have been several drivers of increased investment in digital/emerging technologies in India including COVID-19, the proliferation of the digital India stack, the growing smartphone user base and technology becoming simpler. However, there are concerns that the capital investment in technology hasn’t directly translated to adoption and proportionate productivity improvement. As a result, business executives are now shifting their attention to adoption, engagement and change management to drive return on investment.

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While the business case for investing more in technology seems obvious, another visible trend is that the CEOs are also concerned about the potential burnout due to accelerated digital transformational programs undertaken in the last two years.

When it comes to getting value out of digital transformation programs, capital is an essential but hardly a sufficient condition. There are many important aspects that CEOs need to prioritize. Some of them are listed below:

People at the center: Organizations need to keep people (including the customers) at the center of the transformation program. Effective change management is not only essential, but it can also accelerate the adoption journey and deliver real impact. Effective change management involves a systematic approach to planning, implementing, and monitoring changes to minimize disruption and maximize outcomes. An empowering culture with effective incentives for people can substantially improve the chances of success.Risk-taking and learning culture: Having prioritized capital investments, CEOs in India as well as globally need to focus on building a strong culture of innovation and experimentation. When trying to disrupt or avoid being disrupted, there are hardly well-known answers. CEOs should enable a risk-taking culture with people willing to accept failures and focus on learning for the next stage. A toxic culture where people are blamed for trying new approaches, which didn’t work is a recipe for disaster. These businesses invest a large sum of money in new technologies and spend even more on them to imitate the old ways of working.

Partnerships to fill gaps and acceleration: Digital transformations can hardly be effective when undertaken in isolation and with an inward focus. Partnerships with the right ecosystem partners will drive the pace of an organization’s digital transformation successfully. Identifying, integrating, and managing partners can help increase speed to market, reduce costs, mitigate risks and supplement capability gaps in delivering the customer promise. CEOs in India as well as globally should look to building strategic alliances with external partners as a key strategy to help them realize their growth objectives.

With thousands of startups and over a hundred Unicorns, India domestically offers an excellent ecosystem of partners, who are delivering innovative solutions relevant to the market. These new-age partners can help bring agility and innovation for growth.

Technology is a great differentiator but it can also be a big leveler. Getting the technology right at scale and speed is the only way to stay ahead in these uncertain times. While Indian CEOs are investing capital in digital technologies, this is not sufficient.

Real growth will happen with a digital-first and digital-only mindset at all levels in the organization – and the CEOs are well-placed to drive this change.

The write is Global Cyber Security Practice Leader and Head- Technology, Media and Telecommunication, KPMG in India.

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