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Article by Mohan Babu

IT’s role in business transformation

The implications of changes in technology and IT are profound for most businesses. MOHAN BABU shares the text of a recent talk he gave at a technical university on IT’s role in business transformation

An extract of a talk I gave at a university recently:

It gives me a great pleasure to be here at the beautiful campus of your college. A few weeks ago, when Professor Ramani sent me a note inviting me to be a part of this seminar of ‘IT’s role in Business Transformation’, I jumped at the opportunity, and here I am. The topic is close to my heart as a technocrat. Having spent nearly a decade in the IT industry, I am still fascinated by the nexus between IT and business and am trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where the interests of technologists and business leaders converge.

What is transformation?

Visualise the transformations you have undergone in your lives. You all probably went to good schools during your childhood and thought of becoming engineers, doctors, scientists, astronauts, etc. However, sometime during the course of your schooling, you got a dose of reality. You realise that you had to change from being a dreamy youngster to someone more focused towards what the real world wanted. You started focusing on your priorities, and probably is the reason why you worked hard to enroll in professional courses, and the reason why you find yourselves here attending this seminar on IT’s role in business transformation.

Business transformation

The transformation you and I underwent is not very unlike the changes that businesses experience. Businesses as we all realise are nothing but a collection or grouping of like minded individuals who get together for a common goal. In most cases, the goal is to maximise shareholder wealth and give a good Return on Investment (RoI), to stakeholders. In order to give a sustained return on investment and to survive and grow, business evolve, transform and continuously change.

Business gurus and academicians studying business transformation liken the evolution of business to the concepts of biological evolution. The neo-Darwinian logic is that organisational form is more akin to nature where survival of the fittest and natural selection leads to the evolution of the best of the breed.

Why transform?

There are several reasons why organisations change, evolve and transform. Transformation could be induced by internal or external factors. Internal change may be driven by the need to continuously improve performance, year after year, quarter after quarter. External changes may be driven by competitors, changing business landscape, governmental regulations, global factors, etc. For instance, the business model of Indian software giants like Infosys, TCS, Wipro, et al, have undergone transformation in the nearly two-and-half decades that they have been in existence. And as we approach the billion dollar mark, they are working to roll out a transformation plans which will address the landscape of the twenty-first century.

Business transformation could be gradual or abrupt too. Take the example of Motorola that started business in 1928 making battery eliminators for radios. These eliminators helped users run radio’s directly using household electricity instead of a battery. During World War II the company started making equipment for the military and by the fifties became a major player in the micro-electronics’ business. The company has transformed and evolved in the nearly a century that it has been in business with nearly 37 billion dollars in earnings today, employing about 147,000 people across the globe. Though the core competence of the company remains micro electronics and communications, the company has gradually transformed its line of business.

Transformation and IT

Now that we have briefly examined business transformation, a look at the role IT plays in business transformation. I don’t have to tell you that IT is like the lifeblood of any business, and a data centre is the heart through which the blood or data is pumped across the different organs: Finance, HR, Operations, Production, Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing, etc. IT not only helps organisations exist and operate seamlessly but also provides the pulse, if you will. Tools and techniques of business intelligence are routinely used by senior business leaders and executives to gauge the operations of different initiatives and to streamline the strategies. ERP systems attempt to provide seamless connectivity across the different silos in business. And, among the current trends, adoption of Web services and pervasive infrastructures are intended to enable business transformation with the least disruption.

The implications of changes in technology and IT are profound for most businesses. There are numerous examples of changes induced by IT and changes enabled by innovative uses of information technology. BPO, IteS, outsourcing of complex systems are all examples of business transformations enabled by IT.

I leave you with a quote from Charles Darwin, which is as applicable to businesses as it was to nature. “It is not the strongest of the species who survive, not the most intelligent, but those who are the most adaptive to change.”





About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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