Digital Blurring Business Boundaries

Kamal Bhadada

Global Head, Media & Information Services

I attended our 9th Annual Innovation Forum 2013 in Santa Clara over the past two days. This event has traditionally been organized by our CTO team in the past years and is a showcase event centered on COIN (Co-Innovation) theme. However, for the first time, this was co-sponsored by 7 vertical and 3 horizontal units. The event was spread over one and half days, wherein our customers, TCSers and our partners come together to deliberate about disruptions that are taking place and the opportunities / new capabilities that are getting created as a result.

I chaired a panel discussion for our business group, comprising of customers from HiTech, Media, Telecom and Utilities. The theme was about how Digital is leading to blurring of boundaries across businesses. Companies are entering into each other’s space (Amazon – Retail into Media and Core Technology through AWS), Cisco becoming a hi-tech company beyond its core telecom lineage etc.

I set the context on this unprecedented speed of change that has hit our industry group (akin to the phenomenon of metamorphosis). The six key imperatives were shared – Speed of Innovation, Customer Experience, Transformation of Value Chain, Reinvention of business model, Partnership based eco-systems and Digital Supply Chains. CIO of Lexmark, Keith Moody talked about how a traditional printer company such as Lexmark is transforming itself from a printer / product centric business to a solution and services centric business (business model centric innovation). He also talked about how Lexmark is acquiring new capabilities to augment its newly defined business value chain (in some ways, they are a software solutions company)

We then had a panel discussion, facilitated by Frances Karamouzis, Distinguished Analyst at Garner, wherein we had Andy Schlei (Sony Pictures), David Ashley (Cisco), Michael Koenig (Qualcomm) and Anita Nanadikar (TCS) participated. It was so interesting to see how all of these very established companies and market leaders in their own right, are re-examining themselves and are taking steps to undergo this metamorphosis. Andy talked about how Blue Ray initiative is all about making viewing content easy for consumers (consumer experience) and Michael about the efforts and investments Qualcomm is making to extend its “Snapdragon” beyond Telecom into Healthcare, Retail etc. (innovation). David talked about their relentless focus on supply chain and re-examining how their global supply chain has room for significant improvements given the tools and automation in the area of testing and verification. Anita talked about how Indian Postal service is moving from its core business of mail delivery to financial services and banking services (project that TCS is planning to start on shortly).

There were couple of open points for us to examine – given that there is very little formal collaboration between Media, Hi-Tech, Telecom sectors, the inter-operability (making products work one every kind of device on every network and of any kind of content), will coming up with standards make life easier for consumers. There was a nice discussion about the balance one needs to draw between the innovation that takes place when companies are allowed to push their own boundaries without caught up by a larger industry standard holding them back. We also talked about how the current organization structure (traditional hierarchical organization model) may not allow companies to adapt to this blurring business and rapidly overlapping value chains. This would need a closer examination for companies in this business group to find out if other operating model (matrix) may be more suitable.


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