India Sees High Demand for Digital Leaders: Charul Madan, Partner, Heidrick & Struggles India

The market is experiencing unprecedented rates of technological disruption, and the demand for digital leaders who have the relevant technological understanding to lead successfully in this era is high, says Charul Madan, Partner and Member of Global Technology & Services Practice, Heidrick & Struggles India

Some edited excerpts from an interview:

Digital transformation is the new normal. How do organizations plan their IT and infrastructure?
As the world continues to see tremendous digital and technological innovations, companies across all industries are beginning to rethink their business strategies to support these changes. In my opinion, organizations plan their IT and infrastructure in three main ways. First, many organizations are transforming their existing IT organizations away from traditional infrastructures, changing their mindset from an IT-assisted enterprise to an IT enterprise. This will enable organizations to create a competitive advantage as IT and its infrastructures are directly integrated into business operations and thinking. Companies are also beginning to develop their internal IT capabilities.

Second, businesses will need to understand how they can capture and leverage data to make better business decisions. For example, data can help manage and create a more efficient manufacturing and supply chain process and help companies think about the customer journey holistically.

And finally, as businesses move towards cloud-based technologies, they will need to take advantage of what is currently available in the market. Low-code zero code makes it easy for people without technical expertise to start adopting these technologies and applications.

Today’s technology has become more dynamic than ever. What role does senior management play in guiding its organizations in such an environment?
The market is experiencing unprecedented rates of technological disruption, and the demand for digital leaders who have the relevant technological understanding to lead successfully in this era is high.
In an environment where technologies are constantly evolving, the notion of agility is particularly key for companies. Agile leaders must prioritize a test-and-learn mentality, resilience, and adaptability, in order to continually adapt their strategies for digital success. When leaders are able to represent agile development themselves, it can also help support and change the mindset of others. Companies will also need strong leadership skills to help develop and lead teams and their employees towards a common business goal.

The focus is now on emerging technologies such as IoT, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. Do we have qualified professionals to meet talent needs?

India has moved into the mobile age and business leaders are increasingly aware of the critical need to have talent in place to meet the momentum of technological advancement.

Recent research found that more than half (63%) of Indian companies report a shortage of IT and engineering experts. The region is experiencing more demand for digital talent than it can handle. With the small talent pool in India, many local companies are looking west for talent. Another way companies are addressing these challenges is to consider upskilling and reskilling their current talent pool through training and development programs within their organizations.

How do you think businesses can make their infrastructure more resilient and future-ready?
Organizations continue to struggle with new ways of working and adapt to changes in the ever-changing business landscape. To ensure businesses have resilient infrastructures, they will need the right leadership to help build thriving, future-ready organizations. A successful leader will need to have the foresight to identify potential threats and cyberattacks in the marketplace, the agility to adapt to varying circumstances, and the passion to inspire and lead their employees into the future. Those willing to rely on technologies such as cloud or AI/ML will also have a competitive advantage. All of these capabilities will enable leaders to drive execution and transform the organization through new thinking.

How do technologies such as cloud/AI/ML contribute to business growth?
Technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the cloud are powerful tools that play an important role in enabling organizations to be disruptive. Emerging technologies can help businesses scale on demand, improve resilience and operational efficiency, track customer journeys, and attract, retain, and sell to customers. These innovations will require buy-in not only from the top, but also from all members of the leadership team. Leaders will need to adopt an innovative mindset and agility, as well as an eagerness and openness to experimentation.

Are organizations investing more in technology in the post-pandemic world?
The pandemic has encouraged businesses to reconsider their traditional technology spending, driving a shift in their approach to technology investments. We’ve seen how remote working, the rise of the digital economy, supply chain, and automation improvements have all impacted the evolution of technology spending. Over the past two years, revenues for technology companies have been unprecedented, and technology adoption will only accelerate. Going forward, it’s safe to say that organizations will continue to invest more in technology as they rethink their digital strategies and prepare for the future challenges and opportunities ahead.

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