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Industry Is Progressing From Digitization To Datafication

Mahesh Nayak, Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India, explains how digital transformation can amplify the user experience and helping businesses keep up with the transformation.

Mahesh Nayak, Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India, explains how digital transformation can amplify the user experience and helping businesses keep up with the transformation.

The emergence of digital technologies has changed the way in which people do business. As more and more organizations are looking for opportunities to unlock business value, they are embracing the new world order – by journeying on a digital transformation path. In the process, managing transition to a digitally driven business model isn’t just critical to beating competitors; it’s crucial to corporate survival. In a recent conversation with CXOToday, Mahesh Nayak, Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India, explains how digital transformation can amplify the user experience and helping businesses keep up with the transformation. He further throws light on how emerging technologies are changing the roles and responsibilities of CIO and CTO within the organization and the road ahead for technology leaders to sustain and grow in the digital era.

CXOToday: What are the key tech trends in the IT industry?

Mahesh Nayak: Today, it is all about immersive user experience that is built on data-driven intelligence and process innovation. To harness the real value of data across connected businesses, we are developing an ecosystem that orchestrates the foundation of a digital enterprise. Be it Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Machine Learning (ML), Cloud Computing or Robotics, these technologies have become the nerve centre for the next generation of innovations- right from taking information on a digital level and emerging it into the physical level. We see the road now slowly progressing from digitization to datafication, and keeping this in mind, below are the key trends in the industry:

  • Intelligent business processes embedded into Block Chain and Machine Learning
  • AI powering Chatbots, Virtual Assistant
  • Robotic process automation
  • Predictive Analysis to data governance strategies
  • Datafication through Cloud by leveraging cloud solutions in almost every aspect and redefining businesses

CXOToday: What kind of technologies is SAP India exploring now? 

Mahesh Nayak: SAP offers packaged solutions for 25 industries on premise; cloud and hybrid. As IoT is spearheading the strategic topic for SAP worldwide, we are looking at exploring cloud solutions more extensively. At SAP Leonardo Center which we set up at SAP Labs India campus in Bangalore two years ago, we are currently executing programs based on Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT and AI. 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises

CXOToday: What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in your industry and organization?

Mahesh Nayak: I firmly believe that change is the only constant in life and everything we do needs to challenge status quo. As someone who has spent nearly 20 years working now, I have seen the world change dramatically around us. And it has been right from the internet revolution to mobile revolution that has transformed the society. The challenges we face are especially around the need to adapt as an individual and as a company to these changes. The learning is that we cannot always play a catch-up game with technology, but we need to be ahead of the curve to ride the wave.

CXOToday: What’s your digital agenda? Do you find the right talent to meet your organization’s digital needs?

Mahesh Nayak: At SAP, innovation is the core of everything we do. As an organisation we function across channels for better business growth. Customers are facing disruptions in their business. They are looking to continuous innovation as they know that’s the only path for survival and growth. Digital enabling the business has therefore become a priority. Those who have done it and have seen their business grow. Digital transformation is a pervasive force and should not be ignored.

To our customers we offer our Intelligent Enterprise Framework which has three essential components: an intelligent suite, a digital platform, and intelligent technologies. SAP offers an Intelligent Suite of applications for every line of business. Our intelligent suite and digital platform are embedded with Intelligent Technologies such as Machine Learning, Internet of Things, and Advanced Analytics.

Technologies that can automatically detect patterns in the data, recommend the best course of action, and optimize workflow.  The data generated from the business applications are managed by our Digital Platform and through our cloud platform. In other words, we provide the glue that securely connects solutions. Through a right mix of external hires and deep-rooted pervasive learning platforms for our employees, we are able to acquire and retain the talent needed to meet the digital needs of our customers.

CXOToday: Do you think the CIO has finally secured a place in the boardroom? If yes, can you please tell us in what ways?

Mahesh Nayak: CIO’s are constantly turning to digital investments to improve product/service competitiveness and to create new market opportunities. They are the voice when it comes to pushing the envelope a little extra in exploiting the technology to the fullest. But technology is becoming a crucial part of business strategy today. Therefore, CIO’s voice is all the more important in shaping the growth and success of the organization they represent. With disruptions in business becoming commonplace the value and guidance that the CIO brings to the table cannot be discounted. CIOs who lead and influence with the right tech acumen can rightfully claim a place in the boardroom.

CXOToday: Do you see a foreseeable change in the CIO/CTO role in the next 2-3 years and beyond? What are those changes?

Mahesh Nayak: As companies embrace digital transformation of their business, the role of CIOs too is changing. Going ahead, it is becoming imperative for CIOs to build strong relationships with customers. They should also have a strong collaboration with senior leaders in their organizations. CIOs should develop empathy to customers, broaden their business knowledge, and deepen their understanding of technology. They should act as the seamless connect between business and technology. They must also take leadership position to drive innovation and customer engagement for their organizations.

CXOToday: What are your tips for future technology leaders?

Mahesh Nayak: Gartner, Inc. predicts that by 2021, CIO’s will be responsible for culture change as Chief HR officers. Diverse culture will be the accelerator for digital transformation. Enterprise will have to look into adapting principles that align to the cultural traits. They must change their mindset from looking at digital initiatives as barriers to actually adopting the new age methods and working seamlessly with it. The age of data driven solutions will not be over anytime soon. You need to be proactive and continuously reinvent yourself and the business in order to stay relevant in this fast-changing world.

The future of technology lies in its R&D, companies need to invest and acquire the right talent, nurture them into being pioneers of future. Today we are on Industry 4.0, tomorrow it will be 8.0 and it will keep growing exponentially. Hence, businesses have to become future-ready in order to get it right. Leaders have to develop strategy with vision backed by technology that is constantly changing and developing for better. Leaders have to keep navigating their way through this volatile sea of right opportunity and disruptive technology.


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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at