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“Digital Transformation Requires A Shift In Mindset, Not Just Technology”

Digital transformation

In a world where digital technology is evolving faster than organizations can adapt, it’s no secret that companies are investing in digital transformation and innovation. Today, as more and more companies are shifting from being traditional entities to a digital enterprise, tech organizations like Cisco have set up its Digital Transformation Office (DTO) or a separate unit to chart out the strategy and initiatives for its customers and stakeholders.

Daisy Chittilapilly, MD, Digital Transformation Office (DTO) for Cisco India and SAARC, tells CXOToday that in less than a year, its DTO which consists of a small team of highly skilled people, has tremendously helped its customers and partners to create value by applying leading-edge technologies to their core business. She also states that the unit has also helped Cisco as an organization in charting their own digital transformation strategy and initiatives.

Many facets of Digital transformation 

As organizations are often confused with the term Digital transformation and what it encompasses, Chittilapilly, who heads Cisco’s DTO initiatives, mentions, “Digital transformation has many facets including cloud adoption (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS), use of analytics for gaining insights, artificial intelligence, and also user interface technologies for better customer experience. It may also encompass automation of business processes for improved efficiency.”

“Besides, the IoT world we are living in today is playing a critical part too in digital transformation. It is part of a long and rigorous process that incorporates every aspect of the business and organization irrespective of the industries it belongs,” she adds.

In the entire process, networks have to be more resilient and agile to support the speed of business and enhance customer experience. The focus should also be on the security of network infrastructure and the data within it.  “The essence here is that companies should understand that through investments in technology, the essence of digital strategy is about enhancing your customers experience and increasing your organization’s competitive advantage at the same time,” she says.

On the broader objectives of Cisco’s DTO, Chittilapilly explains that it has focused on specific verticals and established an ecosystem for the verticals, based on the solution areas. Next, we focused on scaling internally as well as with our partners externally. If the business model is changing, then products and workflows will change as well, meaning employees need new skills and capabilities.

And needless to say, our key focus in all that we do is the customers. All conversations evolve from the problems that customers are trying to solve and in Cisco we continue this momentum throughout the customer’s digital journey.

Nonetheless, Chittilapilly believes it’s still early days and a lot of people are doing PoCs (proof of concept) and certain used cases, but things are catching up pretty fast. Today, there are several efforts of single used cases, but in the next three to five years, with the further emergence of AI-ML, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, software defined networking, there would be massive roll-outs of digital technologies by organizations, irrespective of their size and industry in which they are operating.

Leading the charge

With organizations shifting towards digital enterprises, who should be leading the charge, Chittilapilly replies, “While digital transformation should be a culture ingrained into everyone in the organization, right from top management to every employee and stakeholder, there are individuals who share a deep expertise and passion for digital.”

She adds that while these leaders are striving to bring change from within their respective group in the companies, they are trained at navigating the cultural dynamics that drive change throughout an organization.

Often the CEO, CIO/CTO or even the CMO for that matter play a key part in spreading digital literacy, drive collaboration between silos, build internal bridges with executives, and help accelerate their companies to be digital enabled. “Digital leaders should work towards a strategic plan, guiding others in their digital transformation efforts, expedite change, and minimize complications and detraction, much like the work we do at our DTO,” says she.

A change in mindset

“Digital transformation requires a shift in mindset, not just technology. Digitization is transforming business models, processes and strategies, and with all changes, what it requires is a change in mindset,” mentions Chittilapilly.

She observes that in the entire process transparency becomes a paramount quality that digitally ready organizations must possess today. “Corporate leaders of companies at various stages of digital transformation are beginning to realize the major role that building a transparent culture plays in the overall employee experience, productivity, and growth of the company.”

In order for a culture to be transparent, it is essential to put active communication channels in place that would facilitate conversations. Breaking down the hierarchical barriers and reaching across the silos into cross-functional teams can go a long way when it comes to changing for the digital age as a team, she believes.

Asked her the areas digital leaders need to prioritize, Chittilapilly explains, “Digital leaders should focus on optimizing their customers’ experience and enhance business outcomes across multiple channels, connecting crucial dots between people, information and systems.”

“And as I said before, while technology is central to the shift to digital, that’s not all that’s involved. Senior executives will need to nurture the right culture and mix of talent to transform into a functional digital business. In addition, building an executive structure that works for the organization is also essential,” she concludes.


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