Technology: India’s CEOs invest more in technology than their global peers, but it takes more than money to win with technology

The recently released KPMG India CEO Outlook 2022 report highlights that CEOs see emerging technologies as one of the biggest growth factors, both in India and globally. Interestingly, 72% of CEOs in India spend more capital on new technology than 56% globally. Furthermore, this trend is also a substantial increase compared to last year, as only 52% of Indian CEOs ranked technology investment as a priority in August 2021.

Increased investment in digital/emerging technologies in India is driven by several factors, including COVID-19, proliferation of the Digital India stack, growing smartphone user base and easier technology. However, there are concerns that capital investment in technology does not translate directly into adoption and corresponding productivity gains. As a result, business executives are now turning their attention to adoption, engagement and change management to drive return on investment.

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While the business case for increased technology investment seems obvious, another clear trend is that CEOs are also concerned about potential burnout due to digital transformation initiatives that have accelerated over the past two years.

Capital is necessary, but not sufficient, to capture value from digital transformation initiatives. CEOs need to prioritize many important areas. Some of them are listed below:

Central figure: Organizations need to put people, including customers, at the center of transformation initiatives. Effective change management is not only essential, but can also accelerate the adoption process and make a real difference. Effective change management involves a systematic approach to planning, implementing and monitoring change to minimize disruption and maximize results. A culture of empowerment that motivates people effectively can greatly improve the chances of success.Adventure and Learning Culture: After prioritizing capital investment, CEOs in India and globally need to focus on building a strong culture of innovation and experimentation. When trying to break or avoid being broken, there are few well-known answers. CEOs should foster a risk-taking culture where people are willing to accept failure and focus on the next phase of learning. A toxic culture where people are blamed for trying new approaches that don’t work is a recipe for disaster. These businesses invest heavily in new technologies and spend even more to mimic old ways of working.

Gap-filling and accelerated partnerships: Digital transformation is rarely effective if done in isolation and with an internal focus. Forming a partnership with the right ecosystem partner will successfully drive the pace of an organization’s digital transformation. Identifying, integrating and managing partners can help speed time to market, reduce costs, reduce risk and close capability gaps in delivering on customer commitments. CEOs in India and globally should consider forging strategic alliances with external partners as a key strategy to help them achieve their growth goals.

Home to thousands of startups and over a hundred unicorns, India offers an excellent ecosystem of partners in the country who are delivering innovative solutions relevant to the market. These new-age partners can help bring agility and innovation to fuel growth.

Technology is a big differentiator, but it can also be a big equalizer. Getting the right technology at scale and quickly is the only way to stay ahead in these uncertain times. While Indian CEOs are investing in digital technology, it’s not enough.

Real growth will happen with a digital-first and digital-only mindset at every level of the organization — and CEOs are well-positioned to drive this change.

The author is the Global Cybersecurity Practice Leader and Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms, KPMG India.

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