Digital Transformation – Processes, Challenges and Managing Changes

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Industries and Governments across the world are undergoing a digital transformation either crisis-induced, as part of a core strategy, or as part of a more controlled business transition, necessitated by the evolution of digital tools and technologies. This has invaded the government working environment and business processes triggering re-engineering of policies and processes resulting in significant changes in the way of work, communication and delivery. Under the fast changing circumstances, Government needs to be well prepared to anticipate the current and future impact of enduring trends and steer their machinery accordingly at the right speed. The benefits of innovative digital transformation are many, to name a few – increase in productivity, improvement in quality, cost reduction and timely delivery thereby improving the quality of life of citizens overall. It is imperative to remember that digital transformation is not just about technology; instead, it is a roadmap across people, processes, behavior and technology that will enable the Government to successfully navigate this transformation. In this paper, we shall briefly discuss the salient features of the Digital Transformation in the Government perspective, its vital role in delivery of citizen-centric e-governance, the challenges and managing changes that are required for the transformation.


Keywords: Digital Transformation, Processes, Challenges, Change Management

“‘Digital India’ is an enterprise to transform India in a scale unmatched anywhere in the world and it has the potential to make development truly inclusive – Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

1.            Introduction

The huge population and the vast geography of India has mandated towards a total digital economy. Digital transformation, in simple terms, is the use of information technology to drastically improve the performance using various digital advances in software, hardware and communication such as analytics, mobility, social media, and smart embedded devices, thereby bringing in changes in internal processes, policies and value propositions. The digital space in India has, therefore, seen a lot of transformations and Internet of Things (IoT). The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has drafted India’s first ‘Internet of Things Policy’. This policy has been developed with an aim to make the IoT industry in India to reach the mark of USD 15 billion by 2020 by increasing the number of connected devices in India to 2.7 billion by 2020.

2.Digital Transformation

Digital technologies – the ways we use them in our personal lives, work and society – have changed the face of both society and government and will continue to. This has always been so but the pace at which it is happening is accelerating and is faster than the pace of transformation in organizations.

2.1 Objective

The main objective of the Digital Transformation is to develop a connected, well secured and smart IoT based systems for India’s Economical, Societal, and environmental needs in-line with the global trends and needs.

2.2 Digitization, Digitalization and Digital Transformation

Digitization: It is the conversion of analog information into digital form” (i.e numeric, binary format). Digitizing, is technically explained as the representation of signals, images, sounds and objects by generating a series of numbers, and expressed as a discrete value.

Digitalization: Unlike digitization, this is the actual “process of the technologically-induced change within the above industries”. This process has enabled much of the phenomena today known as the Internet
of Things,Industrial Internet, Industry 4.0,Bigdata, M2M, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies etc.

Digital Transformation: Finally, digital transformation is described as “the total and overall societal effect of digitalization.” Digitization has enabled the process of digitalization, which resulted in stronger opportunities to transform and change existing business models, socio-economic structures, legal and policy measures, organizational patterns, cultural barriers, etc. Digitization (the conversion), digitalization (the process) and the digital transformation (the effect), therefore, accelerates and illuminates the already existing and ongoing horizontal and global processes of change in society (Khan, 2016, Collin et al. 2015).

2.3 Components and Processes of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation projects requires several elements to succeed and digitization is a part of it. Among the many elements, we mention four that are related with technology, people and/or processes.

Digital transformation typically affects operations in various ways such as Government – citizen relations and the success depends on the ability to meet all the expectations and requirements of the citizen by way of enhanced functionality, improved offerings and greater ease-of-use. The four key components are: Cloud – to store and process data, Analytics – to identify trends and improve decision-making, Mobility – mobile solutions to connect to systems and citizens and Information Security to safeguard all the vital information of both the Government and Citizens.

Re-engineering processes: New digital technologies enable to make drastic changes to the operating models and achieve efficiencies by selectively introducing new processes while altering or even eliminating others. There is a need to strike a balance between two powerful imperatives: delivering growth in the short term, and making the necessary investments now for a long-term transformation. Test and learn fast to create options and establish relationships with critical ecosystem partners, and Innovate the “core” moving the dials on the basics and creating new organizational capabilities in terms of citizen-centricity and agility. The are certain important things to bear in mind when implementing a digital strategy viz. understanding the basics properly; working out a strategy with clear vision, developing and nurturing a citizen-first digital culture in government organization and workforce; capacity building; and, practicing learning, unlearning and re-learning approach to fine tune the outcomes.

2.4 Focus on future and outcomes

There is a massive change in the life-style, behavior and requirements in the society due to various factors such as open economy, innovation in technology etc. and to meet the expectation of citizen in delivering the services pose a major challenge to the Government. To this challenge, all of us are to reconsider the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we deliver the services to the citizens. Perhaps, this is why digital transformation has risen to the top of strategic initiatives. The intricate web of citizen touchpoints and the subsequent speed and accuracy of our responses pose a real challenge to our traditional infrastructure. Also, Digital Transformation results in Productivity, Saving in Costs and Time.

2.5 Silos, responsibility and skills

Digital transformation – just as social business, digital business and any form of customer-centric marketing and business processes, requires the ability to work across silos. In many cases, digital transformation even is about totally reworking organizational structures, which can be as much about collaborative methods, Centers of Excellence as removing specific silos. The debate about the responsibility over digital transformation as a whole and within specific functions and processes in that sense of genuine transformation is archaic, even if it needs to be held as Chief Digital Officers or CIOs, all play a role. Here again, there is no ideal solution regarding responsibility: context does matter. The role of Government in delivering services in which there is total government monopoly need to be broken and a complete change of mindset, processes and skills need to be infused as fresh blood with building private partnership with various agencies in the field.

3. Digital Transformation – Reforming through Technology

Digital transformation is not just about technology. Digital transformation starts with the goals, challenges, customers and context of the organization. There are plenty of pressures has built in the delivery system to begin digital transformation. The digital transformation has many dimensions and require a focused overview of things from past, present and future. Transforming operational processes from manual to digital is the key area. This needs transforming business models. Adapting to new technology quickly is the vital parameter. The digital capabilities of the Government agencies need a complete revamping by way of processing re-engineering to suit the need of the day, adding fresh and new skills, adding extra infrastructure and capacity building.

3.1 Citizen-Centric Services under the Digital India Programme:

Digital India is a flagship programme to transform India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy. The vision of Digital India aims to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

Government Process Re-engineering using IT has helped to simplify the government processes more efficient and successful delivery of services to the common man. There are three key elements of the Digital India program and vision, namely, Digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, Governance and services on demand, and Digital empowerment of citizens. Various measures taken by the government towards this like simplification of collection of information by adapting to simple and user friendly forms, switching over to complete online automated application, use of online repositories e.g. for certificates, educational degrees, identity documents, etc., integration of services and platforms e.g. Aadhaar platform of Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), payment gateway, Mobile Seva platform, sharing of data through open Application Programming Interfaces (API) and middleware such as National and State Service Delivery Gateways (NSDG/SSDG) have facilitated integrated and interoperable service delivery to citizens and businesses. Continuous efforts are being made to establish databases and information in electronic form. IT tools are being used to automate, respond and analyze data to identify and resolve persistent problems for process improvements. For example, programmes like such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Jeevan Praman etc.

Some Important Digital India initiatives:

e-Sign: A facility that enables citizens to digitally sign documents and open bank accounts remotely.

DigiLocker: Digital Locker facility helps citizens to digitally store their important documents like passport, mark sheets and degree certificates etc. Digital Locker will provide secure access to Government issued documents. It uses authenticity services provided by Aadhaar. It is aimed at eliminating the use of physical documents and enables sharing of verified electronic documents across government agencies. is a platform to share inputs and ideas on matters of policy and governance. It is a platform for citizen engagement in governance, through a “Discuss”, “Do” and “Disseminate” approach.

SBM Mobile app: Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) (Clean India) Mobile app is being used by people and Government organisations for achieving the goals of Swachh Bharat Mission.

eSign Framework: eSign framework allows citizens to digitally sign a document online using Aadhaar authentication Online Registration System (ORS).

eHospital application: The eHospital application provides important services such as online registration, payment of fees and appointment, online diagnostic reports, enquiring availability of blood online etc.

National Scholarships Portal: National Scholarship Portal is a one stop solution for end to end scholarship process right from submission of student application, verification, sanction and disbursal to end beneficiary for all the scholarships provided by the Government of India.

Jan Dhan Yojana: Jan Dhan Yojana is a massive programme on financial inclusion. It targets to have at least one bank account in each household. Further each account holder should have the insurance policy.

Jeevan Praman: This programme facilitates Pensioners from Government to furnish life certificates every year electronically. More than 1.5 million registered pensioners in the country are availing of this digital facility to continue to claim their pension regularly. The Aadhaar Based Biometric Authentication System for Pensioners (Jeevan Pramaan /Life Certificate) is being used effectively. Pensioners can submit their Digital Life Certificate (DLC) from their home by using PC/Mobile with Biometric devices.

Digital India aims to provide the much needed thrust to the nine pillars of growth areas, namely

(i) Broadband Highways, (ii) Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity, (iii) Public Internet Access Programme, (iv) e-Governance: Reforming Government through Technology, (v) e-Kranti – Electronic Delivery of Services, (vi) Information for All, (vii) Electronics Manufacturing, (viii) IT for Jobs and (ix)Early Harvest Programmes.

There are important things to bear in mind when implementing a digital strategy, to name a few: (a) Get the basics right; (b) Define a clear strategy and business model; (c) Develop and nurture a citizen-first digital culture, organization and workforce. (d) Build capabilities to collect data and turn it into actionable insights.

3.2 eKranti – Electronic delivery of services

Government of India has approved the e-Kranti programme with the vision of “Transforming e-Governance for Transforming Governance”. All new and on-going e-Governance projects as well as the existing projects, which are being revamped, are now follow the key principles of e-Kranti namely ‘Transformation and not Translation’, ‘Integrated Services and not Individual Services’, ‘Government Process Reengineering (GPR) is mandatory in every Mission Mode Project’.

3.3 Internet of Things (IOT)

IoT can be defined as interplay for software, telecom and electronic hardware industry and promises to offer tremendous opportunities for many industries. IoT is a seamless connected network system of embedded objects/ devices, with identifiers, in which communication without any human intervention is possible using standard and interoperable communication protocols. Phones, Tablets and PCs are not included as part of IoT. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), fed by sensors soon to number in the trillions, working with intelligent systems in the billions, and involving millions of applications, the Internet of Things will drive citizen and government behavior that will demand increasingly intelligent industry solutions, which, in turn, will drive trillions of dollars in opportunity for IT industry and even more for the companies that take advantage of the IoT. By 2020, Internet-connected devices are expected to number between 26 billion and 50 billion globally. As per Gartner Report the total revenue generated from IoT industry would be USD 300 billion and the connected devices would be 27 billion by 2020 globally. It has been assumed that India would have a share of 5-6% of global IoT industry. The Indian Government’s plan of developing 100 smart cities in the country, for which Rs. 7,060 crores has been allocated could lead to a massive and quick expansion of IoT in the country. Also, the launch of the Digital India Program of the Government, which aims at transforming India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy will provide the required impetus for development of the IoT industry in the country. Some of the key aspects of a smart city are Smart parking, Intelligent transport system. Tele-care, Woman Safety, Smart grids, Smart urban lighting, Waste management, Smart city maintenance, Digital signage and Water Management. Among other things, IoT can help automate solutions to problems faced by various industries like agriculture, health services, energy, security, disaster management etc. through remotely connected devices. IoT offers avenues for telecom operators & system integrators to significantly boost their revenues and has resulted in their taking lead in adoption of IoT applications and services being offered by the technology. Apart from direct IoT applications, the IT industry also has an opportunity to provide solutions, services and analytics related to IoT.

3.4 Information for All

Open Data platform facilitates proactive release of datasets in an open format by the ministries/departments for use, reuse and redistribution. Online hosting of information & documents facilitate open and easy access to information for citizens. Government pro-actively engages through social media and web based platforms to inform and interact with citizens.

3.5 Early Harvest Programmes

Early Harvest Programme basically consists of those projects which are to be implemented within short timeline such as IT Platform for Messages, Government Greetings to be e-Greetings, Biometric attendance, Wi-Fi in All Universities, Secure Email within Government, Standardizing Government Email Design, Public Wi-fi hotspots, School Books to be eBooks, SMS based weather information, disaster alerts, National Portal for Lost & Found children etc.

3.6 Digital transformation and intelligent information

Managing information and data is crucial and it has to be fully supported by insights, intelligence and actions also play an equal role to get the expected fruitful outcomes. That’s where context, semantics, artificial intelligence and activation come in. With the Internet of Things and Web 3.0, the intelligent dimension becomes more important in regards to making sense of unstructured information, automation and connected devices and putting information at work. Making data actionable, introducing devices (IoT) in an increasingly complex and growing data landscape, the steep growth of unstructured data, deriving meaning and insights from information and leveraging it at the right time and right moment for the right reasons and actions are all critical.

This isn’t just about ‘managing’ information in the traditional sense anymore. It’s also not just about connecting systems and data nor even connecting through information. With the advent of the Internet of Things, the need to ensure data quality and the increasing need to use and unlock it faster, despite the sheer volume, adds several elements to the information and transformation equation such as – intelligence (as in artificial intelligence as the only way to add and extract meaning from ever more data and as the only way to use information and data in an IoT and inter-device context); speed (with speed being a customer experience and even competitive benefit); a holistic security approach (with information and data as assets); and an increasing focus on accuracy, quality and outcomes. On top of the existence of systems of records and systems of engagement, we are moving to systems of intelligence and intelligent automation and optimization, ecosystems of code, algorithms, cognitive computing and fast/smart data as ways to succeed with digital transformation and, vice versa, information-based challenges as transformational drivers.

3.7 Digital transformation and business process outsourcing

Both digital transformation and business process management go hand-in-hand. Digital transformation

has a profound impact on business process outsourcing (BPO) and thus the industry of BPOs. Business process outsourcing is moving from its traditional predominant cost-saving and (outsourced) process optimization roots to a cost plus optimization plus innovation plus value proposition. When organizations transform, then so do their partners to whom they outsource specific business processes.

4. Challenges and Change Management

The ultimate challenge in Digital transformation is managing the change because it impacts not only basic governance structures and strategic positioning but all levels of an organisation including tasks, activities and processes.

4.1 Challenges

Government Delivery Systems often face challenges in providing economical and efficient citizen-centric services and solutions at the ground level to cater to various needs of the common man vis-à-vis problems and grievance redress mechanisms. The penetration of technology on one hand and the illiterate poor rural citizen on the other, often throws special challenges in delivery of e-governance. Governance with Accountability, Transparency and Innovation through the digital platform is the true requirement in meeting the expectation of the common man. Optimization of business processes, how to get business insight out of the collected information, using the same for the betterment of citizens, employees and partners and managing the risk of growing volumes and complexity of information are the key challenges.

One of the biggest hurdles to this transformation, in fact, is the workforce and the way in which they work. Insufficient human capacity would be a hurdle in achieving the goal.

4.2 Change Management

Change Management is a very critical and vital for any organization to become successful when it undergoes a major change. The digital transformation is a very big leap and hence it would require Capacity development (Human & Technology) for IoT specific skill-sets, Research & development and Developing IoT products specific to Indian needs in various domains.

The Policy framework of the IoT Policy of MeitY proposes a multi-pillar approach. The approach comprises of five vertical pillars namely Demonstration Centres, Capacity Building & Incubation, R&D and Innovation, Incentives and Engagements, Human Resource Development and 2 horizontal supports namely Standards & Governance structure.

Digital transformation should not be an end in itself, and, in the role of data and analytics in digital transformation, there are even more opportunities for change and needs for change management. Like all other forms of business transformation it should be guided by clear managerial goals and realizable business benefits. Once a clear roadmap has been defined, digital transformation can help organizations address their most significant priorities and achieve both internal and external benefits, in areas such as innovation, citizen experience, efficiency, or productivity. While carving out the Roadmaps, the intent, priorities, pain points and actual needs are to be worked out on case to case basis. There is never a one size fits all solution and intent, outcomes and priorities steer the digital transformation efforts, on top of changing parameters in the system. Priorities also means prioritization, often including looking at the low hanging fruit but always with the next steps and ultimate goals in mind, knowing these goals – and the context within which they were set – will evolve.

5. Lessons Learnt during Implementation

Digital transformation is not just about disruption or technology. It is beyond technology. To understand digital transformation, it’s key to put people and processes above technology, even if technology is a change agent – or at least the ways we use it to evolve, innovate, adapt and “pro-dapt”. Digital transformation is about using digital technologies to improve (and connect and often radically change) processes, enhance customer experiences, focus on the area where business and customer value meet and seeing new and better possibilities , while using different and digital-intensive ways to realize them. Digital transformation even goes beyond the use of digital technologies to support or improve processes and existing methods. It is a way to alter and even build new business models, using digital technologies. In that sense, it also goes beyond digitization (although that’s often a condition to make it happen) and certainly beyond a digital-savvy skillset and capacity which is nothing less than a must in the age of an increasingly channel-agnostic and digital customer. Digital transformation is also about responding to the changes that digital technologies have caused – and will continue to cause – in our daily lives, individual businesses and organizations, industries and various segments of society. These changes are obviously not brought upon us by the technologies themselves. The human dimension is not just an important focus of digital transformation, it’s a catalyst whereby the ways we use and see digital technologies can have very unexpected consequences, regardless of whether it concerns consumer/customer behavior or the innovative capacity of disruptive companies (nearly always a mix), in the end also people.

Test and learn continuously to fine-tune all elements of the road map. We believe the best approach to introducing a digitalization strategy includes quick wins and the use of prototypes to support a test-and-learn approach that can then be scaled up. Innovations can be implemented in the form of pilots or limited-scope projects, then fine-tuned and expanded in line with the outcomes they achieve.
In the end, the mindset, ‘culture’, and approach are needed for continuous optimization, holistic improvement and a focus on what people need, far beyond the digital context.

6. Conclusion

Digital transformation should not be an end in itself. Like all other forms of business transformation it should be guided by clear managerial goals and realizable business benefits. Once a clear roadmap has been defined, digital transformation can help organizations address their most significant priorities and achieve both internal and external benefits, in areas such as innovation, customer experience, efficiency, or productivity.

It is a mistake to think that organizations are really ready for profound digital transformation in a broad way. There are still far too many gaps in regards to the digitization (and automation) of existing processes and the digitization of data from paper carriers. Worse: what is sometimes called digital transformation is sometimes “just” digitization (turning paper into electronic information into processes). You need digitization in order to optimize in a digital transformation context but digitization does not equal digital transformation. What matters is the combination, strategic and prioritized interconnecting and the actions you take to achieve business goals throug digitization and combining data.

Furthermore, there is an even bigger gap between back-office processes and the front end. An example of this phenomenon can be seen in the financial industry, where there are extremely strong disconnects between the back-office and front end. There are lots and lots of digitization efforts that still need to be done in many areas of business and society and we all know and feel it, whether it’s in our daily experiences as “business people” or in the often totally unnecessary administrative tasks in regards to our government-related or finance-related ‘duties’ and interactions with business where we’re forced to use paper, the phone or channels we really don’t want to use anymore.

Digital transformation is probably not the best term to describe the realities it covers. Some prefer to use the term digital business transformation, which is more in line with the business aspect. However, as an umbrella term, digital transformation is also used for changes in meanings that are not about business in the strict sense but about evolutions and changes in, for instance, government and society.

The development of new competencies revolves around the capacities to be more agile, people-oriented, innovative, connected, aligned and efficient with present and future shifts in mind. Digital transformation is a journey with multiple connected intermediary goals, in the end striving towards continuous optimization across processes, divisions and the business ecosystem of a hyper-connected age where building the right bridges in function of that journey is key to succeed. In this online


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