Dr. Rajeev Papneja, Chief Growth Officer, ESDS Software Solution. (Photo: Tech Observer)
Dr. Rajeev Papneja, Chief Growth Officer, ESDS Software Solution. (Photo: Tech Observer)

The Nashik-based has transformed itself from simply being a Managed Datacenter to a Cloud service provider and now all the way to become a (DX) enabler. The company is already part of DX journey for quite a few organisations.

In an exclusive interview with TechObserver.in’s Sanjay Singh, Dr Rajeev Papneja, Chief Growth Officer, ESDS Software Solution said, “The biggest challenge faced by the organisations today is understanding their existing technology landscape, creating a blueprint of the same, and then with the understanding of various technologies, create a technically & commercially viable design of the new landscape which will assist in catalyzing the DX process.”

“The leaders of Digital Transformation have to think differently and acknowledge that the ROI of digital transformation initiatives cannot be measured traditionally,” he said.

Edited Excerpts:

How do you look at the concept of Digital Transformation and at what stage Indian businesses are in this journey?

There are various definitions by, and beliefs of, different leaders regarding the buzz word “Digital Transformation”. Quite a few IT heads feel that DX is about technology. I have heard statements like “We have got SAP HANA now”, and for them, it means digital transformation. Embracing SAP HANA can be part of an organisation’s Digital Transformation Journey but neither is it the only means, nor the end goal. Technology by far is simply an enabler in DX journey.

I believe that Digital Transformation starts and ends with the customer as the focal point. It is about fulfilling customer expectations, keeping them engaged and delivering the ‘wow’ factor. In parallel, it is about disruptive business models that radically change the way businesses worked and a way for business to increase their operational efficiency.

DX is a concept that challenges the status quo and instead of creating better or cost-effective versions of products, focuses on understanding “The why behind the Buy” and addressing the same. Very few businesses have started their DX journey in India, most of them trying to evaluate, how and what emerging technologies can be helpful in their journey. The concept itself is at a very nascent stage, I would say, similar to the stage cloud technology was 8 years back. There is a long way to go but the concept of DX catching the momentum can be felt.

What role do you see emerging technologies such as Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) playing in Digital Transformation of an organisation?

Emerging technologies used properly can act as a catalyst in organisations Digital Transformation journey. Cloud is the de facto, the base technology on which emerging technologies breathe. Not that all emerging technologies need to be on the cloud, but it makes more sense that way for various reasons. Digital transformation is the sum of multiple digital initiatives where the total output of these is supposed to be greater than the sum of its parts.

IT teams require a cost-effective scalable platform that can be used for experimenting with new ideas without any capital commitment. Some initiatives would require different software-as-a-service (SaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings offered by public CSP’s as an integral part of their system being conceptualised. By doing away with the purchase and management of IT infrastructure, the core team can focus on the solution being developed and in case the solution doesn’t provide any value, scraping it is not hard on the pockets too.

There is an estimate of 30 to 50 billion devices that will be connected by 2020. Collecting, storing and analyzing the data getting generated every second is simply not humanly possible without emerging technologies. 80% of organisations IT budget and resources are spent in only keeping the lights on and only 20% or even less in innovations. Using ML technologies and automation, we should able to bring down 80% to at least 60% if not more. Chatbots is a very good example of automation that uses AI/ML. Appropriate use of Blockchain technology to create tamper-proof records in critical organisations such as Banks & Government is already seen making its way inside through the doors.

What are the key areas both government organisations and enterprises need to focus while embarking on Digital Transformation?

Just like Digital transformation for enterprises starts and ends with the customer, for government organisations it starts and ends with the citizen. Infrastructure consolidation, application modernisation, use of emerging technologies, new business models are definitely to be focused on, but it is more important for both the kind of organisations to deliver a consistent User Experience throughout the journey at all the touchpoints.

With emerging technologies are born new buzzwords; these are very easily adopted by the technical people or the IT teams but not business or the customers. Organizations need to make sure that in this journey they frame things in such a way that their customers understand their language. As I said before, automation needs to be embraced to free up more resources for innovations. Digital Transformation needs a different mindset, many incremental experiments having more failures than successes, and doing business in a way not done before.

We have to accept this new world of appreciating and rewarding failures & successes equally. If you measure output the same way you did in the past or build your new models based on past statistics then chances are less that one will see a caterpillar transform into a beautiful flying butterfly; it might simply end up being a faster caterpillar. Most importantly, organizations need to focus on building the ecosystem with the right skills to help identify business problems and design optimal solutions. Last but not least, security remains the most critical and important area to focus on, as with emerging technologies comes a new breed of threats that probably requires a different way of sensing and mitigating them.

ESDS technology is used by many organisations. Can you share some examples as to how ESDS has helped organisations in their tryst with Digital Transformation?

ESDS has transformed itself from simply being a Managed Datacenter to a Cloud service provider and now all the way to become a Digital Transformation enabler. eNlight cloud, the patented vertically auto-scalable cloud platform from ESDS is powering numerous organisations from diverse industries and helping ESDS to act as a catalyst in their DX journey.

Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), deploying 250 million smart meters is utilizing eNlight IoT platform. Applications of Pune Smart City, that aim at improving the lives of every resident of the city, are powered by eNlight cloud. ESDS is serving more than 300 small banks with a unique “pay-per-branch” billing model, and “pay-per-transaction” billing model in some cases.

ESDS is enabling enterprises to provide chatbot services to their customers and is also part of enabling various digital initiatives by the government such as Mudra, NRC among others. We are working on a few multi-million dollar international projects that use AI/ML, blockchain and Big Data analytics as part of the solutions in customers digital transformation journey.

What challenges do you notice when it comes to Digital Transformation and how those could be addressed?

The “resistant-to-change” mindset of employees is by far the major hurdle that needs to be overcome by organisations before embarking the DX journey. Less than 5% of employees love and embrace change gracefully. These are also the ones who like to take challenges and grow with them. Organisations need to work on proper strategies to instil a sense of security in their people to assist them in coming out of their comfort zone. The leaders of Digital Transformation have to think differently and acknowledge that the ROI of digital transformation initiatives cannot be measured traditionally. I would say that if the business survives the day, you have realized the ROI.

Also ReadESDS to expand in 16 countries, says Founder & MD Piyush Somani

The 80-20 budget rule for keeping the lights on versus innovation requires a change in ratio. Using automation, we need to make sure that less budget is required to keeps the light on, and the percentage of budget allocation for working on innovations is increased. One of the challenges faced by the organisations is the lack of vision penetration of their DX journey up to the bottom layer in the pyramid. It is to be clearly understood that DX is not about technology. Digital transformation journey starts and ends with the customer. It has to provide a consistent user experience at various touchpoints, as not all customers will enter in the journey from the beginning.

There is a clear need to understand that today’s customers are digital, they are asking for light and not bulbs. Therefore, the business mindset has to change to look beyond the obvious and figure out “The Why Behind the Buy”.

What are ESDS plans focused on Digital Transformation?

ESDS is already part of DX journey for quite a few organisations indirectly by providing managed Datacenter & Cloud services. Our vision is to touch lives of 70% population (today we touch lives of 32% of Indian population) and have more than 1 billion smart devices (IoT) connected to eNlight cloud in next 5 years.

DX journey from a technology standpoint is a combination of Infrastructure, applications, mobility, emerging technologies such as AI/ML/Big Data/Blockchain, ERP, Cloud, Serverless computing, IoT etc. The biggest challenge faced by the organizations today is understanding their existing technology landscape, creating a blueprint of the same, and then with the understanding of various technologies, create a technically & commercially viable design of the new landscape which will assist in catalyzing the DX process.

With ESDS’s experience, and indigenous technologies developed by its CMMI certified R&D teams, we plan to become a catalyst in the enterprises and governments digital transformation journey by focusing on providing Cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, FaaS), SOC & NOC services, RIMS, IoT related services, cloudification of their existing landscape, development of applications using emerging technologies (AI/ML/Big Data/Blockchain) and working on skill development initiative for a sustainable tomorrow.

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