ReadWrite Labs and Tata Communications Host Executive Roundtable on Digital Transformation

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Put great minds in one room, and over the course of a dinner, they’ll share some significant insights. This is exactly what happened at an event hosted by ReadWrite Labs and Tata Communications in Silicon Valley this month. The topic on the minds of these thought leaders was Digital Transformation (DX), a concept, challenge, and opportunity being discussed among all industries, businesses, and demographics today.

Moderated by Kyle Ellicott of ReadWrite Labs, the group discussed why Digital Transformation (DX) is now becoming mainstream, the numerous challenges companies face on their transformation journey and where we are in term of life cycle across all areas of industry.

Redefining Digital Transformation

According to Ellicott, even though digital transformation began surfacing in the 2000s, the term was associated with existing initiatives driving radical changes from paper-driven manual processes to the ability to digitize existing forms, tasks, and processes.

But the significance of Digital Transformation in recent years is about redefining business models, strategy, and customer experiences. Nothing before could make such dramatic changes because previous digital transformation initiatives had only been used to address one part of one issue. Instead today, it’s about taking on all the interrelated issues in different industries at one time for the most disruptive change possible.

Technology is Not the Only Issue:

Common issues  with digital transformation are the technology,and the capability to integrate and migrate, as well as people’s unwillingness to embrace change. Many countries like China making the move willingly to digital across all generations and among consumers and businesses. However that’s not the case with industries and consumers in different areas of the world.

Another issue is the lack of openness around data, data sharing and ownership. In many instances, data has numerous parties that can access it. However, they are limitations about what they can do with it. The ability to be open to sharing data freely among partners or connected access points within the networked society has yet to happen. Until it does, there will be hesitation for select industries to take the step toward digital transformation.

Benchmarking the Best Industries

One way to get past these issues was to look at the top industries that are doing digital transformation well. Their best practices can educate other industries. Also, they offer a benchmark for companies that want to start on their digital transformation.

Many guests at ReadWrite Labs’s event most often named transportation as a benchmark digital transformation industry. That’s because of the recent strides in the connected vehicle market. The market has gone beyond the call button for assistance. It now provides data to manufacturers that help produce better vehicles. Also, manufacturers can personalize the experience a driver has with that car brand. Now, transportation is connecting to smart cities through street lights and other IoT infrastructure.

Additionally, healthcare, including digital health and telemedicine, is a great example of digital transformation. The migration started with medical records and an understanding that DX could enhance efficiency and service. Currently, the healthcare industry is enhancing the overall experience for patients. The digital transformation framework has changed how doctors are diagnosing patients. It’s also making healthcare more accessible to many patients around the world. The result is faster diagnosis and treatment, helping to improve the lives of many.

The IoT thought leaders also mentioned payments and e-commerce and logistics as other industries that are becoming more adept at digital transformations. Both have benefitted from digital transformation in terms of more satisfied customers, faster service, and lower operating costs.

Envisioning a Different Future

Ease of access to old world services with the likes of Uber, Airbnb and many other sharing economy successes have illustrated how technology is driving business models and how entire industry ecosystems can be leapfrogged in a matter of years. Technology is now driving the formation of new industries and business models. It is no longer the other way around where business models once figured out how to insert technology into their processes. Digital Transformation has become a subject for the c-suite and is part of the strategic process of many companies.

To these thought leaders, even with all the confusion in many companies, the gap is closing. Technology solutions are available and implemented incrementally changing how things work for a company and its ecosystems. Companies and organizations are also incorporating experience-led engineering both for their customers and employees to get the most out of the DX frameworks.  For these leaders, they agreed that use case-led direction clarifies what DX is capable of delivering.

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Last month Bharti Airtel and Tata today announced that they have entered into an agreement to merge Consumer Mobile Businesses (CMB) of Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Limited (TTML) into Bharti Airtel. Today Airtel has announced that starting today, Tata Teleservices customers will start transitioning to the Airtel mobile network under an Intra Circle … Continue reading “Tata mobile customers start transitioning to Airtel network, to enjoy uninterrupted services with existing SIMs”
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Tata Motors, India’s largest auto manufacturer, launches its first Android Auto-equipped vehicle

Android Auto continues to arrive in more vehicles, this time in India via Tata Motors. According to Google, the 2017 Tata Nexon is now part of the growing repertoire of Auto-compatible… autos.

Being India’s largest car manufacturer, Tata is an interesting case study from a business standpoint (I actually had to do one on this company) — and it makes some nice-looking vehicles to boot. Seeing such a large player in that part of the world with Android Auto is good news for the platform, even though it seems to have stagnated recently.

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Tata Comms: Airlines on digital transformation journey as IoT takes flight

IoT takes flight airlines on digital transformation journey

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the opportunities that the IoT offers airlines – but ensuring a smooth take-off for these technologies is going to rely on airline executives identifying those areas that offer the best chances for increased profitability.

Anthony Bartolo of Tata Communications

For Anthony Bartolo, chief product officer for collaboration, mobility and IoT at networking and cloud company Tata Communications, these opportunities principally lie in two areas: better passenger experiences and smoother behind-the-scenes operations. 

“We’re talking here about a hugely competitive industry,” he told Internet of Business. “Airlines don’t invest in digital unless they fundamentally feel they can derive very material benefits, either on the operations side or on the customer side. But we see very high levels of confidence in IoT, with the majority of airlines believing it will provide these clear benefits for them in 2018,” he says.

Air New Zealand, for example, has significantly increased its investment in digital in its corporate mission to “transform travel”, and in 2015, appointed former Google executive Avi Golan as its chief digital officer. The airline already provides young unaccompanied travellers with a digital bracelet, the Airband, so that their parents or guardians can track their journeys. Virgin Atlantic Airways has also experimented with wearables. Emirates has work underway on augmented reality and motion sensors

Read more: Air China chooses Panasonic to provide inflight entertainment and connectivity

In pursuit of profits

Running an airline as a money-making venture is, after all, a notoriously tricky business. Aircraft are expensive, jet fuel prices fluctuate. Bad weather can have a major impact on profits, as can industrial action at airports. Many costs are non-negotiable, in the form of fixed tariffs for access to airports and air traffic control charges.

In fact, when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted “record profits” for airlines in 2017, for the third year in succession, the organization’s director and general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac simultaneously conceded that, in this respect, aviation is still the poor relation of other industries.

“Record profits for airlines means earning more than our cost of capital,” he stated. “For most other businesses, that would be considered a normal level of return to investors. But three years of sustainable profits is a first for the airline industry.”

That said, the potential benefits of IoT in aviation are far-reaching and profound, with huge implications for future profitability, Bartolo claims. “When you look at what IoT does, it fundamentally brings visibility to areas that might otherwise be in darkness and that, in many cases, remain in darkness today.”

Read more: TUMI and AT&T launch tracking device for travellers

Real-time data

In particular, Bartolo says, the IoT brings real-time data into situations where the norm has typically been reams and reams of paper: passenger lists, seating plans, flight operations manuals, flight despatch information, crew rosters. That has huge potential for making operations faster and less costly, such as flight turnarounds times.

Similarly, it can propel passengers into a state of near-on constant connectedness, enabling them to access inflight Wi-Fi, use their own mobile devices to access inflight entertainment and stay notified when it comes to the progress of their own journeys and those made by their luggage.

In IATA’s 2016 Global Passenger Survey, the three top areas that passengers would like to receive notifications on were flight status and changes (cited by 85 percent); baggage status and waiting times for delivery (60 percent) and waiting times at security/border control (58 percent). They clearly want to receive that information via their mobile devices – 53 percent by SMS text messages; 22 percent via a mobile app; and 21 percent by email.

“There will definitely be airlines providing apps by next year that show passengers exactly where their luggage is at any stage of the journey,” Bartolo predicts. “But to truly open up the Pandora’s Box of visibility, airlines will need to have a very reliable network infrastructure underpinning a huge range of IoT-enabled sensors and devices, from sensors on the aircraft itself to baggage tags and everything in between.”

These are the layers that that Tata Communications is working with airlines to add, he says. These companies are effectively supply chain businesses, he adds, moving passengers, luggage, cargo and crews from place to place – but they have much to learn from parcels companies, for example, about identifying the locations of individual entities and assets, understanding what condition they’re in and digging down into what they experience between Point A and Point B.

There is, in other words, much work still to do, not least of which will be the widespread replacement of legacy technology, aging and patchy network infrastructures and paper-based processes. But with firmer technology foundations in place, made easier and more affordable for airlines by cloud, mobile and IoT, says Bartolo, airlines will be much better equipped to provide a safe landing for new technology initiatives and digital services that deliver greater business value and, hopefully, more reliable profits.

Read more: FliteTrak launches smart seating for aircraft cabins

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