In an era where data is considered the new oil, Sanjib Sahoo, EVP, and Chief Digital Officer at Ingram Micro, understands the critical role that data plays in digital transformation. In an exclusive interview with SmartStateIndia, Sahoo sheds light on the critical aspects of data that are necessary for operations, decisions, and experience, and explains how AI and other emerging technologies can help. Additionally, he shares how Ingram Micro is transforming the distribution sector by redefining its business model and becoming a platform company. Read on to know the insights and vision of a digital leader who is using data and innovation to stay ahead of the curve in the digital economy.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
Almost every organization is on a digital business transformation journey. How is Ingram Micro approaching digitalization differently?
Digital transformation done right requires an organization to be both aggressively digital and amazingly human. At Ingram Micro, we are distinguishing ourselves more and more by our people and our digital twin Xvantage. We are not chasing shiny technology. We are operating at scale with tremendous success as the business behind the world’s brand. With a reach into 90% of the world’s population, Ingram Micro is creating and capturing more business value using the combination of incredible people, actionable data and innovative technology. We have embraced a spirit of digitization and a mindset for growth. In every country where Ingram Micro is present, we are making the experience of doing business the wow for our customers and partners. Since most digital transformations fail with the main reasons of mindset and failing to create value, we have taken a new concept of DigiOps where we have taken the operational best talents to build the bridge with technology and constantly work on capturing true business value.
What are some of your observations concerning the challenges and opportunities in digital transformation among Asia Pacific organizations?
Digital transformation generally in organizations takes a long horizon. The challenge companies have is how they perform as they transform. This means that they have to perform as an organization as well as start the transformation together, which requires a lot of focus investment, strategic shift and mindset and all of that. Companies generally speaking have performance and opportunity gaps. Performance gaps are easier to fix than opportunity gaps and generally, there is a lot of technology innovation but still, there’s a little bit of a follow-up on how to transform the models based on the innovations happening in the other partners of the world. This means that generally in the organization there’s not a healthy balance in investment in tech vs investment changing the entire business and the process. Digital transformation is hardly about technology. It’s about changing the mindset and creating continuous value within the culture. That is where some challenges come in ASIA PAC organizations. They’ve been at this a long time. Change is hard so we must remove fear from the culture, embrace change and fail fast. This is not always easy and that’s where the challenges are. The risk appetite has to be more in APAC organizations. Today instead of risk is bad, calculated risk is innovation.
The last thing is to have more collaboration between the whole teams – in tech and business. That’s why the DigiOps concept is so important. You need the balance. True transformation needs both human and business prowess. And when they don’t mesh together you can’t win. There’s no curriculum of training within the APAC region to foster this mindset and sill and that’s where the challenges are for many organizations in this theatre.
Data is the fuel for the digital economy and has a big role in any business transformation strategy. As CDO, what aspects of data do you see as most critical for operations, decisions and experience? How do AI and other emerging technologies help?
Data is the oxygen and the fuel for digital transformation. You really cannot have a transformation without clean, actionable data. It’s not about how much big data or small data you have… It’s using it to drive more meaningful customer experiences and building a data-driven operationally efficient organization.
Generally, there are two parts of data: OLTP – transactional data processing and OLAP online analytical processing. The real critical part of data is having a real-time data mesh that understands and syncs operational and transactional data that creates real-time insights and= drives meaningful transactions and makes them more like interactions to create a meaningful customer experience. The ability to have harmonized data across the org and fed to the autonomous engines we have created and make them intelligent is very critical. And as data matures through different phases it provides a solid foundation for how you can operate as an organization. I also look at building a single source of truth so that our OLTP and OLAP can interact with each other and create real insights and help us become a real data-driven business.
The last part is using data we can provide insights to help our partners do business better. That’s missing in today’s organizations. These insights need to be integrated into the platform so they use it, customize it and make it actionable. This can improve profits and go to market. So in the case of Ingram Micro, it’s like our partners have a USD 54 billion company partnering behind them to do business better and show up stronger with more value capture and more value creation.
As for AI, it’s very critical but AI will not be successful if you don’t have clean data. You must make the effort to aggregate and clean up data. We use AI in everything. For example, we use AI to make the Xvantage platform self-learning and to create a Netflix-type experience for our customers. Everything is touched by AI with clean data as our foundation.
In the digital economy, one of the weakest pillars is logistics and the supply chain. Innovation and transformation in this critical aspect of business seem to be slower than in other areas. How is Ingram Micro redefining the distribution sector?
Ingram Micro is on its path to becoming a platform company – we are working to match supply and demand with data combined with predictive analytics. We are working to understand the demand our partners are bringing in so we can optimize the logistics and supply chain to match the intelligence and the data. What we do is instead of focusing on pure-play distribution, we are moving more toward helping our partners sell outcomes using solutions and selling everything as and with service. We want them to be able to do it all inside our platform and with the support of our team. We’re automating and doing a lot of self-service to drive efficiencies in operations and give our associates room to do more with more for more.