Person of Interest: Vishy Narayanan
When thinking about an organisation's digital transformation, the most apparent example one might conjure is the mass migration over the last two years from in-person to remote work environments. And while this has been a substantial technical and cultural shift for most businesses, it is but one example of digital transformation.
In the security space alone, we can point to examples such as the shift toward cloud-based services and on-demand service models in areas such as access control, surveillance and software. The list goes on. The big challenge for any organisation, security-focused or otherwise, is to determine which problem is the right problem to solve when committing resources to a digital transformation.
Vishy Narayanan is the Asia Pacific chief digital and information officer at PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) and a member of the Asia Pacific executive team.
According to Vishy, when evaluating the business case for any digital transformation, he focuses on three questions.
“I begin with ‘why’. What is the core need to be addressed by a digital transformation? How is it aligned to your organisation’s vision and strategy, client/customer needs, market trends, and expectations? So you need to first answer why.”
“Then you must look at ‘where’. What parts of your organisation can or need to be digitally transformed based on priority? Don’t try to do everything at once. You should base your actions on priorities. You can determine those priorities by looking at things that create new revenue streams, drive efficiency, or improve customer experience or your people experience. Alternatively, you might prioritise areas that provide better management of your security, data and quality risks in an organisation. That’s the where.”
“Thirdly, the ask ‘what’. What technology, if any, can help you address those business needs? Sometimes we rush straight to implementing some form of new technology to solve a problem. However, we must always ask, “Will the technology actually help address the challenge we are trying to solve given our existing processes, as well as legacy and future demands?” It is important to be selective.
“The other thing we know about technology is that people often only use about 10% of the capability in any technology they adopt. So make sure you’re clear about ‘why’ you’re doing it, ‘where’, and what parts of the organisation you need to apply it to, and then ‘what’ technology tools or processes you need to drive the transformation.”
According to Vishy, one of the biggest challenges for any security manager regarding digital transformation involves overcoming differences in priorities within the organisation.
“When it comes to digital transformation, it is more often the case that the security manager’s role is to protect their organisation. This necessitates an inside-out approach. I.e., what assets am I protecting? How do I go about protecting them? Conversely, senior leaders view the organisation from an outside-in perspective. What does the business look like, and how do I achieve increased market share, customer satisfaction, differentiation, et cetera? Therefore, it’s important for security managers to tackle the business case for digital transformation as an opportunity to enable business outcomes while making sure that the brand, reputation and other risks are protected through best-in-class security. So how do we go about achieving that? I think, firstly, build a compelling vision. It is also important to understand that it’s not your digital transformation; it’s the organisation’s digital transformation. Sometimes people become too focused on driving the transformation and fail to understand the organisational context for the change. So that’s number one.”
“Number two is about getting senior leadership team buy-in, but it is also important to listen to the language that the senior leaders in your organisation are using. Listen to the direction and their views on digital transformation and weave that language and those views into your approach. And look at areas where you need to strengthen or invest more time and money.”
“The third important thing to consider is relationships. This sounds like a pretty obvious thing, but sometimes technology leaders tend to focus more on processes, tools and systems and not enough on relationships and building engagement. To me, that’s really important. Ultimately, the person leading the digital transformation is accountable and answerable to the senior leadership and stakeholders, whoever that might be.