Centre Stage – Executive in the spotlight.

In this series, we bring you closer to our leadership team. This series has been especially developed to give you greater insight into our leadership team, understand their vision and know what makes them tick.

In an interview with us, Shantanu Paknikar, our CDO (Chief Digital Officer), shares how Ninestars is adapting and leveraging all the exciting opportunities offered by digital. He also talks about how Ninestars is fostering a digital and technology focused culture across the organization.

The rapidly changing digital landscape has dramatically affected consumer behaviour across sectors. It is extremely crucial for organizations to leverage technology tools to drive agility and rapid digitization whilst piloting innovative initiatives. We sat down with Shantanu to understand what ‘digital’ means to him and how he ensures the ‘voice of the customer’ is central to any digital services offered by Ninestars.


Q. First off, and to set the stage, what is ‘digital’ and what does it mean to you?

A. I like to think of “Digital” as the intersection area of Business, Technology and Design. While technology has always been an enabler for business, the digital age is about the lines between technology and business not just getting blurred, but disappearing. In other words, every business is a technology business. Design is the third fundamental element for digital. With increasing levels of automation and technology getting commoditized, the key competitive differentiator for any organization shifts towards the customer experience space. And design is crucial to ensure a superior and differentiated experience.


Q. What is the Ninestars digital strategy?

A. Our digital strategy revolves around three simple focus areas: Experiences, Insights, and the Connected Enterprise. To begin with, we work with our customers to help them transform their customers’ experiences. This could be for example through our digital experience and design services portfolio, through our digital content solutions, or custom solutions leveraging digital technologies such as Cloud, AI/ML, AR/VR, BI/Analytics, Social and Mobile. Secondly, we help our customers convert content and data to business insights. With the amount of data in the world exploding, and three-fourths of data being unstructured, our heritage of nearly two decades of managing content and unstructured data is the key differentiator here. Third, we help our customers in their journey towards a ‘connected enterprise’: devices, systems, people and processes coming together to create customer and employee value using technologies such as IOT, Analytics, Workflow and IPA.


Q. How does the three key services of Ninestars namely Digitization, Media Monitoring, and Digital converge together?

A. Our digitization services address the conversion of legacy media content to digital form. Monitoring and helping clients derive meaning from this content is the focus for our media monitoring and media intelligence services. Finally, our digital services focus on combining content with enterprise data, deriving insights, delivering digital content and insights over multiple channels and transforming the end user’s experience.


Q. What will it take to exceed our customers’ expectations in a digital world?

A. The difference between earlier times and the digital world today is the pace of change. Business and Technology changes are relentless and rapid. Therefore, the only way to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations is through speed of execution.


Q. As an observer and practitioner of digital transformation, according to you, what is the biggest obstacle to customers who want digital transformation?

A. In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to digital transformation is an organization culture that is resistant to change. Whether at an individual, team, or organization level, we usually find it difficult to shake off the comfort of the past and embrace the uncertainty of the future. Also adding to the problem is that the immediate short-term, negative impact of change is usually easy to see while the long-term positive impact is difficult to see and even more difficult to measure.

Digital transformation requires an organization culture that is open and embraces change constantly. Building such an organization culture requires individual transformation. For example, as the lines between business and technology blur, it is critical for business and management executives to embrace and re-skill themselves on technology. Similarly it is critical for technology executives to embrace and re-skill themselves on areas such business & domain knowledge, entrepreneurship, finance & accounting, and so on.


Q. According to you, what are the mega trends that are shaping the digital world?

A. I can think of three mega trends:

  1. Technology at the core of every business: Every single industry sector is getting disrupted through technology. The scale of the impact is such that regardless of industry sector, companies are often saying “We see ourselves as a technology company that happens to be in so-and-so industry sector”. Think of a digital bank. Are they a bank, or a technology company that happens to be in banking?
  2. Rise of Artificial Intelligence: While AI has been around for more than sixty years; the recent years have seen breakthroughs both in terms of computing power as well as data volumes available for the training of models. “Smart” was always the ultimate goal for software and AI is the ultimate means to that end. However there are complex implications of the rise of AI – both positive as well as negative.
  3. Managing content and data: With user generated content and device generated data adding to enormous volumes of data already in existence, how to manage content and data is becoming crucial to business success. The ability to monetize data will determine which companies survive over the next decade and which don’t. And finally, data privacy is likely to snowball into a worldwide movement which will see quite a few shakeups – what we are seeing today is just the beginning.


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