Insights from Local Leaders

This is the third in a series of articles on the key insights from the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2018 on the theme ‘On The Fast Track To A Turnaround’. These insights were captured from the 3rd Session titled, Sri Lanka Inc; Transforming into the Digital Economy.


1. Digital transformation is inevitable, and the time to act is now!

Digital transformation has been on the agenda of organizations for years, and the period from 2018-2020 is predicted to be a crucial time for leaders to plan and implement it across industries. Validating this prediction, Gartner expects global IT spending to reach $3.7 trillion in 2018, a growth of 4.5%.

Amongst senior executives, there’s widespread recognition that the role of digital technology is shifting - from driving marginal efficiency to being a catalyst of innovation and disruption. This means that in the coming years, organizations must avoid the risk of falling prey to competitors and disruptors.

As per a recent global survey, when it comes to a timeframe, 85% of key decision makers feel they have only 2 years to get to grips with digital transformation. So, while the past few years have seen some movement in digital transformation, there’s now an urgency, as 59% of business leaders worry that it’s already too late for adopting technology.


2. The leadership factor – the emergence of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), and the Chief Digital Officer (CDO)

Digital transformation will dominate business strategy in 2018, and CEOs will look to their CIOs to act as strategic partners to guide them through a series of significant changes. Every business has a different approach to service, product, structure, model and culture, but when it comes to migrating to digital, appointing the right person, or people, for the job is critical. While many experts say the evolution of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) role in terms of both technology and service, will make the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) role obsolete - this outlook is somewhat linear.

By taking a collaborative approach the CDO and Chief Marketing Officer should work with the CIO to help accelerate the digital transformation process, using a collective mix data analytics, technological insights and innovative consumer marketing techniques to help the business thrive in the age of the customer.

“Digital is the only way to take Sri Lanka to the world”

– Dr. Ramesh Shanmuganathan, Group CIO, John Keells Holdings

3. The longevity of businesses in the future relies largely on their adoption of digital technology, and its success will be measured by the depth of its digital footprint

The only option for survival is to embrace the digital adaption, and those who do it faster benefit most. Any forward looking organisation should have a larger digital foot print; and the success of most future businesses will depend and revolve around the amount and the depth of the “Digital Foot Print” they create. To move towards digital, organisations should unlock decentralized data and centralize it initially and thereafter employ tools that could visualize data – so that the decision makers can make better and informed decisions.

As per the 2017 forecast released by the International Data Corporation, by 2020, 50% of the Global 2000 companies will see most of their business depend on their ability to create products, services, and experiences that are digitally-enhanced.

4. Private sector contribution to digital policies are essential to its successful implementation

Across the globe, governments are setting up digital policies and laying digital platforms. In order to encourage businesses to adopt new technology governments are providing considerable incentives, and early adopters are receiving significant returns for the risks they are taking. The success of these initiatives by successive governments will rely on the involvement of the private sector. Paving the way for PPPs was therefore observed as the most effective means of achieving this goal.

“If you are still sending random e-mails for your customers or potential customers; then, you are yet to explore digital adaption”

– Dee Liyanwela, Head of LSEG Sri Lanka


Results from Audience Poll Question: Is your company transforming into the Digital Economy?


The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

Economic Intelligence Unit

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