Go AatmaNirbhar with Digital

Srinivas Narasimhan

Many people have attributed many different meanings to this majestic Hindi term, including self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-contained etc., depending on whether they agree with Prime Minister’s vision or not. The PM’s vision and message to the country is clearly set out in the 3 slogans that have been used under the AatmaNirbhar Bharat (ANB) message, namely, Vocal for Local, Local for Global and Make for the World. Clearly, taken together these slogans express the desire to support local businesses and lift them to a global standard and make them a part of the global supply chain. The Prime Minister also stated that technology-driven systems as one of the five pillars of this vision. To promote the growth of technology-driven systems, a number of technology initiatives have been proposed by the government, as shown in the accompanying image. In this post we will explain how this vision is very closely allied with your company’s own Digital Transformation strategy.

The Digital Future is all around us. Led by world-leading technology companies, followed by a thousands of startups, embraced by governments and the common public, including your own employees. As we saw in earlier posts, Digital Transformation does not just mean adding more technology to automate your operations, but demands a complete overhaul of your business model, changing the organizational mind-set and organizing around smart systems to streamline your operations. If you are still wondering why you should undertake such a demanding exercise in the first place, you have to consider the benefits of Digital Transformation and the risk of not making a timely transformation. The first and most obvious benefit you get is the increased channels and touchpoints to interact with your customers thus directly increasing sales. With increasing ability to interact with customers digitally and in real time, you are in a position to offer many more choices to them and reach segments of customers you never had before. With your customer reach and market sweep growing often exponentially, how do you scale your operations? This is where smart device, autonomous smart systems and artificial intelligence help your operations by acting as a force multiplier and scale up or down rapidly and efficiently. Since you do not operate in isolation, you are able to transform your collaboration with your downstream supply chain to transform your business into one that is radically different from the conventional operations you run today. The risk of not making this change in reasonable time is that your smart competitor or a new startup will start whittling down your market share with the same advantages we described earlier that comes with adoption of the Digital Technologies.

Now we look at the parallels between ANB and your putative digital transformation journey. The first slogan, Vocal for Local offers interpretations at multiple levels. At the national level, Mr. Modi is calling for businesses and consumers to support and publicize local providers to create a sustainable ecosystem for the goals of the other two slogans. Let us look at it from an individual company’s perspective. Today one of the prime reasons for the pathetically low rate of adoption of digital technologies by industries in general, MSME’s in particular, is the non-availability of local expertise and equipment in the country. It has been stated elsewhere that it is ironic that we have a plenitude of technology multi-nationals to advise the world on digital technology, but a shortage of them to support the local industry. For the companies that have the technology, Vocal for Local is a call to turn their eyes the local market and fill the vacuum that exists in local industry support. For the industries, this can be seen as a call for reaching out to local partners in their transformation journey. This will help create jobs locally and foster skill sets to make this sustainable over time.

The next slogan Local for Global is also a strong one challenging the traditional Indian industry mind set to raise the bar in quality, efficiency and productivity to match or exceed global standards. The Indian inventor’s mind is often satisfied with ‘Jugaad’, an incremental invention to suit local conditions and not seek out original, comprehensive and global solutions. With this slogan the PM is encouraging us to take up bolder initiatives, dream bigger and give a global dimension to even our local aspirations. Indeed he is asking Indian economy to move away from the concept of incremental growth and towards a quantum jump trajectory. This quantum leap strategy for economy is the first pillar of the ANB. When you undertake the Digital Transformation of your enterprise, it is very same mind-set that is called for, as described earlier in this post. Indeed, Modi was referring to the use of Digital Technology to raise your business to Global standards, The benefits are manifold, first making your company eligible to compete at global level, then creating a pool of talent that is world class and putting it in the service of the local economy and finally, increasing the quality life that comes with superior technology to the country.

The last slogan is merely stating the truth in this irrevocably globalizing economy. As witnessed dramatically during the Covid pandemic, the global supply chains run long and deep, and affect every nation on the earth when they are disrupted. The message is that if you wish to remain a fish in your local pond, your business risks low growth and possibly obsolescence. If on the other hand, if you raise your standards to global levels and become part of the global supply chains, you will continue to grow and stay relevant. Establishing strong local roots helps you initially to grow using local help and in the long run sustain your business and also find new opportunities when there are disruptions in the global supply chains as we have seen so frequently in the past. So, I encourage you to embrace ANB with all your heart, embark on your Digital Journey and grow your company and the nation!

Keep watching this blog site for updates, or write to me if you want to ask me, or share something with me on the subject. See you until next time!

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