03/03/2016

Technology, transparency and transformation

Author: Bharti Gupta Ramola, Markets Leader, PwC India Bharti ramola

Technology is reshaping many products and markets. Is it also changing the outcomes business leaders focus on and how they define success?

Technology is a major game changer today. PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey tells us that CEOs recognise the impact of evolving technologies and the benefits that can accompany their effective and strategic utilisation in terms of products and markets. When asked about the global trends most likely to transform wider stakeholder expectations of businesses in the next five years, 77% of global CEOs and 80% of CEOs in India cited technological advances in their top three.

Technology creates transparency…

But with better technology has come more transparency. The rise of the Internet has made information easily accessible. Simultaneously, social media has reduced the distance between a company and its diverse groups of stakeholders, opening up the field for direct and constant interaction.

Alongside that, reliance on data for growth is only increasing. Seventy-eight percent of the CEOs surveyed in India and 68% globally revealed that data and analytics is the connecting technology they think generates the greatest returns in terms of engaging with stakeholders.

Which connecting technologies do CEOs think generate the greatest return in terms of engagement with wider stakeholders?

Kunal Bahl, Co-Founder and CEO of Snapdeal, India comments: ''One of the advantages and the banes of our existence is the fact that we have access to so much data, data about usage pattern, data about consumer behaviour, data about shopping and transaction behaviour, spends behaviour. We have so much data. And while it's great because it enables us to make only data-backed decisions … we get very, very uneasy when we take decisions which are not data-backed.''

…and facilitates transformation

In this rapidly changing and connected world, an interesting question to focus on is whether greater transparency and scrutiny are also changing how business leaders define their goals. Personally, I was fascinated by the fact that over half of the CEOs surveyed are making significant changes to how they use technology to evaluate and cater to changing stakeholder expectations. Closer to home, fully two-thirds (66%) of Indian CEOs reported that they are making a significant change to the ways in which they deploy technology to deliver on wider stakeholder expectations. Technology, for them, has become a preferred facilitator for organisational transition.

So are companies today increasingly aligning themselves with not just customers but a wider group of stakeholders? Going by our survey results, organisations do appear to be redefining their purpose based on the expectations of society as a whole, the government and regulators, investors, employees, the media, supply chain partners, among others. Of the CEOs surveyed in India, 70% stated that their purpose centres on creating value for wider stakeholders, and 54% believed that doing so enables them to be profitable.

Bharti Gupta Ramola is the Markets Leader for PwC India and a member of the India Leadership Team. Prior to her current role, she was the Deals Leader for PwC India. Bharti has also led the Infrastructure, Government & Utilities & Energy Sector Advisory for PwC India and was a member of PwC’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council. In her personal capacity, Bharti serves on the boards of BASIX and Srijan, two of India’s leading organisations promoting livelihood development. She has been Chair of the Board of PRADAN.

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