Sunday, February 5, 2017

THE DIGITAL TSUNAMI by Abhijit Bhaduri

THE DIGITAL TSUNAMI - Succeeding in a world turned upside-down by Abhijit Bhaduri (2016), Rupa, New Delhi p 187

Change is the only constant and for business organizations it is much greater a challenge to respond to changing dynamics of market, business, polity and people. Technology has driven the change much faster in the 21st century. Last two decades have witnessed much visible transformations in business and society than any two decades in the last two centuries. It has been phenomenal and exponential in scale and speed.  The emergence of social media has redefined the nature of conversation and communication and has replaced normal bar for millennials in much of their expectations, attitude and assertiveness. Millennials are writing history every day.

In these times Abhijit Bhaduri (HR expert and blogger, consultant and coach) introduces us to the Digital Tsunami through his own style of narrative and experiences. Abhijit weaves an excellent story around contemporary corporations thriving on disruption through technology and drives the reader to understand the pulls and pressures though entrepreneurial successes of some the highly valued corporations of today.  As I write this review, I learn Google has surpassed Apple in market valuation as a brand and has become world's most valuable brand according to Brand Finance.

The book begins with the science of developing a habit and takes the reader along with propriety of reference, posterity of thought and prominence of learning mindset. On one side digitalization is creating opportunities, on the other it is leading the process of automation and robotics is subject to pose a challenge for HR. The mindset has to bridge that gap through exploring new areas of innovation and entrepreneurship to be relevant and responsive.  The escapists are going to suffer the most until some unexpected disruption finds its way.  The book has lot of academic merit (as it derives strength from the contribution of popular researchers in the domain of Digital networks) and provides rich practical lessons (with corporate examples of practices and transformation).

The researches quoted in the text develop a defense for the prepositions Abhijit is putting before the readers. The ownership of ideas and practice is well explained through an excellent example of Drew Manning (of fit2fat2fit fame), Byju Raveendran (of byju.com) and many others. Technology driven companies are going to lead in almost all spheres of business which was unheard in major part of the 20th century. Taxi services (uber), hotel rooms (aibnb), retailing (walmart/amazon), education (byju/coursera/moocs etc), reading (kindle), social connections (facebook/linkedin/twitter) etc are heading towards much greater valuations than the hard core traditional brick and mortar companies. The trend is going to further continue for few more decades and in order to imbibe this change the firms would have to create facilitating physical and virtual environment. It was surprising to note through the book that between 2008 and 2010, eBook sales grew by 1260 per cent. This is something which is unbelievable. Transformation is exponential whereas change is linear.  Digital world is much more inclusive than the analog world.

Companies will have to go digital not to keep up with the competitive forces but simply to keep up with customers (p 45). This is an apt observation by the author. Customers are getting engaged with the products and producers and helping co-creating products and services, hence the competition lies much around customer and his/her experiences rather than the competitor or if we put it differently the customer is the competitor. Digital responsibility needs to be carried out in such a way that it allows customers to help organizations to design appropriate products/services and to have engaging relationship with them.

The world is going to be led by digital leaders of the market to whom Abhijit gives an acronym as FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix & Google) and he offers suggestion to build a digital organizational culture through transdisciplinary collaboration, employee branding, innovation, managing workforce diversity effectively, creating digital communication infrastructure, responding through speed and scale, embracing failure, preferring fluid structures and learning to become resilient.

The author suggests to follow five behaviours to develop a mindset towards responding to the Digital Tsunami. They are:
  1. Wear someone else's shoes
  2. From internal to external focus
  3. Design, strategy and technology
  4. Rapid prototyping and rapid growth
  5. Insights allow for individualization.
Apart from this I appreciate his advice at individual level to go for some MOOCs, listen to something inspiring, and leveraging social media for one's advantage. I personally feel that the workforce has to follow a mix of traditional and pragmatic ways of learning.  May be fully moving away from traditional methods would be too early step.  The doodles given throughout the text makes the book engaging as the summaries explained through them create effective recall in the mind of the reader. He proves to be a digital artist who can draw essence of the narrative in an excellent manner. His understanding of issues is sharp, his language is simple, his articulation looks real, his ability to respond to the call of time is praise worthy, his approach towards future is optimist and his lessons are practical.

The book provides rich information from different sources and much of it is left to the reader to convert it positively into knowledge base according to one's ability. The book is small and could be finished in two sittings. But if one really wants to have some key takeaways it might take little more time.  Overall it is an excellent treat to all the young students of today who are interested in the study of organizations, technology, business, entrepreneurship, strategy and future.  I strongly recommend this title to all who believe in the power of technology and are passionate about future.