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TRENDS & DIGITAL STRATEGY : Digital Transformation Is About Storytelling

27 May 2021

More than just a buzzword, digital transformation is the change of culture, processes, business model, or domain of an organisation or industry. The changes occur through the adoption of digital technologies or digital technology-enabled processes. Digital transformation impacted business operations in many organisations. It has changed  the customer experience landscape, replacing traditional processes with automation. For those who are about to make their first step towards the digital transformation journey, M. Umapathy Sivan, Chief Information Officer, Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) shared with us his opinion on the essence of Digital Transformation.

What is digital transformation to your business?

• Is it technology?
• Is it about people and processes?
• Is it business model innovation?
• Is it a financial strategy?

We can all agree that it is a combination of the above and much more. While the need and desired state of digital transformation is  fairly easy to navigate, building the capability to execute this vision is harder.    

Companies are built around serving unmet consumer needs. We create powerful brands, innovate processes, and rethink business models to serve changing customer needs and demands.    

Breaking through the competitive clutter can be tricky,  given that product and pricing  no longer necessarily translate into consumer demand.  The only way to differentiate is experience.  This is not limited to the delivery of the product or service, instead, it extends further.  Simply put, experience is  how your company interacts and engages with all its stakeholders. It is the story of your company, of that new unmet need for society,  of your customers, the planet, your employees, and your partners. This perhaps explains why we find  start-ups a more compelling value proposition than long-established incumbents. The fact that start-ups take an idea that customers care about, do it differently, and with much better outcomes that unlock new value, resonates with us.

I would argue that  the story of your company  is  the most important ingredient of every digital transformation initiatives. Every effort to digitise should tell a powerful story as a tool to create a meaningful experience for your stakeholders, be it your employees, partners or customers. It needs to get people on board with the change and rally around the new vision. Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microsoft, realised this soon after he took over the mantle from Steve Ballmer in 2014. While most CEOs write their books after retirement, Satya published his in 2017 as a way to connect with stakeholders and lay out his vision for the future of Microsoft in “Hit Refresh”. 

What renowned author and futurist, Rolf Jensen predicted in 1996, "In 25 years, what people buy will be mostly stories, legends, emotion, and lifestyle" is now a reality.  I encourage you to build a powerful brand story around your company as an anchor for all digital transformation efforts. No matter what your business does, creating innovative ways to deliver services and strengthen  customer engagement will be fundamental to improving your ability to execute and win.    

At the TM Group level, we already see the benefits of this approach. Placing the customer at the centre of everything we do is the cornerstone of our brand story. Hence, it is only natural to start digitising ourselves from the inside out, to create and transfer value to the customers that keep us going. In fact, TM Group Information Technology & Digital (GITD) is telling its own story – the metamorphosis of an archaic operator, to a data-driven company, focused on reshaping for the future. We strive towards an organisation that is “lean, mean and clean”, driven by the 3S design principle: simplification of the process, standardisation of technology and stabilisation of operations. These transformation pillars will be the guiding light in our efforts to unlock greater value for the stakeholders.   

As with all digital transformation initiatives, no matter what or how agile you are, it is never a smooth ride. And it is exactly that determination and willingness to take the first step, that will make your story stand out. While we recognise the hurdles in legacy systems and omnichannel adaptation, I strongly believe that our dynamic collaboration and innovation efforts will see us exceeding customer expectations.   

I am confident that TM is doubling down on its storytelling, to serve its purpose as the enabler of Digital Malaysia towards a brighter digital future. In fact, the tagline, “Taking Transformation Forward” by TM One, the enterprise and public sector business solutions arm of TM highlights our organisation's prevailing ethos and underscores our role in accelerating Digital Malaysia. With our core values in place, TM is well on its course to creating a dynamic yet inclusive experience, for our customers, employees and also partners.   

Umapathy  Sivan is the Chief Information Officer of TM, who leads the TM Group Information Technology and Digital division  

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