Leading Research on Digitalisation: The Centre for Digital Transformation

Prof. Pankaj Setia

Digital technologies are transforming how firms and individuals organise. IIMA has been a leader studying the domain, and establishing the Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT) is a step in that direction. The centre has been launched in partnership with the Bank of America to conduct cutting-edge digitalisation research. Reflecting the broader scope of work to be done at the centre, the faculty joining the centre span varied areas at IIMA, including the Information Systems, Strategy, Marketing, Communications, Human Resource Management, Economics, Public Systems Group, Finance and Accounting, and the Centre for Management in Agriculture.

Besides the institute's distinguished faculty, the centre has attracted industry and academic leaders to its advisory committee. Ms Catherine P. Bessant, vice chair, Global Strategy at Bank of America, is my co-chair on the advisory council. Also on the advisory council are Professor Errol DíSouza, Director, IIMA; Ms Madhuri Deshpande, Head of Global Business Services, Bank of America, India; Professor (Dr) Debjit Roy, Institute Chair Professor, IIMA; and Professor (Dr) Ramayya Krishnan, the Dean of Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University. The key theme at the centre is the deliberation to usher in an era of responsible digital transformation. Intending to make an impact on these lines, the centre has put together a council of responsible digital transformation that includes industry and academic leaders, to create cutting-edge and advanced knowledge. The members on the council include Professor (Dr) Ritu Agarwal, Distinguished University Professor and Special Advisor to the Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland; Ms Debjani Ghosh, president of NASSCOM; Mr Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and MD, Tata Consultancy Services; Mr Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and non-executive chairman, Infosys; Mr Aditya Puri, senior advisor, The Carlyle Group; and Professor (Dr) Vallabh Sambamurthy, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We inaugurated the centre on August 26, 2021. Academic and industry leaders across India and the world attended the inauguration. The inauguration outlined the focus on cutting-edge research to unravel dynamics related to the development, strategy and leadership of digital innovations. Furthermore, as we outline, our approach focuses on leveraging conceptual frameworks that integrate theories and developments in strategy, economics, information systems and other business disciplines.

Many interesting problems and opportunities are arising in India because of the advent of digital technologies. Digital technologies, including those related to social media, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), are bringing about widespread changes. India is going through a rapid pace of digitisation, which the rise of the pandemic has catalysed. Notably, the pandemic has created many exemplars demonstrating how digitalisation may influence our lives. Small and medium businesses rely on the power of mobile phones to take orders. Citizens access vaccine certificates digitally to access parks and other public places. Children take classes online, and many professionals work from home. However, to leverage the potential of digitisation, what started as a forced exercise needs to be formalised.

To leverage the potential of digitisation proactively, nations, organisations and even families require formal theories and perspectives. The centre is committed to building new knowledge that caters to these needs. For example, a couple of months ago, I shared my opinions on how India may evolve a philosophy around digitalisation by focusing on complementary or substitutive dynamics.2 Many other implications from theoretical and empirical research are crucial to usher in an era of prosperity in the digital age. CDT is working on research studies that will help produce such knowledge. Notably, the centre is working to produce new knowledge in three domains.

CONSUMER AND RETAIL
At CDT, we are collaborating with various online retailers to shape the environment for the digitalisation of modern retail. Focusing on customer needs and well-being, the centre plans to engage in research to ascertain what consumers value and how retailers may serve them better. Some of the projects in the domain ascertain the principles of value creation in retail, the role of technology in engaging patients in creating healthcare services, etc.

ORGANISATIONAL TRANSFORMATIONS
As more companies strive to develop new digital capabilities, many are making significant changes to their organisational culture, capabilities, digital architectures and leadership profiles. The centre is assessing various aspects related to using digital business strategies to leverage digital technologies that span social media, artificial intelligence or crowdsourcing technologies. The research projects conducted at CDT assess how digital technologies are leading to a transformation of leadership, data-driven decision-making and supply chain efficiency.

INCLUSION AND BRIDGING DIGITAL DIVIDE
With its focus on responsible digital transformation, the centre is pursuing research on bridging the digital divide, leveraging digital technologies for social justice and examining modern slavery in supply chains.

(Figure 1: Photos from the Centre's Inauguration)




To know more about the centre, please visit our website at https://www.iima.ac.in/web/cdt/

1. More details on the inauguration are available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym1y6TDFOdM&t=101s.
2. https://www.forbesindia.com/article/iim-ahmedabad/india-needs-to-find-its-digital-dharma/71323/1

About The Author

Prof. Pankaj Setia

Prof. Pankaj Setia

Professor Pankaj Setia (pankajsetia@iima.ac.in) is IIMA Chair Professor in the Information Systems area. He is also the chair of the Centre for Digital Transformation at IIMA.

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