Today’s workforce expects a level of digital interaction never before seen, and companies are finding it necessary to adopt new large-scale platforms to make that happen. Mercer Digital has set a goal of connecting parts of the enterprise previously siloed to enable seamless communication between those parts. Consulting caught up with Rohit Mehrotra, the newly anointed CEO of Mercer Digital, to talk about the digital transformation and how to bring clients on board with this rapidly changing tech landscape.
Consulting: How does Mercer Digital fit into Mercer’s overall service offering?
Mehrotra: Digital itself is a pretty broad word, it’s hard for one person or organization to define. We’re seeing certain trends in the market as to how employees, partners or customers want to engage in the workforce as well as with companies. And we said let’s think about what our version of digitization is. There was a time when if the business processes were changing the executives would say which technologies fit, which technologies can I buy to adopt which can help with our business? Then the question started changing, the technologies continued to advance at a much faster pace than what the business functions were. If you look back and see when SAP first came across, one of the biggest complaints from the CEOs and CFOs was that we have to change our businesses to adapt to SAP. In my mind, that was pretty much the start of the digitization process. Today what has happened is as the technologies have evolved, the executives not only have to answer whether the technologies can do what they’re intending to do and what is possible because of this technology, but also, what happens if we don’t adopt this technological trend? Then what happens to our business? That is why it’s become so important.
Consulting: What are the big digitization trends you’re seeing on engagements?
Mehrotra: The trends are coming from all over the place and it’s important to recognize that their customers externally, their partners as well as us help bring these views about what it means for digitization for the enterprise, for the workforce. The customers, employees and partners today are based on new relationships almost instantaneously, and it’s an always-on relationship. You take all of these things in place and it becomes a fairly complex challenge. Then you layer it on with a new set of employees joining in who expect to use different types of systems, who expect to interact with the executives, with the customers, with the partners in a different way. That’s the millennial workforce, and they were practically born with all of this stuff. That’s really where Mercer Digital is going to start playing. We want to partner with organizations that have best-of-class large digital platforms. If you look at organizations who have large platforms available and those platforms are innovating at a very fast pace because these organizations also have leadership that is looking far out, we want to be able to partner with and have practices with those platforms, understand those platforms and bring them to our customers.
Consulting: What are the most disruptive digital technologies?
Mehrotra: Robotics and AI are definitely going to play a key role. But I think it’s our ability to understand the impact of technology in unrelated terms that’s really going to differentiate. Where it can be used, in what context, and which organizations can understand it best is really going to start differentiating itself. That’s where I think we as an organization are going to succeed because we understand the people; we understand exactly how to attract the very best. It’s going to have to be an ecosystem approach, because digital itself is such a broad thing. When I started learning operating systems, during the time you’re learning those things nothing makes sense because you learn it in bits and pieces and nothing is coming together. That’s the challenge of digitization today and people who understand that will probably succeed.
Consulting: What are some big challenges clients are facing?
Mehrotra: Patience is going to be a big part. If you go out there and say you want to help digitize their organization, you have to be able to answer the question as to how you’re going to do that quickly. It’s a little more complex of an answer, that’s why at Mercer Digital we want to have an answer that’s easily understood. Let’s adopt massive platforms, and those platforms are not only innovating themselves but they’re being offered as a service, so you should be able to bring client-specific applications on top of it.
Consulting: What engagements are you seeing around digitization?
Mehrotra: We’re seeing adoption of large-scale platforms. Organizations are going out and adopting platforms like Workday and Servicenow and trying to create customer and employee engagement platforms on top of it and learning from the data they never had. These systems are helping because they’re already incorporating AI and predictive analytics, but now your HR systems are connected to your Finance systems, which are are connected to your supply chain in a single line of code. That’s something HR officers and CFOs never had before.