The pandemic has forced many organizations to rethink their essential business processes, kicking off a boom time for digital transformation. These efforts vary in complexity, but the most successful transformations happen with a seasoned expert providing guidance. To help clients navigate the inherent challenges, AlixPartners recently announced the hiring of digital transformation expert Narry Singh as a Managing Director in the firm's London office. Singh will co-lead the firm's Digital practice and support clients transforming their businesses through strategic innovation. We recently caught up with Singh to talk about his new role, the unique challenges firms are facing in a year like 2020, and the biggest consulting opportunities he sees out there.
Consulting: What has been keeping you busiest in your new role so far?
Singh: In my first weeks at AlixPartners, I've spent most of my time meeting my new partners and teams, learning how the firm works, and understanding its culture. Also, I've been fortunate already to be working on some very interesting digital client opportunities!
Consulting: How has the pandemic changed clients' perspectives on the importance or urgency of digital transformation?
Singh: I know it sounds cliché, but in the past six months, our clients have accelerated their digital transformations by two years—both in terms of pace and the investments being made. In addition, we have seen a further escalation of digital becoming a top priority at both the CEO and Board of Director Level.
Consulting: What are the biggest consulting opportunities you're seeing around digital innovation and strategic innovation?
Singh: Whilst digital strategy is important, execution of strategy at scale and pace has never been more important. Most of our clients are not struggling with a lack of brilliant ideas and strategies. A large percentage of the time their real challenge is executing at digital speed in new ways–that seems to be holding them back. Also, we see lots of shiny innovation efforts begin to lose their gleam as clients are struggling to see real return on investment. One significant unintended consequence of this pandemic, I believe, will be large enterprises rethinking their entire approach to innovation. The current approaches of using incubators, accelerators, and digital hubs will mostly fail.
Consulting: What do you expect will be some of the big business trends in digital next year?
Singh: I think the non-technology trends are most interesting. Of course artificial intelligence, automation, and other technologies will be important. However, I think how companies get the most out of them will change. In the coming year we will see more ecosystem partnerships focused on outcomes rather than traditional licensing arrangements. I also think the role of HR, talent development and remote working will undergo a transformation that will outlast this tragic pandemic.
Consulting: What are some of the business learnings you encountered during the height of the pandemic that you will carry with you beyond the pandemic and apply to your work?
Singh: I would say the most impactful learning from the pandemic is how important and valuable face-to-face interactions really are. It's the absence of not only the scheduled in-person meetings, but also the impromptu chats around the office coffee machine. Having just started a new job during the height of the pandemic has made me realize this more than ever before. I have also learned luckily that my online meetings have tended to be shorter than face-to-face ones. That's the biggest learning I hope to take into the post pandemic world.
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