77 per cent of companies consider missing digital skills as the key hurdle to their digital transformation
This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Content Writer & Editor at CIO News with Archana Goel, Founder & IT Leader of Akshpro IT Services, about her Professional Journey
When asked how she planned her career path to be a successful IT Leader, Archana Goel, Founder & IT Leader of Akshpro IT Services, in an exclusive interview with CIO News said, “To be very frank, I never planned my career path. I started a Computer Education Centre with my father back in 1993 after he retired from Indian Air Force. We took challenges, we struggled, we failed, we succeeded, and we saw all of it in a three-year journey”.
Then, I got an offer from an Export House to give computer training to their employees and set up the complete IT Infra and Applications. That was the first time I explored the internet & email. I spent one year there and honestly it gave me that base of gaining knowledge in all areas of IT, be it hardware, software, internet or email, and even virus.
In 1997, I got an opportunity to join JK Corp Limited. My aspirations opened their eyes in the corporate world and then there was no looking back. I did not stick to what knowledge or expertise I had. I learned new things, new concepts, and new technologies. As the company was also on a computerization journey, it gave me new tasks and trials to upgrade not only the IT set-up of the company but also in my self-development.
“I only planned to excel in whatever I do and keep learning, keep moving, and keep growing”.
When asked about challenges she faced in her career path and how she overcame them, she said, on the personal front, being a woman, I would say, the biggest challenge comes when you get married and start the family. Luckily for me, this wasn’t the case it was a blessing. My husband was very supportive and stood by me at all times. Although being from a different industry (he is a master baker) he understands the thicks and thins of an IT professional.
Professionally, I did face gender discrimination during my career. But I never let them overpower me. I kept exploring new ideas, new tools/technologies and introduced them to my seniors. When you show results then there is no stopping.
When asked about challenges faced by IT Leaders today in a similar industry while implementing digital technologies and how can IT Leaders overcome the challenges faced, she said,
A misinformed transformation strategy and lack of clarity on the strategy are the two hardest challenges for companies to overcome. – McKinsey
Charting the digital strategy is the major challenge for any organisation; clarity of the digital strategy is more important. A professional can study your processes and chalk out the best suitable plan for the company as per the latest trends and technologies. But as an IT Leader, an in-depth analysis is crucial to ascertain what will work best for my company.
I think one of the top challenges is organisational culture. Change Management is something really hard to handle. It flows from top to bottom but even in most cases, senior management is also reluctant to bring a change. It can only be handled through communication. The culture must be driven from the top and management encourages employees to get accustomed to tools, technologies, and solutions that are going to be implemented. More and more training about the digital, performance-driven rewards (other than the annual appraisals), promotion of digital activities, and keeping employees abreast with what new is happening are some of the key action points for handling cultural change while going digital.
Then comes the Budget! “Adoption of digital technologies needs an investment in acquiring and implementing the right technologies”. An organisation may start with low budgets, but to reap desired benefits, one needs a good amount of capital. Having said that, an IT Leader should also analyse what is required by the business; it is not always necessary to have the latest tools/technologies. What works best for others may not be fit for you. So, a deep dive is crucial to plan the digital journey.
Data Security is another big challenge. Cyber Security is complex and fast-changing. Today when everything is connected and available in the open social space, digital journeys can sustain only their ability to safeguard data. Security must be the part-n-parcel of any introduced technology. Deploying end-to-end policy-driven security tools is an approach to be followed. Process owners and end-users should be made aware of the Data Security and they must be made responsible for the security of their part of data.
Agility is again one most important aspect that should be in focus for adopting digital technologies. It introduces flexibility, speed, collaboration, communication, and cross-functional set-ups.
IT Resource planning is again a major challenge. Skilled resources are scarce. As per a study, 77 per cent of companies consider missing digital skills as the key hurdle to their digital transformation. Companies must invest in skilled manpower and build a pool of talent with strong competence in technology and solutions.
Apart from the above, while going digital there are many other challenges like leveraging available data and utilizing analytics, fast-evolving customer needs, the complexity of software and technologies, etc. IT Leaders should do due diligence to plan the execution of the company’s digital journey.
When asked about practices/industry trends/advice she would like to suggest to fellow IT Leaders for their successful professional journeys, she said:
- Identify your goals
- Be aware of your strengths
- Be responsible
- Raise your standards
- Network a lot
- Differentiate between needs and wants
- Keep learning, keep exploring
- Go away from FoF (Fear of Failure)
- Be a brand
- Have regular health check-ups
- Most importantly flourish your hobbies.
She said, throughout my career, I met many people who inspired me, helped me grow not only as a professional but also as a human being. I am thankful to everyone who contributed to this journey. I thank the IT fraternity to acknowledge and accolade my work. Because of them, I am where I am today. I hope that this guidance, appreciation, and harmony are extended to my future ventures also.
CIO News, a proprietary of Mercadeo, produces award-winning content and resources for IT leaders across any industry through print articles and recorded video interviews on topics in the technology sector such as Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Cloud, Robotics, Cyber-security, Data, Analytics, SOC, SASE, among other technology topics