2023 will be a challenging yet exciting year for Indian enterprises and Indian CIOs in particular. On one hand, they will face global economic headwinds, yet on the other, they will see better domestic demand. They must face these challenges head on and focus on reinnovating their IT core to be able compete globally. Indian companies must get out of the old IT mindset of doing just enough to keep the lights on. They must become future fit by adopting new innovative methods and technologies.

As per Forrester’s Software 1 Survey, 2022, only 7% of surveyed Indian companies qualify as future fit. More than half of them are classified as modern, and a little over a third are traditional. Forrester defines future fit companies as those companies that are customer-obsessed and deploy future fit strategies that are based on three core capabilities: adaptability, creativity, and resilience.

Building future fit capabilities is a necessary and tedious process, and companies must have a well-defined plan in place. Companies need to plan carefully, however, and take a few baby steps before leapfrogging.

Digital transformation cannot happen overnight, nor can it happen using legacy infrastructure and applications. Indian firms must look at some critical aspects before embarking on any major digital transformation journey. They need to ensure the following:

  • CIO and CFO alignment. Many traditional companies are still run by technically challenged management, especially CFOs. CIOs must put in extra effort to educate the CFOs on the importance of technology in the overall progress of the company and how outdated/old/legacy systems are a drag on companies’ growth and profit. CFOs, on the other hand, need to look at the financial viability of any new technology, keeping in mind the opportunity cost lost due to old noncompatible systems, loss of revenue due to lower customer advocacy, and difficulty to compete due to competitors providing better customer experience.
  • Application portfolio rationalization. CIOs cannot carry the entire baggage of legacy applications into the digital age. They need to promote portfolio rationalization as a means for digital readiness. CIOs need to work with CXOs and business heads to strategically align applications with business growth and future needs. Application rationalization will also help in cost rationalization and provides an opportunity to revisit the existing IT operating cost models. 
  • A planned and strategic cloud movement. Forty percent of companies in India are planning to increase SaaS adoption. The primary reasons for SaaS adoption for future fit companies in India are: 1) increased cloud/IT resilience; 2) increased speed of implementation and deployment; 3) improved business agility; and 4) regular updates from vendors. CIOs in modern and traditional companies need to look at cloud movements as strategic and not transactional (cost savings only) and plan movements based on business needs and future growth.
  • Intelligent contract negotiations. Indian CIOs must rework their IT product and services vendor relationships to get a better return from their existing software and services deployment. CIOs need to understand the existing SLAs better and map them to historical data while keeping future growth in mind. They must account for the time and money investments on the architectural changes and integration enablement. They must make contracts dynamic, outcome-oriented, and results-based and build in shorter-term review mechanisms for better results.
  • Due diligence on tools and services partners. Many large vendors have a plethora of products and services, which they cleverly market as the best and requiring less to no integration and support. Similarly, some services providers are good with one vendor stack and not so proficient with other application stacks or hybrid stacks. As Indian CIOs plan and build future fit organizations, it’s very important that they carefully choose the tools and services providers that have long-term innovative roadmaps, that have been strategic partners in similar environments before, and that have the capability to provide new and innovative solutions.

For further information, refer to future fit strategies, application portfolio rationalization, and SaaS adoption strategies in India at Forrester.com.