Secure Digital Transformation: A Part of Modern IT Strategy

Vijay Kumar, SVP & Head of Technology, eMudhra Vijay Kumar is Senior Vice President & Head of Technology, with responsibility for Technological Advancements, Engineering & Product Innovations. Vijay is instrumental in setting-up eSign technology (Digital India Program). He is involved in Technical Architecture of eSign from its start, with Information Technology Ministry (MEITY).

With the rise of cloud solutions & distributed workforces, organizations can no longer rely on the old ways of doing things. What they need to do to meet the demands of today’s tech-savvy customers, while staying on the right side of cost & efficiency is to shift to a more progressive IT Strategy, especially the one that places huge emphasis on secure digital transformation. But achieving this is easiersaid than done. This is because implementation of a progressive IT strategy with digital transformation as its centre piece is a long and continuous process, wherein you have to align your IT capabilities with organizational business requirements. This in turn requires complete understanding of business strategic drivers by having a clear view of business needs, as well as key success criteria, business processes, goals and business drivers. Such IT strategy should also consider all sides of technology management, including cost control, hardware, software applications, as well as how investments in these capabilities support the overall business strategy. It should also emphasise on training and successful usage of its implementations.

To put it in simple words, digital transformation is the thoughtful transformationof activities, processes, competencies and models of the organization to leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies. This not only considers the present, but also accelerates with future shifts in mind. Let’s take a look at the two crucial aspects of a complete and meaningful Digital Transformation:

Paperless Transformation: Low Cost, High Efficiency
One of the main intention behind this transformation is to bring paperless and presence-less transactions across all organizational needs. This not only makes the process effortless, but also removes the difficulties of record keeping and speeds-up the process closure; varying from internal employee automation to dealing with external stakeholders. The adoption of cloud applications and online IT infrastructure makes it easy for any business to plug-in necessary requirements using suitable solutions and design the process automation.

Implementation of workflow platforms with electronic signature capabilities brings in a lot of value for a business organization to go paperless. Nowadays, we have legally compliant signature solutions, which makes any electronically
signed document equivalent to conventional paper documents. This ability makes it convincing to adopt paperless transformation for processes involving external stakeholders like customers or vendors.

"IT strategy has an important role to play with all the business stakeholders and a secure digital transformation will bring about significant advantage and support to the IT strategy"

Financial processes are one of the most paper intensive processes, which can be easily transformed to digital. For instance, several transactions like purchase orders and invoices demand a lot of paper trail along with manual signatures just to make sure that the external stakeholders do not object. However, implementing digitally signed workflows for these transactions ensure that they are legally admissible. Other aspects of the Finance Department such as cash requests, employee reimbursements, and others can also be easily transitioned to digital formats.

Human Resource is another key area that is consuming a lot of paper. It is not very difficult to digitally transform processes like employee on-boarding and distribution of promotion letters, re-designation letters, appraisal forms (including feedback collection), and appraisal letters. This addresses majority of process automation in a Human Resource department. It not only reduces paper, but also significantly reduces time and effort required to complete these aspects, and also makes it more organized and auditable. Similarly, systems like vendor on-boarding, purchase order issuances, NDAs, and SLAs can also be simplified with Digital Transformation.

Transform the Identity & Access Management of Users
With more business applications coming-up in today’s cloud world, organizations are also required to focus on identity & access management for various applications. Digitization has significant advantages, provided that the organization puts security around it without which it is prone to larger risks.

The cloud, as well as on-premise applications, is well covered with general security aspects. However, the bigger challenge is more on identification & access monitoring of these applications, as it poses larger entrance for an intentional attack or a compromise. With diversified organizational functioning, departmental silos are seen as a growing inconvenience for organizations of all sizes. This makes each of them implement different cloud/internal applications for different purposes such as lead management, CRM, finance applications, customer support systems, project management systems, bug-tracking systems, and vendor management systems. These applications, by default require a separate login for individuals to login into the system. If an employee’s access is restricted for any reason or terminated on his exit, it is a major task for the IT team to trace all such back-office systems and modify the access rights appropriately. This is seen as a major loophole as incidents have been reported of data compromise, hacking or manipulation, thereby causing greater security risk to the organization.

Single identity & multi factor access management systems make it simple for IT teams to get every thing in one place. These expose standard API protocols, which are supported by majority of back-office systems, and are based on open standards and protocols. These systems will also work in tandem with Active Directory or LDAP or Email Authentication systems.

Transforming the organization with a single system for identity and access control will reduce the risk of data compromise to a great extent. Multi-factor authentication also makes signing-in more secure, which in turn avoids a shared password or unintended access scenario.

IT strategy has an important role to play with all the business stakeholders and a secure digital transformation will bring about significant advantage and support to the IT strategy by improving security, enhancing efficiency and reducing the cost and time taken, hence making organizations focus on core business goals. A well-planned & effectively executed IT strategy can help businesses to become more transformative, effective, efficient and agile. Business will be able to diversify their offerings, uncover new revenue streams, save money, and attract/retain customers by making the right IT investments.