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9 Jayarethanam Pillai on the 3 advantages of digital transformation

· Career,podcast


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Podcast with Jaya Part 2 



Jaya, Liew Wei Da Andrew  

Show outline: 

Section 1: About the show 

Section 2: About the guest 

Section 3: Heighten awareness of mental health 

Section 4: The other 3 advantages of digital transformation

Section 5: Runninga cost benefit analysis to build a case for digital transformation

Section 6: New norm on the future of work


Jaya mentioned that managers and leaders develop a greater sense of mental health stress generated by pandemic and transition use of remote work strategies. Despite that, companies and organizations should adopt continuous digital transformation because of the following 3 advantages which are security enhancement, gaining customer advantage over others and developing the agility advantage. The way to build a case for digital transformation can be to develop a cost benefit analysis for a specific scope of work. One of the quick wins to do that is to focus on improving operational efficiency using digital transformation. Regarding the classic pop quiz of what job should the chicken rice hawker take, Jaya recommended the person to be a people manager. Jaya believed that there will be no return to normal regarding the future of work arrangement.  

Liew Wei Da Andrew 00:18 

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the AI of mankind show where I shareanything interesting about mankind. I'm your host for the season. My name is Andrew Liew. I've worked across four continents and 12 international cities.Also, I work in tech startups across a range of roles from selling products,making customer happies, figuring out fundraising, making finance tick, building teams, and developing sticky products. Apart from building startups,I've also worked in Fortune 500 companies. As a chief data scientist ortechnologies, or people leader. You can call me Jack of all trades or master oflearning. I hope to make this podcast show a great learning experience for us.And each season there is a series of interesting things, where invite guests toshare their views about their life and interests. Now, let the show begin.   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 01:10 

Hi everyone, thank you for coming to the show. kindly allow me tointroduce my guest for today. Jaya or Dr. Jayarethanam Pillai. Jaya is the chief innovation and data science officer. He has run his own technology startup company and consultancy firmoffering regional experience in providing analytical and data science work forcompanies and government agency in the likes of United Nation, Asia DevelopmentBank. You know. And also particularly specializing in developing strategic decisions using economics, data analytics and artificial intelligence. Jaya hasdone over 20 analytics related projects and widely published papers in economicpolicy, digital transformation and entrepreneurship while working and living in11 international cities. He has expert level advisory experience in deployingend to end data engineering and data systems. In addition, he has obtained his PhD in Economics from the Australian National University. Let's put our hands to welcome Jaya.   

Jaya 02:4

Thank you very much, Andrew, for having me in one of your podcast.It's such a pleasant surprise. I'm pretty good.   

Jaya 02:54 

Okay, so the purpose of this podcast is to really understand how we see things in AI, or artificial intelligence, understand digital transformation, and also understand about your story.  

Liew Wei Da Andrew  03:05  

Before that, I go to aphysical office 8 am to 5 pm, now everybody's remote. My boss anytime 24/7 can drop me a message "Hey Andrew, Can you you know, do this and send me a report by tomorrow." And then before I could get back, he didn't reply. I feel anxious. This is asynchronous coming along the lack of synchronicity, the lack of dynamic response, the lack of relationship, what do you have to say about that?   

Jaya 03:33 

What I would say is, in the last couple of months, there have been concerns of how and mental awareness what companies are now doing is even yourboss, even your heads of department are slowly understanding that then the rigidity of developing the boss employee relationship is a lot more cut out. They're becoming a lot more softer, because they themselves are facing thismental health issues because they are not able to see the physically see their employees. Employees are being understood a lot more well by the bosses, which they would not have before. So the pandemic has given the opportunity for bosses, heads of departments to actually understand employees a lot more which they will not have before. And I feel the continuation of more awareness in that scenario is going to break down a lot of barriers. A lot more people aregoing to be happy simply because there is a lot more understanding of individual employees mental health and awareness. And a lot of these CEOs and heads of departments are going to be a lot more relaxed yet expect a certain level of work and productivity along the line. So there is going to be a lot more softening of approach as opposed to a more bureaucratic, don't care that kind of scenario. I don't care what your health but I need the report. No, that's never going to actually creep in because they know what's happening. Why they are in the same boat as any employee, right? They have the frustration, I'm not able to see him not able to talk to them not able to go to the, to the office to actually to just scold because they are themselves are actually stuck in that scenario. There has to be a fair bit of adaptation in the heart in the process of how we are actually looking at employee employer relations. And that's where the strategy of business interactions is going to come and go communication.    

Liew Wei Da Andrew 05:28 

Back to that digital advantage, you mention about five points I remember in a conversation was about efficiency, advantage, productivity advantage. Tell me more, what are the other 3 advantages that you talked about?   

Jaya 05:3

Now, the three other advantages, one of the key ones is security.Now, that's a huge shake up in every single company security of IT services,security platform, right? That that's an advantage. Now, companies are looking into those scenarios, they are better prepared from all and get better prepared and more resilient from the proliferation of cyber threats in the current environment, because there's a lot more frauds happening. Hence, a lot more is spent invested in preventing those. And we saw, there's a lot of reports that says, companies are improving their security and at the same time improving their profit. So I call it profit versus a profit budgets. So that's enough,    

Jaya 06:25 

another area is customer advantage. Now, because it's online, thebehavior is able to be monitored a lot more because of Google ads, because of Facebook ads, or metaverses coming to picture. If you have an environment where some customers are actually using our online purchasing, as opposed to some just walking in what the study would be a lot more what you call this first,but now we are looking at a huge consumption in the digital platform. So there is going to be a fairly amount of data in identifying how customers are behaving to pricing issues, delivery issues, response from customer service, some of these are going to be a huge advantage for companies.    

Jaya 07:10 


Liew Wei Da Andrew 07:11 


Jaya 07:11 

And last but not least, how quick companies to responding to challenges. That's the agility advantage. Right? How are we going to actually leverage on search services to make more informed decisions, and how fast so they have to have a built in counsel flexibility to adapt or change the course at any point. What's happening is, if they don't take the opportunity to study so much data, they can lose out in many interesting aspects of customers, behavioral patterns, and customers. I mean, it's not only the mass household, we are talking about customers supply chain logistics, you're talking about incoming international shipping industries, how do they supply their goods into the country? How are they bringing in this delivery of goods in packaging, downstream customers and downstream customers? These are crucial data, which is now being used to analyze how the company actually succeeds in their respective fields. So these are the five main advantages.   

Jaya 08:15 

So let me repeat again. So it's efficiency, advantage, productivity advantage, security advantage, customer advantage, agility advantage, right.    

Liew Wei Da Andrew 08:24 

So Jaya, you know, because you have been in this space for so long,you have always been meeting, you know, the client side, you know, the boss,the stakeholders, how do you make the case for digital transformation in crisis? Tell me more about it.   

Jaya 08:37 

So, you know, I have to kind of understand how this case for the digital transformation shouldn't lead to a crisis, it shouldn't be more of an accepting adoption and transacting. That's important, it should be suddenly to prohibitively expensive. Remember, not everyone is working remotely. So it's also going to be heavy on their budget on payrolls, right. Setting up the data system and respective households are people who are working from home, right, so you should not be too expensive. Many businesses are really reluctant to loosen the purse, right? So we need to look at how digital transformation is often viewed as a massive upfront investment, investment, even just for a long term results, right? It doesn't need to be so some of the successful transformation projects that start with low cost pilots and limited resource are scaled up once this kinks are worked out and deserve approval, done in the right way, become self sustaining, incremental, and you're ready for the next wave.    

Liew Wei Da Andrew 09:41 

The way to pitch to any C suite or stakeholders or clients is tofirst give them assurance or the message that it shouldn't be very expensive,right. And so, you would have done the, economics: the cost benefit analysis probably the easier way to lay out the numbers to show the business case.    

Jaya 09:59 

Yes, sir.  

Jaya 10:00 

You actually can save money, faster session, I mean downturns, they show how the controlling costs by improving the operational efficiency, right? We are now looking at operational because payroll is one thing, but operational operating costs is a huge thing. When I say cost marketing measures, shed some workers, that's not the way to build, because that's gives you a negativeaspect of any businesses. The idea is to look at how your operations are dealt with, right? For example, companies heavily rely primarily on workers cutting to manage those have only 11% chance of a breakaway performance. As opposed to companies which focus on operational efficiencies, overlay offs, are likely to see a better payoff, not only in the short term, but in the long term. The end where digital transformation comes is where this operational efficiency is hitby automation. This is from a Harvard Business Review. It clearly they did a big study in the US. They clearly showed that if companies are spending their time to rework on the operational efficiency, using automation, they are able to increase productivity by from 10 to 20%. As opposed to just layoffs, and those workers or people who are in a more manual job processes, immediately reskill, retool, redirected to places where they can perform well on automation. Right. So we goes back to the economic term of economies of scale. So initially, it was more of a diseconomies of scale, because your operations efficiency has drop, so as support so what goes go back to the roots of where should we maximize our potential, or offsetting some of our foreign investment. And so robotics plays a huge part. Why robotics? people will say, Oh, we have robots, we're going to have less workers. That the current idea behind digital transformation is is that people are worried people are losing jobs. It is actually aiding people who are actually in their existing jobs in the form of reskilling, retooling and putting them back into where they were working in a more efficient way.   

Jaya 12:25 

So you belongs to the second school of thought , right. Because I think I previously mentioned my previous podcast, there are two schools of thought.    

Jaya 12:32 

Yeah, because you need the human talent, human skills to buildthese robots to build these AI machines. So and in fact, they create more work,create more opportunities for for employees a lot more skill. That's a reason why countries like Singapore spends a lot of money in reskilling. Whiledigitization has increased and digital transformation is comparatively major stay now ,getting workers to understand and re skilling them in this period, actually pays off a lot more once the opening happens. Automated,   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 13:10 

correct me if I'm wrong. So you're saying that the fact that you know, this automation is AI being deployed instead of reduce a lot of jobs thatis repetitive and therefore there's more jobs but every job is very complex? And therefore there's a need for re skilling right there is a time to re skillor to upskill.   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 13:31  

you know, but what is the time frame or return on investment from let's say the chicken rice Hawker. How does the chicken rice hawker, reskill upskill himself to be a coder or AIscientists or data scientists or upskills reskill himself to be a people manager what is your take on that?   

Jaya 13:48 

Thinking such activities and putting in a robot or automated sensor. There are many other variables in the way such food preparations are done.   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 14:01 

you will go to five star Michelin sushi chef to make the sushi foryou and that's probably $300 per seat you can get a machine to make the sushi right because it just push it mould into the rice , slam it with a sashimi put a bit of sauce and wrap it up with a plastic, very efficient very repetitive.   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 14:20 

We are not talking about the taste over here right we are talking about coming back to the chicken rice Hawker.  

Liew Wei Da Andrew 14:26 

if the vending machine can replace the chicken rice cooking job,what happened to this chicken rice Hawker how long it takes for him to become acoder or how long it takes for him to become a people manager.   

Jaya 14:40 

I would say he will be a lot more suited towards the people managers. Why? Because that's a front end customer oriented industry service. He is offering a service. If he's going to be a coder. I would say he will totally fail simply because it's nothing to do with how you're entertaining or offering the service. It's about how You're going to put this code to prepare it. And he's never going to actually understand how that's going to happen. Simply because he, he can't taste, he can't smell, he cannot actually feel how such presentation is going to happen to a recorded machine, as opposed to he physically he doing it, and putting it on the table of the customer. It gives the pleasure. He knows whether it's right, he knows the smell of it. And the psychology and empathy with customers tastes like he'll understand that a lot more. Hence, he will be a lot more to towards being a people manager, that means a person who's a frontline with the customers, as opposed to be sittingin backroom trying to create codes to build a chicken rice. That's what we need to look at. Right? Because you have not one but hundreds of them. You can do repetitive work but it goes back to how each individual business is catering, we tried to offer the best service for customers. Because this is what customers will require, especially in a pandemic, where most of the things arerobotic, most of their work is indoor. 90% of the consumers, they either walk to a food store, then there was this person, because that's the pleasure now they get by getting out of the house. So I would say that's the stark contrast in trying to see whether the hawker centre guy who makes the chicken rice does coding or doesn't do code   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 16:23 

haha, very interesting, do you find that for any audience out there, who is looking to find somebody how to cook something, that means you'renot just buying the food or the flavor of the food, the finese of the chef, but you're also looking as cooking as an entertainment from and that's where Ithink robots, it's hard to know, I can't imagine a robotic guy that cuts the chicken and cooking in a very, you know, fancy manner, like a dance like an entertainment thing. So there's the extra value add for the complexity, right?   

Jaya 16:5

Yeah, but let's think about also hairdressers, this is an excellentexample. Hairdressors, no new AI machinecan do that. there was a trial in Japan quite a while ago, whether a robot canactually trim someone's hair, or cut my hair. In fact, it almost chopped the skull of a person.   

Jaya 17:13 

Right. So as I say, thereare going to be jobs, which are going to always stay, nevertheless, whateverour digital transformation is going to be, but what we need to look at how suchbusinesses can package how such businesses can be in the forefront offering the service which consumers like us, consumers want the fast paced line of work, are able to appreciate.   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 17:40 

Businesses, or rather individuals, they have to package things that is to a finese level, whether it's services or products, and there's almostlike a business reinvention. Is business reinvention, a choice or people can skip it, you know, what do you think?   

Jaya 17:58 

Right? How do we go back Not to change what they have done, but howto be corrected it? Because we need to leave a world for the future generation,how do we how are we going to be seen by the future generation in the form of "did we try our best to save the planet?" Every closer because we are seeing increased climate issues.   

Liew Wei Da Andrew 18:20 

I see. So okay, now coming back to like thinking about you know, AIand you know, the future of work arrangement. You I remember there was a sayingthat there will be no return to normal. Tell me what does that mean to you.   

Jaya 18:38 

When you're not going back to normal is you are going to go back towork, right? But you're not going to be in the usual scene of taking atransport went to work. Enjoying what you used to do with your groups of friends in the large groups of friends, what is happening is that is not goingto be normal. That's you're trying to return the normal, that's never going to be normal. what? That's simply because of the pandemic, because of the endemic situation we are going to be facing. So that means we leave with it. That's why it's such thing as going not going back to returning to the normal is basically Lehman with this pandemic or in, in other words, endemic situation. That's the not returning to normal, right?    

Jaya 19:28 


Jaya 19:28 

It has changed the whole landscape of how we live and work. The behaviors developed in the crisis, including wide scale digital adoption, willoutlast the pandemic. Definitely, because it's invest now. It came later. Right And early on. I clearly said it's better to actually invest now because it'swhen the downtime was and reskilling , retooling understanding business processes, putting them in play and practice making out all the kinks in the processes. Whether or not the "non-return" to normal scenario is happening, right. For once these processes start to kick in. The savvyorganizations will focus on leveraging advanced analytics to extract insights from customer data content, internal and external data integration efforts to develop a more holistic view right. So, detecting search signal is very crucial. So, we will not be returning back to how you will work. But as I said in open and close inverters, "we will return but not the usual return".    

Jaya 20:35 

Right, we will be experiencing a lot more difference in the way welive and work. Right. So I could say, I could propose things like remoteworking arrangements, shift to e commerce, contactless delivery, contactless payment, right? Customers focus on spending less and saving more it's going to be because if I spent how could I actually spend less and save more? Improving the chatbot. I mean, I could say a lot of some of the government services I come across, they are very poorly developed chatbox. So this is the time a lot of these organizations to actually go back. I could name a few, but the only problem is, he will punch me right. So I would rather say there areorganizations, which I've approached, we're using a chat box requires a lot more improvements, training the AI to develop a lot more business, which means you're actually pushing AI to a lot more better usage. Right. So what about greater use of self service machines right? Self services. Now I feel outsourcing is the premier idea outthere, right? A lot of these IT talent is scarce, right? They're all hidden, so they are in need of such state. You can lose focus on safety, cleanliness andhealth. Then we are basically looking at these crucial areas in order to polish up things.   

Andrew 22:00 

Hey guys, thanks for listening to this podcast. If this is the first time you are tuning in, remember to subscribe to this show. If you havesubscribed to this show and love this episode, please share it with your friends. family and acquaintances. See you later and see you soon. 



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