Rahul Chakkara is an experienced senior digital leader with international general/ P&L management and product development expertise in the consumer space. Rahul has delivered results in different sectors by combining strong consumer focus, strong strategic and marketing thinking with technical knowledge & operational experience along with doses of creativity and curiosity.
Rahul has spent time with the BBC, Talk Talk, and Costa Group, with a focus on digital strategy and audience engagement. Ahead of his involvement at the Chief Digital Officer Forum, we sat down with Rahul to discuss his views on various areas of digital, from wider strategy to the role of AI going forward.
What, in your view, are the key tenets of any digital strategy?
In my experience, digital strategies have to be calibrated with an organization's ambitions and capabilities. Trying to digitize an organization too fast can be as difficult as changing too slow. Typically, a digital strategy will have the following pillars
1. Complete alignment with Business Objectives and Strategy.
2. Buy in from the CEO and rest of the leadership
3. Digitization of the Back-end infrastructure
4. Repositioning of Data as a strategic asset
5. Introduce Personalisation and Machine Learning
6. Talent Partnership/ Hiring
7. Redesign (if needed) Customer Experience based on personalization, data analytics, and customer insights.
8. Execute brilliantly - Crawl first, then Walk and Run
In your experience, are businesses putting sufficient resources into the development of AI? Do you think they can effectively outsource it?
While AI gets a lot of press (mainly scare stories), it is not getting enough thought and attention within organizations. This is not surprising as many organizations are still in the middle of digital transformation. This presents an opportunity for innovative early movers. There is no question - there is going to be an enterprise-wide AI transformation. The question is when rather than if. Organizations that engage with AI technologies could transform their engagement model with customers (and staff), change their economic and business models and thereby gain a sustainable competitive edge.
To what extent do you think that companies will rely on chatbots in the near future?
Today's chatbots are like the early elementary HTML pages of the late 90s. They are basic, atomic and often a barrier in customer engagement. But we are at the beginning of this technology. Conversational technologies will evolve; voice will become sophisticated; interfaces will become compelling, personal and sticky. I believe conversational technologies will build the engagement models of the future.
Do you think consumers will accept chatbots in the place of speaking to a human?
Conversational products will complement humans. If you go into organizations today and do a time analysis, you will find that we spend a majority of our time on repetitive, mundane tasks. Conversational products could take these tasks on leaving staff to do the creative, innovative, and thinking work that we have been trained for and thought we had been hired for.
What are you going to be discussing in your presentation at the summit?
I remember the early days of digital and how some companies and their leaders had the vision to understand the power of digital. They led the transformation of their organization to secure competitive advantage. I think we are at that inflection point for AI. There is an opportunity for leaders to redesign their organizations around AI. The AI transformation era has begun.
You can hear more from Rahul, along with many other industry-leading digital executives, at the Chief Digital Officer Forum this April 25 - 26. To see the full schedule, click here.