Confluence 2017 – India host the world’s Digital Leaders meetup.

The first day of Confluence, the global gathering of banking and telecom executives, which blends the traditional and the digital, kicked off today on the shores of the South Indian Ocean. Board level executives and technology experts gathered in Kerala to learn from each other how digitisation, which is sweeping through so many of their industries is likely to affect them even more over the coming years.

Over the next three days, some of the world’s finest business minds will use the Confluence event to focus on how to harness the cross-sector digital innovation some are calling Industry 4.0. Amongst those to address Confluence this year are industry analysts from the US, private bankers from Eastern Europe, senior corporate advisors and the Venture Capitalists who have fuelled India’s recent rise to the top table in tech.

Day One keynote speaker, Ram Charan, is a world-renowned corporate strategy advisor and CEO coach. His counsel is sought by global business leaders, including the legendary Jack Welch, who presided over the famous turnaround of GE. Welch once described Ram as “His secret weapon” because “He has the rare ability to distil meaningful from meaningless and transfer it in a quiet effective way”.

Tonight those in the audience were treated to a carefully crafted presentation, which used old school document reading, projected like the foils of yesteryear’s university lecture halls. His core message is about dedication to the cause and he is on record that goal setting is a waste of management time, preferring instead that leaders follow through on directions thoroughly.

Charan’s main points were to think ‘Outside In’, taking the customer as the driving force for the fourth industrial revolution. He cited the leading digital-first companies who manage their general expenses costs down to less than 1.5%. using a combination of automation and algorithms.

They do however spend way more on IT. Whereas traditional IT budgets were up between 1% and 3% of revenues, he referenced some firms spending upwards of 20% to maintain their global leadership. They spend this though not just to cut operating costs, but to gain ‘flow’ of information, mostly to sense what their customers expect of them.

This fourth Industrial Revolution is in full flight according to Charan and its repercussions are unseen by many. It can lay waste to mighty brands like Nokia, Blockbusters and others, but it cannot be ignored.

Just as the beautifully calm Indian Ocean can fall prey to unannounced tsunamis, so too digital technology has the potential to disrupt those unaware of, or unprepared for, its potential. This lesson was not lost on the audience. Despite the luxurious surroundings, Confluence delegates come seeking answers from global visionaries who look deeper, see farther and anticipate change better than most.

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