Dear Dr. V. Damodaran, C.E.O, Ameex Technologies, our keynote speaker  for this year’s edition of CXO connect, Mr. A.S. Ananthakrishnan, Vice-Chairman CII, Trichy, Mr. N.Rathnakumar, Co-Chairman, Young Indians, Trichy Chapter  faculty, staff and students of BIM, members of CII and YI,  distinguished invitees, and friends from the media.  Good morning to all of you.

CXO-Connect provides an opportunity for our budding young managers to hear from industry stalwarts about their perspectives on management – reflecting on the current business environment, the challenges faced by industry and providing valuable insights.

We are now living in the age of bit coins, block chains, artificial intelligence and deep learning machines. Today, more than ever before, leading a business is about challenging convention and driving radical change. Three in four CEOs in a survey conducted by KPMG in 2017 say their company is striving to be the disruptor in its sector. Moving beyond uncertainty, business environments have now become disruptive, as new technologies emerge and new business models emerge. Conventional boundaries as defined by concrete geographical markets and concrete product descriptions are disappearing and these dynamics make business decisions more complex.

While these developments are welcome for some business leaders who are willing to see these disruptions as opportunities, and this in turn, has led to more disruptions and more uncertainties. As a result more and more business leaders are championing new ways of creating value to customers and other stakeholders to ensure that their businesses are not left behind. They are making innovation a top strategic priority, as well as a key initiative designed to achieve growth.

Thought leadership has become more important than ever for top level executives of businesses, because there is more that they need to learn and share than ever before. Learning is the process through which leaders adapt to changing circumstances. More and more executives have started realising how much of what they’re dealing with is new to them and are thus open to learning. But to navigate the complex maze of content, they must make choices and they should also clear about their value priorities. Global CEOs are feeling vulnerable and they are concerned about meeting the demands of the future, facing disruptions coming at their companies from all angles and finding strategies to pre-empt them. According to a recent survey by PWC,  Sixty-nine percent of CEOs are concerned about the number of mission-critical issues they must face that they have not grown up with or that they have not experienced previously in their careers. Realising how much they don’t know, today’s business leaders value learning over experience. Open-mindedness and curiosity are more important in a leader than experience or a track record of success. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft has recently said in an interview: “We want to push to be more of a learn-it-all culture than a know-it-all culture”. This statement strongly emphasises the need for continuous learning even at higher levels of organisational hierarchy. Long years of experience will no longer be considered as an indicator of successful performance in a highly volatile environment, unless the business leader is consciously cultivating a habit of learning and propagating the same culture down the organisational hierarchies. These leaders are now attracted towards feature-length articles, contra-intuitive to the notion of “snackable” tit-bits of information available across multiple mediums and multiple channels like mobile, tv, internet etc.

Technology inflection points will affect all industries and companies, though to different degrees. Their impact can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on how executives deal with them. They cannot be ignored. CEO’s are now living in the age of machines. Much has been written about how machines will start replacing humans in certain jobs or tasks, and the implications this will have for job markets and the economy. According to one new report (Consumer spending prospects and the impact of automation on jobs,” PwC, 2017), automated bots could take nearly four in 10 (38%) jobs in the U.S., 30% in the United Kingdom, 35% in Germany and 21% in Japan. The focus of the coverage of the age of the machine has so far mostly been on the humans losing jobs: how to help humans keep up with the machines, or what to do about the humans that have been replaced.

But while much brain-wringing has been done about working alongside the machines, much less has been said about the leaders of this transition to machine-driven enterprise—the CEOs. A majority of the CEOs who will be ushering us into the age of the machine are not digital natives, and do not lead technology companies. It is time to focus on current CEOs and their needs, roles and responsibilities in that transition. Learning and adaptation plays a key role in this transformation of CEO’s to work with machines. This technology inflection point also throws up new challenges in managing an organisation. The value of information will be more than the value of data. The value of information will depend on the insightful signals it leads to and the way these insights are presented and converted into value propositions by leaders.

Big data has opened up new avenues to understand customer better. Top most priority for Chief Marketing Officers all over the world now is to increase their digital presence many fold.  Even though customers are still the kings, companies are becoming more powerful in terms of understanding the customers, their physical location, tracking their habits, their spending pattern, their likes and dislikes. Due to this newly acquired power, enabled by technology, companies can now create innovative products and services that are not even dreamt of by their customers. These companies can now make more and more customised offerings and target individual customers directly. As a result of all these developments, the way businesses are run must change in more rapid ways.

This event of CII and YI aims to create a platform for B-schools students of Trichy to interact with industry leaders and take away insights for becoming a high-performance manager. I wholeheartedly welcome all of you to this event.

I wish that all the young minds who are present here, to listen carefully to our speakers and gainfully interact with them both during the sessions and outside and seek the much needed insights into industry practice.

Thank you!