While Digital Transformation is so widely discussed today, some businesses have been going digital for decades. And some businesses are even digital-first. Throughout my career, I have experienced a journey through digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation.

India's first Web Portal
Decades ago, when most in India were not even aware of what the Internet was, I joined one of the Internet pioneers in India, and an admirable leader, Ajit Balakrishnan, to build India's first web portal, rediff.com. Those were the days of basic HTML pages, slow bandwidth, dial-up modems, and simple web browsers. Yet, rediff.com successfully pioneered many services still widely used today, albeit in a more sophisticated form.
Early Venture Capital
eVentures was an early venture capital fund set up to invest in the nascent space of Internet and Web solutions. With a fund of only in the double-digit millions, as compared to the numbers in billions today, we helped not only fund existing ventures but also incubate ventures. My most notable contributions and memories are of setting up MakeMyTrip.com, which remains one of the leading travel portals today, and Mediaturf.com which was India's first online ad delivery platform.
Digital Solutions for Investment Banks
i-flex, now acquired by Oracle, was a leader in core banking products and bespoke solutions for investment banks globally. It was an enriching experience to build digital solutions for financial services businesses that leveraged web and even mobile technologies, with all their limitations, so prevalent now in the form of FinTech businesses.
Enterprise Transformation
Sigue was a global business providing money remittance services to over 100 countries worldwide. Handling multi-party, cross-currency and asynchronous transactions using legacy systems was a operations, reconciliation and customer service challenge. At Sigue, I went through a long journey of completely transforming their tightly-coupled enterprise solutions to an open-API architecture which allowed seamless integration of global participants.
Digital First Bank
As the CIO of Aditya Birla Payments Bank, I had the rare career opportunity to build and launch a bank from the ground up. The bank system was brilliantly designed to have a digital user interface seamlessly integrated with a core banking system, providing one of the easiest user interfaces for banking, even being friendly to the rural and unbanked population of the country. The bank was also one of the early implementors of a chat-based UPI solution, which is today the most widely used payment system.
Digital Transformation in Old-Economy Businesses
My first experience of major Digital Transformation was when I worked on strategy and implementation plans to adopt new technology for Aditya Birla Group's physical-first businesses including manufacturing, logistics, and even mining. Interestingly, some of these businesses find a better use for emerging technologies such as IoT, AR/VR, and Drones than digital-first businesses. On the other hand, digital-first businesses are likely to find solutions like AI/ML and Blockchain more relevant.
Migration to the Cloud
The one technology that both digital-first and physical-first businesses find extremely useful is Cloud Computing. Of the many aspects of Digital Transformation, migration to the cloud remains high on the priority list. As the CIO of Equifax India, a part of the $4 billion global credit scoring leader, I helped with the strategy and implementation planning of a complete migration to the Google Cloud Platform, including migrating some solutions to the native cloud.
Consulting and Education
After decades of working on digital projects I felt it was time to share some of my knowledge and expertise with businesses that needed guidance. At the same time, I have always had a passion to pass on my learning to a younger audience, so that they can go beyond their academic curriculum and get a good understanding of what the industry requires from technologists. With that goal, I have now launched STEMVentor which offers two services: one, training, consulting, and advisory services to businesses and two, an extensive hands-on learning journey for teachers and students to introduce them to computing technology of the future.

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