Calling the present an “era of dramatic change,” Naina Lal Kidwai said business leaders and project managers must learn how to cope with disruptive changes.

Kidwai, a well-recognized name in the banking and finance industry in India, offered her insights on two important factors influencing businesses today: digital technology and protectionism.

Quoting a Boston Consulting Group report on Industry 4.0, to which she has contributed, she said digital technology is changing the way business is done. As the cost of robotic technology falls, there will be a growth in its demand, which will directly impact the talent market. Large-scale, people-intensive organizations will need to relook their strategies. She also noted the big shifts in current world politics where countries are moving towards protectionism. She predicted that the manufacturing models of yesteryear will become redundant. The future is moving towards smaller units closer to the market. These shifts mean that business models will need to be looked at differently in India as well, she said, pointing to the rising role of micro-entrepreneurs in this market.

Kidwai said tech-driven platform services will make small businesses viable. According to her, the platform ecosystem and servitization, a process by which manufacturing companies are supplementing their product offerings with services and solutions, will be the new face of globalization.

Among the challenges the country faces in being future-ready, she highlighted the issues of lack of infrastructure, low social security, low skilling, under-utilization of resources, and ineffective delivery of services. “To overcome these challenges, we need to get innovative in our thinking and influence the unknown by shaping what is happening around us. We need to understand the change, educate ourselves about it, and adjust to it. Keep learning,” she said.