Going beyond the obvious is an approach for the healthcare sector in the Post-Pandemic Era

In this Research NXT Interview, Vineet Dwivedi, Global Head of Alcon Global Services, talks about his journey in the organization and the transformative role of Indian GCCs in Digital Customer Experience (CX). He also highlights the in-house GCC model’s potential and real-world applications that act as the base of actionable insights to create the whitepaper “Leaders Speak: Transforming Customer Experience (CX) through Global Capability Centers.

 Key takeaways from this Research NXT interview:

  • Notable and effective business impacts of the business transformation initiatives at Alcon GCC.
  • Going beyond the obvious is an approach for the healthcare sector in the post-pandemic era.
  • Key challenges in enabling enterprise-wide digital transformation.
  • And the must-have checklist for every Digital Transformation plan.

We would like to start with your role and journey at Alcon Global Services. Leading the India, Malaysia, Poland & Mexico centers for AGS and being a custodian for transformation programs in the organization?

Vineet: Having around 24 years of overall working experience, I am a mechanical engineer by qualification who started the journey in the manufacturing industry, initially as a trainee with Honeywell and then worked in various roles there. For the initial six years of my career, I was in the manufacturing sector associated with brands like Honeywell, Whirlpool Corporation, Delphi, etc. My area of focus during those days was explicitly in production and quality, and that’s when I was introduced to Lean Six Sigma at the beginning of my career, which I still held on to as a critical element in my profession. 

In 2005, with the tech boom reaching India, many companies were setting up their shared services centre here. That’s when I joined Honeywell again as a quality manager responsible for driving a culture of continuous improvement through transition-based learning. Then on, for the last 17 odd years, I have been involved in various shared services roles and also had an opportunity to set up a Shared Services centre for Honeywell in Europe.

In between, I was associated with MetLife for some time in their consulting division. The next stage in the journey was ABB, where I was entrusted with the role of setting up their shared services centre and supporting their strategy to develop the whole GBS set-up across five different locations globally. This was a great opportunity, and I was happy to be a part of the initial team.

Finally, I did the same for the fourth time, i.e. starting from ground zero to setting up a GCC, and this time, it was for AGS (Alcon Global Services) in India, which now has more than 2000 people across the globe.

We should ensure that the change is adopted well both in the customer experience ecosystem and within the organization to consider any digital transformation initiative effective

What are your observations around the approach at AGS in terms of tech usage for the digital transformation initiatives, including innovations, and product/service launches for improving digital customer experiences?

Vineet: Alcon is a 75-year-old company primarily known for the innovation we bring majorly to the medical community, though we have customer bases in both B2B and B2C. We have 11 (eleven) business functions that are being supported by the AGS centres like finance, HR, operations, IT, and now the R&D lab based in India, which was inaugurated last year with a strength of 350 people. Additionally, we also support the quality, regulatory, and supply chain procurement functions as well. In terms of tech usage through the AGS centres, we have aimed to move to the core of the organization, which is innovation. That’s where we have evolved, with 11 functions under one umbrella, which is unique to AGS. Regarding improving digital CX, our GCC focuses on adding value to our business functions through the conscious analysis of critical parameters in a structured manner

While setting up and leading the Shared services organization at AGS, what were and are your primary goals in achieving the strategic business priorities via digital transformation initiatives? Could you also share some notable and effective business impacts of the initiatives?

Vineet: At Alcon, we started as an independent company almost five years ago, and from day one itself, we aimed to have a structured way of digital transformation both in terms of outward and inward experiences.

Our first point of action started with defining our customer cohorts and aligning strategic digital business priorities with them. And since customer needs are constantly evolving, our digital transformation project modules align with the changing CX requirements, be it for the ECP, the patients, or the inventory management systems.

Speaking of notable business impacts of these initiatives, I would like to share the following examples:

  • We have been working to ensure that the patient onboarding systems provide a seamless digital customer experience for both the end users (i.e. patients) and the healthcare providers (i.e. the physicians and the hospitals).
  • We introduced the portal MyAlconstore.com, where users can order / track the products easily.
  • We have also enabled pilot projects with structured inventory management system for the hospitals, allowing stock planning to ensure the end customer experience is satisfactorily met.
  • Then, pilot projects are initiated with the help of generative AI to enhance inward digital transformation in terms of employee experience enhancement.
  • Finally, we plan and prioritize the product features from the customer’s perspective so MVP is the base of our initiatives.

As an industry leader, what is your observation of how things have changed in the post-pandemic scenario in the Healthcare sector, and what are the key CX approaches to look out for while stepping into 2024 and beyond for top Healthcare organizations?

Vineet: Going beyond the obvious is an approach that the overall healthcare sector is focusing on in the post-pandemic era. Since the pace of change is so fast, we have to be ahead of the curve, which is tough, but integrating all facets of the overall healthcare ecosystem is the right approach. The next step, then, is the process of revisiting the strategy to validate and align it to the present disruptions.

Being a jury at the Zinnov Awards 2023 where tech centers are recognized for their exceptional contribution for value creation across global organizations, do you think Global Capability/Shared Services centers are better poised to enable Global Enterprises in their Digital transformation initiatives as compared to partnering with a third-party service provider? Why or why not?

Vineet: Most GCCs are still on the enabling side of the enterprise-wide digital transformation journey instead of leading the digital strategy completely.

However, this journey varies based on the organization’s maturity, and at AGS, after four years of incubation, we are currently at the helm of Alcon’s central digital transformation strategy. Overall, GCCs/Shared Services centres have the capabilities to lead the path of global digital transformation.

I would like to answer this question with an analogy of a motorbike with two synchronized wheels, where one is our GCCs and the other is the third-party service providers. Both wheels bring in specialized capabilities and need to work in sync. While the in-house teams could be leveraged to focus on the strategic organizational values and culture, the third-party partners could be used as consultants with broader experience and know-how from an enablement perspective. There needs to be a balance of capabilities and a shared vision that is synchronized toward the common goal, and that’s what we are doing at Alcon.

One of the key challenges, which may sound simple but is very relevant, is the process of managing stakeholders’ expectations across the larger global team within the organization. Ensuring that we have the proper mechanism to address the changing and diverse expectations of new leaders during the process of ongoing CX enablement is a constant challenge.

Secondly, with the rate at which customer expectations are evolving, we will always have to be agile to introduce last-minute tweaks while taking any new CX feature to the market.

These are the two things that come on top of my mind apart from the generic issue of finding the right talent, etc.

Before we wrap up, take us through the three must-checks (or more) every Digital Transformation plan needs to follow to ensure successful Digital CX accomplishments.

Vineet: The top one, for me, is the adoption rate of any digital transformation initiative. We should ensure that the change is adopted well both in the Customer experience ecosystem and within the organization to consider the initiative effective.

Secondly, selecting the software checklist is crucial for successful Digital CX accomplishments.

The third would be ensuring that the culture of agility in production and deployment is present within the team. Since with the new normal, the MVP defined at the start may be only partially relevant at the time of the final go-to-market.

Books that Vineet recommends:

  • The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey
  • Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  • The Power of Humility by PV Ramana Murthy
  • Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet by Ron Kaufman