Public sector undertakings (PSUs) are the nation builders of India. Over the past couple of decades, they’ve catapulted the country onto the world stage in sectors from energy and finance to agriculture and transportation.
Now they face a new challenge: digital, a force that’s impacting PSUs from the corner office to the factory floor. New digitally savvy rivals are gaining on traditional turf. The question becomes: Are PSUs ready to build the workforce of the future?
Like other leading companies around the world, PSUs are investing in technology. Particularly digital innovation that will put them ahead of competitors, making them more agile and competitive. But to date, one critical element of PSUs' digital strategy has been overlooked: the workforce. It’s as if the prevailing thought is, “We’ll invest in the technology and our people will be digital by default.”
But gaining the agility required to compete in the age of disruption goes beyond systems. It requires a deep shift for PSUs: in leadership, recruitment and organization. The current PSU culture is not well suited to such sweeping changes. Accenture Strategy research has identified the top ten attributes that correlate to successful culture change. PSUs are on par with non-PSUs in only half of those attributes. PSUs rank in the bottom quartile for the remaining attributes, including talent management, adaptability and confronting conflict.
There are three things PSUs need to do to lead in digital:
Disrupt models. It’s time for PSUs to commit to digital investment. They need to take an ‘equity investor’ approach and incubate digital plays.
Learn from juniors. The long tradition of command-and-control leadership style flies in the face of management wisdom for most PSUs. But to survive in a digital world, leadership should turn to younger counterparts.
New value proposition. To attract and retain the kind of talent digital requires, PSUs need to craft value propositions that include benefits to society and opportunities for personal growth.