digital fluency in the workplace

Building Digital Fluency: In Conversation With Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo Group India

Building Digital Fluency: In Conversation With Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo Group India

digital fluency in the workplace

Meet Amit Sharma:

Amit Sharma is the Vice President, HR, and a member of the Country Management Team for Volvo Group India. In a career spanning more than two decades, he has worked across various HR roles in leading organizations such as Indian OilJohnson and JohnsonPhilips, and TE Connectivity

He has a deep focus on business HR, and his experience spans across Talent Acquisition, Management, OD, and Culture. And he is a proponent of bringing technology to HR processes while retaining the human connection in the organization. He’s been a recipient of various industry recognitions too. 

Let’s get started. 

Rajiv: How do you define and measure digital fluency in your organization? 

Amit Sharma: I would kind of juxtapose digital fluency with knowing a language, where one not just needs to know the vocabulary, but only how it is spoken and written   I believe the entire concept of digital fluency boils down to the question: Do we have the wisdom to apply technology most efficiently? Not just knowing how the tools work, but also applying them at the proper time should be the main goal. 

Rajiv: What impact does digital fluency have on your business? How would you articulate it in terms of business metrics?

Amit Sharma:  I think automotive is one of the industries which is getting impacted with the central concept of what we call – Connected, Autonomous and Electric. 

It is no longer about IC engine standard products. We are moving into a zone of  connected solutions & autonomous solutions, and a good example would be Vera, our autonomous truck because that’s something which is completely moving through a control tower mechanism without having any driver’s seat. 

The future for us is around digital, around electric, that’s where the industry is moving. 

And that is also leading to better safety in our  products. Digital vehicles, which are more connected, autonomous, safer- the margin of human error really comes down there. And this entire concept of connected autonomous vehicles is actually leading  to about 70% lower energy costs, 40% lower  operations cost at about 98% lower carbon emission. 

Hence, moving from mechanical to connected and digital devices benefits both the environment and the customer.

Rajiv: How do you ensure this whole idea of connected, autonomous, and electric cascades and people get ready for the future?

Amit Sharma: I think, a couple of layers in this- Firstly, this is being propagated by the leadership across all levels- meetings, town halls, at our global summits! We’re talking the same language and I think that’s very critical whenever you are bringing in a new dimension in an organization, which was earlier not part of it. 

The only way you can bring it into your daily vocabulary is when the leaders start talking about it. 

Our first initiative is to use the same language throughout all forums. 

Secondly, we’ve kind of changed. We used to have a function, GROUP-IT which is now renamed as DIGITAL. Even the Chief Information Officer is now called the Chief Digital Officer.  

It may look semantic but also spreads a message to the organization that we are moving on from core IT, i.e. creating some software or creating some local tools to a different way of working. People are also aware of the fact that the change is more than just a different title. It represents a fundamental shift in thinking and philosophy altogether. 

And this digital function (earlier IT function) which was once a separate vertical is now getting embedded in the businesses. There is no longer a separate vertical because we believe- Digital is the way forward!

We’re leveraging the digital for the future, which is why all management teams in all countries, including India, are being challenged to think differently.

One of my senior staff members understands this and cascades it throughout the team. We also refer to it as the seven top strategic objectives globally. So one of the keys of those seven is digital. 

That’s how we are doing a very comprehensive game in which we are really adopting, right from the level of talking about it to embedding it in the business.

Rajiv: What sort of methodologies are you embracing to move more towards digital fluency? Can you shed some light on how you are going about embedding those methodologies within the organization?

Amit Sharma: The key here is that we’re not viewing it from a process perspective but an outcome perspective. And from an outcome perspective, apart from making a customer impact, how do we ensure our customers succeed? How do we really get them to save their costs? How do we really get them to have better efficiencies? How do we really get them to ensure a lower footprint? So the entire focus for us is around it. And when you have that as a larger purpose, then it doesn’t really matter what are the methodologies used, because that’s something which comes naturally to people in terms of various tools which are there, but the outcome is very critical here. 

For instance, In India, we launched Camp X about a week ago. Now Camp X is one of our global innovation centers. It was initially set up in our headquarters in Sweden, and India is the second site globally to have it. 

The goal of Camp X is to leverage the digital and innovation platforms together. Now, this will be a part of an Indian technology center. Last week, the Swedish investor inaugurated the project. Our goal is to have people come together, sit together, collaborate, and think about how we can really make a better impact on the customer and the environment via digital – that’s the credo behind setting all of that. So that’s something which we have recently done.

digital reset at mindtree

Rajiv: Would you like to share any lessons on digital change management?

Amit Sharma: We started our journey in digital somewhere in the early part of last decade itself and that’s the reason by the middle of the last decade, we could really launch various autonomous products. From autonomous buses to autonomous trucks to even having the self-driving refuse truck for urban areas, a truck which is autonomously moving minds, moving the material over there. So that’s how we started. 

Now, if you ask me, what was the change management provided behind it? I’ll go back to what I initially said: you have to look at it from an outcome perspective, not a process perspective. Because if it’s process perspective, it is not going to succeed. People are very sharp, they will always find ways to bypass a process and switch to something which makes them more comfortable. And the concept of the line of least resistance follows or goes everywhere. 

However, once you have an objective in mind, everyone knows that we must achieve it. So for us, change management is part of the process of launching a product like this. Our entire journey was driven by outcomes. 

Rajiv: How do you sharpen your learning quotient?

Amit Sharma: Reading for me is a critical aspect of input gathering since it opens the mind up to perspectives and gives a better understanding of the world around me. 

Stay tuned for the 4th part where we’ll have Nathan SV, Partner & Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte address the topic in the context of Deloitte. 

Meanwhile, you can watch the full webinar recording below. 

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