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Build Collaborative Partnership For Business Transformation

As the role of CIOs evolves to a more prominent leadership position in an organization, they continue to grapple various challenges e.g. how to create & deliver proactive business value and manage disruptive technology trends. To overcome such challenges, it’s important to have a collaborative partnership model in place, says Biswajit Rath, Vice President – APAC, HCL Technologies. Read on for insights.

Disruptive technology trends are impacting businesses across the globe. What’s your take on this?

New technologies do disrupt businesses, especially the ones that rely heavily on technology. Technology determines how and what products and services are being delivered to the end users. Since technology changes fast, the investment impact is huge. If you’ve invested in technology platform or technology architecture this year, you probably wouldn’t have the same appetite to repeat it every year. So you’ll have to take a long term business view of this. When disruptive technologies come in, they change the very fundamental base on which you build your technology architecture. That is where you see it is a challenge always to keep pace with the new technologies. However, CIOs may decide to minimise the impact with a partner leveraged co-existence model and take their time before moving into a new disruptive technology. Even if it exists, unless it is incremental and proven, they normally wouldn’t embrace it very easily.

Do you believe that the role of CIO has evolved over the years?

Today, CIOs now expected to shift their focus from providing “services to the business” to providing “innovation and competitive advantage to the business.” They take part in the growth of the business and drive performance throughout..

It’s the fundamental shift, particularly in the large organizations where CIOs are getting a position of increased importance and are increasingly participating in the big strategy for the business—identifying where they want to go to, where the new capabilities need to be created, how the productivity is to be gained and how exactly they are going to be positioned for future growth, to meet the needs of the business.

Moreover, the sectors and size of the organization play a big role in evolving CIOs. For instance, in larger enterprises, CIOs actively participate in business decisions. Similarly, IT-dependent sectors such as banks and financial institutions need to constantly bring innovative financial services or products to the market. CIOs, hence, play a bigger role in the business by introducing IT-led innovations (products / services) that is designed, manufactured and delivered by the IT of the organization.

Give us a brief on CIOs’ top priorities.

Innovation is a priority that’s taking a lot of mind share amongst CIOs. At the same time, they are required to focus on improving the effectiveness and productivity of the workforce. The next wave of priorities would come from the productivity gain coming from the innovation, technology adaptation & utilisation and the workforce productivity and effectiveness.

How are disruptive technology trends challenging the CIOs?

Mobility has been talk of the town. With the advent of mobility as an alternative channel, today’s workforce is more mobile and utilizes all kinds of devices. Providing applications on a light-weight mode for different devices is going to be a challenge for the CIOs. Instead of pushing data from a corporate application onto a handheld device of an employee, they are now looking at pulling out data and providing relevant information from the application that is relevant, anytime, anywhere to make business decisions. The way they disseminate data has to change. The data now has to leave the premises of the organization and go over the air to the mobile workforce’s handheld or virtual devices. Ensuring that the data stays secure is one challenge that CIOs will have to think through.

How do CIOs overcome these challenges?

CIOs are very well read and very well travelled. They interact with their own peers to see what’s happening. They are in a constant lookout for technology seminars to participate to know what’s coming. Armed with that knowledge, they then go back and look at the business blueprint and see whether any of those technologies are absolutely relevant to the way they conduct business in the future. If the answer is yes, then CIOs will spend time and energy to engage with the appropriate partners in the industry to take them through the technology changes. That is how leading CIOs get early engagements with vendors, understand the technology relevance for the future, slowly and steadily incorporate them into the business landscape. It’s never a big bang; they plan it with the vendors and take it through a step-by-step consultative process.

CIOs now stay away from the day-to-day business – they allow others to run it and they spend more time questioning what is happening and what the new innovations are that is going to help the business. That is when they take active interest in the new technology, whether it is a mature one or a disruptive new one and they take a deep dive to understand how that’s going to impact their business.

How does HCL assist CIOs to overcome those challenges?

Game changer CIOs look out for service providers who can help them achieve the effectiveness and productivity in running the IT organization. The partnership with service provider has to create savings, which can then be utilized appropriately to transform the business and streamline the next generation of changes.

We, at HCL, work with technology leaders and other thought leaders of the industry so that we can bring all these together on top of an operational efficiency program to drive transformation. That transformation could be around bringing in new mobility solutions, or bringing in new technology & tools, to accelerate the way information is delivered, improve technology asset utilisation efficiency and align IT service delivery to current and future needs of the business

HCL partners are leaders in their own space and define the new generation of products and technology and are at the forefront of innovation. We are working with them proactively to understand where they are heading to, how their new technologies are going to help business achieve what customers are looking at. So armed with that knowledge, we assist clients to bridge the gap and align technology to business needs. What we do well is that we bring in cost effective business-aligned IT services.

How does HCL form a cohesive and collaborative relationship with its customers? We have heard of good examples too.

When organizations engage a partner who brings the technology know-how as well as the ability to provide what I call a techjump in terms of operational efficiency and productivity, the only way an organization can see value from the partner is having trust and transparency in the relationship. It is about providing complimenting capability and skill sets that the customer doesn’t have in their environment today and creating value in the value zone outlined in our Employee First Customer Second (EFCS) culture. The relationship has to run on a collaborative partnership model rather than a vendor and supplier model.

In the process of what we do, we also want to become advisors to them and be a partner to CIOs who provides not just the services and solutions but bring insights from what is working well with other customers. We would always want our customers to remember us for our ability to adapt to their requirements and to drive a more responsive value-enabled service. A lot of organizations work their operations in a responsive manner such as – there is already a problem and you react to fix the problem. In HCL’s case, we are there to bridge the gap which the customer lacks so that they truly become self-sufficient and they are confident to take the journey of efficiency as well as transformation in the organization. We bring in a proactive and adaptable valueenabled partnership where we not only provide insights but also help plan and execute the plan.

While HCL takes responsibility for end-to-end implementation of the plan, we never take over the control and leave the customer wondering what to do next for their business. We ensure that the CIO organization has near real time visibility and control of IT organization performance & budget, business alignment, strategy & architecture and ongoing governance is a shared responsibility. This is so that if the business changes direction tomorrow, their IT will still be aligned and be ready to deliver what is required. We make sure that the customer’s organization has got enough capability or we’ll infuse some capability within the organization so that they can look after the overall strategy, architecture and governance moving forward while we take responsibility for all the deliverables.

It is always a long-term relationship. What is paramount is that we should be able to comfortably talk to the customers and say, hey, this is a good thing and this is not such a good thing to do. And that’s the core value that adds-on to what I call the responsive and value-enabled partnership.

About Biswajit Rath, Vice President – APAC, HCL Technologies
Biswajit, also known as Bish, is an experienced business leader and strategy consultant with 18 years of experience in business unit management (P&L), sales management, strategy consulting, and large scale global outsourcing deals.

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