CXO Deep Dive | CTO-Vijay Venkataraman

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What are the top challenges in your business transformation process?

a) Siloed applications having inaccurate data, incomplete data or sometimes duplicate data leading to inconsistencies when catering to business asks or customer needs.  

b) Inefficient business processes that need to be either removed or re-imagined or re-engineered as they cannot cater to the digital way of doing things.  

c) Islands of expertise that don’t have a common business framework or methodology that can be used to help them interact and work on joint solutions.  

d) Business and technology teams not having the right tools, training or skill-sets to be able to provide higher business value.  

e) Non-availability of customer insights leading to the workforce not being to able identify and solve the most important business problems which can delight the customers.  

What will be the next evolution of advanced tech that we can expect in the coming years?

Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence.  


Explainable AI & DataOps. 

What other aspects during transformation needs to be addressed beyond digital competence?

a) Have a thorough understanding of your customer and their needs.  

b) Identifying the appropriate business problems that need to be solved that would provide immense value to the customer. 

c) Bring about the cultural/mindset change in the entire organization increasing ability to come up with the needed digital solutions that will help meet and exceed customer expectations.  

d) Challenge the status quo to build a simple, intuitive customer journey leading to faster and effective conversions.  

e) Ensure transparency in customer transactions which can increase trust and promote loyalty.  

For those who haven’t fully embraced the digital world, is it fundamental to future success?

Adopting and adapting to Digital is not an option, it is a necessity for current and future success.  

How do you best manage top level members of a business who are resistant to change?

a) The change has to be driven top-down with the CEO being the leader driving this change in the entire organization.  

b) KRA metrics related to the change that top level members of the business were able to drive within their organizations and how this change has helped to achieve business value should be monitored and reported.  

c) There should be regular review sessions with those members to track and discuss how embracing change is affecting the business in a positive way and at the same time show how resistance to change is also making things difficult to achieve.   

d) Recognize the top-level members who have successfully embraced change and showcase their achievements that need to be emulated by other members who are struggling or resistant to change.  

When redesigning a business model, what is the best way to filter out the various inputs from different departments?

The following criteria are used when filtering out the inputs from various departments when it comes to a redesigned business model: 

a) Is the business model addressing the significant pain points for the external stakeholders and giving the best-in-class customer experience?  

b) Is the business model addressing significant pain points of the internal stakeholders in being able to deliver the product/service in the shortest possible time, costing less with the best quality?  

c) Is the business model aligned to the organization’s vision/mission and overall business strategy aligning closely to the corporate imperatives defined at the beginning of the year?  

d) Is the redesigned business model removing any inefficient steps in the business workflow or making it entirely automated to enable quicker and accurate execution?  

e) Is it making it easier for the customer to understand and use eventually leading to customer delight?  

f) Is the model allowing for transparency for both the customer and the business involved in delivering the product or service to ensure that it can be tracked to closure easily?  

g) Does it allow for the intervention of business experts in a graceful manner to ensure that the best product/service can always be delivered to the end customer?  

What is the best way to incorporate agile ways of working to accelerate transformation?

a) The entire organization needs to be trained in the agile way of working and should understand the benefits of doing that.  

b) A common agile framework needs to be brought in so that all the different business units will be able to leverage that to work with each other.  

c) The proof of concepts to solve business problems should be done using the agile way of working. The experiences from that should be shared with the entire organization who should learn from it and use the same to solve business problems in their department or area of work.  

d) Encourage the teams to take calculated risks, have them not worry about failures and publicly celebrate successes that will help motivate more people to embrace the agile culture.  

e) Appoint a cultural/change (agile) ambassador in each of the business teams that will help fast-track agile across the entire organization.  

f) Measure, report and tweak the agile programs and align them with the organization’s imperatives to derive the utmost business value directly contributing towards the best customer experience  

How do you maintain a powerful and sustained change?

a) The message of change should be publicized through a clear vision/mission statement (strategy) and should re-emphasized and re-iterated through multiple channels.  

b) Using the different channels of change like the top leadership, culture ambassador(s), agile coach, existing team structures to build awareness of change on a regular basis.  

c) Celebrate the achievements of change publicly by announcing awards and make examples of people embracing change and publish their stories of change through company-wide communication.  

d) Conduct hackathons, innovation-thons and leverage gamification techniques to create opportunities for more people to contribute positively towards the change.  

e) Keep consistently monitoring and measuring the motivation of people for change tracking through appropriate metrics.  

What do you think are the biggest challenges organisations face in the adoption of AI?

Appropriate use cases which provide business value and visible ROI in a reasonably short time span. 

Lack of knowledge/expertise to use AI. 

Stakeholder resistance. 

With the rise of AI, should you add in-house capabilities or outsource to specialists?

Building capabilities in-house on AI is as important as being able to outsource to specialists.  When the requirements to leverage AI is based on using very sensitive business data and require a good understanding of how the company’s business operates, it is better to leverage the in-house AI team to do that work. The advantages are that the solution is owned entirely in-house and easy to make changes or customizations to it. The intellectual property also lies within the organization.  

When there is no capability or capacity within the organization, and you need to quickly get AI work done which is more technology intensive, that is typically when you outsource to specialists. The specialists should be bound by an appropriate contract that ensures that any intellectual property related to the solution will be owned by the entity hiring the outsourcing specialists. Sometimes it is much faster to outsource and get the work done based on the easier availability of expertise in AI compared to what you have in your organization or may be time consuming to hire them from outside. The outsourcing specialists also bring in an outside-in view to solving your business problems in an elegant manner that you might have not thought of. Once the solution is delivered, for any further changes to it you may still have a dependency on the specialist.  

The third option is to be able to buy an AI solution which is ready-made being able to solve a bunch of business problems that you may be having. There are times when the company selling the AI solution will also help train your employees in their solution to be able to use it more effectively. 

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