Point of View

Empathy, disruption, and curiosity create business and IT collaboration

August 23, 2021

In the first of many Digi-side Chats at our HFS OneOffice™ Digital Symposium, Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst at HFS Research, spoke with Anand Birje, Sr. Corporate Vice-President and Head of the Digital Business at HCL Technologies, about leading with empathy and curiosity, disrupting your own business, cloud strategy, and the changing nature of the CIO role as business and IT collaborate.

Exhibit 1: Phil Fersht, CEO and Chief Analyst at HFS Research, talks empathy, disruption, curiosity, and more, with Anand Birje, Sr Corporate Vice-President and Head of the Digital Business at HCL Technologies

Source: HFS Digital Symposium, June 8-9, 2021

Empathy and building curious organizations help leaders transform their businesses

Phil: You’ve had quite the career, Anand… Who have been some of your major influencers?

Anand: Among so many others, Phil, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella stands out. With the world today and what we struggle with, CEOs with empathy have proven that business can transform. Authenticity in leadership positions and throughout the organization allows you to extend your core strengths alongside a deep understanding of your products and markets. There must be an emphasis on curious business building. Change is here to stay, and we need to build curious teams and curious organizations. HCL’s Mode 123 Strategy centers on authentic, collaborative teams that constantly evolve. HCL is building a constantly curious organization—in new teams, yes, but also ensuring that experienced teams can disrupt themselves and continuously learn.

HCL took product engineering innovation into the services space—with a constant view to disrupt itself

Phil: What makes HCL different from the traditional service providers?

Anand: It’s our journey and where we came from. HCL started in product engineering and design, not IT services, support, infrastructure management, etc. We got there later, yes, but the journey is in our DNA; through this, we’ve been a key partner to innovative firms and a part of their aggressive product journeys. For example, in Silicon Valley, where disruption is at the core of everything they do, you’re constantly thinking that you might not be relevant in five years. Now, this attitude is at the core of HCL’s business. HCL looks at the large market scape: Five years ago, we disrupted the app and digital services market after having done the same in infra [services]. We saw the opportunity to bring design, consulting, and ideation with continuous delivery and agile methods. HCL looked for the same approach as product companies, where business and technology teams collaborate and can disrupt themselves by looking ahead in the market, not being complacent, and pivoting quickly—all while executing with a laser-like customer focus.

Cloud journeys need a business roadmap linked to the underpinning architecture

Phil: Looking at cloud migration—the Global 2000 are practically all doing it, but only 70% have a strategy… what should that strategy look like, Anand?

Anand: Cloud has been happening for six-plus years, with companies progressively adopting and planning their journeys. But over the last 12 months, it’s been proliferating across enterprises, through all industries, and all over the world. Everyone wants resilience, speed to market, and the ability to execute business change and take advantage of new technology faster. We’re seeing more and more conversations, even in highly regulated industries. Three things I’d say:

  1. Prioritize your business roadmap. Define cloud as an enabler of the broader enterprise journey. How do you take advantage of the cloud in this journey?
  2. Get the architecture right. Enterprise architecture is going to change—not just the infrastructure but also business processes:

“You need to decide: Where do you consume and where do you compose on the cloud? Some business areas don’t differentiate you but are core to the business, so you consume from the cloud. But in some areas, you need to be agile; you need flexibility and an ability to compose your decisions on cloud architecture, what you consume and from where, and what you need to compose—all mean that teams all must come together—design, IT, process, product, and all others…”
– Anand Birje, Sr Corporate Vice-President and Head of the Digital Business at HCL Technologies

  1. Adoption journeys. Enterprises need a digital roadmap that features cloud. It’s not lift-and-shift anymore; it’s how to think cloud-native at the app, infra, data, and all other layers and how you make that journey happen.
The CIO role is changing as business and IT collaboration continues to define the agile way of working

Anand: CIOs are retooling and aligning their organizations by value chain—not horizontally by technology or in silos for projects, support services, apps, data, infra, etc. There’s been an operating model change in the CIO role. There’s a need to be closer to the business, the exact nature of which depends on the industry-critical value chains. CIOs need to build closer ties to deliver features quicker but understand business priorities. There’s also collaboration between all line leaders and CXOs these days.

HCL puts a huge amount of focus on orchestration and gets involved in the decision-making as a partner to the CIO. We’re not typically aligned to one business partner—a large tech vendor, for example, allowing us to maintain neutrality to the C-suite.

The Bottom Line: Breaking down barriers, whether it’s between the front, middle, and back offices or in the communication of employers, employees, and teams, is the foundation for navigating disruption and transformation.
Watch the Phil Fersht/Anand Birge Digi-side Chat

You can read other POVs and a comprehensive ebook about the Symposium, plus watch video highlights of the two-day event, here.

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