2020

Collaboration, teamwork, and attitude – are the interpersonal skills we gauge

In a recent insightful conversation with Brijesh Balakrishnan; SVP & Delivery Head – Digital Engineering Services and GIS at CSS Corp, we were able to decode some of the latest tech trends that are the driving force behind the rapid growth of IT industry. Here are some excerpts from our talk.

What are the trending skills for job-seekers in 2020?
Heading into the year 2020, we encounter seasoned pros and freshers who are keen to know what’s up and trending, and what’s down and out. I want to say that some of those technologies that were hot in the previous year are still going strong in the subsequent years. Digital technologies like any product or service are on a lifecycle trajectory going through various phases of development, maturity, peaks, and plateaus. If I were in their shoes now, I’d cast my eyes on Front-end technologies, Data Sciences, RPA, Agile DevOps and Micro Services. Other emerging trends include immersive experiences such as mixed reality, which combines AR and VR.

What is your organisation doing to promote diversity at the workplace?
Among the many values that we espouse as a responsible corporate citizen, diversity is at the core of our hiring and retention programs. CSS Corp is an equal employment opportunity employer whose motto is to ensure a diverse blend of all genders, backgrounds, age groups, and professional tenures. Moreover, we strive to ensure that the mix across various project teams displays an accurate reflection of the best practices in the industry. We keep a close eye on the ratio of women to men in the organization. We take stock every quarter to review and ensure that all our talent sourcing programs meet the diversity and inclusion goals enshrined in our policy. Vibes from our hallways and cubicles showcase an apt composition from an orchestra of talent and diversity. It is through this diversity that we ensure the workplace is creative, engaging, and productive.

What is your take on the adoption of fast-emerging technologies by the companies?
One needn’t look further than the pink papers and media buzz to witness the widespread adoption of new-age technologies. Yes, companies are all caught up with the disruptive technology whirlwind that has swept the IT landscape. However, the focus must also be channelized internally—toward employees. At CSS Corp, for example, we are tapping digital technologies to engage employees and draw out the best from them. The need to foster a culture of reskilling, and innovation along with exposure to different domains ensures delivery teams are agile in the digital economy. In the experiences that I’ve gleaned thus far, I’d say that customer engagement, employee engagement and process efficiencies are the 3 intertwined arches that enterprise leaders must never lose sight off.

What advice would you like to give people who are starting their careers?
I’d advise job seekers to take a close look at their resumes. Skills across the latest technologies and trends add lustre to any profile. Front end technologies, Data Sciences, RPA, Agile DevOps and Micro Services etc., are music to the ears of prospective employers today. Novices who are embarking on IT careers have their whole life in front of them. Today’s digital workplaces are an oyster of opportunities. So, seize the moment. Cast off the mind-set that says: “I want to stick with Java or .NET.” Show alacrity in taking up different projects that demand various skill sets. The market rightfully demands that candidates re-skill and cross-skill across other technologies. Also, freshers must be quick on the draw to lend a helping hand in other projects and domains. Continual learning is a way to sharpen the competitive edge and stay relevant in the digital economy.

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CSS Corp partners HERE Tech to spearhead innovation in geospatial services

California-headquartered CSS Corp, a leading IT services and technology support company partners with HERE Technologies, the global mapping to provide advanced location analytics solutions for their customers. Through the partnership, CSS Corp will ultilise the HERE Platform and products to create and deliver innovative location-based solutions using geospatial data and advanced analytics.

Through this collaboration, CSS Corp says it will leverage HERE’s products and solutions such as HLS, routing, traffic, positioning and tracking fleet telematics for its geospatial solutions to drive contextual intelligence for faster decision-making, scalability, improved efficiency and productivity. Customers will be able to accelerate their businesses and generate new opportunities to gain competitive advantage, leveraging CSS Corp’s bespoke solutions for fleet management, supply chain management and logistics built upon the HERE platform and products.

In the last two years, CSS Corp says it has made significant investments to build its digital solutions portfolio in the geospatial services space in line with its strategy to position itself as the leading provider of customer experience and location-based services to brands globally. Digitalisation has opened new ways for monitoring and getting efficiencies from autonomous vehicles, location-based services, asset and fleet tracking and management offering opportunities on a global scale. CSS Corp says its portfolio of digitally-enabled geospatial services, combined with HERE’s expertise in location-based solutions, presents a great opportunity to address the emerging market needs and drive major disruptions across industry segments with further reduction in costs and better efficiencies.

Speaking on the partnership, Sunil Mittal, executive vice-president, CSS Corp said, “Location-based intelligence is emerging as a critical driver for providing enhanced and personalised services to global consumers. With our portfolio of best-in-class digital solutions in automation and advanced analytics, CSS Corp is in a strong position to deliver compelling business outcomes through this partnership with HERE Technologies. Our experience in product design and development, coupled with our 360-degree geospatial capabilities, will enable us to provide enhanced value to our customers while exploring new avenues of growth and performance.”

“The HERE Technologies partnership is aligned to CSS Corp’s digital vision and comes as a logical extension of our geospatial offerings. We are very excited to bring location analytics solutions built on the HERE Platform to our customers while driving meaningful impact to their businesses,” added Mittal.

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Has covid-19 hit women in tech harder? Hear from them directly

While it is a well accepted fact that the Covid-19 crisis has been disproportionately affecting the health of men more severely, women have been feeling the effects of the coronavirus in different ways. Before the pandemic struck, they were already underrepresented in the workforce – particularly in tech – and the crisis has further deepened this chasm.

In the lead up to The Rising 2020, the second edition of Analytics India Magazine’s Women in AI conference, we reached out to several accomplished and successful women in tech across industries to hear from them directly:

Working From Home – A Blessing Or A Curse?
The tech industry, as a whole, maybe benefiting from work-from-home policies amid the pandemic, but its effect on the lives of working women tells a different story. The greater share of (unpaid) housework and increased burden of childcare is where Covid-19 seem to have hit them the hardest.

“Barring some exceptions, I believe that most professional women who’ve been able to work from home have had to take on round-the-clock duties that were typically shared by and delegated to daycares, schools, parents, and domestic help,” says Nidhi Pratapneni, SVP, Product, Analytics & Modelling, PVSI at Wells Fargo.

According to her, most women credit their support system for their career successes, but with that largely vanishing amid the lockdown, the Covid-19 crisis could further hamper their return to – or progress in – the tech industry.

The pandemic has brought into sharper focus the chasm that still exists between male and female professionals, thanks to cultural perceptions and expectations. In fact, according to a report, women in the tech industry are almost 1.5 times as likely as men to feel a greater burden of childcare due to Covid-19-induced lockdowns.

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Cloud: A silver lining for businesses amidst pandemic

“We have been witnessing a mixed trend in cloud adoption depending on the health of different sectors. While telecom and healthcare companies have significantly increased cloud solutions adoption, the IT & ITES and the BFSI segments have maintained their spend. However, we have witnessed a slight decline in cloud spends by the retail and manufacturing industries, who were heavily affected by the pandemic. As forecast by IDC, as a result of the pandemic, 64% of the organizations in India are expected to increase demand for cloud computing and 56% for cloud software. We witnessed an increased market demand in hybrid cloud migration models, especially in the healthcare sector.”

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Here’s what Senior Director – SSQA and Corporate Quality at CSS Corp has to say about the evolving landscape for women in tech

The landscape for women in tech has taken a paradigm shift. The technology realm is being manifested with the latest innovation by women technologists. In our special series of covering such women in tech, we spoke to Bhuvaneswari Natarajan, Senior Director – SSQA and Corporate Quality at CSS Corp. Natarajan has two decades of experience in leading large software development and support and also has hands-on experience in implementing ITIL-based processes in large engagements.

In our conversations, we covered different dimensions of the workplaces for women professionals in the IT industry. Here’s what unfolded.

How has the workforce diversity landscape evolved in India in recent years?
Diversity and Inclusion have become integral towards fostering a workforce of the future. In the Indian scenario, this was initially perceived as varying gender, however, the understanding of the concept has evolved to encompass various other subsets. Diversity hiring has risen to 32% in 2020, from last year’s 23%, as per a report by Avtar Group. Organisations are integrating workplace diversity at the core of their organisational philosophy and are championing it through initiatives and policies to promote positive change. Conscious effort and commitment to promote a culture of diversity has resulted in organisations across sectors to reap tremendous benefits that directly impact business outcomes. Diverse and inclusive workplaces bring in different perspectives from employees because they are encouraged to be their real self, which in turn adds to the heterogeneity of the company and leads to higher creativity and innovation. Over the years this has created greater employee engagement, increased collaboration, and profits for companies, thus enabling their people to prosper.

What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The tech industry is evolving at an extraordinary pace, and during this rapid growth, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of women employees. The initiatives and support rendered by technology companies through mentorship programmes, peer training, reskilling and upskilling courses gives women in tech a platform to hone their abilities further as well as develop and grow within their roles. Research has shown that women are goal driven, empathetic and meticulous. The tech industry has a plethora of opportunities for women to explore, expand their horizons and succeed. Women are transforming the field with their innovative practices and disruptive thinking. Organisations are investing in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to take charge of their careers. It is indeed a great time to be a woman in tech.

There are few women at C-suite positions and top leadership. What are the most critical challenges organisations face while appointing a woman leader at the top position?
Organisations have constantly grappled with the challenge of ensuring a gender balance for C-Suite and top leadership positions. This situation emerged as few women were able to cross the hurdles encountered in the span of their career to grow and reach a position to be vested with leadership. You can divide a woman’s career graph into two segments: BC (Before Child) and AD (After Delivery). Many women take breaks to focus on their personal front, the prospect of them resuming their careers becomes a significant decision due to lack of a reliable support system. Also, women need a workplace that renders support through various stages of their career and enables them to take on as many personal and professional roles without any inhibitions. These shortcomings, both internal and external must be countered through practices that create a healthy and positive environment to empower women and enable them to shatter the glass ceiling and make a mark for themselves.

What are the most flourishing career choices for women tech aspirants?
There are infinite possibilities for women entering the burgeoning technology ecosystem. New-age and emerging technologies such as AI/ML, Cloud, DevOps, among others provide immense opportunities to learn, understand and deploy the power of technology. Moreover, women can make their mark and create a niche for themselves by propelling their learning, growth, and development forward. It is with sheer commitment, focus and perseverance that they can achieve their goals and excel in this / any field.

What is the best way to expand your professional network?
Networking and making professional connections are imperative for individuals to foster collaboration and growth within this dynamic industry. There are multitude of ways through which people can expand their professional network and create an impact across various fronts. Joining professional organisations such as Project Management Institute (PMI), and being a part of internal company events, as well as events organised by reputed industry bodies and companies are ways to build contact. Tapping on alumni networks through LinkedIn is yet another means to ensure that people are connecting with like-minded individuals to further their career and add to their learning significantly.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
My advice to any woman contemplating a career in the tech industry would be to be focused and goal-driven from the outset and chart out a career map with the milestones that they would like to achieve across their various roles and capacities. It is vital to positively affirm oneself and celebrate every achievement. Be hearty in approbation and lavish in praise. Always believe in yourself and follow your passion!

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Cloud Wars & Mobile Accords : Trends that could impact CRM in 2020 CIO Review India magazine

Authored By Mushtaq Ahmad, CIO, CSS Corp

Cloud Wars & Mobile Accords – Trends that could impact CRM in 2020
The CRM software market size is expected to reach USD 80 billion by 2025, and the battles to claim a stake have already begun. At the forefront of the action are some leading technology trends that will shape up the CRM landscape in 2020.

Boost in Cloud-based Services
By moving the on-premise CRM to Cloud, enterprises have brought in substantial real-time intelligence and 360-degree views of customers and prospects. The cloud migration has enabled them to fuse demand chains with supply chains and channelize their digital transformation around their customers. Hassle-free installations, coupled with remote data migration and upgrades, bring in a level of flexibility that on-premise services lack. Moreover, with expenses on hardware, server, and software maintenance eliminated, the Cloud-based CRM makes customers the real winner.

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City corporates ensure employees’ well-being during lockdown with fun activities

For most corporate employees, the occasional work-from-home option was a relief from having to brave Bengaluru’s infamous traffic. Back then, they had the luxury of household help, and could focus on the official tasks at hand. The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, though, turned things around. Not only did work-from-home get a more permanent status, but it also meant that they had to work for home as well. And if maintaining a work-life balance was tough earlier, imagine now, when you are doing everything yourself.

Realising that the morale of employees needs some serious upliftment in these gloomy times, most companies have begun conducting fun online activities and exercises.

Fitness classes, music concerts and more to motivate employees

From online mediation, yoga and zumba sessions to virtual music concerts, organisations are doing their bit to ensure their employees’ well being. Shraddhanjali Rao, vice president – HR, SAP Labs India, says that they have been conducting online fitness sessions to give employees a well-deserved fun break from work from home. Their next initiave was also well received. “We conducted a virtual music concert that was attended by 800 employees. Some even joined the session with their families and it was nice to see people bond over music overcoming language and distance barriers,” she says.

Walmart Labs’ employee engagement programme involved some special family members – pets. “On April 11, which was the National Pet Day, associates were asked to share pictures of themselves with their pets. Not only did this help them have some fun, but it also made them feel connected with each other while being socially distant. The initiative had great participation and created a lot of buzz on our internal platforms,” says Sunita Venugopal from Walmart Labs.

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Importance of Continuous Learning during Covid-19

Locked down but not locked out from learning. Amidst certain aspects of convenience that a work-from-home model offers, the employees are getting connected with the digital learning platforms enabled by the employer. While the infection curve is yet to show signs of flattening out, the learning curve is on a new high!If the download rates of virtual collaboration tools are any indicator, virtual learning has indeed breached past the barriers of social distancing. IT service providers who are dexterous enough to take advantage of their digital skilling frameworks do so for the advancement of employees. Amid a pandemic and the ensuing harsh economic headwinds, employees are enhancing their employability through continuous learning.

Upside of a Downturn

A positive side to the downturn of our times is visible during remote working conditions. This downturn reflects the truthabout ateam’scollaboration, productivity, and efficiency. When the economic engines decelerate, it indeed is a bad time. But amidst the challenges it also offers an opportunity for professionals to recalibrate themselvesfor the emerging technological requirements. Irrespective of market conditions, continuous skilling is the byword by which professionals live to stay relevant and employable. The difference now is that COVID-19 has cast the focus on diversifying and deepening of skills. Obviously, those with deep technical or domain skills are always sought after and canmeet the challenges of job market due to economic slowdown.

Importance of Skilling

Honing one’s skills across new-age technologies has come as a saving grace for employees caught in the thick of the interim phase. Employees who had to spend approximately 1 to 3 hours of commute daily can redeploy the extra hours and energy in areas of self-development. On the one hand, the unstable economic scenario has witnessed employees signing up for training programs to stay competitive; on the other hand, those who already are on a robust skilling plan are the focus of top management. At a time when organizations are treading cautiously about costs, new investments and additional hiring, employers are looking to do more with less. Employees who are agile, flexible, and quick learners are much sought after. Those who are willing to seize learning opportunities and implement what they learn are assets for the organization.

Online Learning Opportunities

Learning for the purpose of achieving personal goals or professional advancement never ceases. The digital workplaces of today offer a myriad of continuous online learning avenues. The Learning & Development function has risen to the fluctuating demands of clients; they have their task cut out in bridging the skills gap. Learning Management Systems are utilizing best practices such as online learning opportunities through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), micro modules, university programs, online certifications, and bite-sized courses. Thanks to new-age skilling frameworks, homes and workspaces have become like training labs for employees to sign up and skill up based on their convenience or their demanding projects.

Spotlight on Productivity

In an evolving technological landscape, witnessing changing client demands, the wheels of continuous learning are grinding swiftly, but the question remains as to what’s the net impact of it. A common pet peeve aired by project managers is, “Don’t tell me you’re on a nonstop learning journey but tell me how you’ve translated that learning for the benefit of the client.”

Impact of learning wanes unless it has a practical application. Employers overlook employees who are content with what they learned yesterday in favor of those abreast with technological developments. With the availability of many learning opportunities, employers raise concerns about course completion rates as well as the practical significance of learning during this downturn. Employees must think beyond earning certificates and apply concepts such as AI, automation, and analytics.The proof of the pudding, therefore, is in the eating. The future of work demands that IT professionals display their productivity by applying their newly learned skills in projects.

The Big Picture

Long periods of confinement have demanded a high degree of discipline from professionals who have extra time on hand. Between household chores and professional responsibilities, employees find themselves pulled in different directions. On the bright side, being at home with family and relatives offers solace to the homesick workaholics who otherwise glue themselves to their desks in a different city. On the brighter side, prolonged days of confinement mandate a systematic approach to learning new skills. Employees need to make everyday count to be on a par with the speed of change. Irrespective of crisis or normalcy, learning must be a perpetual enriching experience full of practical implications. The maxim “…Learn as if you were to live forever,” rings true.

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CSS Corp trains over 1,000 needful youth in partnership with ICT Academy

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, in partnership with ICT Academy, has trained over 1,000 youth in the past one year on employability skills. This program was part of an initiative started in March 2019. As a part of this initiative, CSS Corp held an extensive training program to skill the youth of rural, urban and low-income family groups in Tamil Nadu on the latest technology and soft skills that helped them to be employable in leading IT companies across the nation. As a result, out of the total trained candidates, close to 700 students have received offer letters from reputed IT/ITeS companies in the country.

The training programs were conducted in 20 colleges across Tamil Nadu that provided 100 hours of intensive activity-based training in soft and technical support skills for over 1000 final year graduating students from engineering, arts and science colleges located in the rural and sub-urban areas of the state.

The students were mentored by CSS Corp employees with mock interviews and group discussions. Moreover, a special focus was on encouraging women participation, in line with CSS Corp’s objective to empower women in the technology sector, which helped secure close to 600 female participants (of the 1000 plus) in the program.

CSS Corp has signed another MOU with ICT Academy towards training a fresh batch of 1,200 students in the states of Tamil Nadu & Karnataka this year. Training will be based on soft skills, tech support skills and emerging technologies (Angular, JavaScript Development Suite, RPA, Selenium 3.0 and SQL database).

Speaking about the initiative, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “India has a large workforce with skills that need to be honed and upgraded with changing times. With the pandemic looming over us, the globe is witnessing a paradigm shift in the way businesses work. It goes without saying that the need of the hour is for the youth to be trained and skilled across a plethora of disruptive technologies to bend the curve. CSS Corp’s initiative introduces students to skills beyond their regular curriculum and ensures their holistic development across a wide paradigm, enabling them to seek opportunities and truly make their mark in fields of their choice. Each student that has been trained by this program will have the opportunity to showcase their abilities, learn, grow and stay relevant amidst the changes taking place.”

M Sivakumar, Chief Executive Officer, ICT Academy said “Skill development is critical for economic growth and social development. The country presently faces a dual challenge of severe paucity of highly trained, quality labour, as well as non-employability of large sections of the educated workforce that possess little or no job skills. The skill development issue in India is thus pertinent both at the demand and supply level. To meet the supply side challenge, ICT Academy focuses on the skill development of youth as one of its core objectives. CSR is a proper channel to reach the underserved people of the society. The positive economic impact achieved by this initiative is huge and has improved the earning capabilities of not just 5,000 students but 5,000 families with most of them being first-generation employees.”

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CSS Corp is now Movate

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