2020

IT services firm CSS Corp rolls out pay hikes, to hire 1000 people this quarter

Bengaluru: Mid-size IT services firm CSS Corp has rolled out a high-single digit pay hike for its 7000 odd employees, at a time when the majority of its large tech services peers and BPM companies have decided to delay increments and promotions.

The company is planning to hire 1000 employees by the end of June across markets.

Companies such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS, WNS and others have delayed pay hikes and put promotions on hold as they see uncertainty over business growth in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak across key markets.

CSS Corp has also paid 100% of variable salary to the majority of its employees.

“We are in challenging times and the organization has responded with great resilience in moving to a 100% WFH model early in the cycle. So it was important for us to ensure they are certain about their future. At the lower bands, which constitute 70% of the workforce, the variable payout was 100% and at higher levels where metrics are a little more stringent, the payout was around 80%. We have also handed out promotions to all eligible employees,” said Nishikant Nigam, chief delivery officer and Head of HR, CSS Corp, adding that its appraisal cycle was not different than that of last year.

The company, which enabled 100% of its employees to deliver services remotely, has given special incentive for those employees who played a critical role in shifting work to homes in March.

CSS Corp will carry out virtual onboarding for fresh hiring meant for India and other countries.

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How Women Techies Can Thrive in a Post-COVID World

Breaking the glass ceiling has long been a goal for women professionals in the technology sector. But lack of flexible working policy and indifference of senior management often dissuade them from securing a place in the boardroom, despite studies showing time and again that women have proven themselves to be capable leaders all over the planet. The COVID-19 era that is disrupting every industry and individual across the world may change that. Experts believe with work from home (WFH) becoming the new normal now, the pandemic in some ways, can create new and exciting opportunities, especially, for women in technology.

Currently, there are only 26% of women in engineering roles in India and only 7% of women manage to reach the C-suite level. The Belong Survey shows that flexibility, backed by strong senior management support draws more women, and retains them, in the workplace, especially in the senior positions. The WFH policy during the lockdown is only paving the way for women techies to eye a better career pitch.

COVID-19 creates new opportunities

Bhuvaneswari Natarajan, Senior Director, Corporate Quality, CSS Corp, believes WFH has brought forth endless possibilities, especially for women who are planning to get back to work after a career break. “The flexibility that remote working brings has allowed women to balance their work and life better with increased collaboration from the other family members. It can not only help women upskill themselves but also be a part of conversations that were earlier dominated by men,” she says.

Several tech companies are open to hiring remote workers on full-time payroll, which was not the case even a year ago. In fact, in the present scenario, WFH is proving to be more productive and a lot of companies are planning to adopt a wider use of this model even after COVID-19. This opens up the market for diverse tech talent, where companies look for talent in locations where they don’t have a physical office.

Women with skills in emerging technologies can bank upon this opportunity to restart their IT career, believes Sindhu Gangadharan – Senior Vice President and Managing Director, SAP, who opines that WFH will benefit both male and female employees, as it decouples them from a specific location.

“It certainly will be a boon to many women employees, who were forced to ‘pause’ their career due to family compulsions, as they now can balance both work and family more effectively. It also will give women more options to choose jobs from different locations, without having to uproot their family and social circles,” she says.

Pooja Subramanian, Technology Principal at ThoughtWorks, agrees that WFH or remote work will eliminate a lot of restrictions like travel time and enable flexible work schedules for people who can benefit from it – say women with kids or elderly people to take care of or women who have relocated because of family.

However, Jaya Vaidhyanathan, CEO, BCT Digital, cautions that despite opening up a new window of opportunities, WFH brings with it both blessings and challenges. She believes, it requires more planning, dedicated (even if small) workspace, and managing other responsibilities. The industry should quickly find ways to utilize this opportunity and build functional models to draw the balance between availability of technical skills and their utilization.

Making Diversity a long term option

While the lockdown and the ensuring WFH policy is changing the way employers are hiring resources, experts believe that diversity is a deep rooted problem that needs a long term strategy to reduce tech’s gender gap. For example, Vaidhyanathan believes, “it all needs to start at the top with more board roles being open for women.”

Agrees Natarajan who emphasized that a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment will go a long way in creating more opportunities for women and fostering sponsorships to not only retain but also advance women to pursue their career goals.

As Supria Dhanda, VP and Country Manager, Western Digital India, believes, “To make diversity in technology work for the long term, the entire stream of talent needs to be reviewed and rightly invested, right from encouraging girl students to take up engineering disciplines to organizations investing in hiring, developing, mentoring, and promoting women in technology and business and focus on how they stay with the organizations for the long term.”

While organization’s flexible work policy is the key, Gangadharan suggests women techies to have an open mind, participate in opportunities that come their way, and ensure that learning never stops in order to thrive in a post-COVID world.

“A shift of mindset is required where the organization and family play a crucial role in encouraging women in technology to pursue their passion,” says Subramanian, who believes it’s imperative for organizations to support these ambitious techies with the right policies, culture and flexibility that will cultivate more women leaders.

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Delivering better customer experience in a no-touch world

Businesses need to adapt to a new world order at warp speed. How they meet this moment will influence their trajectory for years to come.

The Covid-19 global humanitarian and economic crisis has left an indelible mark on global consumers.

As the crisis deepens, incremental improvements by organisations to adapt to changing customer behaviour no longer seem to suffice. Beyond the immediate fallout of this pandemic, customer experience has emerged as one of the key challenges facing business leaders.

Leading organisations have instituted new tools such as digital surveys and practices like social listening and sentiment analysis to track, analyse, and act on behavioural signals. Now the bigger challenge is to deliver a customer experience not just to stand out, but to pivot, reassess, innovate, and transform.

What’s visible in the industry

Movement patterns have flipped. Customers are housebound and vulnerable. Employees have atomised and adjusted their daily working practices. Supply chains are being disrupted. Physical stores are increasingly pulling down their shutters.

The customers are now more mindful of their spending. Stay-at-home orders have accelerated the transition from in-person to digital channels. Public safety has become a top priority for businesses and consumers alike in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment.

No longer can businesses devise strategies based on simple analytics and a gut feel about their customers’ needs and preferences. Businesses must jump years in a few months to offer digital customer experiences that are simple, intuitive, and reliable.

From reactive to proactive crisis management

The traditional crisis-response playbook is now broken. As the companies outline macro scenarios and prepare scenario-based contingency plans of action, the focus of this entire generation of business leaders is shifting from reactive to proactive crisis management.

Businesses have configured senior, dedicated, cross-functional war room teams focussed on tackling immediate challenges, finding innovative operational models and technologies to safeguard liquidity and recover the business today, and retool the business for the future.

To win in the new normal, companies need to identify the current noticeable customer behaviour that will define customer experience in the near term. Companies need to rethink strategic priorities and build capabilities fast to leapfrog stages of customers’ evolution in the new normal and use digitalisation to bolster operations

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CSS Corp Emerges as a Global Leader in ISG Provider Lens™ Contact Center – Customer Experience Services 2020 Report

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has been recognized as a Leader in the ISG Provider Lens™ Contact Center – Customer Experience Services Global 2020 report by Information Services Group (ISG), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

The report by ISG underlines CSS Corp’s ability towards meeting the needs of enterprises for well-orchestrated intelligent automation capabilities to automate processes and to deliver higher productivity, reduced costs, improved data accuracy and enhanced customer experience. CSS Corp was named a Leader in the AI & Analytics quadrant of the report. It was also positioned as Product Challenger in the Digital Operations quadrant of the ISG Provider Lens™ Contact Center – Customer Experience Services US 2020 report.

The company has received this recognition for its comprehensive suite of services driven by solutions such as Digital Contact Center 2.0 (DCC 2.0) to drive transformation and OpsMAX framework to empower employees, and by exhibiting traits of partnership to seamlessly meet and address the needs of its clients. In addition, its differentiated outcome-based pricing model and expertise in delivering insights for customers has been adding value to its fast-growing portfolio of clients.

“Disruptive technologies and engagement models are accelerating the pace of digital transformation at contact centers as they re-imagine how they can ensure a smooth and frictionless customer experience. CSS Corp has constantly endeavoured to provide world-class end-to-end support, enabled by innovative technology solutions and business models. We are proud to be the leaders in this domain and aim to continue to maximise the value we deliver to our clients,” said Sunil Mittal, EVP, CSS Corp.

“CSS Corp has put AI and analytics to effective use across enterprise clients. The company has exhibited skin in the game with its differentiated pricing models and significant business outcomes that have enabled growth for clients,” said Namratha Dharshan, ISG Lead Analyst.

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CSS Corp Recognized as a Disruptor in Avasant’s Intelligent Automation Services RadarView™ 2019-2020 Report

Bangalore, Karnataka, India: CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, announced today that it has been recognized as a “Disruptor” in Avasant’s Intelligent Automation Services RadarView™ 2019 Report. Avasant acknowledged CSS Corp’s consistent innovation in its RPA solutions and indigenous AI-enabled platforms, Contelli and Active Insights. The report evaluated 24 global service providers against key criteria including scope and quality of portfolio, performance and growth, innovation capabilities, geographic coverage, implementation experience, case studies, and client satisfaction score. Avasant’s report has recognized Contelli and Active Insights, CSS Corp’s homegrown intelligent automation platforms for its adoption of RPA, AI, and analytics in IT processes transformation. The platforms leverage cognitive technologies to drive the customers’ service delivery operations, accelerating growth, and predictability. The context-driven platforms together drive end-to-end automation of both front-office and back-office processes. CSS Corp has used the platforms successfully to fast-track IT automation for its customers across telecom, media, hi-tech, banking, and retail industries.

According to Swapnil Bhatnagar, Research Director, Avasant, “With the advent of more disruptive cognitive technologies, the enterprise journey of intelligent automation has traversed from a rule-based approach to judgment-based automation. CSS Corp’s automation strategy is in tandem with this market opportunity with a clear focus on the contextual adoption of automation for back-end as well as front-end processes by leveraging AI and analytics. This approach, in conjunction with heavy investments made in innovation labs for incubating solutions and reskilling its workforce for the next leap of automation, has made CSS Corp a Disruptor in Avasant’s Intelligent Automation Services RadarView 2019-2020.”

Speaking on occasion, Manish Tandon, CEO, CSS Corp, said, “Being recognized by Avasant as a disruptor in intelligent automation services reinforces our deep expertise and innovation in effectively managing enterprise and IT operations ecosystems. Our cognitive solutions are built with a focus to drive business outcomes for our customers and transform their challenges into opportunities. We will continue to engineer value for our customers through cutting-edge solutions and ensure they stay ahead of the disruption curve in the IT landscape.”

The Intelligent Automation Services RadarView 2019 Report addresses the dual need of the enterprises to leverage both the RPA and the AI-enabled IT automation space, and to identify service providers that span both. Avasant’s RadarView™ is an independent assessment that reflects the true capabilities of service providers, with a view of evaluating them as long-term partners for digitally evolving global organizations.
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Tech professionals need to prioritize their mental well-being first

The wonders of the human brain are endless. However, it also comes with its own set of emotional frailties which are often difficult to recognize and fathom. In tech-oriented jobs, the employees are at a higher risk of crumbling under the pressures due to stress, long working hours, and irregular shift timings. Such jobs are demanding, time-boxed, and isolative, leading to anxiety, increased levels of stress, and depression.

Techies who are perfectly capable of resolving deep technical problems are not necessarily as adept in solving challenges which life throws at them. In this fast-paced environment, tech professionals need to prioritize their mental well-being first, which otherwise can hinder both their health and productivity. Instead of silently suffering, it is imperative for them to acknowledge the presence of the problem and then refocus their energies into bettering their lifestyles.

HR organizations across the globe have increasingly realized the importance of having stress busters for techies in their workplace. Multi-dimensional personality and skill development programs are being run by HR organizations to overcome stress, depression, and suicidal tendencies of the techies. Minor actions like games, mini-breaks, casual chat with colleagues, the art of “letting go”, and learning when to say “no” to extra work, can go a long way in the preservation of one’s mental well-being.

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CSS is among the early movers in the industry to transition to a 100% work-from-home model: Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, Head HR, CSS Corp

Maximising usage of digital collaboration tools, procurement and distribution of necessary hardware and networking equipment, delivering webinars and remote sessions on mental well-being, continuous contact with our employees are some of the initiatives that are helping us ensure business continues as usual, states Satyanarayanan Visvanathan- SVP, Head of HR (Global) and Corporate Quality, CSS Corp

CSS Corp has mature risk management and business continuity plans which are periodically reviewed and tested for robustness. With agility and nimbleness being our forte, we have deployed several measures leveraging our infrastructural capabilities and support frameworks. This intrinsic strength had enabled us to be among the early movers in the industry to transition to a 100% work-from-home model. Maximising usage of digital collaboration tools, procurement and distribution of necessary hardware and networking equipment, delivering webinars and remote sessions on mental well-being, continuous contact with our employees are some of the initiatives that are helping us ensure business continues as usual.

Key challenges faced

Balancing client needs, expectations and deliverables with central/state regulations and guidance on the aspect of working from home; Having the required infrastructure procured, tested and distributed; Preparing the workforce to embrace a 100% WFH, considering the culture shock; Evolving lean, virtual processes to keep different aspects of the organisation running seamlessly

Lessons Learnt

Organisations typically have well laid out disaster recovery and business continuity plans keeping geographical separation as an assured way of resilience. However, this pandemic has struck at the core of that belief and exposed the weaknesses therein. The scale, swiftness and impact of this crisis has been unprecedented to say the least.

The first and foremost lesson, is to revisit and review all practices and processes of DR and BCP, taking into cognizance that such a thing could strike in a very short time. Secondly, organisations should have crisis management teams and rapid action taskforces capable of assessing, preparing and responding to such situations. Lastly, the ability to raise awareness of the workforce and motivate them towards adopting the crisis responses is a crucial factor

As a tech support company, we already have a lot of collaboration tools and platforms. We are using many cloud-based solutions from leading players such as Microsoft, SAP, Industry standard collaboration tools like Zoom etc. One of the concerns while working from home is data security and we have installed DLP software (Data loss prevention) in all our systems to prevent any leakages. Our systems are encrypted, and with the help of screen capture, ongoing audits are done from time to time.

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AI in healthcare

Strategic application of AI has the potential to radically change the way healthcare is delivered through evidence-driven insights. Phanikishore Burre, SVP and Global Delivery Head – Networks, Cloud, Infrastructure and Security Services, CSS Corp shares his insights on how with AI, healthcare sector has shifted its focus from merely treating, to prediction, and subsequently prevention

There’s a kind of physician whose name doesn’t bear the initials MBBS or MD. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in the spotlight through its niche role in medical research, image analyses, predictive diagnostics, early detection, patient triage and decision support at a high degree of accuracy and efficiency. The democratisation of AI saves time and costs for stakeholders in an industry facing a shortage of physicians and allied professionals.

What’s different in India?

Unlike the rest of the world, India faces many issues in the distribution of healthcare. Problems include the dearth of clinicians, inadequate infrastructure and insufficient government investment, high-treatment costs, weak doctor-patient ratio, late diagnosis, overscheduled doctors, ailment unawareness, and the like. However, in an Indian healthcare market that is conducive for digital transformations, the times are changing as the government is showing enthusiasm for innovation and sustainable projects. Tech adoption, in general, is slow, and the Indian government and private players have much groundwork to cover if they are to catch up with their Western and European counterparts known for tech advancements, medical innovation and research and development (R&D). In India, AI can compensate for a host of problems mentioned above.

AI augmentation is happening across medical research, hospital operations and robotic surgeries.

AI fastracks biomedical research. Take the case of viral culturing in laboratories; scientists are fleshing out quicker insights by accelerating simulation time between the interaction and reaction of compounds and virals. AI-based simulation is so useful in a testing environment where viral and bacteria strains take on polymorphic identities. AI’s deep learning dives into knowledge repositories to learn from use-cases and help patients.

In India, there’re plenty of disorganised data in silos. Integrating AI into patient management systems of hospitals, pharmacies, blood banks and clinical labs, provides a 360-degree view of the patients’ history. The US, with its EHR (Electronic Health Record), is at a vantage point in integrating AI into their applications. In India, digitisation starting from a patient’s check-in, appointment, prescription to records, diagnosis and imaging is necessary. From an operational and transactional standpoint, AI transforms patient journeys by reducing costs, waiting times and dropouts.

The cutting-edge work of AI is underway in remote robotic surgeries where doctors at any location can treat patients located at any place in the world with the help of other supporting technologies like AR and 5G.

With AI as an aide, it frees medicos to devote time and energy towards prescribing the right antidote to patients, instead of studying and diagnosing symptoms. During times of fatigue, doctors inadvertently oversee critical parameters or information about the patient. AI steps in to check the crucial factors of patients and their ailments.

Adoption in Indian healthcare

In India, large-scale AI implementation is on the anvil through startups and tech firms. Google and Microsoft are working with hospitals to integrate AI. Tech behemoths and life science players are also fleshing out AI-based platforms, smartphone apps and co-bots for the medical industry. Startups are collaborating with hospitals for early detection, recurrence and treatment. AI is transforming diagnosis and treatments across autism, cardiology, ophthalmology, dementia, various cancers, plus the psychiatric world of bipolar disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia. Various factors such as large-scale datasets of a burgeoning population, hyperconnectivity and digitalisation present a conducive environment with many a proof-of-concept for AI pilot projects to expand.

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CSS Corp Launches Digital Assurance to Bring Automation to UX Testing

We recently talked with CSS Corp about its investments in QA, in particular its new Digital Assurance offering. Digital Assurance targets UX QA, an area that has not had the attention it deserves.

Clients have prioritized investment in continuous testing & automation
While many large organizations have devoted considerable time and effort to continuous testing and functional automation, they have invested only selectively on UX testing. Indeed, demand for UX testing has been limited. Regulation has driven some UX activity, particularly around accessibility testing. The heterogeneity of devices and screen sizes also means organizations spend on compatibility testing. Also, performance testing has become somewhat more UX-centric by tracking performance using end-user metrics.

To a large extent, this is it. QA and UX are two different worlds and do not feed on each other. UX would gain from the automation expertise of QA, while QA would benefit from opening up to new challenges. The world of UX is vast and growing, especially in the space of usability research and testing. But so far, it is not really automated.

CSS Corp has created a UX testing platform with Digital Assurance
So NelsonHall welcomes the investment by CSS Corp to expand the boundaries of UX testing, relying on automation. With Digital Assurance, CSS Corp has aggregated opensource software tools with proprietary accelerators. The scope of Digital Assurance is considerable, ranging from performance testing to usability testing. Within usability testing, CSS Corp has focused on several dimensions, including “appeal,” “navigation,” “search,” and “content & information.”

An example of an engagement where CSS Corp developed an “appeal” feature is for a tier-one cosmetics company, verifying that the color displayed on a screen for a lip pencil was consistent with the company’s color palette. The challenge was one of scale, the client having 3k URLs and color palettes to validate. CSS Corp used computer vision technology to compare images, thereby removing manual comparison for the client’s 78 brands.
Another example is around “search”. CSS Corp has integrated SEO as part of the metrics it tracks. For instance, it will analyze the structure of a website and identify the number of steps end-users need to go through to complete a transaction.

A third example of a feature available in Digital Assurance is in “content & information”. CSS Corp is automating localization testing with spell checks and bundling it with grammar validation and readability analysis.
Alongside these features, CSS Corp has added more common functionality such as performance testing (with end-user KPIs) and sentiment analysis (the classification into different sentiments of opinions gathered on app stores and social networks such as Twitter), along with accessibility testing.

CSS Corp pushes the boundaries of UX testing
We think Digital Assurance has two main benefits. Firstly, CSS Corp is systematically extending the boundaries of UX testing automation. UX research and testing remain labor-intensive activities, and we think the potential for further UX automation is immense (see below). Secondly, CSS Corp is steadily aggregating tools around Digital Assurance and provides an increasingly comprehensive UX testing service.

Potential for UX automation
The potential for automation in UX testing is immense. While QA has focused on test automation, UX research also has the potential for automation. An example is around videos: during the research phase, digital agencies record videos of end-user interviews. Going through these videos is time-consuming. AI bears the promise of focusing on parts of the video through sentiment detection, for instance. Once a website or a mobile app is in production, clients are increasingly correlating its technical performance with its business performance (e.g. through integration with such tools as Google Analytics). Currently, understanding the correlation of multiple events takes time: using intelligent automation will help.

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CSS Corp Wins Gold at the 12th Annual 2020 Golden Bridge Business and Innovation Awards®

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won the Gold Award at the 12th Annual 2020 Golden Bridge Business and Innovation Awards. The company won the award for driving ROI for clients through technology and business model innovation.

CSS Corp’s unique proposition of transforming business models for clients by offering innovative outcome-based and gain-sharing models has been instrumental in transforming front-office support and client facing infrastructure at organizations. The company has been focused on redefining the customer engagement landscape with cutting edge innovation and rendering tangible business value across client engagements.

CSS Corp’s Innovation Labs is the epicentre of cutting-edge solutions with a mandate to deliver a solid business ROI to clients. The company’s home-grown solutions like Contelli, an intelligent automation platform, harness new-age technologies to drive business initiatives at digital touchpoints, improve customer satisfaction and increase quality through intelligent business operations. Digital Contact Center 2.0 (DCC 2.0) is a platform that unifies end-user experience, operational efficiency, and engineer productivity, thus eliminating cost and human effort. DCC 2.0 improves customer experience and customer lifetime value at the point of customer interaction.

Speaking on the occasion, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said “In today’s era of digital acceleration, organizations are looking beyond the traditional services approach to create performance and outcome-based models that feasibly integrate into existing systems. CSS Corp takes pride in being one of the leading companies that pushes boundaries towards accelerating innovation and seamlessly meets customer and business needs through our portfolio of technology-driven services. We are honoured to be the recipients of the Golden Bridge Awards consecutively for three years in a row, and we will endeavour to keep transforming and creating an impact across the industry.”

Judges from a broad spectrum of industry voices from around the world participated and their average scores determined the 2020 award winners. Winners will be celebrated and presented their awards during a virtual awards ceremony in December.

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