Securing data and talent top Indian CIOs’ concerns for FY2023

As India’s new financial year begins, CIOs are now sorting out their priorities and concerns. CIO India talks to IT leaders to understand what they are.

With the accelerated pace of digital transformation, coupled with the unprecedented arrival of the pandemic pushing enterprises towards a hybrid work culture, IT leaders have played a key part in keeping business afloat these last two years. The resulting redefinition of their role is influencing their priorities as they prepare for the 2023 financial year.

One of the biggest changes has been to bring them closer to business units.

“We are on a digital transformation journey that will transform our customer, partner, and employee experience by focusing on inclusion, innovation, operational excellence, and agile methodologies,” says Dharmendra Rangain, CIO for India and neighbouring countries at Cisco Systems.

At engineering and technology services company Cyient, CIO Pallavi Katiyar says that CIOs are closely integrated with business and are more like partners today, making the framework for deciding priorities relatively easier. “We (CIOs) are working very closely with the business to understand their priorities, focus, and requirements. That helps CIOs to identify and work on solutions that need to be enabled for business to meet their objectives.”

CIO’s top concern: cybersecurity

Cybersecurity will continue to be a top priority for Indian CIOs in the year ahead, according to a recent survey of technology executives by Gartner: 64% of Indian CIOs surveyed said they will increase their spending on security-related technologies in 2022, higher than the global average of 57%.

The IT leaders CIO India spoke with told a similar story.

For Cyient’s Katiyar, cybersecurity is the topmost concern: “The threat is real. It’s something that has been keeping me awake for the last couple of years.” She says it’s foolhardy for anyone to assume they are safe even if they have the world’s leading cyber security solutions.

She is currently focusing on improving overall cybersecurity by working very closely with her team. “We ensure that we build cybersecurity and data security into every aspect of the application infrastructure solution that we are delivering,” she says.

Her colleague, CTO Rajaneesh R Kini, agrees. “Our priorities for the year are to enhance our cybersecurity architecture using data access patterns to better understand security threats for IT and OT systems.” Kini is working to make the company more agile and build a system that would enable the organization to leverage data to create insights that drive real business value. He is also exploring AI tools with the goal of providing workers with a self-service platform for supporting decision making.

This financial year, Katiyar plans to invest significantly in building cybersecurity capabilities in-house but realises that alone won’t be enough: “It is going to be an impossible task to have the entire knowledge, capability, and skill set in-house, so it’s also important to have the right vendor and partner ecosystem in place to help bridge the gap.”

Cisco’s Rangain says now is the time to make bolder decisions, assume newer responsibilities that will boost customer and employee experience, and guard against evolving cyberattacks. However, Rangain is well aware that the hurdles and gaps for IT leaders will only widen: “From continuously bolstering security architecture to finding and retaining the right talent, the complexities and opportunities are plenty, as we live in a time of innovation and disruption.”

Talent retention
Indian IT firms today are seeing the highest attrition rates — and the resulting demand for skilled IT workers has led to increased payroll costs.

At technology consultancy Thoughtworks, Chief Digital Officer Swapnil Deshpande says that after compliance, cybersecurity, and data privacy, one of his top concerns for the year ahead is being able to respond to changes faster. “With business evolving fast and technology evolving faster, one of my concerns is being able to build an IT department that can match or surpass the current rate of change. Running an operationally efficient organization with the help of data will enable key leaders to use actionable insights and foresight for better decision making.”

Deshpande says that to help solve this issue, talent acquisition and retention will continue to be a priority. He also plans to work towards digital transformation with platforms and data to significantly improve the internal IT effectiveness and productivity, thus helping key business leaders make better decisions to run and grow the company.

Talent development and retention have emerged as key concerns for Kiran Marri, vice president and chief scientist at IT services provider CSS Corp. “My top priorities include enablement and use of technology to empower employees by equipping them with the required skills to solve client problems. My goal is to prepare employees for a technology-based future and help them hone and acquire needed skills now and moving forward.”

Natarajan Radhakrishnan, president and global chief innovation officer at Hinduja Global Solutions, says lack of digitally skilled talent has been a major concern for IT leaders, and hiring talent exclusively from external sources has become extremely difficult. “CIOs encourage employees within the organization to upskill themselves in necessary technologies. This method future-proofs the careers of employees by equipping them with relevant skills. It is also cost-effective for the organization,” he says.


World Mental Health Day – How tech firms are ensuring employee wellbeing

World Mental Health Day allows organisations as well as individuals to come forward and speak about mental health, how one can look after it, and how important it is to take care of your mental health. We at TechGig thought to make it more endearing by bringing in advice from tech leaders across the IT industry. Let’s see what they have to say about the remarkable day.

When the pandemic hit globally, the most important concern of companies apart from physical health was the mental health of the employees. Every year, World Mental Health Day is celebrated on 10th October globally. The day is celebrated to raise awareness about mental health, its significance, and its importance.

World Mental Health Day allows organisations as well as individuals to come forward and speak about mental health, how one can look after it, and how important it is to take care of your mental health. We at TechGig thought to make it more endearing by bringing in advice from tech leaders across the IT industry. Let’s see what they have to say about the remarkable day.

Lakshmi C, Managing Director – Human Resources Lead, Accenture India, said “Health and wellbeing have emerged as one of the biggest priorities. At Accenture, we encourage our people to embrace their mental well-being with dignity and compassion. We enable this by creating awareness and advocacy to break the stigma around mental health. We also endeavor to create psychologically safe spaces where our people feel comfortable enough to say that ‘I’m not okay’, and reach out for help via the resources and support systems that we offer.”

Harshvendra Soin, Global Chief People Officer, and Head – Marketing, at Tech Mahindra said, “At Tech Mahindra, we believe in ‘Wellness before Business’ and have rolled out several #WellnessFirst initiatives to build a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace culture. We have in place an Employee Assistance Program to provide 24*7 counselling support with expert counsellors and coaches for emotional and mental health concerns; Emotional Wellness Self-Assessment Tools like Emotional Wellness Test for employees to assess their stress levels; AMIGO Program and People Care Manager Program to sensitise managers and build psychological safety at workplace, among others.”

Sankalp Saxena, SVP & Managing Director, India Operations, said, “At Nutanix, we shape our policies to best suit our team members’ well-being. Our Employee Assistance Program and Child Development Support Online Health Engagement Program are examples of how we help our employees. By providing flexible work hours and a hybrid work model, we also encourage our employees to find the right work-life balance. In addition, we offer wellness days on a quarterly basis so our team members can take time off to rejuvenate and recharge.”

Suzanne Kinner, Vice President, Human Resources at Blackhawk Network India, said, “At Blackhawk Network, we believe in the holistic well-being of our people and empower employees to blend health and wellness routines with their work schedules and activities. In our efforts to strengthen organizational trust and foster workforce resiliency, we continue to communicate frequently with our employees and create an environment where they feel comfortable about having open and honest conversations on any matter including topics of mental health.”

Anish Philip, Chief People Officer at Movate (formerly CSS Corp), said, “Technology at the workplace and corporate culture are intertwined, and their impact on employee mental health and wellbeing continues to evolve. At Movate, pandemic or no pandemic, we have always been mindful of our employee’s mental well-being and have provided a healthy work-life experience. We follow the philosophy of FRIENTORSHIP – ‘Friendship + Mentorship + Leadership’ creating a pleasant working environment.”

Pranali Save, Chief Human Resources Officer, Icertis, said, “The pandemic brought about numerous changes in the way businesses operate. This marks a shift from a reactive to a more active focus on employee wellness. At Icertis, we have developed a Four Rings of Responsibility framework that places a stronger emphasis on our employees’ and their families physical and mental well-being ahead of business responsibilities. This helps them to prioritise, in an order of – themselves, their families, community, and business.”

Sqn Ldr Dimple Rawat (Retd), Director – HR, Barco India, “At Barco, we prioritise the safety and well-being of our employees and strive to establish a healthy work culture, where people feel safe and cared for. On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, we plan to organise an interactive, knowledge-sharing session on a digital detox. The session will be an opportunity for employees to share their queries and challenges and enhance their mental well-being over the longer term.”

Rajalakshmi Sivanand, Head of People & Culture, Compass IDC, “At Compass, we approach employee interventions with curated projects like celebrating employee milestones, specialised medical counselling sessions, employee wellness sessions, virtual yoga, along with other initiatives that support and boost overall productivity and performance. These cultural interventions have been introduced in line with our ethos that focuses on building a technology-enabled conducive workplace where dreams are made.”

Agendra Kumar, Managing Director, Esri India, “At Esri India, we have built a people-centric culture, where trust and mutual respect are important pillars. As we prepare to celebrate World Mental Health Day, we have launched an internal campaign, ‘Your Well-Being Mantra’. The pandemic accentuated the need for holistic wellness at the workplace and with this initiative, we aim to promote a culture of open conversations and idea sharing. This, we believe, will help in creating a more collaborative and positive environment for our employees.”

Katarzyna Kern, Global head of HR, ANSR, said, “The pandemic may have ended but the shift to new ways of working is here to stay. To succeed in the post-pandemic work environment, organisations must make work an ‘additive’ to its people’s lives, by providing them with a sense of purpose, belonging, progress, and fulfilment. Employees who are well and happy perform significantly better, and studies show that this leads to a 6x return on wellness investments. When employees are allowed to complete tasks at times that best suit them, it creates more harmony than balance.”

Pankaj Sachdeva, Vice President, Data Science & Analytics, and Managing Director of India Innovation at Pitney Bowes said, “At Pitney Bowes, we believe that employees’ holistic well-being is essential for creating a resilient and motivated workforce. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which combines both telephonic and face-to-face counselling, is designed to assist individuals in dealing with their personal or professional issues more effectively.”

Anjali Mahajan, Regional Vice President at Amdocs, said, “Supporting mental health in the workplace has become a priority for all employers now. At Amdocs, we are committed to fostering a healthy, respected, and successful work environment and establishing a sense of belonging for all our employees. We offer an Employee Assistance Program in various locations that provide employees with access to affordable and confidential personal support, including mental and emotional support, consulting for personal or work-related problems, and more.”



AI for MSPs

Artificial intelligence, the next frontier of automation, will be a business imperative for channel pros who want to become more agile, innovative, and competitive. By Esther Shein

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE is cutting a wide swath across nearly every industry, and managed services is no different. AI-embedded tools are being touted for their ability to help MSPs automate repetitive functions and boost productivity. For many MSPs, though, AI is still a nascent and abstract concept. Nevertheless, it is a business imperative if they want to become more agile, innovative, and competitive.

While MSPs broadly understand the value of AI, “there is still a good amount of unknown and probably some more hype than reality,” says David Tan, CTO of Syosset, N.Y.-based CrushBank, which developed an AI-based IT help desk application. There needs to be more education on how to harness and leverage the tools, he says.

Some MSPs have dipped their toes in to take advantage of automation. Georg Dauterman, president of New York-based Valiant Technology, is partnering with an MSSP that has built some AI technology “to allow us to offer more powerful security services to our clients.”

The MSSP is helping Valiant build a SOC SIEM and integrate it with the firm’s PSA tools to provide a single view of the network. That way, when alerts come in that the system indicates should be investigated, they can be remediated more quickly, Dauterman says.

Advanced cybersecurity is an area where AI can be very beneficial to MSPs by proactively identifying and neutralizing threats, agrees Rahul Joshi, CTO of CSS Corp, a customer experience and technology services provider with U.S. headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

The emerging category of AIOps uses AI and automation to enhance IT operations. For instance, AIOps can help MSPs with alert and incident correlation by combing through large amounts of data to determine what alerts are false and which ones need attention, Tan says.

And in the case of one CSS customer, “we have achieved a 60% reduction in TCO … [and] 99.999% availability across web-hosting platforms through enhanced observability and controllability” enabled by their AIOps platform, Joshi says.


Why And How To Utilize Gig-Enabled Customer Support

Vivian Gomes, Chief Marketing Officer at Movate.

The future of work arrived yesterday.

Even before the global pandemic disrupted set models of work, work as we know it had been quietly shifting. And nothing has highlighted that shift more than the rapid emergence of the gig economy.

The gig economy is not new. It has been here for a while—longer than you may imagine—because the word “gig” was first coined by jazz musicians back in the early 1900s. But the modern gig economy really took off with the growth of internet-backed platforms that facilitated easy access to gig work. Being hyper-connected with the growth of social networks has fueled new technology-enabled ways of working. And the key word for me is “technology.”

Gartner predicts that gig work will make up about 35% to 40% of the workforce by 2025.

So, while gig work is not new, what has changed is that technology-enabled organizations are now using gig platforms at scale to reach a large talent base across the globe. Now, many organizations are focusing on building a maximally adaptive workforce: one that is flexible and agile. As the chief marketing officer at a company that provides on-demand workforce augmentation, I saw many companies and departments in the CX space embrace the gig workforce during the pandemic when the limitations of a traditional contact center environment were brought to the fore. I believe gig support models have gained popularity for their flexibility and scalability.

Yet, traditional gig support models present certain challenges of their own.

Businesses have to significantly invest in training their gig workforce to meet their quality standards. But that training is often limited to providing competence in handling their customers well, not necessarily creating experts who know their business products or services. The result is sometimes poor CX.

Add to this the challenges of availability, the onboarding of gig talent, and IT security concerns, and the traditional gig support model begins to creak at the hinges.

Rebuilding The Gig Customer Experience Ecosystem

As we go forward, I believe organizations will realize more and more that gig engagements shouldn’t be random: They should be part of the long-term strategy and be cohesive, agile and integrated. I am talking about rebuilding the entire gig customer experience ecosystem—one that has the flexibility to manage surges in demand, achieves tangible cost savings, ensures enterprise privacy and security, is agile in deployment, and offers a deeper and more empathetic experience to customers.

And one of the ways we can do that is by creating a gig-enabled support model that complements full-time agents with gig experts (people with domain and product experience) while leveraging technology solutions that drive higher efficiency and automation through the resolution process. When you do this, the possibilities are immense. Think of the gaming industry, for example. I’ve found that gaming is often affected by disruptions in demand, especially during the holiday season, which causes a surge in customer requests. To manage these surges and fluctuations, companies should develop an on-demand, gig-enabled support model that not only scales up and down effortlessly but also delivers empathetic customer support along with traditional support.

The model should bring gig experts’ native skills and real-life knowledge of the product to the problem the customer is facing. Gig experts should not just be skilled workers but also the actual product or service end users. With this model, companies could drastically reduce their training requirements.

The gig-enabled support model can not only transform the customer experience but also enable organizations to bring down their operating costs by leveraging a pay-per-resolution approach. The idea is to create a consumption-based model for the organizations and charge them only for resolutions.

Impressive as those potential benefits are, there’s more. I have also always believed in building a personal level of service. People connect to the experience a brand offers, and they connect to its humanity. An on-demand, gig-enabled support model could provide exactly that personalized human connection because it provides a struggling customer with contextual and relevant advice.

Building A Successful On-Demand Support System

To start off, clearly map out the processes against the resource type for efficient routing. Gig-based peer experts are best for product-specific queries. Account-specific requests that require access to the CRM can go to traditional support teams. As your gig ecosystem matures, the balance may shift from traditional to on-demand support.

Where you source your gig talent from can sometimes be a deal breaker for your support quality. Though there are several gig portals available today, they do not necessarily all do thorough background checks that can ensure you work with high-quality talent. You can leverage your product alpha users or community forums to source gig peer experts. It is easy to identify such product practitioners through digital channels, and they can be quickly assessed at the hiring stage to ensure faster onboarding of skilled gig talent with minimal or no training. Also, you can incentivize your gig workforce to perform well. For instance, you could provide workers with high CSAT scores and peer reviews with financial rewards.

I believe another key to success is technology. Consider how you can leverage automation in processes like onboarding, QA and payments to help you integrate your gig workers into traditional models. Think about how to use technology to make it easier to blend the gig ecosystem with traditional delivery models to achieve the stability of the traditional model with the scalability of gig.

Convert Your Best Customers Into Brand Ambassadors

It’s the human connection that drives me to believe that this is not just the future of work but the tomorrow of customer experience. When you use your best customers to provide support to other customers and deliver exceptional service, you are also building brand ambassadors.

Traditionally, customer service has always been seen as a cost center. But with this model, I think it’s time to see customer service as a value-adding center. The time is ripe for faster adoption of empathetic, expert-driven gig support. Are you tapping into it?



Why Break Gender Bias in Hiring?

Gender biases can affect all aspects of working life for women, including disparities in pay and promotions.

Every year, on March 8th, organizations worldwide burst into a frenzy as they celebrate International Women’s Day. Despite the fervour, a lot of this day’s activity can become mere token activism without actual policy interventions or changes. When I read that this year’s theme was #BreakTheBias, I was compelled to sit back and think about what bias means to me, Gender Bias to be more specific.

My POV – Gender bias at its simplest, is about having prejudice towards one gender over another. This prejudice can result in differences and discrimination in the way employees are treated. Reality is a lot more complex than that, of course. Interestingly and unfortunately, not all bias is conscious and unconscious biases are deeply ingrained. Factors and influences such as our upbringing, experiences, society, and the environment play a role in shaping the choices and decisions we take in life.

And where bias is common, organizations suffer. The impact of bias is so evident even at the level – this creates a gap in having genuinely diverse teams. Also, workplace inclusivity suffers, and no one wins in this situation.

How can we reduce gender biases?

Gender biases can affect all aspects of working life for women, including disparities in pay and promotions. In many instances, women also do not give due credit to their skills and knowledge and underplay which is a bigger problem to solve for. But as I wrote earlier, hiring is often the first place where biases creep in. Take the classic study by InSync that showed even when interviewers were giving identical resumes with only differences in the names (Simon and Susan), Simon received more interviews and was more likely to be hired than Susan.


Here is how HR leaders are managing their emails

It is a known and obvious fact that emails are an inevitable part of communication at work, especially in white collar jobs. But have you ever calculated the time you spend on an average on emails? A study by Adobe says that an average person spends as much as three hours a day managing their work email. When compared to the total work hours, three hours is not a small number!

Sometimes clearing all emails and achieving ‘inbox zero,’ is a kind of mental relief. But considering the incessant flow of messages these days, is spending that much time on emails really fruitful? It is understandable that not every email benefits the work. Wisely managing insignificant mails that drain one’s workflow and attention span matters, as it can in the long run affect one’s productivity to do other value driven tasks.

According to a study by the University of California Irvine, it takes workers almost 24 minutes to get back to their previous level of focus when faced with an interruption. So, every time you interrupt your work to check your email, it takes you nearly 30 minutes to get back in the groove and back to your original level of productivity, attention and focus.

In this context, ETHRWorld interacted with HR leaders to know how they manage their emails and understand what are the ‘dos and don’ts’ practices they follow to effectively manage the time and productivity.


Average time spent on emails

 Jharna Thammaiah K, Director – HR, Intuit India, says she checks mails at regular intervals throughout the day, even in her meetings. Though she hasn’t calculated the average time she spends on emails, it differs from day to day, depending on the type of work week, meetings and travel schedule.

Punitha Anthony, Senior Director – HR, Movate, spends around 2 to 3 hours on emails. Checking and clearing emails is the first thing she does in the morning when the work starts. Anthony says that this helps her to prioritise matters that need immediate attention. She also does the same thing at the end of the day to ensure that nothing is pending.

Even Amrit Jaidka Arora, CHRO, Digit Insurance, starts her day by checking emails, as this helps her to set an agenda for the day. “I keep a tab of my mails every 30 minutes to ensure prompt replies and spend about five minutes each time. So, roughly around 1-2 hours are spent on reading mails,” she says.


Will emails drain productivity?

 Anthony of Movate says, “Though emails are the most effective way for communicating important information, giving praise, sharing positive news or documenting the details for future reference, we often tend to get so absorbed with emails that we lose focus on the personal connect needed.”

According to Anthony, personal conversations, connecting with employees, picking up the phone and speaking to them directly often work better, faster and have a greater impact.

Arora of Digit Insurance shares that they, as a company, take pride in the quick turnaround times for their customers. Hence, it is imperative for them to ensure that the same trickles down to all employees too.

“You have to ensure there are no unnecessary delays, especially in cases where teams are awaiting final sign offs. One needs to manage time efficiently and make it a part of the routine. That way, one won’t spend a lot of time on emails and can ensure productivity doesn’t get affected,” Arora points out.

Thammaiah of Intuit is of the opinion that if emails are managed with discretion and the right balance, it helps in improving productivity and enables positive collaboration. At Intuit, they deploy many collaboration tools for varied functions.

With everyone experiencing meeting overload and exhaustion, Intuit is gravitating towards asynchronous ways of sharing information, enabling collaboration and decision making wherever possible to support employee wellbeing.

Thammaiah says in that sense, emails do come handy and help productivity without adding the pressures of excessive meetings, even if it is only used for the first or last mile of any collaborative assignment.

However, she adds that there are certainly some productivity challenges that come with emails being used without discretion, especially when one feels compelled and stressed to constantly stay on top of ‘all emails’.


How do HR leaders prioritise emails?

 Anthony of Movate sorts out her emails on two parameters, such as urgency and importance. She creates a mental 2X2 matrix and categories her emails based on these.

Urgent emails are responded first, followed by the important ones, which necessarily has a time allotted.

As an HR leader, employee grievances are the top listed emails which Anthony responds to instantly. And, similarly, emails from the leadership team are something she keeps on the radar.

Arora of Digit Insurance has set certain rules in Outlook to categorise mails into different labelled folders. For example, anything to do with skip-level discussions, car lease, ESAR etc are automatically tagged to a different folder.

Thammaiah of Intuit says that prioritising emails is still an area of improvement for her. “I have a long way to go in getting better. Currently, I try to scan through my emails first thing in the morning. So that I am mentally aware of what came from the previous night and if anything is still pending in my inbox,” she says.

Thammaiah then colour codes them to be able to differentiate her mails based on priority and importance like mails that can be addressed later, ones that need an immediate response, work that requires deeper research, etc.

She tries to get the emails that need further delegation or quick responses out of her way by acting on them immediately so that she does not become a blocker to any further action needed.

“Something that also helps me is deleting emails that are clutter or move out mails that I have already acted on to the respective folders so that my primary inbox only has emails that need action from me,” she says.


Better talent strategies, better & diverse talent in tech industry

When you are on the sea, sometimes inclement weather can put wind in the sails and propel the boat at its top speed. In a somewhat similar perspective, the phase of the coronavirus pandemic has created a scenario that has led to fast-pacing the need to address the gender gap concerns—a long-standing issue in the tech industry. The low representation of women, particularly in leadership roles, has been a much-talked-about matter for years now. Genuine efforts can go a long way toward introducing gender diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech sector.

In the tech industry, the pandemic has been instrumental in introducing some of the most significant transformations in our ways of working. And this has had particular implications for women and other diverse representatives. For example, in women’s case, the opportunity to work in a hybrid manner across geographies and from the comfort of their homes has created a sea of options for them. The 2021 Women in Tech Report states that 53% of women in engineering and IT mentioned that remote work has been a positive and supportive factor.

But despite that, factors such as stereotyping and sub-conscious bias across some roles and challenges in balancing personal and professional life continue to account for the under-representation of women in the tech industry. Gender bias has been identified as the top barrier preventing women in technology roles from moving into leadership positions. This was closely followed by work-life integration and a lack of mentorship.

As per the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women represented 26% of all positions in the tech industry and only about 16% at the executive level. Women now occupy less than one-fifth of spots on the boards of directors at tech companies, and the share is lower for women executives, as per the S&P Global findings.

Women cannot take up technical or fieldwork—this has been the general mindset that has prevailed in the industry over the years. And this needs to change.

Another challenge in the form of the lack of a strong pipeline of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields ensures that you’re choosing from a smaller pool.

So, what can we do to improve diversity in tech?

While tech companies are making efforts, however, there is scope for more when it comes to creating equal opportunities and establishing the right support system.
Mentoring and employee resource groups (ERGs): These are groups in which employees and their allies gather regularly to exchange their experiences and offer one another support that can go a long way in creating a welcoming, inclusive environment.
Recruiting more women personnel: Especially at the shopfloor and the leadership level can help overcome the stereotypical mindset.
Adopting a three-pronged approach: Solving for more women in STEM is a long-term plan, but corporate mentoring, campus engagement and lateral hiring can positively change the equation.
A study from the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI), which was conducted almost a decade ago, has long established that ensuring more women in leadership can have numerous benefits. Gender diversity in the workplace leads to a thriving economy and is a valuable asset. It also makes good business sense considering that the variety of perspectives allows better decision-making. Organizations with more women in the IT department tend to be further along in digital transformation.

Some solace can be gained from the Deloitte Global report, however. On average, large global technology firms will touch nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022, the report states. This number is up slightly more than 2 percentage points from 2019. The proportion of women in technical roles will also spur up, though it has tended to lag the overall proportion of women by about 8 percentage points.

While walking the talk at CSS Corp, we believe in celebrating diversity. We recently introduced the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), a mentorship program that promotes diversity and equality in the workplace. Take, for instance, our program named ‘WIN Charter,’ which conducts events for women employees to share learnings and create a supportive environment to overcome challenges and provide guidance—at an individual and personal level.

Lastly, I would like to mention that learning, mentoring, and upskilling remain crucial to equipping oneself while adapting to the changing needs of any tech organisation. This will go a long way in staying ahead of the curve.


How businesses aim to leverage disruptive technology to get the most out of their digital investments in 2023

Rahul Joshi, CTO at Movate (earlier CSS Corp)

“There’s no doubt that cloud computing has revolutionized the way businesses operate. From making it possible for employees to work remotely, allowing flexible hours, to making business communication and collaboration a lot easier, while also amplifying the company’s growth by modernizing operations and expanding IT capabilities – cloud computing has given us all!

  • Investment in cloud security and resilience: The industry will keep spending on cyber security and building resilience against everything from data loss to the impact of a pandemic on global business in the coming years. At Movate, we have made investments in our Contelli platform which offers great cloud security and resilience. Our solutions combined with industry leading solutions gives a greater real-time detection and prevention of known and unknown threats.
  • Multi-cloud to become popular strategy: In 2023, most businesses will start leveraging the advantages of diversifying their services to different cloud providers taking a multi-cloud approach. This approach offers several benefits, including improved flexibility and security with no vendor lock-in.
  • Low-code and no-code cloud services: We can expect continued innovation in the field of hyper-scale cloud services. Low-code and no-code solutions are becoming available for building AI-powered applications for companies wanting to leverage AI/ML without getting into the complex coding job. Many of these services are provided via the cloud, i.e., people can access them “as-a-service” This trend will pick up in the upcoming years. At Movate, we have built our Analytics and BI platform on top of LCNC platform. This has helped us to reduce our GTM over ~60%. This also enabled our business users to develop the dashboards on their own through DIY model.
  • Leveraging the efficiency of the cloud to meet sustainability goals: Today, sustainability is the most critical criterion in IT buying decisions. Organizations will continue to shift towards sustainable efficiencies by leveraging software and cloud-based infrastructures.
  • Innovation and consolidation in cloud gaming: We all enjoy binge-watching and listening to music. Thanks to the cloud that has brought us streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, etc., revolutionizing the way we consume content today. Although, streaming video gaming is taking a little longer to gain a foothold as it requires higher bandwidth than music or videos. With the ongoing rollout of 5G and other ultra-fast networking technologies, 2023 could be the year cloud gaming will impact. 

 Developments in AI/ML in 2023

Out of all the technologies that have been introduced into the mainstream over the last few years, AI has proven to be one of the biggest buzzwords in the IT industry. Every year new use cases are being discovered and are becoming feasible with advances in AI and efficient hardware. Here are a few examples that can help companies to be more efficient in leveraging AI:

  • Advanced Cybersecurity: AI and ML can be used to enforce best cybersecurity practices, reduce attack surfaces, and track malicious activity proactively. More and more companies will start to invest in building AI systems that can analyze large volumes of data, including malicious code, malware, and code anomalies, to help cybersecurity teams identify potential threats. At Movate, we are leveraging AI to fight AI-powered cyber-attacks, where AI and ML-based algorithms adapt to new threats faster than humans, as they can quickly spot the similarities between the new generation of malware and cyberattacks and others.
  • Efficiency in IT Operations: As machine data explodes, businesses are in a race to find value in their data and stay competitive. However, metadata initiatives are failing, and data discovery and retrieval is becoming challenging. This paves the way for the Growth of AI-as-a-Service. The emergence of the industrial internet and the integration of complex physical machines with networked sensors and software have forced these two areas to work together to improve resiliency, availability, and cybersecurity. Observability and controllability are areas of focus as organizations leverage AIOPs and data initiatives to make enhanced correlation with increased adoption of SRE, DevOps, APM and other technologies.
  • Customer Service Excellence: I believe AI can help provide personalized customer serviceby leveraging the data pertaining to demographics, past interactions, choice of channels, improved self-service, and enhanced search capabilities. Interestingly, we are seeing rapid adoption of voice bots/self-service, which leverage conversational AI, NLP, and deep learning capabilities not just for informational use cases but for complex self-service use cases, including interactions with multiple systems. Additionally, AI helps reduce customer effort by providing excellent search and next-best actions based on historical transactions.”


Digital infrastructure helps to transform business transformation for efficiency in the digital era

Digital transformation is not new. We are constantly moving towards an increasingly digital world. But the pace of business transformation had been lagging. Until 2020 happened.

When Dell surveyed more than 4,000 business leaders from 18 countries for its Digital Transformation Index 2020, it found that 80% of the businesses had fast-tracked their digital transformation programs. The uncertainty of Covid-19 disrupted the sluggish pace of business transformation. It ushered in seismic changes, accelerating processes that were supposed to take years into a span of months. Let’s look at some of the most transformative industry trends and the growing focus on ‘digital infrastructure’ as a result.

Emerging trends in digital business transformation
The shift toward D2C business models

The pandemic allowed businesses to reap the rewards of a digital-first strategy. Buying online was the only way for consumers when lockdowns worldwide forced the closure of brick-and-mortar stores. This meant that many businesses, to stay competitive, had to shift from B2B to B2C/D2C. Companies that were earlier focused only on product creation and then the distribution channel to reach customers now realize the value of creating unique customer experiences in the D2C space

Cloud ecosystem maturity

Cloud has emerged as the single most important enabler of transformation. To capture the real value of embracing a digital-first approach, companies realize they need to focus on building a cloud-ready business model right from the beginning. And establishing the proper governance to manage this new digital infrastructure, including cloud financial management, architecture/configuration consistency, and security compliance, is critical to staying in control.

Notably, we are seeing a shift to a hybrid cloud ecosystem for high-data growth enterprises looking to achieve digital success.

Data overflow and the need for AI-powered analytics

We have seen that as more AI-driven data insights come into play, the technical complexity of transformation has also increased.

Businesses are becoming more SaaS-oriented because of this complexity. This is the future of digital infrastructure, and the AI-powered applications ecosystem will only evolve even more over the next few months.

Modernization for Customer-facing infrastructure

As with the shift to D2C, we are seeing a shift toward building more customer-facing infrastructure. Previously, digital infrastructure was never linked to business outcomes. But what we are seeing now is that businesses understand the importance of how this infrastructure enabled by cloud can and does influence business outcomes. With devices becoming smarter, enterprises are adopting edge computing to bring computing services closer to consumers or data sources.

Why is digital infrastructure critical?

Today, most businesses realize the necessity of becoming digital-first and modernizing their business profile. Technology is no longer an option but a fundamental imperative that must be built into business strategies. The era of technology infrastructure being utilized behind the scenes for cost leverage is behind us.

The success of the digital-native business model and the opportunities created by the ongoing disruption has pushed infrastructure to the front-line influencing business outcomes, revenue impact, and customer experience transformation. This is where ‘digital infrastructure’ comes in. It is not just about migrating to the cloud here and there. It is all-encompassing, transforming every aspect of infrastructure from connectivity, servers, data, cybersecurity, applications, and platforms to become more agile, intelligent, and scalable. It embodies cloud-based transformation across the infrastructure ecosystem powered by AI-driven data analytics.

Challenges on the transformation journey

While businesses must go digital, it is important to understand the challenges before charting the infrastructure transformation roadmap.

Legacy technology debt and associated culture

It’s well known that legacy systems are a barrier to seamless digital transformation. And yes, legacy systems can be unwieldy, cumbersome, and resistant to change. But that’s not all.

What we are also seeing is that culture is also one of the biggest challenges to digital transformation. Technology transformation is tough, but people transformation can be tougher! People change management scaling can often be left out when considering an overhaul of legacy technology debt.

Technology readiness, therefore, becomes so important: you may adopt digital, but if your dependent technology stack is not ready in terms of people, processes, and automation, you may not get the results you were looking for.


Can the Outcome-Based Engagement Model be the Key to Your Firm’s Success? By Rajasekharan Sankaralingam

To businesses following a Fixed-Price Pricing or even Time & Material model in 2022 — hate to break it, but linear pricing is struggling.

In a recently conducted Enterprise Customer Success Study and Outlook survey, Deloitte researchers found that 76% of enterprise customers were keen to discuss outcomes with their IT providers. The evolution of customer preferences has begun. Surviving in today’s volatile market scenario without a progressive monetization strategy is as difficult as it gets. This is where outcome-based pricing comes in.

Customers seek high values first; industry giants have cracked this code and are charging based on the outcomes they deliver or pay-as-you-go, not fixed rates. But should hypergrowth or mid-size enterprises care? I think so. Outcome-based pricing could give such businesses a much-needed boost with a lower initial capital requirement despite the high uncertainty factor.

The emergence of outcome-based pricing

Pricing is an exchange rate for the value an enterprise offers to the market. But here’s the problem: the market is always out of control. Effort-driven services leveraged traditional pricing strategies, including cost/value-based or market/competitor-based in the yesteryears. Then the pandemic happened, and the market has been volatile like never before.

Simultaneously, we saw the advent of an all-digital world in which the traditional models were incompatible with technology-led disruption and increased clients’ demands of higher value and reduced costs over bone-stock product features.

Outcome-based pricing rose as the well-deserved shift from traditional pricing. The “why” is simple. In 2023, customers will have loads to choose from. It’s all about linking the cost of service to the value derived from them. These models are flexible enough to take various shapes and forms depending on the client’s unique situation and the nature of the business. IT companies that commit to certain outcomes and promise an attractive ROI will have the upper hand.

Outcome-based pricing models have multiple variations, including:

  • Progressive value-sharing model: When providers deliver incremental value over time, they are incrementally paid more. Quite fair, honestly.
  • Utilization-based model: Here, the service provider charges their clients only for the services they utilize, or simply put, based on consumption, in other words, pay-as-you-go.
  • Expense-sharing model: The parties split some of the costs in this model. In a different variation, the provider is responsible for covering any deviations from the agreed-upon result greater than a certain amount.
  • Mixed-hybrid model: Tailored to specific enterprise requirements, here, a fraction of the incentive is fixed, and the remaining part is contingent on performance.

One-size-fits-all approach or not?

Not as far as we can see. While outcome-based pricing can reap rich rewards, it requires thorough consideration. Although many of Movate’s clients have 10x-ed their business with these models, we have advised quite a few to choose alternatives.

Clients and providers engaging in an outcome-based model must thoroughly study every underlying parameter in detail — the client’s need for control, investment requirement, plans, and scaling vision, and the provider’s current operational expertise, risk appetite, and core competence. Blanket adoption without due diligence only leads to failure. However, overcoming the temporary roadblocks with strategic planning leads to incredible paybacks.

Outcome-based pricing for the win

More customers, more revenue

Outcome-based pricing makes increasing revenue and customer retention easier for IT companies. First, customers today only continue using and referring service providers to others if they consistently exceed expectations. Post the initial contract, repeat service agreements, project-based service agreements, etc., are governed by the provider’s performance. This strategy creates a win-win situation for both clients and providers.

Flexibility in pricing

Enterprises want to avoid paying for lofty promises and ill-fated efforts; outcome-based pricing solves this challenge by charging for practical solutions and results while eliminating unanticipated costs and haphazard budget provisioning.


Outcome models transfer the risk to the provider significantly from the client. Service provider revenues are a direct reflection of customers’ business outcomes. Being bound by a risk-sharing engagement in hand cuts out any room for slack and motivates the provider to perform better.

Addressing the key challenges

Despite numerous benefits, even outcome-based pricing has its fair share of roadblocks. Forecasting the efforts or resources, factoring the risk-to-reward margin, and integrating both into a mutually agreed pricing strategy is complex.

Getting the metrics right

Establishing an array of outcome metrics on which all stakeholders of the corporate hierarchy can mutually concur is the most difficult struggle. In most cases, the metrics that the customers prioritize vary from those that the provider finds important. The outcomes must be carefully drafted by having both parties on the same page.

Utilization of resources

When a provider willingly pivots toward outcome-based pricing, instances, where the capacity fluctuates from predicted results, are common. Thus, the provider must revise its resource allocation capabilities for optimal utilization and better output.

Managing expectations

Macroeconomic factors, like declining revenue within or across industries due to external influencing factors or changing priorities with internal challenges, can impact the results and should be factored in.

The right tool in your enterprise arsenal

Customers today are highly value-driven and cost-conscious. The key to customer acquisition and retention in today’s market is constantly reinventing ideas and revamping operations.

Outcome-based pricing is definitely an answer. But right now, pure outcome-based pricing excels in a limited number of environments. It is only for some, but if chosen with the right awareness, shared enthusiasm, and proper approach, it could significantly boost your business growth with predictability, transparency, and flexibility in budgeting and pricing.


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