DistilNFO had an opportunity to interview Aravind Kashyap, Chief Executive Officer at SAGE IT, INC.
Evolution of Technology has put the CIOs in a perilous dilemma. They are increasingly asked to pull IT magical feats and continuously deliver technology solutions at scale, speed and value. Successful CIO organizations traditionally have delivered Faster, Cheaper, Better, Larger, Steadier outcomes. Now there is an additional expectation to deliver “Smarter” solutions. This “Smarter” outcome is possible only when Data, Intelligence, and Automation are brought together.
1. Aravind, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. DistilNFO appreciates it!
To start with, tell us about yourself, your career journey so far and your current role at Sage IT. What are the key traits that made you successful in your various roles?
Aravind: Thanks for giving me this opportunity. My association with the IT Industry has been now a little over 27 years. Over these years I have had an opportunity to experience and lead different organizations at different levels. I started my career as a Graduate Engineer Trainee at Larsen & Toubro (one of India’s leading engineering company). My foundational knowledge, discipline and customer orientation comes from this first job.
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I moved to US in 1996 as an IT consultant based in Chicago. For the next 5 years, it allowed me to work in Fortune 100 companies implementing ERP, Content Management and Workforce management solutions. My first entry into enterprise technology leadership roles came at Northern Trust Bank, where I was part of the team that developed a personal financial solution. Following this, my career took off in a different direction with Sales and Executive Management roles. I have had the privilege to lead global teams at Satyam Computers, HCL Technologies, Wipro Technologies, and Hexaware Technologies. In each of these organizations, I learned to work very closely with the customer C-suite in solving business solutions.
Now as a CEO of Sage IT, I have been fortunate to bring all my experiences together and create an organization that is Agile and Industry-leading with strong technology capabilities.
2. Tell us about Sage IT’s business. What are the most exciting initiatives you and your team are working on?
Aravind: Sage IT is a 15 year old IT solutions and services company. We are based in Frisco, TX serving about 50+ Fortune customers. We are a company built on the core value of working together with our customers in helping them move forward in their business.
Sage IT is a 4th generation company which leverages deep technical expertise to help customers solve business challenges smartly.
The most exciting initiative at Sage IT is about the ability to organize and pivot around 3 Market areas:
1) Cognitive Automation – Making human and machine interaction smarter
2) Digital Modernization – Building the foundation for digital faster
3) Customer Interaction – Creating 1-on-1 customer interaction better
The above 3 themes are strongly built on top of Data, Analytics, and Intelligence.
We at Sage IT strongly believe that it takes the technology ecosystem to solve business challenges. We have partnered with Industry leading companies like AWS, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, TIBCO, Automation Anywhere, and UIPath.
A reflection of our achievements is the recent announcement of Sage IT as the Innovation Partner of the Year by TIBCO and Sage IT and winning the IQ Bot Challenge with Automation Anywhere.
3. There is a lot of Buzz about Automation, Cognitive, IoT and Machine Learning. Enterprises have large investments in legacy applications, how should IT Executives apply these new technologies to gain maximum business benefits?
Aravind: Absolutely correct. However, it’s no more a Buzz. It has now become a reality for the executives. I am a strong proponent of Data, Decision, and Intelligence. In today’s economy of @Scale and @Speed, getting these 3 things together by IT executives is critical.
IoT and Automation solve the Data side of the equation. Cognitive addresses the decision-making side of the house and ML addresses the intelligence. By combining all three together in building processes and systems is how the future of the IT going to be.
The dilemma that the IT executives feel they have is the lack of benefits quantification while investing into these technologies. It is wrong and it is like chasing the tail. The benefit to look for is a quantum jump in business capabilities to address customer needs. This quantum leap will make the organization smarter than ever before.
4. Tell us about the business benefits Sage IT has delivered to your key clients? What were your key learnings from these engagements?
Aravind: Broadly speaking, Sage IT’s outcomes are categorized into Crush Cost, Grow Sales and Transform customer’s business. These are relevant and valid outcome benefits that we strive for in every single engagement.
Some of the key learnings from these engagements are
– Agility and Repeatable. To scale up innovation and make it industrial, it is important that we do every single engagement in an Agile fashion, learn from the lessons and repeat with consistency. At Sage IT we follow these principles to the core in every single engagement
– Technology Adoption is everyone’s problem. Automation, AI, and ML are going to be omnipresent. It is in everyone’s best interest to find ways to adapt to the new paradigm. At Sage IT we spend a lot of time working with our customers in change management.
– Specialists are required. This is one of our key learnings. IT definitely requires specialists to solve the issues. We at Sage IT are creating expertise pool to help customers on critical issues at any time and anywhere.
5. There is so much talk about AI and BOTs replacing human intelligence, Sage IT seems to be pioneering this space. What is your view of the future of BOTs?
Aravind: Our belief is that Humans and Machines will co-exist, and we must make humans smarter to work with the Bots. We see that automation exists today in every single aspect of IT – in business processes, applications, infrastructure, network, and data centers. The future of Bots is to take the task of automation to the task of decision making. To make decisions, Bots need intelligence and continuous learning. Combining Cognitive & ML along with Automation makes this possible.
Next step to that is to create an integrated automation environment where layers of automation talk to each and create a possibility of business outcomes. By connecting automation together across the stack from Process to Compute, one starts to develop the true straight through processing that is required for IT to align better with business.
6. CEOs are always squeezed for time, share with us a personal trait that helps you in managing time and to be an effective leader?
Aravind: It is true that, if there is one thing that we don’t get more of, is Time. I believe in living in the moment and maximizing the use of what is in hand. One of the traits that I follow to manage time is a TDC paradigm. I picked it up early in my career and have constantly used it in every stage of my career and personal life. The TDC paradigm states that we divide our time to Think, Do and Communicate. As an executive it is important that I allocate time for all 3 aspects – and also encourage every employee at Sage IT to also do the same, albeit the % allocation differs at different levels of the organization.
7. What is a “call to action” you want to share with IT industry executives reading this interview?
Aravind: One “call to action” that I urge IT executives is to experiment and take bold steps within the organization and don’t worry about failure – embark on an Integrated Automation journey, set-up an AI/ML Lab to experiment with Decision making and Intelligence. Today or tomorrow, your business needs these capabilities to address the complexity of the business.
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Date: July 9, 2019