by Shubhra Rishi

Disruptive Technologies Will Drive Differentiation: Happiest Minds

Nov 06, 20145 mins
AnalyticsBig DataBusiness

Salil Godika, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Happiest Minds, believes that enterprises can leverage disruptive technologies to drive differentiation.

Happiest Minds Technologies, in today’s fast paced IT world, is a company with a focus on enabling digital transformation for customers by leveraging disruptive technologies. In the last three years, the company has grown from zero to a strength of 1,250 people and is on track to become one of the fastest Indian IT services company to reach $100 million (about Rs 600 crore) in revenue. And its ‘people’, are what the company believes, responsible for its fast-paced growth.

And one of them is Salil Godika. Handpicked by Ashok Soota from Mindtree, Godika handles various roles at Happiest Minds: Chief strategy and marketing officer, head of analytics and big data business, and industry group head. Godika says disruptive technologies are helping the company’s customers achieve the three core objectives of re-imagining customer experience, reengineering business fluidity, and reducing risks. Excerpts from an interview:

What’s boosting your happiness quotient as a Chief Strategy Officer at Happiest Minds?

My source of happiness comes from working in a fast-paced environment with newer technologies and building solutions that can drive tangible business value for customers.

Another source of happiness for me is Wellness. The company has rolled out a number of wellness initiatives and encourages employees to participate. Our belief is that healthier lives create the happiest minds.

[Read more: The CIO and CMO Perspective on Big Data]

You wear multiple hats. How do you dabble between these roles?

I have always followed two simple rules:To prioritize, and to focus on what is controllable. Also, I am fortunate to work with a very talented and passionate team.

I handle four distinct roles: Strategy, marketing, analytics, and big data business, and some of the industry groups. I manage by trying to club related things together. For instance, for a specific area like marketing, I try to group corporate marketing initiatives for the company, marketing around the analytics space, and marketing initiatives for an industry group.

How has your prior experience with software product companies and startups helped your CSO role at Happiest Minds?

For the first 12 years of my career, I worked in product companies in the US and then subsequently moved to India to run strategy for a mid-sized IT services company.

In my role as a product manager, the focus was on having a point of view on future market needs and then making bets and choices by deciding what products to build and what would be the relevant features in it.

In the IT services business, it’s no longer about being an order taker, asking customers what they want and then delivering it. Today, the market has become hyper-competitive and a differentiated services company has to lead with thought leadership insights, deliver value-adds, and leverage non-linear business models like platform and automation. Therefore, the prior experience has been extremely relevant.

According to MIT’s research there are four CSO archetypes, namely, internal consultant, specialist, coach, and change agent. What archetype are you and why?

At Happiest Minds, my role is a combination of most of the above. I become a facilitator when there’s a need to communicate and deliver strategic initiatives across the organization. Sometimes I am a specialist making use of my knowledge and experience for newer initiatives for example, deciding a new market entry strategy.  At other times, I’m a change agent championing an initiative which spans BUs.

Happiest Minds recorded a 122 percent dollar growth in the year 2013-14. What will be your core focus going forward?

Helping organizations pave the road of digital transformation is our focus. Digital transformation is changing the way consumers work, organizations operate, and how enterprises create value. It is all about re-imagining customer expectations coupled with business fluidity and risk mitigation to ensure 360 degree customer delight. Smart, secure, and connected experience powered by disruptive technologies are the pillars to ensure successful digital transformation.

Smart:  It aims at the enterprise being driven by accurate insights across customers as well as internal processes.

Secure: Having the right advisory, transformation, and managed security capabilities. Addressing key risk pockets ensure that you are in the right path to being digitally secure. 

Connected Experience: Ensures that outcome and insights gained through being smart are deployed through the right channels.

How important is the role of the CSO in creating a differentiator for a new organization that doesn’t want to become just another IT services company?

Today, there are various companies within this crowded market providing IT services, hence, it is important to stand out. This comes from the act of making choices by defining which areas to focus on more and also conversely what not to do.

Our differentiation revolves around three main pillars: 

•      Laser focus on disruptive technology

•      SaaS offerings

•      Our happiness centric culture and values-driven organization  

Happiest Minds’ core expertise lies in disruptive technologies to implement omni-channel strategies. How’s IT helping you in this aspect?

IT is helping our customers meet three core objectives: Re-imagining customer experience, reengineering business fluidity, and reducing risks for our customers. For any retailer today, omni-channel really means to provide a seamless experience for a customer using store, Web, phone or mobile. For instance, it must allow a customer to initiate a transaction on the Web and get the same experience at a physical store.

We are enabling a connected experience for our customers using disruptive technologies such as social, mobile, analytics, cloud, security, IOT, and M2M.