by Steven Hall

Summer whirlwind: The world is changing fast

Sep 12, 2017
OutsourcingTechnology Industry

In my travels across the globe these past few months, I found business leaders asking the same two questions: How do we move faster? And how do we do it securely?

beach tide summer sand
Credit: Thinkstock

Summer has come and passed. The innocent can never last. Wake me up when September ends. – Green Day

It’s hard to believe summer is over. In just three short months, I flew more than 125,000 miles to Europe, India and across the U.S. This was on top of the 120,000 I flew in the first half of the year. One thing is clear across all these miles: The world is changing fast.

The summer began not too far from home, debating the future of IT with 50 of the top CIOs from global commercial enterprises and government organizations at a TBM Executive Retreat in the Hamptons. Everyone there shared one goal: to align IT strategy and IT cost modeling to the new realities of digital business. As business grows more digital, the business itself – not IT – owns more and more of the technology budget and calls more and more of the shots. Increasingly, business leaders are deciding how to employ technology to develop new products and services; which workloads to move to the cloud; which business functions need to be automated; where and how to deploy the Internet of Things; how to leverage data analytics and cognitive computing; how to integrate the work of humans and bots; and how to improve collaboration in an increasingly decentralized operating environment.

This summer, I had the privilege of working with some of the best companies in the world – companies in the Fortune 1000 that are wrestling with these new realities. No matter where the companies are across the globe, they are asking the same two questions. How do we move faster? And how do we do it securely?

We are in the midst of an extraordinary moment in business history. Every business is becoming a technology business. No matter how a company might have started and no matter what it started out to do, it faces a future in which it must develop new products and services based on data, analytics, cognitive intelligence and an enhanced customer experience. This means that IT organizations – most of which have operated in a world dominated by large programs, shrinking budgets and global delivery models dependent on outsourcing and offshoring – must move to a new paradigm that insists on innovation, design thinking, automation and complete transformation of business models. Everyone is looking at each other and wondering how we are going to cross this chasm.

Service providers are going through similar challenges. In many ways, their transformation is even more difficult, as it’s being played out in the most public of forums. Wall Street analysts and boards rightfully demand that service providers articulate their plans to digitize, which means they must make investments in automation, cognitive computing and digital strategy while they struggle with margin pressure and single-digit growth. I’ve seen battles waged inside and outside the boardroom as CEOs confront these massive changes.

During my travels, I visited providers such as Mindtree, UST Global, LTI (formerly L&T Infotech), ITC InfoTech and many others. I toured ultra-modern innovation centers at Accenture and Cognizant. I also had the honor of working with several up-and-coming organizations, including technology provider EdgeRock and user experience design firm Rule13. I left these meetings inspired by the diverse group of men and women at these firms working hard to define a new future for IT. We didn’t talk about outsourcing. We didn’t talk about politics or the impact of a county’s immigration policy on the global economy. We didn’t even talk about specific client needs. We talked about how bright the future is and the endless possibilities in front of us.

The IT sourcing industry is still relatively young. Luckily, we have the optimism of youth to help transform our business in ways never imagined. For many traditional IT service providers, transforming from a low-cost service firm is incredibly complex, but not doing so is certain death. Fortunately (or not), we can’t turn back. As Green Day says, the innocent can never last. We must accelerate the rate of change and develop technologies, solutions and capabilities to transform the very core of business. After all, it’s been our innovation and resilience that have gotten us this far.

I hope your summer was as inspiring as mine. Stay tuned for a list of the best books and shows I binge-watched on my summer travels. Spoiler alert: Game of Thrones will top the list!