There's Strong Disconnect Between CIO And C-suite

by Sohini Bagchi    Dec 03, 2015


Digital is now a part and parcel of every company, thanks to the emergence of technologies such as cloud, mobile and big data, which companies are forced to embrace in some way or the other. As a recent Forrester Research noted, by 2020 every business will become a digital predator or digital prey. However, not all companies can get the maximum return from their digital investment, some even turn into a digital disaster.

Nihilent Technologies claims to understand that digital is the new imperative for organizations worldwide. The company is not only helping companies grow digitally, but has also made two key acquisitions in recent months - US-based GNet Group and Mumbai-based Intellect ERP Bizware, to stay ahead in the race. The Pune-based tech firm is also on track for an IPO. In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Minoo Dastur, Co-Founder and COO of Nihilent Technologies discusses the challenges faced by CIOs and other C-level executives in the new digital world, the opportunities that exist in this space and how Nihilent is playing an active role in the ecosystem. Excerpt.

What according to you are the primary digital challenges the C-suite is facing currently?

The advent of cloud computing, the ubiquity of smart mobile devices and the flood of data available for analysis are creating new ways for businesses to serve their markets and enhance their operations. To capitalize on these opportunities, companies are changing the way they use and organize technology, bringing unprecedented change to corporate IT functions. Some of the primary digital challenges the C-suite is facing currently are mentioned below.

o   Understanding the connection between technology and value generation: Some companies have made technological innovation an integral part of their business model. For others, the IT function is more of an enabler, providing the infrastructure resources that other departments need to create business value. To profit from these opportunities, the C-suite has to assess such investments in a meaningful manner

o   IT for revenue growth or cost cutting: As the C-suite integrates these technology trends into its strategies, there are opportunities to drive down costs while increasing innovation, growth and reliability. The approach to better align IT and derive the benefits of these technologies is to bring IT directly into lines of business

o   Substantive disconnects between the CIO and the C-suite: Business executives should be able to rely on their CIO for a briefing on the technical and business solutions involved in new ways of using IT. However there are gaps between the CIOs and their C-suite colleagues about how and where IT investment could best add value. Moreover, CIOs and C-suite executives have very different views about whether their IT function is aligned with business needs

How can they overcome these challenges to achieve org objectives?

o   CIOs need to communicate their business value which will help in making more strategic role for CIOs. By adopting this role, they will be able to concentrate more on what makes a real difference to the business and less on keeping basic services up and running

o   There is no connection between the value of IT to the business and the size of the central IT function. Hence, organizations should not hold the IT function in isolation rather harness the output from IT models and employ the vital information to enhance operational performance

o   Organisations should reconsider how they assess investments. Traditional trade-offs between cost and innovations have become outdated. IT investments making the investments more efficient can be innovative as well

Nihilent is reportedly considering an IPO over the next 12-18 months. Can you tell us about your IPO plans?

We are considering an IPO, but the move depends on market forces and investor attitudes as Nihilent has made great progress in achieving geographic presence with strategic depth and penetration and has been building critical mass. So it is always an option We are now a global company and have acquired two companies ove the past year. With continued growth and expansion plans under execution an IPO is always an option.

The company has recently announced the acquisition of Intellect Bizware, a specialized SAP services provider and prior to that it was US-based GNet Group. Would you remain on the lookout for more acquisitions in the next one year? Please explain

We will consider acquisition(s) if we see there’s a company that fits into our strategic road map and these could be in the technology or consulting space. The idea is for our acquisitions to dovetail into our offerings and make Nihilent a comprehensive provider of services that address the end customer.

Can you state some entrepreneurial qualities young entrepreneurs today should poccess?

I’m convinced that the key qualities are fortitude and courage. While courage is a very important success criterion in business, in the context of entrepreneurship, it becomes even more important when accompanied by the fortitude to stay with your convictions despite the hurdles one must cross. It takes a combination of these traits to go into business and then to stay in business. It takes an even greater amount of courage to stay true to your values because people will challenge them and ask you to compromise your most cherished values and principles. That’s when you must show your mettle and your faith in your convictions..

Also, learn to live life with what I call ‘detached attachment’. This isn’t an oxymoron, it simply means: “be attached, but also be prepared to let go”. Or, put another way, “work very hard to win, but a loss won’t be the end of the world, just a valuable learning opportunity”. As an entrepreneur I have found that detached attachment gives me a greater chance to achieve business success, a greater degree of inner peace, and a greater opportunity to be a calmer and happier person.

Every entrepreneur needs to understand why he or she is getting into business. What is the purpose and what are the values? You have to have a clear sense of both purpose and values in your mind. If you articulate that sense early on, your chances of being successful are much higher, and if and when you are successful, it will be aligned with what you want to be.