CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Mr. Nitin Seth, Chief Executive Officer of Incedo Inc.
1 – How can India become a digital skills hub for the world?
I believe India is already the skills hub for the world because of two fundamental forces at work. Firstly, India has a natural advantage in terms of the age pyramid. Over 50% of India’s population is under the age of 25, 65% under the age of 35 – with over 850 million people in this bracket it is the world’s largest cohort of digital natives.
Secondly, by its very nature the Digital Age enables democratization of access to information. This is also strongly supported by the inherent democratic nature of our society.
While these fundamental forces are working in India’s favour, nothing is assured in this VUCA world. For India to make the most of this opportunity, there are three important areas that need focused attention :
- Global IT Services leadership – India is the IT engine of the world, supplying over 50% share of global IT services headcount in 2022. Let’s continue to nurture, fuel, and grow leadership in IT services. Leading from the front is critical – industry associations, education institutions, government, and enterprises need to push continually for growth of tech hubs, improved infrastructure, and high-quality knowledge access across India.
- “Digital First” Public services – We need to increase technology investments in public services to leapfrog ahead of economically advanced countries. All aspects of central, state or local government or education should go “Digital First” to provide easy-to-access, high-quality, rapid-response assistance and administration to citizens.
- Increased Education Spend– The ‘Make in India’ initiative needs to evolve beyond ‘ease of business’. Government resources should embolden academic institutions to enter areas of research and technology development that the private sector doesn’t have the funds or time for.
2 – What steps can Indian organizations take to bridge the IT talent skills gap?
The widening talent skills gap is definitely an area of concern and requires immediate action. However, I think organizations need to think differently to address this problem at a fundamental level. I see two key aspects that can really help solve this problem :
- We need a change in mindset in terms of how we define skills – Currently, organizations keep running after specific technical skills which are always in short supply. The focus has to move to core skills – Problem solving, Learnability, Interpersonal skills, Communication skills and Leadership skills. In a world which is constantly changing, the way to win is to focus on things that don’t change. And these Core skills dont change, so focus on them.
- We need to bring newer types of talent pools into play – I see two large segments of talent pool that we need to pursue. First is the working women who drop off after maternity – we need to find ways to bring them back into the workforce and a remote working model can be a great way to achieve that. Secondly, a large segment of talent gets rejected due to lack of communication skills – a focused intervention to improve these skills can help bring that pool into the workforce.
3. How has Incedo transformed its business since 2018, and what is its strategic roadmap ahead?
Over the last 4 years Incedo has undergone an extraordinary transformative journey, we have successfully transformed a mid-sized IT services firm into a World-Class Digital Transformation Specialist.
We created the vision to build a differentiated firm focused on increasing the success rate from digital investments and delivering sustainable business impact for clients. We decided to anchor our business at the intersection of business and technology, cutting across the traditional definition of consulting and technology services. We embarked on a ‘Good-to-Great’ journey with our strategy anchored around 4 pillars –
- Clients: We decided to build deep and long-term client relationships. We are now serving multiple world-class clients including several Fortune 200 companies and have developed deep trust-based relationships with them.
- Capabilities – We have built cutting edge full-stack capabilities that are helping us uniquely position as a differentiated partner with our clients. The full-stack of end-to-end digital transformation capabilities include Design, Data Science, Digital Engineering, Cloud, Operations supplemented with proprietary platforms – Lighthouse and IncedoPay to accelerate the impact realization.
- Organization – We completely changed the DNA of the firm by bringing in leaders across levels with problem-solving and entrepreneurial mindset. We built a positive and engaging culture anchored around long-term orientation with the firm. We established a common sense of purpose and values, improved employee engagement and strengthened the core talent management practices.
- Brand –. Our focus is to build a globally recognized and differentiated brand as a Digital Transformation Specialist. We have stepped up our brand presence and positioning significantly by anchoring around the “Winning in the Digital Age” book. Our Brand Awareness has risen sharply with notable mentions across leading Digital & Print media, winning over 25 Industry Awards across categories and enhanced presence across campuses as a Thought-leader in Digital Transformation.
Strategic Roadmap ahead:
The firm today is uniquely positioned in the market – at the intersection of business and technology. The business is now well positioned for long-term growth. We believe that we are at the ‘Right Place, Right Time’ – as the Digital Transformation Market will continue to grow at a healthy CAGR and Incedo’s unique DNA will allow us to capture this high-growth market.
4. Views: Indian firms need to scale digital transformation
Indian firms or any firm for that matter, can achieve success in their digital transformation journey only if they recognize that many of the fundamentals of business have changed in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. Based on these changes, businesses need to define their “new rules of business” and apply them to both strategy and execution to drive successful digital transformation.
In my experience, going “Big Bang” can be disastrous, given the iterative nature of digital. At the same time, focusing on narrow, ad hoc use cases has limited impact. I strongly advocate for adopting a “two-speed” approach — focusing on high impact use cases that will really move the needle to begin the journey and leveraging the successes to scale up their data and technology platform. Over successive agile implementation cycles, a two-speed strategy will allow firms to solve for the most pressing business problems while developing a scalable platform to transform digitally. This is a very short answer to a very complex topic. For a deep dive, I would recommend reading my book “Winning in the Digital Age” in which I have outlined a detailed approach for Digital Transformation.
5. How is Incedo helping companies realize their true potential and return from digital investments?
Incedo is a global digital transformation expert empowering companies to realize sustainable business impact from their digital investments. We partner with them from Strategy to Execution bringing in a full stack of capabilities.. Our integrated services and platforms are built on the foundation of Design, AI and Data and strong engineering capabilities combined with our deep domain expertise. With a diverse portfolio of Fortune 500 enterprises and fast growing clients worldwide, we work across telecom, financial services, product engineering and life sciences.
6. Will the anticipated economic downturn and its subsequent cost-saving measures deployed by global companies hinder the growth trajectory of digital transformation?
Firstly, I would like to re-quote what Mark Twain said, “Reports of my death are highly exaggerated.” and put it in the context of Digital transformation. I believe that Digital Transformation is a strong long-term trend that’s fundamental to doing business today. It’s nowhere close to maturity and I see it lasting for at least 20 more years. So, it won’t get killed by just one or two years of recession.
Secondly, I think Covid led to a sudden surge in Digital adoption by businesses which resulted in unnatural and exaggerated growth in digital transformation related revenue streams. With an economic correction, the unnatural growth may taper off, but still the overall rate of growth will remain quite healthy.
Thirdly, I believe that digital transformation spend is going to sustain even in an economic downturn, only the nature of spending may change. The focus of spend may gravitate from customer experience and new channels, towards operations transformation and cost optimization.