Spandan Mahapatra: Spearheading Digital Transformation by Unleashing HiTech Business Solutions on a Global Scale
Spandan Mahapatra: Spearheading Digital Transformation by Unleashing HiTech Business Solutions on a Global Scale
Digital transformation is not just a matter of capital investment but it’s also about developing strategies, executing, and addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with it. TCS’ HiTech business unit is the organization that is leading the industry in this domain. It drives business transformation and digital innovation for customers in computer platforms, consumer devices, industrial electronics, cloud and software and the professional services industry through collaborative innovation with partners and its state-of-art platform solutions.
An Ardent Leader Making a Breakthrough with Digitization
Spandan Mahapatra is the Chief Technology Officer, HiTech & Professional Services Industry and Global Head- Digital & Enterprise Transformation Unit at TCS. In his current role, he is responsible for all digital portfolios for the high-tech industry vertical, which is led by a senior management team that is focused on products, platform development, engineering, customer-centric innovation, enabling sales, delivery and competency, and leadership development with a digital revenue target. Spandan drives The OKRs with his special FTE global team of more than 150 professionals, comprising enterprise architects, domain consultants, pre-sales solutions team, technology experts and business solutions labs in Cincinnati where Spandan and his team are leveraging a comprehensive suite of digital technology platforms.
Spandan’s team provides advisory solutions, platforms, design and implementation solutions for cloud and various software with a key focus on areas like democratization of product development. They are also working for the high adoption of commercial open-source software and cloud innovations, embedded intelligence in software and its, enabling service-as-a-product along with workplace reimagination by fostering teleworking and return to work.
TCS also serves certain unique areas of the computer platforms, consumer devices in the industrial electronics sector. Some of the key areas of focus within the high tech companies are the accelerated movement towards resilient value chains, data-driven Cx and XaaS offerings for larger customer lifetime value (CTV), device or cyber-as-a-service, pervasive servitization, visibility with actionable intelligence that is driving the need for control towers with the supply chain control tower and TCS talent control tower, a renewed focus on e-commerce, industry clouds by peripheral companies (IoT managed services), and creating cloud ecosystem convergence with hybrid and poly cloud management solutions and services.
Emphasizing the Industry Verticals with Technology
Spandan has more than 22 years of experience across multiple industry verticals, which enabled him to appreciate the value of applying technology to realize cross-domain and multi-industry use cases.
Spandan has always focused on applying technology for moving the needle on a customer’s growth and transformation initiative by either shaping or accelerating their transformation agenda. Over the past decade, he has initiated multiple solution portfolios built on different data platform reference architectures with a huge focus on interoperability as a part of his role of incubating the business solutions unit and the labs in the TCS Cincinnati Advanced Technology Centre. Spandan started the in-memory computing practice on one of the leading enterprise software platforms at TCS, which drove innovation and industry adoption through a use case and outcome-focused approach. He also subsequently incubated multiple other use case-centric practices focused on several leading industries as well as the new platforms. Spandan believes that innovations in the HiTech and professional services industry stems from deep aspiration and develops the intent to solve industry problems in all industry sectors.
The Challenge of Merging Business and Tech for Tailored Automation
Spandan shares that one of the key challenges he faced during the beginning of his career was the composite of the resistance to change in teams, as well as the dynamics at customer organizations with multiple stakeholders who were emphasizing different priorities, which were not always aligned. “Creating contextual knowledge and continuously developing and curating a knowledge corpus on multi-domain business and technology focus areas by keeping customer-evolving dynamics is a tough task. In some situations, there is a relentless focus on driving extreme automation as automating might become a bad process and bad behaviour is the worst thing to do. Therefore, focusing on the business roadmap and developing a tailored automation strategy linked to outcomes is crucial,” says Spandan.
Spandan highlights that in some scenarios, there is also a tendency to adopt a new technology based on market buzz and pressures that derails the whole focus of an enterprise from its own business priorities. He feels that adopting a particular technology for the sake of perfecting product engineering or for the sake of being compliant with the latest technology gear is sometimes not aligned with the go-to-market impact needs for a business and the business model that changes the paradigm.
Striking a Balance Between Innovation and Disruptive Market Trends
Spandan opines that the role of a CTO has evolved with the need to strike a balance between enabling and shaping up customer business platforms powered by proactive internal platform investments and technology capabilities build-out. A major portion of the CTO’s responsibilities in the past was centred on the technology adoption curve, technology reference architectures, and technology horizon planning and implementation. Real-time intelligence and the contributions of the new data-powered businesses-as–a-service are the bedrock of the current platform shift initiatives at every enterprise a combination of digital technologies with pervasive artificial intelligence with data governance and explainable AI. He adds that today’s innovation is focused on driving the next-generation experience for all stakeholders. It requires a tapestry of many technologies. According to Spandan, the role of a leader is greatly focused now on aligning these multi-skilled teams on common goals for agility and time to value.
Spandan presumes that until now, TCS has dealt with artificial intelligence and data services, which were singular transactions at a point in time. He asserts that eventually, the industry is going to witness multi-turn technology interactions starting with multi-turn AI, truly preserving the context of a conversation, a business transaction through the exchanges as the humans do. Spandan underlines that the emergence of GPT-3 type of AI and ML technologies will accelerate the speed at which these technologies will become mainstream and be available for more widespread adoption in all types of use cases that were not imagined before.
Trailblazing Initiatives at the Core of Business Development
Spandan says that he fundamentally communicates every discussion with each of his customers about where they should be going on their business journeys and how technology can lead the way. He mentions that he has focused on questioning the status quo of where and how human intelligence needs to be a part of the new business model development or problem-solving areas and where the appropriate platform and automation-driven approaches should be deployed. Spandan declares that he is a big believer in human-in-the-loop systems. Designing systems for human engagement with rapid feedback for creating more relevant systems has helped him to stay honest with the target audience.
Spandan utters that he formulated the concept of ‘TCS Evolutionary Engineering’. While talking about this concept, he states, “Organizations are continuously evolving because of the rapidly changing business cycles and the imperatives of staying relevant for rapid consumer behaviour and aspirations, which in turn is fuelling the need for technologies and for releasing metaverses in each industry. Businesses are evolving very fast, so organizations need to evolve at a much more rapid pace in their engineering behaviour and cycles. TCS Evolutionary Engineering focuses on enabling organizations to achieve growth and transformation objectives by continuously evolving their capability matrix across people, processes, data, privacy, and security management by leveraging technology.”
Spandan shares a few representative examples from each of the HiTech segments. Firstly, in the cloud and software segment, he claims that he led the complete strategy for the solution positioning and initial strategic delivery planning with a huge focus on cloud automation for one of the largest ongoing SaaS cloud transformations. Secondly, for an experienced management and global marketing SaaS enterprise, his team is driving an advanced analytics engagement to deliver customer segmentation for end-users to provide real-time understanding of the user behaviour based on usage, subscription, market data for customer delight, retention and minimizing churn.
Thirdly, in the professional services segment, Spandan reveals that the team led the ideation, positioning, and advisory for setting up the next generation AI platform for consumer-grade experiences, for a global professional services firm, through an ecosystem approach and leveraging the business solutions labs. This initiative enabled the creation of a cognitive automation product, which is now a new revenue channel enabling transformations for end customers. In the industrial electronics segment, in continuous mode for multiple customers in the measurement and supply chain solutions drove the positioning of the TCS SaaSification capabilities, including product engineering, AI and ML-powered embedded business analytics, data platform engineering using modern cloud data services, and offering data-as-a-service – leading to new revenue channels. Lastly, in the computer platforms and consumer devices segment, with the key TCS customer team, the company drove the initiation of a cloud platform engineering set up to enable all business and technology groups to use the advanced cloud, SecDevOps capabilities, adds Spandan.
Based on massive person-years of collective experience, Spandan conveys that has invested in conceptualizing and designing the next generation business advisory platform called TCS TreXaaS, which will enable customers to navigate business and technology and data decisions and create contextual pathways and reference architectures on an iterative and continuous basis. TCS TreXaaS platform will enable customers to adopt and implement revolutionary engineering practices and continuously rejuvenate to innovate their business models and technology reference architectures in a synchronous mode.
Characteristics of an Ideal CTO
Spandan says that in the current technology led business innovation cycle, talent is the primary fuel for innovation. The right talent will deploy accurate technology to drive innovation. The CTO is responsible for developing and incubating core capabilities in the organization.
He states that the key attributes that every CTO should possess are to continuously learn and be hands-on especially on key technologies relevant for the firm to appreciate and appropriately plan the product roadmaps with the ability to understand and predict business disruptions and plan technology-led innovation by designing, iterating and co-creating the technology strategy and blueprint with stakeholders.
Spandan suggests that every CTO needs to have the patience to engage and listen to his or her architects and the core development team. “It is crucial to play the role of the enabler because most of the time, the team is more deeply skilled than the CTO in their respective areas. A CTO needs to foster a culture and environment of collective problem solving and willingness to engage with business stakeholders in joint ideation sessions with an open mind to drive business initiatives” he claims.
Spandan advises that every aspiring CTO and technology executive should consider their role as a primary business transformation partner. In a talent-driven engineering world, talent incubation is the key to success. He also says that product engineering will continue to witness tremendous growth because of an accelerated platform shift, hence a cultural shift towards skills acquisition will help drive better outcomes from all employees. Every enterprise has different business priorities and imperatives. A CTO needs to adapt and prioritize roles as a business leader and enabler, as an innovation leader, and a next-generation, advanced capability talent leader. A CTO’s role in every enterprise will keep shifting; a successful CTO needs to continuously gauge upcoming trends for the businesses and plan at least three quarters prior for staying ahead of the game. Hence CTOs need to enable shaping, aligning the business model of the enterprise ahead of industry disruptions. CTOs should keep a clear focus on sustainable business outcomes for consumers and enterprises that they serve directly or indirectly.
The Road Ahead: Forecasting a HiTech Future
Spandan remarks that the HiTech and professional services industry is at the core of the digitalization wave and is empowering all industries. The HiTech industry will see significant areas of disruption across all segments. New portfolios and software companies will emerge based on 5G and AI-powered data-driven platforms. Extreme SaaS and contextual PaaS usage will be a norm, based on particular use cases and differentiation needs, and the time to market for customers. He believes that there will be massive innovation on both hardware and software related to AR, VR, and MR, that will enable realizing the metaverse dynamically and being relevant to the consumer segments that a particular enterprise is catering to. Experiences will continue to stay a dominant theme. The expectations of enterprises from the technology industry on proactive solutions on pervasive cybersecurity and privacy controls will continue to increase. Data capital will be a major aspect of competitive advantage in enterprises, and consumers will expect a much bigger thrust and commitment from businesses based on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, adds Spandan.