Technologies are Becoming Simpler to Use, Helping Ideas to Bloom
The story of Netflix is a reminder of everything groundbreaking about digital transformation and the need to use the right technology in the right way at the right time. One of the synonyms of video entertainment today, Netflix was founded in 1997 with a business model similar to Blockbuster, a US-based movie and videogame rental company, but unlike Blockbuster LLC, Netflix anticipated the revolutionary transformation in customer demand with rising digitalization and started providing online entertainment. You know the rest. Netflix wiped out Blockbuster – and the movie rental industry – entirely. If the company collected data through sources like Customer ID, movie ID, ratings, and date & time of watching, it later underwent a CRM deployment. It took no time to emerge as the synonym of video entertainment.
Beyond any skepticism, technology and digital transformation make almost every business smarter. However, getting it right the first time is of paramount importance, as a go-around is not an option for most businesses grappling with the highly competitive business environment. Sandeep Bhargava, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Rackspace Technology, engages in an exclusive interview with CEO Insights to walk us through everything latest in the technology business. Sandeep is an industry thought leader and a results-oriented professional with more than two decades of technology experience across elite organizations such as Procter & Gamble, Hewlett Packard, Dell, and DXC in Asia.
In conversation with Sandeep Bhargava, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Rackspace Technology
The Indian IT industry is expected to grow to $19.9 3 billion by 2025. What are some of the major facets that are driving this growth?
Every single industry is starting to use technology at an unparalleled pace. Technology is permeating all parts of our life in multifarious forms. We use several apps daily—from WhatsApp to Facebook and Telegram—without even realizing how much technology we use, to say nothing of the number of applications we use in our professional lives.
It is also important to note the rate and ease of technology adoption in the enterprise segment. New businesses are getting established across different marketplaces at an unparalleled pace, thanks to technologies becoming more plug and play, being more driven by the cloud, and becoming simpler to use. They make it easier to test ideas, even fail faster, and move on to another idea.
If you move on to cloud adoption, it's not a secret that the pandemic has been a tailwind. Many businesses suddenly and unexpectedly had an opportunity to reassess how they communicate and work with their technology applications. Most of them moved quite a number of applications to the cloud to ensure that the delivery is resilient and consistent and the deliverables maintain a high level of quality. So all of these aspects will continue to drive the growth in the technology realm.
Rackspace Technology received the ISD Sourcing Standard Award for the fifth consecutive quarter. What are the factors that help the company constantly achieve success?
Absolutely. It's a good question. Be it the awards we win continuously, the incredible solutions we deploy in the market, or the good press we receive, it all boils down to the collective efforts of our people. It's amazing how they look at customers' problems, solve them innovatively, and feel empowered to take risks and come up with new suggestions & new ways of thinking. So our people are really at the heart of it. Period.
On the other hand, it's also how our culture sustains that ethos of innovation and collaboration and fearlessness to try out new things. From a leadership perspective, we constantly strive to complement. For instance, we give our employees 52 paid hours a year to learn new technologies and get certifications, including from the three hyperscalers: Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, among others. It could be hard technical skills, soft skills, or leadership skills.
The final piece that still amazes me in this company is how we always have the attitude of "How can I help?" how can I help a customer, or how can I help my colleague or partner. We make sure that politics doesn't become a part of it. I think Rackspace Technology has done a remarkable job over the last 20-plus years in keeping politics away from the working levels.
Additionally, on that whole learning and development culture, we have Rackspace University, which offers an abundance of courses. We have mandated some of them as a part of the onboarding and the initial learning cycle, while a lot of the other courses are available for people to learn at their own pace.
New businesses are getting established across different marketplaces at an unparalleled pace, thanks to technologies becoming more plug and play, being more driven by the cloud, and becoming simpler to use. They make it easier to test ideas, even fail faster, and move on to another idea.
How would you define your leadership style and governance approach? What guidelines and methodologies do you follow?
Over a period of time, I've developed a set of codes that I follow. At the beginning of every new challenge, I try to write them down and convey to my team what I stand for and what I do.
My first principle is that the more diversity of opinions within the team, the better. You will have an easier time solving a problem more effectively. But they need to genuinely believe that different perspectives of people of different genders and countries help us develop a more coherent and longer-lasting solution, in contradiction to talking to a few people who think alike and coming up with the same set of solutions. It's amazing how cultural diversity helps in problem-solving.
Secondly, I am a light touch. I make sure that it is more about circular leadership, wherein we collectively develop a vision and an execution plan and work toward improvements rather than seeking perfection. At any time, any member of my leadership team can define our strategy and how we will execute it. When people feel that the vision is theirs, the execution becomes much easier. It also becomes less dependent on people in the process.
A third principle is always being open to people, always available to them, and most importantly, understanding and appreciating what I'm asking my people to do. It's important not to ask them to do things I wouldn't do myself. Also, you have to understand and appreciate the type of situations you put people in. You need to understand the external pressures on them and ensure they feel the full support of the organization behind them. That confidence is important when you go and make a difference in the market.
The final one is that there will always come a time when things don't work out with people, or they find more suited opportunities elsewhere. So, it's also about how you treat people as they are on their way out. Because, over time, you realize that lifelong employment doesn't exist. But if you continuously help people hone their skills, improve their experience, and constantly grow, it is a sure bet that they will do the top work. And even if they go out, you will always have a network out.
The cyber threat landscape has changed vigorously over the past few years. How do you look at this change, and how can organizations effectively fight the increasing threats?
First and foremost, organizations need to realize it is a constant battle that you never stop preparing for. You have to continuously look for vulnerabilities when you design your corporate technologies while constantly endeavoring to recognize endpoint vulnerabilities and find solutions to pass them. A zero trust security framework would help, wherein all users within the organization are required to be authenticated and authorized for security. However, people are the biggest vulnerability, especially since they moved from the controlled data center infrastructure in the office to work from home culture and cloud. Hence, you need to continuously invest in training people. If you don't have that expertise, partners like Rackspace can help you keep the security posture updated consistently.
What are your hobbies? Also, what are your favorite Movies, Travel destinations, and cuisines?
I enjoy reading, and I love playing golf. I also spend much of my spare time on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee, and Hotstar. In addition to mentoring startups, I also mentor young graduates who come from families without proper means. Those are the two ways I am trying to give back to society based on the experiences I have gained in my professional life.
Most of my favorite movies are Amitabh Bachchan classics. I would say Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is another movie that I can watch at any point in time.
My favorite travel destination would be the Philippines, especially Baraka.
I love to explore different cuisines. I wouldn't say these are my firm favorites, but I like Thai Korean, Szechuan, Sichuan, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Israeli, and of course, Indian.