The Art of Reducing 'Technology Debt' & Winning Digital Transformation Race
There is nothing stopping the flaring transformation of the global technology landscape. With the prevailing hybrid work culture on the one hand and the organizations’ constant need to digitally transform and improve customer experience on the other, the whole technology landscape is becoming increasingly unpredictable. We indeed owe a lot to technologies becoming more plug & play, more driven by the cloud, and simpler to use. They make testing ideas across the organizational structure easier and move on faster if it fails. However, one of the most significant threats, the increased level of cyber threat, prevails amidst everything happening. The cyber attackers unleashed themselves on the vulnerability of people working from home, and the consequences were catastrophic. It’s fair to say that the technology explosion over the past few years is a mixed bag of opportunities and challenges. Subbu Subramanian, Country Director – India, Dynatrace, joins us in an exclusive interview wherein he navigates the current and future challenges and opportunities in the technology realm. A transformation specialist, a man of focus, and a practitioner of Occam's razor, Subbu possesses close to three decades of technology experience. Before joining Dynatrace in 2020 to lead India Business for one of the world's fastest-growing software companies, he had led India Business for Appnomic Systems and Hitachi Data Systems, among others.
In conversation with Subbu Subramanian, Country Director – India, Dynatrace
The Indian IT industry is expected to grow by $19.93 billion by 2025. Could you elaborate on the factors that will catalyze the growth?
As various digital technologies have permeated into each and every sector, such a growth trajectory isn't surprising but rather very much expected. In fact, the last few years have witnessed a significant surge in digital adoption across the country. Consider the widespread use of Aadhar, with 1.2 billion people enrolled, Digilocker, with over 150 million users, and the Unified Payment Interface, with 376 banks participating and recording over 22 billion UPI transactions in 2021 and expected to reach around 169 billion by 2026. Let's not miss the rise of IndiaStack, which has been a key enabler for such impressive progressions. Most recently, Digi-Yatra was launched, a project developed by the industry that employs facial recognition technology to streamline terminal access and airport security clearance. Additionally, programs like 'Digital India' and 'Make in India' foster a conducive environment for technology investments, attracting domestic and foreign businesses. All these developments are completely underpinned by a robust IT infrastructure.
India's skilled IT workforce also offers a significant advantage in driving industry growth too. The country boasts a vast pool of talented professionals who contribute to developing innovative technologies and solutions, further fueling the industry's progress. It is hard to oversee the convergence of digital transformation, government support, e-commerce expansion, and a skilled IT workforce today. As the sector continues to evolve, it is also poised to play a crucial role in shaping India's economic landscape in the next few years.
India’s IT industry spurred investments in services from cloud automation and cloud computing to cyber-security. How should companies safeguard themselves while enjoying the benefits of transformation?
Almost every organization is undergoing digital transformation hence a noticeable surge in investments toward cloud automation, cloud computing, and cybersecurity services. However, in this scenario, not only the pace at which organizations should attempt transformation but also about choices they make during this journey is equally important. All transformations are not mandatory. In the IT industry, there is a term called 'technology debt,' which basically means that you are at a specific juncture because of decisions you took years ago. Technical debt is similar to dark matter; you can deduce its impact but cannot see or measure it.
So for any company deliberating on large-scale digital transformation, it must ensure to partner with the right tech partners/vendors to get the right perspective on talent and capability. To strike a balance between reaping the benefits of transformation and ensuring security, companies must adopt a multi-faceted approach that can be led by experts effectively. Companies should thoroughly assess potential partners' cybersecurity measures, track records, and commitment to data protection. An Observability partner with a strong security posture can significantly contribute to the overall resilience of the digital ecosystem. Furthermore, the right tech partners should align with the company's digital transformation objectives and possess the expertise to deploy solutions that cater to specific needs. The right partnerships not only safeguard against threats but also optimize the benefits derived from technological advancements, fostering growth and resilience in India's thriving IT industry.
How do you perceive the outlook of the business landscape? How do Dynatrace’s offerings align with futuristic developments?
The future landscape for any business is full of unknowns. Even though we can try our best to ascertain the future to the best of our knowledge, expertise, and technical prowess—it is still difficult. The way technology is evolving, a product that was relevant yesterday might not work today anymore. Let's take the recent example of ChatGPT, a section of people are anxious about its usage capability, whereas, on the other hand, we have users, including organizations that have incorporated this AI language model into their daily operations with some impressive results already. We need to be adaptive to technology rather than waiting for it to achieve its full potential. The same applies to business enterprises too. They must be 'early adopters' rather than 'late followers.' But still, in case, if you miss starting early, it's important to find the right tech partners who can help you kickstart your business transformation journey.
The right partnerships not only safeguard against threats but also optimize the benefits derived from technological advancements, fostering growth and resilience in India's thriving IT industry
At Dynatrace, we specialize in cutting-edge observability, monitoring, and application performance management solutions. Our AI-driven platform empowers businesses with real-time insights, automatic root cause analysis, and proactive problem resolution, enabling them to optimize performance and enhance customer satisfaction. Lately, we have enhanced our offerings with the addition of AppSec, where we provide visibility into applications vulnerability in runtime. With Dynatrace's cloud-native and multi-cloud support, organizations can seamlessly adapt to the evolving technology landscape and scale their operations. Its focus on automation and AI ensures businesses can keep pace with the growing complexity of applications and infrastructure, effectively managing performance across the entire digital ecosystem.
Tell us about your leadership approach. What are the guidelines or methodologies you follow as a leader?
My approach is rooted in empowering my team to thrive and achieve exceptional results. I firmly believe in hiring individuals who are smarter, more capable, and more intelligent than myself. Here I live by ‘share what you know and learn what you don’t know .’Seeking out top talent who can match or even potentially surpass me allows me to focus on the next 12 months while the next in line manages the current quarter.
Granting my team members a considerable degree of latitude and leveraging their unique abilities opens me up to views that I cannot imagine on my own. I personally encourage them to experiment, take risks, and never shy away from failures that have actually led us to transformative breakthroughs. Those unafraid of failures tend to become highly coachable and receptive to guidance, leading to continuous improvement and outstanding performance. Transparency is another vital aspect of my leadership philosophy. I practice open and honest communication, both in providing and receiving feedback. Embracing a two-way street approach, I am as willing to be coached and guided as I am eager to guide and mentor my team. Quite honestly, these guiding principles are an extension of my personal style. I value experimentation and am unafraid to embrace failures as they do lead to valuable learning experiences.
How would you define your team? What skills do you look for while providing employment?
When I look at my team, I see a team of amazing capabilities; each bringing unique strengths and expertise to the table. This diversity is a deliberate outcome of conscious decision-making rather than mere happenstance. Dealing with high-value customers in our business requires a team that possesses a diverse set of skills and experiences. When it comes to hiring, my focus is on individuals with grit combined with resourcefulness. Though it is difficult to gauge this quality in one interview, it is certainly a solid reflection of a person's perseverance and passion, which can be observed in the narration of their past challenges and successes. This combination of intelligence and willingness to learn and deliver allows us to adapt and excel in a rapidly evolving industry. Overall, building a team with a broad spectrum of talents and a thirst for continuous improvement is essential for success.
What would be your advice to the individuals aiming to set benchmarks in their career in this industry?
Not only in this industry but for any line of work, I would suggest three principles for aspiring professionals who wish to leave their mark in the future. First, unfortunately, most of us are designed to blame whether it is work, organization, boss, or even a life partner. Though there is no harm in analyzing “what went wrong,” the key here is to identify the gaps and navigate through them for better outcomes for the future. Secondly, nurture a genuinely open mind, which will prove invaluable in the long run. Lastly, master time management. We all have the same 24 hours, but focused work and prioritization set high achievers apart. The art of focused working is a seriously unappreciated skill. It is good to remind yourself time and again that success lies in continuous improvement and staying adaptable to the ever-changing landscape.
Hobby: “I read on purpose and don't mind re-reading a book just to retain the knowledge for longer. Most recently, I have picked up Atomic Habits by James Clear. Apart from this, I am an active member of various entrepreneurial communities and mentor founders as and when solicited.”
Favorite Cuisines: Home-cooked vegetarian food.
Favorite Movies: Classics like Sleepless in Seattle and The Godfather, to name a few.
Favorite Books: Many; Crossing The Chasm, Good to Great, Maverick, The One Thing, The and Hardest Thing about The Hardest Things.
Favorite Travel Destinations: Goa, Shimla, Panchgani, and Mt.Abu.