CIO Exchange Podcast

The Enterprise Impact of New Technology - with Sanjay Srivastava, Chief Digital Strategist at Genpact

Episode Summary

Genpact is a global professional services firm. They redesign and run thousands of processes with digitally enabled operations and Data-Tech-AI services. Sanjay Srivastava is Genpact’s Chief Digital Strategist. He mobilizes digital transformation with cutting-edge technology, data strategy, operating models, and process design. In this episode, Sanjay discusses the ideal mindset of a technologist, the evolving tech ecosystem, and the value of data.

Episode Notes

Today’s technologists have to interpret the industry’s past, present, and future. At Genpact, Sanjay Srivastava uses data strategy and process design to help businesses make a plan and avoid disruption in the future.

As Genpact’s Chief Digital Strategist, Sanjay designs and runs thousands of digitally-enabled processes and services. In this episode of the CIO Exchange, Sanjay discusses the ideal mindset of a technologist, the evolving tech ecosystem, and the value of data. He also gives advice on bringing analytics and plans to the board, so your business is set up for success.


Key Quotes:

“The reality is all of our businesses today are one great idea away from complete disruption. And so you gotta be really focused on, what is gonna come through tomorrow that is gonna change my industry? That'll disrupt my ecosystem? Or that might take my business model away? And that requires a very different way of thinking.”

“The reality is all of our businesses today are one great idea away from complete disruption, and so you gotta be really focused on what is going to come through tomorrow that is going to change my industry, that'll disrupt my ecosystem, or that might take my business model away. And that requires a very different way of thinking.”

“There needs to be a balance, right? You have to be an inside out person to be really effective at a CXO role in a Fortune 500 company. And by that I mean you need to understand the current business. You need to understand your domain. You need to know your stakeholders. You need to be able to champion large shifts in direction and you know, transformation for across the company. And, if you didn't have the credibility, if you didn't have the internal sort of stakeholder support, you couldn't get there. And, to be able to do all of those things, you need to be an insider.”

“Today, I can tell you that in terms of results, achieved or outcome driven, data driven projects are probably delivering the highest level of value. And the reason they're doing that is, number one, there's an understanding that this is important.  And number two, the toolkit tree that we have has changed.”


Time stamps:

00:24 How Sanjay became an entrepreneur

05:25 Having a conversation with C Level executives

08:02 Why you should stay on top of emerging trends

10:37 The key to a successful startup

13:55 The role of the technologist

15:18 The ideal team culture

17:20 Having a business-first mindset

20:54 Keeping up with the changing industry

23:27 The evolution of tech tools

25:32 The value of data

37:26 How to speak the language of the board

43:25 Don’t underestimate emerging tech



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Episode Transcription

0:00:00.9 Sanjay Srivastava: The reality is, all of our businesses today are one great idea away from complete disruption. And so you gotta be really focused on, "What is gonna come through tomorrow that is gonna change my industry, that will disrupt my ecosystem or that might take my business model away?" And that requires a very different way of thinking.

0:00:18.8 Yadin Porter De Leon: Welcome to the CIO Exchange Podcast, where we talk about what's working, what's not, and what's next. I'm Yadin Porter de Leon. Today's technologists have to interpret the industry's past, present and future. At Genpact, Sanjay Srivastava uses data strategy and process design to help businesses make a plan and avoid disruption in the future. As Genpact's Chief Digital Strategist, Sanjay designs and runs thousands of digitally-enabled processes and services, helping companies of all kinds make informed decisions and build strategies that prepare them for what's coming. In this episode, Sanjay describes the ideal mindset of a technologist, the evolving tech ecosystem, and the value of data. Throughout the conversation, we cover topics ranging from generative AI tools like ChatGPT, to the importance of establishing the business outcome first before applying a technology.

0:01:11.6 Yadin Porter De Leon: So Sanjay, just to get a little bit of context to what inspired you to become a serial entrepreneur, chief digital strategist, person who is really getting into the latest and greatest technologies and helping others understand it, wrap their heads around it in companies to really monetize it and actually build it out at scale, what inspired you? How'd you get started on that journey? 

0:01:29.5 Sanjay Srivastava: Yadin, it's a great question, but it has many parts to the answer. It actually has at least two parts.

0:01:34.3 Yadin Porter De Leon: Oh, this is gonna be good. I can tell. [chuckle]

0:01:36.2 Sanjay Srivastava: So I first became an entrepreneur because I saw a need for something that I felt as a business user of that potential thing that didn't exist, and I was at Hewlett-Packard back at the time, building compute servers for the company and just having a great time. Streaming media was just coming around. I used to do all these... What we call new product launches, so introductions. It was called NPIs within a company, but it's just a massive process. These come with a new compute where you get on a plane, you're tracked around the globe. It took two to three weeks to go train all the channel partners, everyone. With streaming media, we saw the ability and not different from what we're doing today to be able to do that virtually and remotely, and without having to do all those air miles. And so I left Hewlett-Packard to go start a company in the space and work with a bunch of co-founders and we built our first startup, we sold that to Akamai, it was Akamai for a while, then we built another startup because I saw the need for data centers being able to accommodate servers coming online gracefully and offline, gracefully as demand curves changed. And it just turned out that as the world went into the cloud and into the internet, that became really important, that was acquired by BMC.

0:02:41.3 Sanjay Srivastava: Then I wanted to do something else, I wanted to build a predictive algorithm software company because I saw a need at the Office of the Finance for large enterprises, and we ended up building a really interesting startup in the predictable space. It was eventually acquired by SunGard now FIS, and I stayed on in SunGard and ran a bunch of things in national distribution one year, sales the other year, etcetera. So there's been a business need, it's a desire to go do something new and different and see an emerging need that wasn't being met and try and address that.

0:03:10.9 Yadin Porter De Leon: We're just fascinated, 'cause there was always that you were rolling in to one opportunity to the next, and what really excites me is that when you transition, there's a desire of, "Okay, I've gotten to a point where this thing has either matured or it's run its course and I'm gonna go... " It sounds like instead of taking a rest or a period of time, more of reflection sometimes, where some serial entrepreneur as well, just rolling it in the next one, were there times in between where you're like, "Okay, I'm gonna reflect, I'm gonna see the state of the market or I'm just gonna take a little bit of a breath and then start the next thing."

0:03:39.0 Sanjay Srivastava: I feel like you go through different phases of life. I think there's a phase of life when you are so enamored and equally frustrated by the opportunity and the lack of solutions, if you will, to address that opportunity that you're in the mode of "Let me take it from zero to 10, let me get it started, let me get it founded and le me get it grounded, let me build it out, let me get users on it, and I'm gonna prove that this can be sorted out." And that's the startup phase of your life, there's another phase when you take a solid company and then put it on a growth trajectory to become a Fortune 500 company, that's a very different scenario, you're looking to scale the business, you're looking to get revenue on board, you're looking get clients at a scale, obviously, you sort of do in phase one but phase two is a very different phase, you're looking to take the company public, it's a whole other game. And then I think there's the third phase, which is you're in a large company, kinda caught up in the day-to-day of the world you live in, you're within the four walls of the boundary of the company that was set up, and you're looking to bring in new tech, you're looking to get into frontier, and you looking to differentiate and disrupt the industry you're in. There's those three different phases of life, and I've just had a chance to live all of those phases, so the startup journeys were all about...

0:04:48.3 Sanjay Srivastava: "I can see the opportunity clear as day I'm really frustrated that no one else is doing it, I wish someone did it so I could use it. All right let me go build that." And that was... That's that phase. And then I've lived the other two phases as well, and so...

0:05:00.4 Yadin Porter De Leon: They're really exciting too. And both have their challenges. Plus their constraints as well, the larger organization, you have the constraints of all sorts of different legacy and bureaucracy, but at the same time you have a mountain more of resources and capabilities and much larger platform potentially too. But there was something embedded in what you said you were talking about you were frustrated with things and why hasn't someone thought of this, why isn't somebody doing it, so I wanna get it started. And you said a phrase too, I think that really encapsulates that, that fascinated me and I wanna pull on that too, in that there's a need the need for things that don't exist, and I think that's really sort of what we're talking about today, which is we're needing to do these things, but they don't exist yet. We're needing these capabilities, but they don't exist yet at large organizations who wanna take something an entrepreneur's done and scale it and build it and grow it so that it's available to the whole world, that's what we're talking about when we talk...

0:05:50.2 Yadin Porter De Leon: About pulling in the next piece of technology where there is proven on a small scale, whether it's shown its value, and I think that's a really great place where those who are working larger companies can start looking at making investments for future capabilities that literally don't exist. But there is a need for that capability to exist, and how are they going to do that? And so as you're advising some C-level executives, how do they balance the integration of cutting edge technology, how are you helping them approach it in a way that I can pull it into a larger organization, 'cause they're thinking about data privacy, they're thinking about security concerns... Well, how do you start that conversation of, "Hey, look at what I have done, look what these entrepreneurs have done, here is really something that you need to do to create something, that there's a need for it, but it doesn't exist." How do you start that conversation with them? 

0:06:36.3 Sanjay Srivastava: The first thing you have to accept is that these executives are in an awesome place. I think when you work at the forefront of technology, when you work with a large book of business, when you have a decent size of installed customers, you've got a ton of data, you've got great access to customers, and fundamentally, you are seeing the challenges, you're seeing the opportunities, you're seeing the gaps. And that's an amazing position to be because lots of startup CEOs would sort of give up their right hand to be in that position. And so when I work with CIOs and CDOs and CTOs for Fortune 500 companies, yeah, we got lots of these challenges and we'll get to that in a minute. But you just have to start by acknowledging on what an amazing place to be because it's the birthplace of innovation, if you will.

0:07:19.6 Sanjay Srivastava: And they have it in a way that many startup entrepreneurs don't. So that's the positive side. The flip side of it is you get caught up in the, as I said, the four walls that defined you as a business. And it's not because you lose sight of things or you get lazy, it's because you're so focused on delivering and running that treadmill faster and harder and responding to a current customer's need that you sort of don't really get the time to think about frontier tech, to think about what is really emerging around the corner. The reality is all of our businesses today are one great idea away from complete disruption. And so you gotta be really focused on what is gonna come through tomorrow that is gonna change my industry, that'll disrupt my ecosystem, or that might take my business model away.

0:08:05.7 Sanjay Srivastava: And that requires a very different way of thinking. And so, to answer your question, Yadin, I think there needs to be a balance. You have to be an inside-out person to be really effective at a CXO role in a Fortune 500 company. And by that I mean, you need to understand the current business. You need to understand your domain, you need to know your stakeholders. You need to be able to champion large shifts in direction and transformation across the company. And if you didn't have the credibility, if you didn't have the internal sort of stakeholder support, you couldn't get there. And to be able to do all of those things, you need to be an insider. So you have to have an inside-out mindset. But in tech, it changes really fast and the pace is only gonna get faster. I always say that the pace of change as we see today is the slowest it'll be in the future.

0:08:49.3 Yadin Porter De Leon: Yeah, that was great. I was talking to a CIO of a healthcare organization too, and he said like, this right now is the slowest it's ever gonna be.

0:08:54.4 Sanjay Srivastava: That's exactly right. Yeah. 50 years from now, we're gonna look back at the technology that you and I using today, like our kids. I know my kids are already doing this, by the way, but I think we're gonna look at this and we're gonna say, we were like monkeys playing on cardboard boxes or something like that. Like it's [0:09:07.8] ____.

0:09:08.9 Yadin Porter De Leon: Monkeys with two by fours, I like to say. We're just monkeys with two by fours, just trying to smash our way into things.

0:09:13.8 Sanjay Srivastava: But that's the point. The point is, you have to be an outside-in person. You have to be able to be on top of emerging technologies. You need think about what frontier tech is gonna change the world. You have to think about how models are gonna get disrupted, and you have to be fluent and conversational with things like generative AI and where is GPD4 gonna end land up and what are the challenges with that? And so to be able to do all of that, you have to spend enough time outside the company. You have to be in the startup systems, you have to be in the innovation ecosystems, you have to be with venture capitalists. And to do all of that, you have to be an outside-in person. And so this is the perennial challenge of being a CIO or a CTO or a CDO. Many of my peers... I always had this challenge, which is how do you simultaneously be an outside-in person and an inside-out person, and live both of those lives at the same time? And so the number one thing here, going back to your question is, as I work with my peers across the globe, my number one thing is, find a way to balance those two things because the answers aren't gonna come from within the boundaries that define the problem which you have in the first place.

0:10:09.4 Yadin Porter De Leon: At the same time, you have to be an expert on what's happening within those four walls to be able to affect change. Like you're saying, you have to get outside of those four walls. And I think that's a really good perspective and a great place to start. But even before that, the way you were talking about approaching it, which I love the fact that you talked about as a celebration. I said, look, stop. Before we go into legacy hardware, yes, entrenched, technical debt and constraints and regulation. Let's talk about how, what an amazing place we are in history. I was talking to a couple of the executives over at AMD and that was one of the things they were talking about. "Hey, look at... We have AI, we have big data, we have ML, we have all these wonderful great tools. This is a phenomenal, amazing time to be in existence and be a technology leader and to help solve these amazing problems." But like you said, looking backwards, we'll be like, oh my God, we're only using GPT4. And there's all this sort of stuff that we can dig into. You just said a bunch of great stuff and I wanna unpack a lot of it.

0:11:00.1 Yadin Porter De Leon: But I think that's just recognizing the fact that if you're starting out, since we're starting this conversation, start with, "Okay, let's celebrate first, the opportunity, and let's get excited and let's rally the team. Let's get people excited about where we are and where we can go first and then let's tackle the big problems too."

0:11:15.9 Sanjay Srivastava: And maybe just before you do that, Yadin. I wanna just go back to what you asked first, which is what led you into being an entrepreneur and then a CDO or strategist later in life. And I said there are different things that drove both of those decisions. I talked about the frustration and the opportunity and the excitement of building new tech, but I think... And that was my startup entrepreneur. I did four of those startups, but I think the things that led me to the other piece was actually very different. I was acquired by my current employer, by the way, came as a CFO of a startup that we bought in and may have otherwise been on my normal trajectory of spending two years, getting my baby all settled and then moving onto the next startup. It was a very humbling lesson, but I came to learn that tech is no longer the long pole in the tent.

0:11:53.6 Sanjay Srivastava: And so just imagine you're the CFO of a startup, you come in and it's just tech, tech, tech, tech, it's in your blood, it's in your DNA, and then you for the first time come to a full stop and then you realize that tech is no longer the long pole in the tent. It's actually how you orchestrate people and process and change management and experience that actually makes it successful. And so I had to learn a whole bunch of new things around how do you think tech in the context of people? How do you think tech in the context of experience? How do you think about processes? Because it's gonna change the processes. Once you digitize something, the remaining work, the work that remains after you do the thing actually changes. And so you need a new operating model, you need new resources, you need new skilling. And so being able to orchestrate all of that is really a large driver to delivering outcomes, to delivering business results. And so...

0:12:38.5 Yadin Porter De Leon: No, I like that you're framing it that way. That's really powerful too. There's a concept of not just technology or enterprise technology. There's also cultural technology. And if you don't develop the cultural technology, which you're talking about, the process and the frameworks and the working models. And understanding how that connects to people, the technology is just going to get lost. It's not going to be successful. It's gonna fall down. And you're gonna say, well, this technology doesn't work. Well, you don't have the cultural technology or you didn't build it, you didn't build the infrastructure. Like you said, I like that concept of it's no longer the large pole in the tent. It's people, it's process, it's all the things that make your business differentiated in the way that you execute, successful. And so with that too, that's already sort of embedded in a lot of things you say are some of the challenges that the individuals are facing. They're at a great time in history. They've got a lot of opportunity. Giving them the perspective of, okay, let's not technology first, it's people and process first, like we've heard over and over again. And many technology leaders saying, they're actually not at the bits and bytes level. They're really at the people and the human level. And that's where their leadership.

0:13:36.0 Yadin Porter De Leon: Lies, which is great. And the reason they made it to that point is 'cause they're good communicators. They know how to build a business case. But when they're looking at balancing, like you're saying, creating that balance of outside in, inside out, what are the big challenges that are pulling at them? And some of them are known, but what are the ones that they can start addressing and looking at and saying, "Hey, look at, this is the way I need to think differently, operate differently, so that I can start to address some of those challenges and move away from that I'm stuck in these four walls and start to look at outside in so I can start pulling in some of these emerging technologies in a way that makes sense, in a way that scale, in the way that fit with my operational model or changing my operation model to make sure that I can incorporate them."

0:14:12.1 Sanjay Srivastava: Yeah, I think it goes back to, I think what you were saying earlier we're just living in such an amazing and fascinating time. And I think technology professionals, CIOs and chief technology officers, chief digital officers are just in a unique position. But we must also recognize that and grab that opportunity. And I think the opportunity is to change the way we think of ourselves from being, and I studied aerospace engineering so you'll pardon my...

0:14:36.2 Yadin Porter De Leon: You have a lot of lives. You've lived a lot of lives. Sanjay [laughter]

0:14:39.1 Sanjay Srivastava: Well, it's just that you don't want to think about yourself as a flight engineer on an airplane. You get on a plane, you want to go from Seattle to New York, there's a crew and the crew has a flight engineer. The flight engineer is on board. That plane's not gonna take off just an air fit. And so it's a very important role, but it's not the pilot's role. And I think that as businesses are evolving, as the economy is turning, as the ecosystems are maturing, every company is a tech company. Even though some may not know it yet, I think actually almost everyone's figured it out now. And the role of the technologist or the technical leader in the company is no longer just a delivery role. It's not a services organization, a shared services that responds to the needs of the rest of the team.

0:15:19.0 Yadin Porter De Leon: Of course you have to do that. That's part of what's required. But really the role is not the flight engineer role and awaiting sort of inputs from business to then be able to go execute it. It's actually about taking controls. It's actually about becoming the pilot or the co-pilot and sitting down on the same table with a set of business counterparts and redesigning and remapping what that value proposition is, what the proposition to the client is and how do you make it more sticky and how do you get that experience to be just right. So you're growing revenues, you're changing operating models, you're making the company much more sustainable with a durable value proposition. And so I think the first thing I would say is it's important to take a look at your own role, understand that there is the role of a back office, CIO and a CTO and a CDO.

0:16:00.0 Sanjay Srivastava: And that's fine. And maybe that's a person that works for you. Maybe it's part of what you do, but your role is the front office technologist that you're actually sitting and thinking through, how's technology gonna change the business? How do you drive more value for the clients? How do you grow your business? And how do you differentiate yourself in the long run? And just having that mindset to be able to orchestrate the way you spend your time and be very intentional in the meetings you involve yourself and the initiatives that you spin off and the directives that you set in place, but equally in the organization that you build and the people that you bring into your organization. I think you have to develop a culture where people are thinking and understanding that they're not here to generate a report or to bring a software live or to produce a piece of code.

0:16:42.1 Sanjay Srivastava: Yeah. That's kinda that's... Those are the baby steps in the longer journey. They're there to meet a business need, they're there to drive insights that make business decisions. And I think the more you build a team that inculcates that mindset and then operates along with you as a combined entity that is on the forefront of driving change and evolving the company or the business model that you're in, the better off you're gonna be. And I think that's a big change. We are both starting to see and going to see, but also all of us individually need to be aware of.

0:17:13.9 Yadin Porter De Leon: No, and I think that's really good perspective because that creates an environment in which you can create cultures of innovation. You can create an understanding from an executive to an operational standpoint so that you can start to ingest some of these new ideas and new technologies that will enable those, like you said, the trajectory that you're creating, the new business model you're creating, those then will lead that technology discovery and that technology implementation. So you're saying, "Look it, I want to get time to market faster, or I want to be able to take advantage of new regulation in order to be able to enable sales, to be able to increase revenue, etcetera. And then I'm gonna use this, I'm gonna use AI Ml, I'm gonna use GPT-4, I'm gonna use all these different other pieces. I'm gonna be multi-cloud and multi-region."

0:17:55.4 Yadin Porter De Leon: Then you are then pulling on that technology piece. And so I would love to just start to explore some of those really big opportunities that you are seeing from a technology standpoint for those who are trying to solve those big business problems, who are leading with those business problems. Maybe you have success stories or good examples of how people are pulling in something like, we'll start with by talking about AI and GPT and ChatGPT and large learning models. Where are you seeing some success where people are pulling that in and how are you seeing them leading with that business idea first and then pulling that technology into to make that real? 

0:18:32.0 Sanjay Srivastava: It's a good question. Look, I think the key, is not starting with the technology. And of course you have to be conversant with it, you need to get your fingers dirty, if you will, or into the pie. And so you wanna have experiments, you wanna have projects at a small scale that have fast value timelines, to be able to touch and feel all of this. And we can get into generative AI, which obviously is a big topic on the table today. But, yeah, the first thing I would say is start with a business problem. And here's some examples that come to mind. I'm thinking of a peer of mine. They're in the manufacturing industry, and that industry is going through a change overall, where companies are no longer selling gas turbines, to pick one example. No one buys gas turbines on a unit basis.

0:19:13.2 Sanjay Srivastava: Like you don't show up and say, "Hey, I want two of these for my power plant." What's being sold is air miles flown, or amount of power generated, and I'm gonna pay you on a subscription basis based on how much value I get from the product. And so the incumbent in that industry model evolution is that the end user, the client, the customer, gets a better value proposition because they're not messing around with supporting and sharing maintenance and keeping it running, when they're not really the experts on the machine in the first place. And embedded in that discussion is that you, the manufacturer, have enough data from which you do everywhere else, and you know your machine better than anyone else and why don't you run everything that needs to be run? I'm really just gonna consume the output of it and I'm gonna pay you and buy the drink. So that's a model change that's happened. Or the colleague of mine in the pharmaceutical industry, there's a big change that's happening. We used to be in the business of, he and I go to a pharmacy shop and buy a medicine, but the reality is medicine is moving from mass manufactured, stocked at a supermarket kinds of drugs, to more and more as we kinda tackle the bigger and sort of the next set of medical disease threats, personalized medicine.

0:20:15.9 Sanjay Srivastava: And so, you think about that, there's nothing sitting at a store for me to walk in and pick something up. It's my blood sample that's gonna go into the manufacturer, they're gonna take that, figure out my DNA, and from based on my DNA they're gonna mix a cocktail. And once that cocktail is mixed, yeah, it needs to go in my arm in 48 hours, and so the shipping of that, getting to my home address, matching blood work with what actually comes to me, and you think about the track and trail of all of that sort of stuff, and then it goes into my arm, and then obviously following through and understanding, you get into precision medicine, it's a very different industry than mass manufacturing medicine and stocking at the CVS down the corner. These are big changes and shifts that are happening in the industry. And if you happen to be in a company that sits in that ecosystem, well, guess what, your world is changing faster than you realize it. And so you start with that business problem first, and you say, "Okay, well, we gotta do drug discovery and we gotta do it fast." COVID is a great example. It used to take us seven, eight years to come up with a vaccine for a virus, and now we did it in what? Nine months? 

0:21:13.3 Yadin Porter De Leon: We had a great conversation with the CEO of Moderna and we went through that process, where it was like the people who actually were working on, were not only enabled with great technology, but they were also creating a cure for themselves, which made it even more powerful.

0:21:24.0 Sanjay Srivastava: Yeah, that's an amazing story. But that's the point, the point is the models are changing fast enough. You gotta kinda first figure out the business problem, and then once you understand the business problem, now how do we use knowledge graphs where we're on social media. The social media world is completely changing. It used to be social graphs, like, "So how many do I know? When I post on Instagram, how many other people are in my friends circle?" And that's how things were rated. Well, that's all out of the window now. It's all about impact and influence. So it's the interest graph that's important. If you're a Meta, you don't really care about a social graph of Sanjay, you care about the impact or the influence graph of Sanjay. And that's a very different thing, because it drives engagement and drives what my viewers do next is based on how much I can influence a thing. So anyway, the point is, industries are changing, the ecosystem is evolving, and if you are a technologist sitting in a company in that ecosystem, you gotta get game. And the way you do that is you say, "Okay, how do I transform my company, my business, my value proposition, my product?" And once you figure that out, then you start looking at what technology exists. And by the way, it could be generative AI, we'll come to that in a minute.

0:22:30.3 Sanjay Srivastava: It could be simple modeling, good old vector modeling, you and I studied if you went to college. It could be a simple piece of code. It could be anything, could be a process change. And so figure out how the industry is transforming, then figure out how do you change your product, then figure out what does it need to get it done. And some of it is business process, we talked about earlier, some of it is operating model, some of it is the data that you need to be able to run all of these algorithms, and then it is the technology. And then in the technology, we got a suite of things. That's the great thing about being where we are. We have a set of choices, and there are some choices that have fantastic, great results. LLMs an awesome one, but they're very narrow and they're very specific, and they have a lot of challenges, you gotta do the risk trade-off. And there are other solutions that probably aren't as "advanced" but they've been around for a long time, you understand the risks and you understand the benefits, and you start with that. And those are choices you get to make. And that's the fun part. That's the beauty of what we do.

0:23:23.4 Yadin Porter De Leon: Okay. That's great, and before we get into the sort of the generative AI that you were just kind of saying you were gonna be getting to, I think there's a really good point embedded in what you were saying, which is, we've got the benefit of a bunch of companies, large enterprises included, who went and said, "Hey, we're gonna do a blockchain project," for example. And they went, they looked at the solution, they looked at what they needed as an output, and nine out of 10 of them said, "You know, we need a traditional database. We're not gonna do distributed, decentralized database. We actually want a distributed one, because we have these latency requirements and etcetera, etcetera." And so looking at what the output is, instead of saying, "Hey, we need to do a blockchain project or we need to do an AI ML or generative AI project," I think it just bears repeating that you need to start with what the output is. And I like the examples of some of the companies that are looking at, they're buying an output, they're buying a result, they're on a consumption-based model, and they're not saying, "Look, I need this piece of technology and that widget and this suite, and I'm gonna put them together on my own."

0:24:13.5 Yadin Porter De Leon: It's like, "No, I want an output." Rather than getting like, whether it's a Green Chef or a Blue Apron and I'm gonna make my own meal, I need all the different components. "No, I want a three-course dinner and I'm going to pay you for that. So I think I wanna go to a restaurant instead of making this on my own." And pushing that different value chain for things that don't differentiate you as a business, and you can then offset and pay people for. So, that being given, I think I'll be interesting, now that you see you've got the business problem, you got the result that you want, what's the technology pieces that can now feed into that, that exist now as potential tools that didn't exist before? And how are they then adding to the value chain and creating the results that may not have been possible or may have been slower before? So that when people are looking at solving the problems, they're like, "Hey, this might be a tool now that I can do to create this business value."

0:25:04.3 Sanjay Srivastava: There's many components to this, but one way to maybe elevate that discussion, that smorgasbord of choices that you have, is to actually aggregate it at the next level up, and I would think data tech and AI. So technology, the best way to think about it now is that composability, particularly in experiences, are super important. And let's spend 30 seconds on that. One of the largest challenges many of our peers, actually I am seeing, is, as you think across the physical universe, which is you and me going to a retail shop and purchasing something, the digital universe, which is we're obviously gonna do that on e-commerce, and the metaverse where we're actually going in as an avatar and doing a variety of things. And today we can go design, I can design a jacket that I'm wearing in the metaverse, own the IP to that design, be able to walk into a store and actually get that fabricated or constructed just for me. And so it's this idea of, there's a transaction in the metaverse, there's a transaction in the virtual world, there's a transaction... A digital world, and there's a transaction in the physical world. And this context switching needs to be seamless, and this experience needs to be really composable. And so this composability is a big thing.

0:26:03.6 Sanjay Srivastava: And much of the work that's happened in the tech side around APIs and services and services as a way of delivering capability so you can kinda Lego block all these pieces together and compose the orchestration chain that you want, that's really key. And it's been around now it's matured, so that's the great starting point, which is we can compose a value chain by aggregating the building blocks that exist today, as opposed to starting from scratch and building and writing code from the ground up. So that's massive. And it's a different way of thinking, 'cause you don't start by writing code, you start by looking at all the different components in the ecosystem and then saying, "How do I aggregate and build [0:26:37.8] ____?" And then write the thinnest amount of code that goes on top to be able to drive value. But equally the other two. So data is actually the big thing now we're seeing, before I get to AI. And the challenge with data is data has always been around, but it's been dark.

0:27:00.4 Sanjay Srivastava: And by that I mean it's been an unstructured files, it's been sitting in different locations, siloed here and there and everywhere else, and knowledge about what exists and where it sits and how it can be pulled out is very dissipated in a large organization. And I'm talking about Fortune 500 companies, I'm talking about companies that have been around for a long time. And they have this really hard challenge. And what's happened now is we found, A] we've realized that data is the number one driver of transformative value at this phase in the evolution of enterprises. Now that's gonna change over time. It wasn't the case 10 years ago. But today, I can tell you that in terms of results achieved or outcome driven, data-driven projects are probably delivering the highest level of value. And the reason they're doing that is, number one, there's an understanding that this is important, and number two, the toolkit reader we have has changed. And AI, by the way, is part of that equation because it's allowing us to extract data from those dark files, it's allowing us to pull out the information from PDFs and put it into structured files and be able to classify it and put it and normalize it in a fashion that we can actually run compute on it, and then be able to render interesting insights.

0:27:57.1 Sanjay Srivastava: And so I would say there's a set of things around data that become super important. By the way, there's a lot said of governance, control issues, we can discuss that if need be, but before we go there, the technology around the modern data stack and the cloud enablement of pulling everything together is super important. And that's a big piece of the pie. And then of course, AI. And you brought... Actually you brought up generative AI, but it is a topic that is so high in everyone's mind. My God, you can't get through a day without at least having 10 conversations on it.

0:28:28.1 Yadin Porter De Leon: My kids are already... Like my eight-year-old and my 14-year-old are already creating stuff in like tools like ChatGPT, and it's just starting to become part of their toolsets as just growing up. They're able to like generate things and do iterative conversations in order to ultimately take something that's very, very generic and actually create something that is literally their own and is unique in the world and isn't spit out by any other AI generation because they're adding their own unique value, their own unique perspective on this. And you mentioned things like the data that's in the dark and that's data that's being pulled out by these generative AI models who'll be able to go through and turn data from knowledge into intelligence into actionable intelligence. And I think that's the one key piece, like you were mentioning too, that's a differentiator, that data. And company's abilities to be able to extract that data and do things with it they couldn't before, it sounds like one of the biggest use cases right now, since data is so valuable.

0:29:15.0 Yadin Porter De Leon: People saying data's the new oil, but also a lot of promises were made by what could be extracted from data. Do you think now we're at a tipping point with some of the tools that we have, to turn that data that used to be in the dark, to bring it out of the dark better than we ever could before? 

0:29:30.1 Sanjay Srivastava: For sure. I mean I know this for a fact because we do this for a living.

0:29:36.5 Yadin Porter De Leon: [laughter] Yeah, you might have a little perspective on this was why I was asking. [laughter]

0:29:41.5 Sanjay Srivastava: Yeah, no, I mean, we help and run for some of the largest Fortune 500 companies, their data and analytics and AI work in a manner that isn't about tech and data, it's about business results. And we take ownership or part ownership of those results. So we live this life across many verticals. And again, as I said, it'll change over time. But today I would tell you that my number one tool in the toolkit, so to say, the number one thing that drives the most value on an investment, return on invested capital basis, is data. And that's because it's all sitting around unused and it's available but you gotta kind of get it and engineer it in a way that it can be done. And we're seeing significant results. It'll change over time. But today it's absolutely the case. Hey, your comment about your children sparked another thought. I mean, I have two boys. Our older son is at college now and very much into generative AI. He's always about 10 steps ahead of me, so I learn more from him than I do myself.

0:30:27.3 Yadin Porter De Leon: They're great.

0:30:27.5 Sanjay Srivastava: But our younger son, I walked into his room the other night, late in the night, and he's got this little thing built out for himself. And he was on a... He was sitting at his desk and he had three screens going on at the same time. And there was a screen where he was playing a video game. There was a screen where he had a YouTuber that had previously played and was sort of streaming how he played the game that he was currently playing. And then he had this other screen with a Discord server and like he was talking to six other friends that were also playing the game at the same time. And I just walked in and I realized I came in at wrong time to talk to him 'cause he's obviously completely engrossed in this. But what I realized in that one minute that I stood there is I couldn't understand anything that was going on. You know, and I'm a technologist, I've spent all my life building technology, and it's like the ability to engage in three different conversations and three different screens and be able to put it all together...

0:31:16.8 Sanjay Srivastava: And I'm not talking about whether my son's a smart chat or not, what I'm talking about is the world is changing and the way people are relating to technology is completely different. And the way... And when these kids come into the workforce 10, 15 years from now, their expectations on what they want to see at work, how they want to drive decisions based on access to technology, and their ability to interact, whether it's generative AI or DALL-E 2 or Stable Diffusion or this video gaming thing that I'm talking about, is very different from the world we grew up in. And if you're not thinking about that, and if you're not planning your business to be able to take advantage and sort of exploit the opportunities that come on the back of that, and maybe transition to a world where they can support that, you're missing the point. And so anyway, so I just, when you said that thing about your children, it just struck such a nice cord in my heart, because I spend a lot of time thinking about that. I think a lot about education now for... I know we're not talking about this right now, but our education systems in this country are completely outdated.

0:32:10.9 Yadin Porter De Leon: Yeah, I know, that is a whole other podcast. I feel like we could just really dig deep into the education system. But I love the fact that you framed it in what the expectation is for the next generation of the workforce. And so, CIOs, it's square in their court to create an experience from a digital perspective that allows them to work in the way that they need to in order to create maximum value for the business. And CIOs, especially with the latest pandemic that just happened, it was squarely put in front and center, that they need to create better digital experiences for individuals to be able to connect, to be able to be more productive, to be able to just accelerate the value that they could create previously. And it is interesting because when I was growing up and the adults were just impressed that my generation could stop the VCR light from blinking, and now you're like, these kids are just naturally able to run on three different screens and be able to take multiple inputs, and be able to just operate at a totally different level.

0:33:02.3 Yadin Porter De Leon: And like you said, they're gonna go through an education system or they're gonna go directly to a company, and they're gonna have an expectation of where are my three screens or my four screens or my five screens. They need to be able to connect with people in the way that I need to be able to connect. That in itself too is a whole other podcast, but it pulls in the core of what we're talking about, which is how do I bring in new technologies to be able to solve what is primarily a people problem? It's solving a people issue or providing more value to the people that are there and looking at that first, and then looking and say, "Okay, well how do the different tools in my toolbox work with this?" And maybe you can give some perspective too on, since these are emerging, since they haven't been proven at a scale that other things are, these tried and true, whether it's a database, whether it's a different kind of cloud provider, technology leaders start to look at, well, what can I bet on, "bet on" now that can then pay those dividends off future for, say for example, this new generation of workforce coming, and the way in which they can mine data, the way that they can create great customer experiences, that the way that they can serve financial products. How can they start to look at some of the new, whether it's web 3.0 or generative AI, to start saying, "Well, this is how I can start to make investments?"

0:34:15.1 Sanjay Srivastava: Yeah, a great example comes to mind. I'm not picking sides, on one side of the battle of the other. Over the weekend I was in Salt Lake City for the All Star games of the NBA. Happen to bump into a buddy of mine who's the CTO there, and without getting to too many specifics, sat through a demonstration of how they're thinking about engaging their fan base. And you know the backdrop, the world is changing. Streaming going into households in the United States already at 113 million. You can see where the world is going. And back to your kids for a second, that's how they consume a basketball game, it's all streamed. But it opens up a world of opportunities. And one of the things I saw that I know they've been working on for a while is basically the ability to take that livestream... So this is a real game that's happening in real time and you're watching it on a streaming device. The ability to actually sort of hit the audio button there and get a choice of audio, and say, I don't wanna hear it in English, want to hear it in Spanish or Hindi or something, and you pick your language. And then it's not just picking the language, you can say, I wanna hear it in the voice of [0:35:14.7] ____...

0:35:14.9 Yadin Porter De Leon: Yes. [chuckle]

0:35:15.2 Sanjay Srivastava: Or someone, or this. And then in stream, while the game is going on, while the match is actually happening, now you've switched your audio, and so you have a very personalized experience, because you're not listening to the one thing that was being broadcast. You're seeing the one thing that's being broadcast and you're able to consume it in the way that you want to be able to consume it. Or I think the other thing that they're working on is really, really interesting, is you take your iPhone, you scan yourself, like get a body scan of yourself, and then once it develops sort of an image of sort of your body size and structure and the color of your shirt and things like that, then you go to the game and say... And the game is actually live, it's happening, and say, "Okay, this player over here, I wanna replace him with myself."


0:35:51.3 Sanjay Srivastava: And you can actually replace yourself on that livestream...

0:35:55.8 Yadin Porter De Leon: Oh, that's fabulous.

0:35:56.3 Sanjay Srivastava: And be able to watch it. And so these are the kinds of experiences, that's the point, it's the engagement and the experience you wanna drive that actually makes it memorable, that gets you the results that you need. It isn't about... Of course, it's AR, augmented reality, of course it's web 3.0 that enables it at the back end, of course it's a ton of data, of course it's all of the edge computing because obviously you're doing all the scan of the edge, all of that stuff is sitting on your iPhone. The conversion's actually happening in your iPhone, and that video streams that I was talking about is not happening where it started. Of course all these things are piece and part and parcel of the entire solution, but what's really driving that is how you deliver the experience. And thinking through and brainstorming and re-imagining what there needs to be, is the first piece, the starting point.

0:36:40.4 Yadin Porter De Leon: I love the fact that you used the word imagining. And that kept going through as you were explaining this, rather than looking at, "Well, what can we do with this great technology, let's imagine what is possible, and let's see if the tools are there and available to allow us to do that." Because they are, the technologists are going to be required to say, "Well, how can we make the next leap," whether that's customer experience, whether it's product portfolio, whether it's capabilities of analytics or customer data leveraging, they're gonna have to be the ones that are the imagineers of that future. And it's not just Star trek anymore, their capabilities are real, and I think it's becoming more and more important for them to think less about keeping the Wi-Fi on and keeping the back office running and worrying about that 10-year data center lease that's gonna be coming up, and whether or not they're gonna move cloud or they're gonna repatriate some cloud things, and it's gonna be more like, "Well, what is this getting us?" And I think that's probably a great time for us to transition to a part of the show that we call Take It To The Board, and just like you were... Giving as your example of, as sophisticated as you are, as technology savvy as you are, the next generation is more technology savvy.

0:37:46.6 Yadin Porter De Leon: They're born in it, it's more ingrained in them, just like you are going with the executive staff to the board, these people are on the board because they're extremely capable, in many cases technologically savvy individuals, but you need to help them have an understanding of how you get to the next level. You need to educate them, you need to tell stories that are compelling in business cases that allow them to execute on their fiduciary duties. How would you then help, whether it's a CIO or it's an executive staff, come to the board and say, "Look, here's the business results that we're trying to go for, and here's some of the technology investments we wanna make based on some of these emerging," whether it's web 3.0, whether it's generative AI, whatever that is, how do you feel like it's best to tell that story so that the board understands that this is the right way to go, and we're gonna make sure you get that $100 million check so you can rebuild your infrastructures, you can facilitate an innovation or help the next generational workforce or whatever you're gonna do? You're sitting across from a CIO and they're asking you that question, what do you think that can walk them through that board-level conversation? 

0:38:44.6 Sanjay Srivastava: Yadin, there's somebody that goes into a board-level conversation that starts with having the right credibility, being able to deliver results and therefore gain that credibility, and then being able to understand your business, be articulate, and so on and so forth, so I won't get into that. But I think the main thing that strikes me that I see oftentimes people miss out is to translate the tech into business. And the way to do that is not to start the discussion on, "Here's web 3.0 and here's AI and look how cool it is that we can do these following things;" I think the discussion needs to start with, "Look, we're thinking about the short-term, we're thinking about the medium-term, we're thinking about the long-term. And in the short term, the pressures on the business are this, that and the other. In the medium term, this is what we're going after. In the long term, we've got a complete different situation." We don't even know, it's probably they don't even exist yet. They're gonna come in, they're gonna disrupt us and our business models. And so for the short term, the discussion is all about results. It's not about, "Hey, how cool is this and what can you get done;" it's like, "How do I change business results? How do I drive incremental revenue?"

0:39:44.7 Sanjay Srivastava: "How do I drive more differentiated experience? How do I get the NPS or the customer satisfaction score up? Or how do I improve my employee productivity so I can actually reduce cost?" That's it. Those are very specific well-known metrics that the board cares about in the short run. And you have to start with that answer first. You've gotta start with, We're looking to take our cost structure down by 200 basis points, we're looking to increase our customer satisfaction by 1.5. And the way to do that is this. We've got integrate augmented reality into our streams. We've gotta be able to change how we do knowledge graphs on drug discovery because we have nine months not nine years to be able to come up with something. We have to be able to track data and be able to model the performance and all of this telemetry on an engine, because we have to predict that this aircraft, as it's taking off from New York to Mumbai, will probably need three screws and two screwdrivers of this kind, because when we need that in Mumbai we're not gonna wait for three days for it to be delivered there. It's just all these sorts of things.

0:40:49.1 Sanjay Srivastava: So the point is, short-term is all about ROIC. The medium term, I think the discussion changes a little bit; which is, how do we change our business model? How do we evolve our value proposition? How do we look to a path to sustainability? And by that, I don't just mean carbon footprints, which by the way is another important part of this discussion, but actually how do I make our products more differentiated, more different? And I think the long-term discussion is very different. I think you got to come in and say, "Listen, our business model is going to go away. Literally, it will go away. I mean, there's no business model in the world that has survived. There's no reason to believe that ours will. And when that happens, how will that happen? What opportunities does it open up? What are adjacencies that are sitting in our span? And how do we think about it?" And then you sort of say, "Look, we can't be 100% all-in in one of these things," so you use a portfolio approach. You do what a venture capitalist would do. And you say, "We're going to allocate this percent of our capital towards the short-term initiatives. This is what we're going to do for the medium horizon. This is what we're going to do with the long term. This is how we're going to manage success."

0:41:42.9 Sanjay Srivastava: And you gotta keep going back to the board, and you have to explain this and say, "I have a portfolio approach. I've broken this into these three horizons. These are the metrics I've set for myself. Here's how I'm going to know I'm going to be successful. These are the measures that I'm going to share with you as I go down the journey." And what that does is it translates this gobbledygook plan, this best of everything we're going to build and just wait and watch and great things will happen in life, into, "Here's a set of steps. Here's how we'll know we're on track. Here's when I'll come back and tell you. Here's how you're going to know whether I'm on track or not. Here are the learnings that we'll learn. Here's how it'll change." And then that's it's kind of a very palatable plan. It's not a technology plan. It's a business plan that happens to use technology to be able to drive the business. We all get it. Of course we get it. Like, everyone understands this. I mean, this is not rocket science. But the point is we get so caught up in trying to track down analytics and modeling and all of the different elements of technology, we sometimes aren't able to frame it in the context of how the board needs to consume it, for them to be able to really get behind and support it.

0:42:41.9 Sanjay Srivastava: As a startup entrepreneur, I've sort of had boards in my companies and I've always thought that the board works for me, I don't work for the board. And part of that mindset is all about, we've got to get people the right framework for them to be able to participate in a manner that makes sense. And if you don't even set the framework up, then you're just responding to a bunch of questions and running from post to pillar.

0:43:03.5 Yadin Porter De Leon: And one thing, too, I wanted to just sort of wrap up with, too, is there a unique challenge right now? Because you talk about that short term, that medium term, and that long term, but that long term, and even the medium term now, because change in technology is accelerating so much, is there a unique challenge right now in explaining those business outcomes and those metrics and the modeling for what you're trying to achieve? Is there a gap now that's growing in what is actually going to be foreseeable in the future because the change is so fast? Do you feel like there's an inflection point at some point where it's gonna be really, really hard to explain what that long term is? And like you said, we don't even know what's gonna exist yet because things are moving so quickly. We don't know what technology or what new business models are gonna be disrupting, but we need to look at it in a different way now because that acceleration is so fast. So long term, it's a slightly different conversation. Are you seeing that happen? 

0:43:51.9 Sanjay Srivastava: Well, I'll tell you one thing, and I'll use the word that you used earlier in the discussion, LLMs. I actually think large language models are really gonna change the game. I don't think we've fully figured it out yet. And by the way, there's gonna be a lot of pain as we go through trying to figure it out. I've got colleagues that are taking so much flak that they're not moving fast enough on implementing GPT-3 in their businesses today. And the technologists know that it's not ready. It's really not ready for regulatory environments and production environments. I think it was Bill Gates that famously once said that "We'll overestimate the technology in the short run and then we'll completely underestimate it in the long run." And I think LLMs is a great example of it. It's a massive improvement from where we've been. Look, I don't even get out of the bed in the morning anymore for something that's been trained for 500 million parameters. I mean, that's like...


0:44:39.9 Sanjay Srivastava: That's old time. Think about it.

0:44:42.0 Yadin Porter De Leon: Put that in the garage.

0:44:44.4 Sanjay Srivastava: These large language models are really good, particularly at text synthesis, at text creation, at generating stuff. It's just amazing. Now, it's not applicable to every single thing. You have to figure out how to use it properly. But used in the right way is delivering great results. And I always say that what you've got to do is, particularly with something like LLM, is you've got to get involved. It doesn't mean that you got to take a big bite. Take a small project with fast delivery outcomes. Not very quickly, right or wrong, but start using it, testing it, applying it, because I think that is going to change a lot of the work in the enterprise. Much of the monotonous, repetitive work that is done by the humans will actually eventually go away. And that'll create the opportunity for it to be replaced with much higher value-added, much more creative, much more judgment-oriented work. And you have to think about how technology drives that. You have to think about how your company culture needs to evolve to be able to accommodate and engage with that. And you have to think about how that changes your business model, and you can't do that if you don't understand the technology. And so I'd say, if you had to just pick one thing, I'd pick LLMs, and I'd really get to understand what's going on there.

0:45:48.9 Yadin Porter De Leon: No, it's fabulous. So, Sanjay, it's been fabulous having you on. Give listeners a quick sense of how people can find you online, what you're doing next, how people can reach you, where can they learn more about you? 

0:45:57.1 Sanjay Srivastava: The best way to reach me or to connect with me is LinkedIn. I'm on LinkedIn. My first name is Sanjay, last name is Srivastava. If it's on this podcast, you can probably get the spelling right there.

0:46:05.1 Yadin Porter De Leon: Yeah. We'll have it in the show notes.

0:46:07.0 Sanjay Srivastava: Please feel free to connect with me.

0:46:09.3 Yadin Porter De Leon: Excellent. Well, Sanjay, I really appreciate it. This was a great, fascinating conversation. Thank you for joining the CIO Exchange podcast.

0:46:14.0 Sanjay Srivastava: Yadin, thanks for having me here.


0:46:16.3 Yadin Porter De Leon: Thank you for listening to this latest episode. Please consider subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And for more insights from technology leaders, as well as global research on key topics, visit