Is the FUD factor fading? Genpact CEO reckons decision-makers are more upbeat

SUMMARY:

Brexit, Trump, terrorism – are decision-makers getting their heads around the turbulence in the world over the past year or so?

thumbs-upBrexit and the ongoing negotiations around the future shape of Europe and the UK’s relationship with it. The US election of President Donald Trump and the subsequent controversies of the past six months. And the ever-looming threat of terrorism. Just three factors that have caused fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of many over the past year, not least seniors business decision makers.

But perhaps we’re all learning to adjust to the new world order. At least that’s what N. V. Tyagarajan, CEO of Indian outsourcing giant Genpact, seems to be suggesting:

We live in a volatile world where there is heightened sensitivity to global political climate and potential changes to trade policies, tax laws and visa regulations. However, during the last few months, we believe the mindset of corporate leaders has shifted from a wait-and-see approach to becoming more comfortable and proactive, while operating in the current uncertain environment.

This means management teams are now embracing change and transformation and leveraging digital technologies, data analytics and design consulting, along with global delivery to drive growth and competitiveness. All of this is with an intense focus on customer experience leading to better operating performance. As a result, we are seeing deal cycle times begin to stabilize, improving from the more challenging conditions we witnessed late last year.

It’s all a matter of confidence and a more positive mindset, he adds:

I don’t think we’re seeing an uptick in demand driven by macro-economic uptick. It’s more around a number of our client leadership teams moving from, ‘How do we respond to some of the changes in the macro?’ to, ‘This is the way we’re going to respond’. And that includes, ‘I’m going to leverage more digital technologies to transform. I’m going to continue my journey around changing the way we run the business’. So there’s a little bit more confidence that we’re finding in the leadership teams that we deal with to actually be more decisive in their journey forward as compared to towards the end of last year.

That being the case, Genpact is seeing what Tyagarajan calls “a dramatic increase in the number of CXO level conversations that are centered around business challenges they are addressing well beyond cost savings”. This is paying off for Genpact, he asserts, in the form of more such conversations focusing on core areas of digital, analytics and consulting:

A number of our clients across key industry verticals have engaged with us in the digital-led transformation of their businesses that leverages digital technologies such as robotic process automation, dynamic workflow and mobility to transform the way they run their businesses and use data analytics. More importantly, at its cutting edge, transformation starts with reimagining the work that gets done using design thinking and implementing AI-based products and solutions that truly disrupt industries.

These two chosen paths to market, intelligent operations and digital-led solutions are both underpinned by our deep expertise in specific domains…As a result of our many clients CXO conversations, it is clear that the more we grow intelligent operations, the more the client believes we have our rights to compete and win in digital-led transformation.

Intelligent operations

There’s a virtuous cycle that comes into play here. The more clients engage with Genpact around digital-led transformation, the more opportunities open up to explore intelligent operations engagements. Tyagarajan cites the example of an equipment manufacturing company which has been leveraging Genapact’s intelligent operations globally in finance and accounting as well as procurement:

Given our demonstrated success implementing and running these operations with digital and analytics embedded in them, the client has now chosen us as their digital transformation partner on a much wider scale. We will be designing and running additional center of excellence using technology such as robotic process automation, across multiple business groups and functions, including finance, supply chain and logistics. This was a broader company-wide engagement that should also ultimately lead to leveraging AI-based products and solutions.

It’s a similar story at a global banking client where Genapct has been engaged to design a “contact center of the future” for retail cardholders to improve their customer’s experience:

The bank is currently testing our NeuralIntelligence product to assist its customer service agents to better understand customer inquiries and deliver best responses to solve issues faster and more accurately. The product, which was built on the Genpact Cora platform, not only increases customer satisfaction, driving more card usage, but also reduces cost through faster agent training, lesser need for supervision and automation of repetitive tasks. The next evolution of this product is expected to leverage AI to make it even more predictive and intuitive.

Cora is a big deal for Genpact. Launched earlier this year, it’s something that’s going to be front-and-center for Genpact in the coming months. Tyagarajan explains:

The way to think about Cora is that it is a platform that actually has modular integration of various digital technologies. While the overall vision is for a client to buy into the overall full vision, not everyone needs to jump on to the full platform with its entire vision on day one. In fact what we’re seeing is that a lot of clients prefer to start with, for example, robotic process automation and then move on to using AI to drive pretty disruptive change in the way, for example, they run their commercial lending business or their wealth management business.

The advantage of Cora is that once you jump onto the platform with only one module, you can bring in the other modules over time. You can connect the other modules to each other because they’re open architecture with APIs. The APIs can connect to the ERP layer. And as technologies evolve, you can actually change those modules without much investment and get the new module in. And finally, the most important thing that we think is needed in the journey around robots and robotics and AI is to have a governance layer that actually manages all of this, manages the change, manages compliance, manages conformance, and when something is not working to actually dive in and fix it immediately. So that’s what Cora does.

My take

An upbeat assessment of global mood from Tyagarajan. It would be good to think that he’s correct in his reading. Uncertainty is bad for business. On the other hand, a downbeat interpretation is that decision-makers are normalising the turbulent events of recent months – and that’s not necessarily something I’d be keen to get behind.

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