Info-tech

How do you handle the beast called digital?

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 03, 2015

SANDY GOPALAN, VP, Cognizant Business Consulting

That tops the agenda for consultants today, says VP of Cognizant Business Consulting





A few years ago, an organisation would call in a consultant for advice on strategy or how to diversify and scale up, or to sort out people issues.

Today, says Sandy Gopalan, VP & Global Leader of Cognizant Business Consulting (CBC), consultants are almost always called in to advise on one underlying theme: how to deal with digital disruption.

“We are getting called in by banks, saying they want to target a younger demographic profile or by retailers to enable them to sell products anytime, anywhere. Almost 70-80 per cent of our clientele want to know what their strategy should be going ahead, given the massive disruption digital technology is causing,” he says.

CBC, part of IT major Cognizant, works across four verticals: BFSI, healthcare and life sciences, retail and manufacturing, and communication and info media. CBC leverages Cognizant’s tech expertise, which, Gopalan says, gives it an edge.

In a sweet spot

“We are in a sweet spot, where we can both envision where an industry is headed and also make it a reality. Going digital requires tech and consulting experience,” says Gopalan.

He explains that in the consulting business, there are strategy houses such as McKinsey and Bain, then the Big Four consultants (offshoots of audit companies) and, lastly, IT services companies such as IBM and Cognizant, with a consulting arm.

“Today, all three segments are getting into the tech space. We have a unique advantage, as our tech layer is strong and we were ahead of the curve in investing in SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud). Today, clients want strategy and expertise from those who can also enable it,” he explains.

The game has changed, too. Things are moving so fast that if one is serving one’s customers every day, he/she has to be alert and there is no time to look for what’s changing or at the big picture.

Cognizant, says Gopalan, has various forums to take care of precisely that. It has a separate organisation (called Horizon 3), where the workers don’t run after revenues or targets, but focus on innovation, SMAC, new lines of business or at creating new methodologies. The rest of the organisation focuses on the existing businesses. Now, it has formed Digital Works, which accelerates and helps its digital business.

The bar is higher

Having hired more than 500 MBA students in India from the graduating batch of 2015, Gopalan says the standard of those being taken in is getting higher. Many of the B-school hires now come on board with work experience prior to an MBA.

“Depth of industry experience helps, but it’s changing. Consulting earlier was about finding who has solved a problem better, and offering solutions to your client. In the digital era, consulting is about an opportunity that no one thought of before. It’s a lot more open-ended and grey.

“Conceptualisation and creativity are important and you have to link this back to an industry context. So, B-schoolers need the same old skills, but should be more on top of things,” elaborates Gopalan.

Published on November 03, 2015
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