The most important aspect has to be the collaboration between the business function and technology teams
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Jai Prakash Sharma, Executive Vice President – Technology Operations at Info Edge India Ltd
How did you plan your career path to be a successful technology leader?
I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in this privileged position. My journey is similarly filled with struggle and joy, like any other small-town person. I don’t think it is meticulously planned, but it is about fast learning from the challenges faced over time. The mantra of my corporate life is: “Learn, Unlearn, and Re-learn but never Give-Up,” which means we need to be innovative as much as possible. We need to transform ourselves to become more agile and open to challenges. We need to fail wisely and bounce back.
I open-source my thoughts and encourage my community to contribute to my learning. I believe that one person or mind is single-threaded and we can achieve only limited throughput. I feel that we should keep hold of the great people within the team, be their mentors, and create a workplace where talented techies want and can enjoy working. Always do networking with great leaders who influence you in some way or another.
What challenges did you face in your career path and how did you overcome them?
I say challenges are always a part of the journey – being in support, the biggest one is the uncertain risk of unpredictable outages, disgruntled & over-demanding customers (internal & external), the ability to stay calm in such situations and still focus on final delivery, having patience, the ability to take a step back and replan, being resilient, etc. In the last few years, I’ve made good friends and have met charismatic leaders (when they address a team, they help you get the spark back and motivate you to do your best). I consider myself fortunate enough that I get to learn so much from such talented, inspiring, and enthusiastic leaders, whom I’ve always found committed to excellence.
Life at my current organisation is full of challenges but engaging, flexible, exciting, innovative, collaborative, and positive. I’m an advocate of OpenSource and we develop and use them in all our application stacks. Working at the current organisation is about enjoying your work with a passion to deliver a stable, scalable, trusted, secure, and reliable environment to run our web stack; making work fun; having a balance between work and life; and having good synergy between work culture and productivity.
What are the challenges faced by technology leaders today while implementing digital technologies?
The biggest challenge is to keep up with the fast pace of changing technology. The sources of data flow are from all the 360-degree sources with diverse formats. Ensuring the speed and churning of data in order to generate meaningful insights for business growth. At the same time, maintain a data-centric approach to business decisions while applying more customer insights to new opportunities. Focus more on layered security from the inception of the idea and insights. Security doesn’t get solved in a silo. Collect data, gain insight, then define action, and then spread awareness. The focus on remote working, collaboration tools, and engagement tracking accelerated the digitization of our customers’ offline and online integration like paperless, digital sign, etc.
A few more initiatives to look forward to are: ensuring a move towards touchless infrastructure.
How can technology leaders overcome the challenges they face?
It is crucial to focus on developing internal or in-house skills and capabilities. Maintain the people, process, and technology chain not only in terms of resources, but also in documentation form. This really helps organisations tackle the adverse attrition situation that many of us have seen in the near past.
Always be a promoter, advocate, and adopter of meaningful technology that makes life easier for business; just not follow the wave. Leaders should invest more in talent development and retain those talents to keep them inspired, challenged and happy.
Furthermore, the most important aspect has to be the collaboration between the business function and technology teams. Leverage more on customer insights as it has opened doors for better customer understanding and engagement. So, focus on customer engagement. Look for opportunities to conduct practical BCP drills on a dispersed workforce.
Finally, focus on the solution, especially on scalability, performance, and security.
Any best practices, industry trends, or advice you’d give to fellow technology leaders to help them succeed professionally?
Change is happening everywhere, and a leader must embrace and adapt to changes in order to get out of their comfort zone and be a part of the change, while also ensuring the empowerment of the team and enjoying everything we all do.
Dice the problem into chunks to have a focused solution approach. I, personally, believe that there is always a solution to a problem. Regardless of how difficult it is, I will truly try my best to fulfil a request by any customer or at least meet them as much as possible. Technology was the easiest thing to handle because it was mostly towards scale. Humans are the weakest link in the chain and most volatile, hence we focus more on upskilling the techies. Learn the method of failing fast and focus on lessons from the failure.
We may be strong as individuals, but together we are invincible. Connect, collaborate, and evolve…
Emerging technologies that technology leaders should know about:
- Smart use of computing power – from CPU’s, GPU’s and TPU’s to 5G and moving towards 6G, entering into the fastest computing power in the world.
- Datafication – especially in the hearth care solutions
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Digital Trust – create a safer space for digital users, cybersecurity and ethical hacking.
- 3D Printing – very impactful in the biomedical and industrial sectors.
- Edge Computing – to help solve some of those problems as a way to bypass the latency caused by various cloud tech providers
- Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality – a lot of potential in high-tech training.
- Blockchain – trusted third-party to oversee or validate transactions
- Internet of Things (IoT) – Wi-Fi-enabled devices, home appliances, connected cars, and other items that can connect to the Internet and exchange data.
- Cyber Security – because threats are constantly evolving with the growth of the connected world.
CIO News, a proprietary of Mercadeo, produces award-winning content and resources for IT leaders across any industry through print articles and recorded video interviews on topics in the technology sector such as Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Cloud, Robotics, Cyber-security, Data, Analytics, SOC, SASE, among other technology topics