I have witnessed significant technological advancements, from the computer era to AI-based technologies like ChatGPT, says Manoj Srivastava, CIO at EaseMyTrip

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I have witnessed significant technological advancements, from the computer era to AI-based technologies like ChatGPT, says Manoj Srivastava, CIO at EaseMyTrip
I have witnessed significant technological advancements, from the computer era to AI-based technologies like ChatGPT, says Manoj Srivastava, CIO at EaseMyTrip

Staying ahead of technology trends, establishing strong business connections, adopting innovative tools and processes, and addressing challenges proactively are essential for success in the dynamic field of technology.

This is an exclusive article series conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Manoj Srivastava, CIO at EaseMyTrip.

I recall the day I was deeply engrossed in my routine information technology (IT) work at Sahara Group’s headquarters in Lucknow when my boss called me on the intercom and said, “Manoj, come to my cabin.” Feeling slightly nervous and curious, I quickly went to his cabin. He gestured for me to take a seat. He told me, “Manoj, here is the news for you. Sahara Group has a plan to open a new venture in the commercial aviation business and start an airline operation soon. The group is seeking a senior IT specialist for a month-long assignment in Singapore, and I have shortlisted you and recommended you to higher management for the aviation project. Although this opportunity caught me off guard and was completely outside my realm of anticipation and experience, I had never even flown before. I accepted the offer with a mixture of excitement and apprehension without realizing that I don’t have a passport. Unfazed by this, my boss said, “What are you thinking? Apply for it under the Tatkal service and get it done ASAP.” So, 15 days later, I found myself on an international flight from New Delhi to Singapore, embarking on a thrilling professional experience.

My professional journey began in May 1991 and led to the completion of an extensive aviation CRS training program in Singapore in 1994. Upon returning to India, I set up IT systems for airlines, starting my aviation-focused career. The focus was on implementing standard legacy systems in the airline industry, such as CRS/PSS, MRO, GDS, IBE/DCS, CRM, FFP, and RM, which were crucial for airline operations. These systems were expensive, and none were developed by Indian companies. Consequently, we had to implement them without many changes or customizations. However, with the typical Indian mindset of always being eager to explore new horizons, we sought to innovate similar systems in India. Thus, we initiated the development of our own IBE (Internet Booking Engine) solution. Few people know that this was the first time in India that we had our IBE solution connected with a world-leading CRS (SITA-Gabreil) system, allowing customers to book flight tickets online. From then on, we embraced the philosophy that nothing is impossible, consistently innovating and exploring ways to implement systems with greater flexibility, scalability, affordability, and, most importantly, sustainability.

While the technical landscape of the early ’90s lacked the competitiveness and innovation seen today, there remained a constant opportunity to automate processes within the constraints of limited resources and budgets. Over the years, I witnessed the significant evolution of both technology and the human mindset, reaching a point where life without the internet became unimaginable.

In my 13 impactful years with airlines, particularly with “Air Sahara,” I contributed to the setup of technology, infrastructure, and Passenger Service Systems (PSS). This period marked a golden phase in my career. Subsequently, I worked with DIAL (Delhi International Airport Limited, GMR Airport Venture) in 2008, gaining valuable insights into airport IT ecosystems. My journey continued with roles at “Paramount Airways,” IBM, RAK Airways in Ras-al-Khaimah, UAE, FlyDubai/MindTree, and Airlines Technology in Gurgaon. Currently, I am honored to serve as the Chief Information Officer at EaseMyTrip, the second-largest and fastest-growing online travel agency (OTA).

My association with IBM transformed my thought process and working style. Although it was a short period, it shaped my leadership skills. I gained expertise in transitioning from legacy technology to new-generation web and mobile interface-based technology. The challenge of connecting legacy systems with modern applications led to the exploration of middleware solutions, despite their high operating costs. My focus shifted from bringing in the best technology to automating processes and calculating return on investment (RoI) before implementation. I aimed to transform the IT department into a revenue-generating entity, emphasizing operational efficiency and cost savings.

Step by step, I added more tasks to my plate, juggling various roles and hats and streamlining processes in other departments. I transformed them into automated or semi-automated workflows with nifty systems like HRMS, CRM, and ERP and seamlessly integrated them as enterprise applications for a real-time experience.

My professional life became more work-focused, and managing that elusive ‘work-life balance’ turned into a tightrope walk.

Then, COVID-19 knocked on our doors, locking us all in and hitting the pause button on everything. It forced me to ponder the breakneck speed of life, the relentless pursuit of success, and the challenges of maintaining balance. That unexpected break became a light-bulb moment of self-realization.

Post-COVID-19 life is slowly getting on track; both my professional and personal life underwent drastic changes. The entire industry witnessed shifts in thought processes, frequent alterations in business procedures, technological advancements, architectural changes, and a comprehensive re-evaluation of IT spending. The gradual adoption of cloud computing has transformed the industry dynamically.

Embracing the “new normal,” we adapted to the dynamically changing technology environment. Gradually, cybersecurity took center stage, consuming time, money, energy, and more. The focus shifted from conducting business as usual to ensuring safe and secure operations. This led to additional expenses allocated to cybersecurity activities, fortifying the entire process to meet security standards and compliance. Evaluating the long-term viability and cost-effectiveness of solutions is crucial. A strategic, proactive approach aids in overcoming challenges during digital transformation, covering aspects like change management, skilled IT resources, cybersecurity, technology adoption, and prioritizing digital initiatives.

Over the past 25 years, I have witnessed significant technological advancements, from the computer era to AI-based technologies like ChatGPT. My career has been fulfilling, and I’m excited about the future. Challenges are inevitable, and as a technology leader, I approach them positively, conducting analyses for technical and operational issues. Addressing customer-related challenges requires a professional approach focused on company and customer loyalty.

The future, represented by generative AI (Gen-AI), seems promising. Advancements in natural language processing and machine learning will enhance ChatGPT’s sophistication, making it more human-like. Integration into various industries will increase, enhancing efficiency and the customer experience. Staying ahead of technology trends, establishing strong business connections, adopting innovative tools and processes, and addressing challenges proactively are essential for success in the dynamic field of technology.

Always remember, “Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new”, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes, mistake will educate you, empower you, and raise your confidence level to new heights.

Also readAs a technology leader, I cultivated the knack of understanding one step above the others so that I can handle them, says Dr. Chandran Raghuraman, CTO at Bahwan Cybertek

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