What is your overall view of the performance of the Indian ICT industry, given the social-political changes in the US and Europe and the digital disruption?
Globally, we are witnessing what the founder of the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution—where physical and virtual worlds have seamlessly fused. In this world, technology is not just an enabler of business; it is often the business itself.
Digital technologies have become so integral to business models and core processes that no enterprise can ignore them and still remain competitive. That’s why the rate of digitization across industries and countries continues to rise. Digital now accounts for a substantial and growing percentage of new enterprise IT spending.
There are also challenges in many countries, including a shortage of qualified talent with emerging tech skills.
Thus, the current business environment is defined in part by global socio-economic factors, accelerating technological changes and changing client preferences for collaboration.
Given this scenario, we have done very well at anticipating changes in the market. Cognizant continues to be one of the world’s fastest growing professional services companies, even at our scale. We have sustained our growth by innovating in response to macroeconomic and technological changes and the resulting shift in our clients’ needs.
Our clients have trusted us to envision, architect, design and implement their digital transformation initiatives. With Cognizant as their consultant and partner, our clients are combining their industry expertise and assets built over decades with powerful technologies like cloud computing, analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, robotic process automation and others to create entirely new business models and customer experiences.
While digital has opened up unprecedented opportunities for us to help our clients manage and make the digital transition, we need a workforce that understands digital at is most abstract level. Despite all the new technologies, digital transformation and enablement ultimately is a human endeavor. We need people to make sense of it all, consult with clients and help them make the right choices and finally, deliver flawless integration. Therefore, we have been investing heavily in training and re-skilling our associates to make them future-ready in high-end digital capabilities in areas such as data science, design thinking, cyber-security, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and automation.
We have trained over 100,000 of our associates in high-end digital capabilities in areas such as data science, design thinking, cyber-security, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and automation.
Per se, Cognizant, how would you place FY 18 in terms of business and financial performance?
Unlike many other companies with a different fiscal year, we’re only halfway through our FY18. We just recently reported our second quarter earnings. What is clear is that digital disruptions have impacted business, technology and operating models. At Cognizant, we have approached these by aligning our three practice areas—Cognizant Digital Business, Cognizant Digital Operations, and Cognizant Digital Systems and Technology, which I lead, to address these three challenges facing our clients.
Cognizant has highlighted its strategy with three broad themes: Digitize, Internationalize and Localize, which I will briefly describe.
Digitize is our distinctive approach to digital that really resonates with our clients. We help them become digital to their core by digitizing their products and services, personalizing the experiences they offer customers, fully automating their business processes, modernizing their IT infrastructures, and doing all of this at scale.
Internationalize is the expansion of our geographic footprint, adding new delivery and operation centers as well as digital collaboration labs we call Collaboratories in key global markets. We’ve been expanding across Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.
For example, we have publicly spoken about digital-at-scale projects underway with the likes of the English Football Association, SoftBank Robotics, Centrica, Dexia, BHP, and a consortium of Indian life insurers, to name just a few in our non-U.S. markets.
Also, many of our recent acquisitions have been outside the U.S. as well, among them, Idea Couture, Mirabeau, Brilliant Service, Adaptra, Netcentric, Hedera and Zone.
Finally, localize is about our role as transformation partners to our clients, where we have deep local engagements with them. In fact, the growing volume of digital-at-scale work we’re doing typically involves agile development and a deeply consultative in-person approach with clients. Therefore, we continue to invest extensively in training and re-skilling our teams and in substantially expanding our local workforces around the world.
How emerging tech is changing the entire outsourcing industry and do you see traditional verticals upping the ante by adopting newer tech?
Technology is no longer just a business enabler. It is extremely core to the business model itself, no matter what industry. Today, ‘digital’ encompasses a lot of things – artificial intelligence (AI), data science, big data, mobility, IoT (the Internet of Things), analytics, additive manufacturing, blockchain and much more.
Each of these powerful technologies are acquiring mainstream acceptance and application in new business models. Traditional businesses such as banking, insurance, and healthcare for example, are now embracing digital and are transforming their business processes to incorporate these technologies.
For example, we recently, we redesigned a banking client’s core systems, applications, business processes and customer interfaces to automate and simplify transactions as they modernize operations. Another multi-national banking and financial services client needed to stem costly credit card fraud losses. With our AI solution, the client was able to understand new fraud patterns, increase their fraud capture rate by 30% and reduce the rate of false positives, that is, legitimate transactions wrongly declined by 100%.
We also see growing interest among insurers in using advanced technology. Examples include Blockchain for secure data sharing, drones for property inspection, and artificial intelligence to help decide personal injury claims.
Another example is in the Healthcare space where there is increased interest in our digital, analytics, cloud, and virtualization solutions. Healthcare delivery is shifting from a fee-for-service to a value-based care model.
As a result, healthcare organizations seek new ways to deliver consumer-centric care while driving operational efficiency. This is leading to increased collaboration and partnerships across payers and providers.
Each of our practice areas has clearly defined its range of solutions and capabilities, and the distinct value they provide. We also offer digital capabilities that cut across industries, such as cloud enablement, legacy transformation, intelligent process automation, and more. Our deep consulting capabilities help our clients to uncover insight from data to shape the products, services and experiences they offer.
How do you see FY19 and your two priorities?
We are still in the middle of our FY18 and have not provided any guidance for 2019 at this point. However, it is important to note that our three practice areas, Cognizant Digital Business, Cognizant Digital Operations, and Cognizant Digital Systems and Technology; are proving very effective at anticipating our clients’ needs and providing the most effective services and solutions for the parts of their enterprise they need to transform. Our consultants create business strategies that enable global companies to define new business and target operating models to maximize value and manage complex changes throughout their organizations.