Difficult times are good for innovation

Written by BV Mahalakshmi | Updated: Jan 14 2013, 08:21am hrs
NYSE-listed technology services firm CSC formed its Office of Innovation seven years ago based on the recognition that a consulting firm needs to bring new thinking and new ideas to its clients, as well as using innovation to reinvent itself. CSC has invested a significant amount of time and resources, and has created an innovation capability and focus within the Office of Innovation and throughout CSC that makes CSC a leader in its space. The Office of Innovations scope is to generate ideas and develop intellectual capital for CSC. Uncertainties surrounding prospects for an upturn in global economic growth are the major retardants to IT growth, feels the CSC chief innovation officer Lem Lasher. But difficult times are good for the creative application of technology to solve business problems. Many of the IT services that we do are really about cost cutting and bringing in efficiencies in the systems, he tells BV Mahalakshmi in a recent interaction. Excerpts:

What are the broad focus of activities for CSC in India How important is the Indian market for CSC in terms of business

CSC India currently employees over 24,000 employees There are 18 delivery centres in India, spread across Noida, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Indore and Vadodara. We offer IT services that span from cloud computing, cyber security, mobility, applications and infrastructure management, to business and technology consulting, systems integration and industry-specific solutions. CSC is committed to the India market and has firmed up its India sales team apart from its existing 24,000-odd employee base to support the business. It has been an exciting learning curve so far. We are in the Indian market for the long haul.

Can you tell us about the companys focus on innovation

India drives a substantial portion of our innovation and application of new technologies. The core team that develops the packages for our thrust areas is based here in India. This is the base for our development activities for applications and infrastructure services, which also includes the centre for unified communication team. We also have the largest mobility practice of the company based in India. In fact, there are 20 centres of excellence globally, out of which six are based in India.

With our vast global expertise in key domains like insurance, banking, healthcare and manufacturing coupled with our leading edge horizontal offerings in areas like mobility, unified communications and cloud computing, we bring the right solutions to meet upcoming local enterprise needs like global expansion and scale. We are keen to play the role of a transformational partner with our game changing solutions.

What are the future trends that you see in the IT market

A major trend that we see is the consumerisation of IT. The evolution is from means of executing functionality to means of accessing resources. This is a direct consequence of the consumerisation of IT. Another trend is the widespread adoption of virtualisation technologies for internal and backoffice functions. This is being driven by economic imperatives. The emergence of cloud platforms helps to increase architecture and organisation agility and change the dynamics of capital intensity ownership. There is increased importance of cyber security and big data as a strategic agenda to improve analytics and the integrity of information.

The ultimate aim of innovation is to create business value for clients...

Absolutely. As part of CSCs Office of Innovation, the Leading Edge Forum (LEF) provides clients with access to a powerful knowledge base and global network of innovative thought leaders, engaging technology and business executives on the current and future role of information technology. LEF members work to spot key emerging business and identify specific practices for exploiting those trends for business advantage.

The LEF portfolio offers a range of programmes that leverage these experts to examine the impact of new technologies and business trends long before they hit the marketplace. We draw on three core areas: people, technology and the marketplace.

Do you see enterprises trying to invest in growth, instead of cutting back on spending

Difficult times are in fact good times for innovation and the creative application of technology to solve business problems. The technology and trends remain the same, but the principle barrier to adoption, which is management complacency, is substantially reduced during difficult times. This applies to the small and medium businesses as well as the multinational giants.

Newer technologies such as cloud, consumerisation of IT services and social media tools help in improving the productivity. However, the biggest challenge is being able to measure productivity. Because all of these technologies precipitate change in the structure, process and work activities within the organisation, it is very difficult to measure the productivity improvements. This then makes it difficult for business executives who are using traditional return on investment models to evaluate investments to justify the investments necessary to yield the productivity improvements. Business leadership needs to understand this, and adopt the evaluation criteria accordingly.