“Having grown up as a son of an Indian civil servant, I think quite a bit about public sector and also the institutional strength of our public sector institutions is so important…how do we get the public sector to the efficient frontier of even technology use.
“And, this is where I think some of the work that’s happening in India, whether it is the ID system or the banking API or the payment API, so it’s pretty enlightening,” Nadella said during Ficci’s annual general meeting (AGM).
He added that there is a need to ensure that the public sector is being supported in their modernisation.
Nadella said public-private partnership is helping adopt changes and bring about more ubiquity to that change, which is going to be very important.
“That’s one way for developing economies to be able to recover from the pandemic.
“But, more importantly, when we’ve talked about catch-up growth, I think in the next 10 years, catch-up growth is possible when both the public institutions and the private sector are able to move rapidly,” he added.
The India-born executive said technology has played a critical role during the pandemic across sectors, and has expanded from just driving future transformation to being at the core of business continuity.
“The ability to use digital tools to be able to deal with a tail event, because we can’t predict what the next tail event is but whatever that is, I think, our built-in infrastructure and capability around digital tech is going to create resilience and transformation,” he added. That is the most exciting thing to see, Nadella said.
He cited the example of telemedicine, which has been around but the adoption has accelerated amid the pandemic, and how even small retailers are turning to technology to drive business.
Nadella highlighted the innovation in India around digital infrastructure across fields — from financial services to healthcare to retail — that are driven by factors like availability of computing, use of AI and data capabilities and ubiquity of mobile phones.
“I think the exponential adoption of these three layers is going to change… And, so, the question is what is that social contract we have between the government, the private sector and the citizens and the broad civic society,” he added. That allows us to create that harmony to navigate this change together because if any one of us is changing and the others are being left behind, that’s going to create more turmoil, he said.
Nadella said an important factor would be how everybody is brought together to “navigate” these exponential curves.
Talking about navigating through challenges, he said it is important to keep in mind the sense of purpose and mission of the organisation and the culture.
“Once you have that, you have to get a lot of things right but your chances of getting all those other things right like strategies and tech picking and people picking, becomes so much more easier with these two pillars,” he added.
He said leaders have three key attributes — an innate capability of coming into ambiguous, uncertain situations and creating clarity; creating energy not just within their teams but overall; and not waiting for the perfect pitch.
“I can’t say hey look, I’ll perform after the pandemic is done. I mean, you and I and everyone in the room, have to keep working in spite of what the world throws at us.
“And, that ability to solve sometimes the overconstraint problem is what leadership is all about and driving success,” he further said.