We are on a journey from automation to autonomy: Sanjay Srivastava, Chief Digital Officer, Genpact

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February 8, 2021 12:45 AM

Much in the same way, enterprise processes are moving from automated to autonomous—and the difference is in automating some components of a process to automating the entire process end to end.

SANJAY SRIVASTAVA, Chief Digital Officer, GenpactSANJAY SRIVASTAVA, Chief Digital Officer, Genpact

Year 2020 helped the world unleash the true potential of digitisation at a pace never seen before. As the world moved from offline to online, businesses adopted cloud and AI to automate operations and accelerated their digital transformation at record speed. Technology played a significant role in supporting healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in the global fight against Covid-19 and catalysed the process of vaccine creation. While we embrace the advancements 2020 offered, we need to gear up for what the year 2021 has in store for us. Genpact, global professional services firm, believes that 2021 will witness faster innovation and advanced additions to the technology that exists today – it will mark the true starting point of an era that will last decades. “Companies will use the existing and upcoming advancements with increasing sophistication in ways never conceivable,” Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital officer, Genpact, tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:

How are technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing and roboticsgoing to shape operations in 2021?
We are on a journey from automation to autonomy. In the first wave of automation, enterprises had automated what they thought was automatable, but cloud and AI have opened new possibilities, and changed the definition of what is automatable. We have seen cars go from manual to automated with lane change warning or cruise control, and we are now looking at auto park or auto steer with autonomous driving.

Much in the same way, enterprise processes are moving from automated to autonomous—and the difference is in automating some components of a process to automating the entire process end to end. We are seeing autonomous systems in so many areas now, from data centre operations to online commerce, from IoT enabled edge applications, to fully autonomous enterprise processes such as finance and accounting. But to get to autonomous, we need to automate more of the complex decisioning and edge-use cases—and this requires more AI, cloud, data, and intelligent automation. Cloud is giving us the ability to deal with lots of data and computing power —which opens use cases for AI that we didn’t think existed before. As a result, we foresee that a lot of processes will move to no-touch, low-touch or fully autonomous processing.

Digital transformation is business transformation. How will it play out this year?

Yes, digital transformation is indeed business transformation. As we adjust to the new normal, entire business models and value chains are changing. And as a result, we are seeing a significant acceleration of digital transformation across the globe:

  • Telehealth used to be in 3% of doctor’s offices, it is now in 100%
  • Retail stores used to focus on in store promotions now they are focused on curbside pickups
  • Companies that were focused on retail distribution are now focused on digital distribution
  • Work is happening in via collaboration tools, video conference and shared applications in the cloud.

As these business models change, digital comes into play to redesign experiences. Going from business transformation to digital transformation requires a synchronised effort with three new muscles—digital capability, domain knowledge and programmatic execution across people, data, process and technology.

Cybersecurity is set to gain prominence in 2021. How will AI and predictive maintenance strengthen security infrastructure?
AI will have a very large role to play in cybersecurity for two reasons:

  • The surface threat area will increase—– the amount of data that you need to monitor will exponentially grow.
  • AI is especially good at anomaly detection and pattern recognition.

Finding the weak links between different events that can represent a security threat is a natural fit for AI.

The key to success is in training the AI models, and put in place the right governance structure to apply AI in cybersecurity.

Will the adoption of cloud tech increase this year?
Yes, cloud adoption will only increase. Cloud has played a large role in providing an elastic compute infrastructure that has allowed IT infrastructure to become more efficient.

Three trends will accompany the increase in cloud adoption:

  • Cloud is going from efficiency to modernisation. Cloud journeys are intensifying because we are increasingly looking to the cloud to modernise and simplify our existing technology architectures.
  • Modernisation is the new imperative as digital transformation is accelerating. With the pandemic, as business models are evolving and business transformation has accelerated, the need for these new capabilities is accelerating fast. The new normal has given us an amazing amount of digital transformation which requires the full capabilities of the cloud.
  • As cloud comes into play, the need for applications of AI has only accelerated opening new sources of differentiation for companies.

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