As the Senior Vice President and Global Head of Digital Engineering at Cognizant Andres Angelani is a recognized leader in digital transformation strategy, custom software development, and agile practices. He joined Nick LaFleur on Quickbase’s Age of Agility podcast to share his insights on how the new digital era of companies affects scaling, user experience, and employee work culture. Here are five highlights of the conversation.
Q: You’ve said, “business technology is primed for a paradigm shift.” That’s a pretty big statement. Could you unpack that for me?
Sure. It's not just about the technology for the business. Every industry is moving into this era where software powers a lot of how they engage with clients and how they gain efficiencies.
Initially, software was viewed as more of an industrial scaling thing. But then as software became more intelligent and engaging from access, mobility, and user interface, we're thinking about software as really impacting and becoming the business or an essential component of the business itself.
It's disrupting traditional industries, like financial services, insurance, and healthcare, which have normally been very slowed by compliance and regulation. They're jumping on the transformation wagon, because they feel that they see that it as a really competitive differentiation for them if they can leverage the power of software to connect and to engage. So, it's more about global change into this form of innovation that's powered by software
It's generalized and accelerated the trends that we've seen slowly penetrating now. It's more than obvious that the software is here to help us define the new future, right? As we say, digital transformation is not really a segment or an add-on anymore. It's becoming an essential piece of business strategy. That's what I meant with “primed for a paradigm shift.”
Q: You mentioned the pandemic and work-from-home culture shift as fueling newfound value in digital transformation. Are there other changes that have primed this shift in paradigm?
Yeah, with this acceleration, the cultures of the companies were also affected. It's not just an experience to reach out to their consumer base but also to engage their employee base. You need to make sure that they stay, and then they are motivated. So, a lot of companies are thinking about a different way of working where the software is more of an enabler and helps engage better. Not only just filling the gap, but also defining a new sort of more hybrid experience.
Q: A lot of companies recognize the need to make this change and want to move fast. How do you see companies doing that?
The way that technology companies are viewing it right now is a little bit restrictive, because the pandemic kind of overvalued them. Now they're going through an adjustment phase. This is why you see a lot of layoffs at the big names. But I don't think that this is going to be a permanent situation.
The reality is that the people that make technology happen and the ones that work on software are such a small global population. At the end of the day, long term supply-demand will matter. The gap is tremendously large, and its enlarging continues. So, I think what we're living in right now is kind of a blip.
Given the tremendous expansion and multiples that these companies enjoyed, during a few years, there's also expectations changing between clients and partners because the technology production is embedded in everything. A company itself cannot just fulfill absolutely everything; they need to partner differently.
A lot of companies were outsourcing like, ‘I'm going to outsource the stuff that I'm not interested in, or that I want to do at a lower cost.’ Well, that mindset is changing as well. Everything you do affects your final products for your clients and your employees. So, you want to really focus on quality and experience overall. All these kinds of transactional relationships are becoming more partner-like.
Q: You talk a lot about the concept of speed and velocity in business. Tell us a little about that.
Sure. What we mean here is we live in a nerdy analogy—the velocity formula versus the speed formula. The difference in the speed formula is just the space. You're going somewhere that a lot of companies have adopted, for example, in the adoption of technology. They've done it to gain efficiencies and go faster. But are they doing the right thing?
Let me give you a very simple example. When the age of the internet started, lots of companies started to adopt new technology. Banks, for example, created their own banks there. They started to imitate everything that they were doing in a bank branch. They never differentiated them.
FinTech was born because of that bad implementation. If the large banks actually embraced engagement as an experience of the customer as a priority, and they had built something that was differential, they wouldn't have had so much disruption. But they built just a limitation of their own processes, and they connected to their core banking. So, they really didn't change anything, they just provided access.
And then companies like Marcus for Goldman Sachs came up and disrupted part of the market. Many other companies did the same. The banks that actually created the best experience are the ones that ended up winning. A lot of brands got premium eyes because of their online and digital experience. That's what we call velocity. You do it fast, but you do it with a transformational purpose.
Q: What do you suggest to anyone looking to approach their work with more of a velocity mindset?
There has to be a kind of openness between the team to engage and treat partners in a different way. It's very important to understand that lots of companies don't have native capabilities. So, it's important to cross pollinate across the ecosystem of partners and define a sort of a network of affinity—people that really know a native in certain areas. This could be specific product engineering, software, could be AI, or some particular technologies. It could be products that can be an accessory to their IP. Very importantly, how to, in an agile way, engage all these different components, as if they weren't part of the same company.
So how to build that type of community, right? That is very important, because it creates a lot of speed around how you get things done in a way that you don't have to reinvent 10 different wheels. So you go and you work with it. But that is easier said than done.
Interested to hear more from Andres? For the full conversation, check out the podcast!