Kamal Nath, CEO, illustrates how Sify managed to operationalize pandemic era Innovation and how CIOs can follow suit in their journey.
“We have to walk a new path with our clients,” says Kamal Nath, CEO of Sify, who shed light on the ways of working closely on the complexities pre-pandemic and how we are heading into a new post-pandemic era. He focuses on the strategic insights into how businesses would operate in the future.
“Building new business aligned cost models, setting up disaster recovery and BCP platforms, allowing remote-working, rearchitecting the enterprise network from the ground up, and migrating to cloud should be some of the prime focus areas for CIOs as they set about their operations in the new-era.”
According to Foundry’s 2023 State of the CIO Research, technology budget growth is seeing pre-pandemic levels. 91% of CIOs expect their tech budget to either increase or stay the same in 2023. The technology initiatives that are expected to drive the most IT investment in 2023 security/risk management, data/business analytics, cloud-migration, application/legacy systems modernization, machine learning/AI, and customer experience technologies.
Since almost all organizations are data driven, the adoption or migration to cloud should be the primary mind-set to scale up operations, according to Kamal.
“We have been evangelizing the adoption of cloud for the past ten years; if there were cloud-skeptical or cloud-hostile organizations before the pandemic, they can’t afford to do so anymore. Bringing agility and speed to meet the user objectives is a must. Being cloud-ready and cloud-friendly should be primary directives for organizations, going forward. There has been a distinct shift of mind-sets regarding digital adoption models; they used to be ‘good to have’ before the pandemic, it has now turned into a ‘must do’ practice across all industry verticals,” he adds.
CIOs as Digital Innovators
In this process of bringing in increasing digital adoption and innovation at work, the roles of CIOs have changed drastically. CIO roles have grown from being an operational-led role to more of an innovation-led role, as said by Kamal Nath. The pandemic, even though most businesses would like to not revisit it, has provided a huge context to organizations to base their priorities on.
“Enhanced user experience, building business-aligned digital models, mitigating security risks, ensuring business continuity, bringing in innovation to the core, changing management at scale and partner selection remain some of the priorities that CIOs now have to focus on,” added Kamal. According to him, the KRA’s of C-level executives has changed today and this necessary growth in business priorities of a CIO can become an overwhelming responsibility. It is thus, very essential for a CIO to rebalance these priorities while recalibrating their business strategies.
“Today, we are rebalancing through recalibrating the major facets of Enterprises. It is something we have learned by virtue of interactions with CIOs, CTOs, and our customers.”
Recalibration of Business Strategies:
According to Kamal, the recalibration of strategies for a CIO should span across all departments. While devising app strategies, considerations should be made on app driven cloud migration, modernization & DevOps and using AI & ML technologies for quicker validation processes and faster entry into market.
Recalibrating the Cloud Strategy:
During pandemic, everyone rushed to cloud adoption without understanding its entire scope. There are multiple versions of cloud available today like public, hyperscale, non-hyperscale, hosted private, on-premise, and more, said Kamal.
“Recalibrating cloud strategies should be based on principles of ‘Horses for Courses’; giving specific applications the right residencies instead of a straight-jacketed approach of moving all apps at one place,” the CEO said.
“Of course, it should be a hybrid model, and your cloud strategies should also have a predictable cost component in it so as to not burden the CFO’s priorities,” added Kamal
Recalibrating the IT Operations Strategy:
He told, in the last quarter, Sify has renewed 3 managed services contracts due to the change in business and end-user priorities. For driving higher revenue, businesses need to focus on transformation services instead of business-as-usual services. So, the key drivers for IT operations should be site reliability, end-user experience, self-service models, and service catalogue-based metrics.
Recalibrating the Edge Strategy:
For connecting people in your organization, CIOs have to focus on creating enterprise mobility solution. User mobility experience across different devices is a must to ensure recalibration of the edge, Kamal Added.
One of the steel manufacturing leaders in India is among our important customers who are using our Edge services. We have implemented a managed wi-fi- Edge Connect, that interconnects their multiple business segments like factories, mines, offices, hospitals, and others. So, as a successful result, we have connected people, IT, and OT under one single secure platform.
Recalibrating the Security Strategy:
Is cloud service provider responsible for your security strategy? Well, it’s a shared responsibility between consumers and providers. To better understand, security in the cloud is customer’s responsibility and security of the cloud is provider’s responsibility, Kamal said.
According to IDG Security Priorities Study 2022, to overcome their challenges, security leaders continue to allocate a significant amount of their overall IT budget to security – an annual average of $65 million. This number increases for enterprises to $122 million and decreases for small businesses at $16 million. The small business budget has tripled from 2020 from $5.5 million.
“The security strategies in place should be improved on and built-up prioritizing shared responsibility, DevSecOps, data protection and zero-trust network access at organizations,” said Kamal.
Emerging personas of CIOs
The ecosystem of CIOs is changing with multiple personas working round the clock, pushing organizations to reorganize. The roles and responsibilities will depend on business objectives, added Kamal.
“It is essential for organizations to have an updated shared-responsibilities structure across different managerial roles. CIOs’ focus should remain more on operations efficiency, infrastructure transformation and end-user experiences while SOC, regulatory compliances, app architecture & modernization, AI/ML and technical architecture, generating new revenue streams, should be dealt by CISOs, CTOs and CDOs of business respectively,” Kamal added.
As per our role in your journey, we strongly believe in changing and upgrading ourselves. We focus on staying ready both mindset and skillset wise to interact with different personas and align ourselves to meet their digital objectives, added Kamal.
“Innovation starts with a CIO,” Kamal says. “CIOs should thus consider their roles to now translate to ‘Chief Innovation Officers’ as opposed to the standard nomenclature.”