Hi Seth, you are a pioneer in the AI and Emerging tech realm. How did you start with Infosys?
I joined Infosys in June of 2019. The reason I came here is that we have the unique intersection of being able to build an executable strategy. Many services firms love to do strategy work and then fail at execution. Some are great at execution but make everything about price.
What drew me to Infosys is that we make it about realized value. Our clients choose whom they want to work with, and we find they want to work with us because we can flawlessly execute the strategies that we build for them.
You have been closely monitoring the AI and related tech fields such as Fintech, Blockchain, RPA and Edge Computing from very close quarters. What unique applications and platforms made the most profound impact on your work and thought-process?
A great joke I recently heard is that ML is written in Python and AI is written in Powerpoint. What excited me is we are at the beginning of the next great generational shift in technology. The last one was the Internet and the PC before that. We see tectonic shifts every 20 years or so. We are at the beginning of the next great journey and that is exciting.
In AI/ML what excites me is doing simple things. It is about predicting what employee may get injured on the job and preventing that from happening. It is about looking at how to evaluate why something happened and using that knowledge to drive predictions on next best action. These are things that we couldn’t have done two years ago and now we can. Someone will go home from work today that may not have two years ago because of the work we do.
You have a diverse Customer profile, which includes traditional IT companies and e-commerce players. How do you maintain competitiveness in the AI market with your consultancy services?
What we find across our client base is a similarity of problems that they are looking to solve. All of our clients are trying to figure out how to improve the customer experience while driving employee engagement. We are lucky to be able to serve the world’s best clients and leverage our experience to help them get to answers faster.
Tell us more about your AI applications and the team that works with it.
The first focus of our team is having a diverse talent pool. Unconscious bias is part of AI. The way we make sure our models are more effective is to consciously build diverse talents across all of the aspects necessary to achieve the right talent mix.
We build strategies and solutions that solve the most vexing issues our clients have. Our favorite engagement is when a client has tried to achieve success and needs our experience to complete their success.
What truly drives the AI-based IT industry? What unique AI-driven stacks have you designed in the last 2 years that were nearly impossible to imagine 10 years ago?
Python, R, Juptyr, TensorFlow, Keras, Basically everything AWS, Google Cloud, Azure; none of those things existed in the form we use today 24-36 months ago. The three major players in the Automation space weren’t companies 4 years ago.
Can you imagine running a company today and not having a built out RPA strategy? These technologies exist because the intersection of aspiration and technology crossed paths.
Hear it from the pro: How to use customer feedback to build a better product? How often do you provide feedback to your Product Development and Marketing teams?
The best feedback loop is a continuous feedback loop. Products that are built well are built are ethnographic research. What is the problem your customer is trying to solve? Observe how a customer is trying to solve something and you will learn how to build a better mousetrap.
Tell us about the future Digital Shelf Strategy. Which tools and applications are most likely to fill in to the digital strategies? How would it impact the enterprise tech budget?
Digital shelf is about taking all of the lessons learned in the physical world and bringing them to the digital world. How do you ensure that your products are what comes up when someone uses a Voice search? What can a company do to have their product be featured on the “digital end cap”? What techniques do you use to measure the promotion effectiveness of digital product placement?
Treating your digital shelf with the same rigor that you place on your physical one is what we help our clients solve.
How much has the role of a CIO evolved with the evolution of enterprise tech stacks?
Ever since the day after the first CIO was hired, she has been hearing cut budgets to be more efficient. For almost 20 years all anyone has heard is that IT is not a competitive differentiator. Any CIO that still believes that won’t be CIO for much longer.
The CIO must be part of the enterprise change journey. That journey includes getting the human capital an organization has to reskill themselves and let go that ownership of a stack is where your importance comes from. Stacks are becoming irrelevant. Your expertise in showing how to drive customer interactions, improved financial performance and employee engagement is what is most valued now.
What is your secret sauce to stay on top of your market? How do you leverage Sales and Marketing technologies to gain instant recall-value in your customer’s mind?
Our secret sauce is to add value to every interaction that we have with our clients. We discuss problems that we observe that they have. We don’t wait to respond to a RFP to show what we are capable of.
Our team proactively goes to our clients as advisors and tell them where we think they can have differentiated performance. That is how we ensure that we are memorable with our clients.
Sixth Sense: Is Artificial Intelligence + RPA combo really the way forward for all B2B companies? What about other fast-growing technologies such as Blockchain and Automated DevOps have you experimented with?
There are two types of companies. There are companies have developed their RPA strategy, implemented it and are seeing benefits. The other company will be their peers that haven’t done that yet, which are now at a competitive disadvantage.
The importance of Intelligent Automation, which is the next wave of RPA, cannot be overstated. Name the #1 company in the world 50 years ago, it was General Motors. Now it isn’t in the top 10. Companies transform over time and RPA will drive whoever is the next #1 company.
AI is not a destination, it is a once in a generation transformation that will take time. We need to not pay attention to hypecycles that exist around things like Blockchain. All technology has a viable use case for some clients. What is most important is that we don’t treat everything like the newest shiny object and run to it.
A piece of advice to young Sales professionals in the AI and Digital tech industry –
Add value in everything you do. Be memorable for adding value, not for speaking more than everyone else.
One superhuman character/iconic person that you feel most connected to—
Yeesh, tough question. I would have to say the best superhuman I feel connected to is my wife. After 20 years of living with me, she has to be superhuman.
Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to read here:
Jim Fowler, CIO at Nationwide
Thank you, Seth! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Seth is the North American leader of Infosys Consulting’s Artificial Intelligence & Automation practice. He is an internationally recognized Management Consultant, by Forbes Magazine as leading the #2 Digital Consultancy in North America in 2016. In his career he has advised dozens of the world’s leading CIO’s on innovation and transformation of the IT function to become a business partner.
Infosys Consulting is a global management consulting firm helping some of the world’s most recognizable brands transform and innovate. Our consultants are industry experts that lead complex change agendas driven by disruptive technology. With offices in 20 countries and backed by the power of the global Infosys brand, our teams help the C-suite navigate today’s digital landscape to win market share and create shareholder value for lasting competitive advantage.