Interview with Harish Shah, Futurist

An autodidact and a polymath, Harish is Singapore’s first local born Professional Futurist. A critical reference point today for other Professional Futurists worldwide in the area of Technological Evolution & Foresight, he is endearingly referred to most commonly as “The Singapore Futurist”, apart from also being referred to as “The Asian Futurist” and “The Millennial Futurist”. His areas of Consulting and Keynotes include, though are not limited to, Industry 4.0, HR 4.0, Organisational Future Proofing, Product Development, Marketing & Growth Strategy, Strategic Foresight, Systems Thinking, Scenario Planning and X Reality (XR).

Harish has spoken at companies like Deloitte, Dimension Data and Unilever. Bringing a focus on the Future, he has opened major conferences for areas as diversely varying as from Hospitality Management to Human Resource Management. The subject that excites him most, personally, is that of Technological Evolution.

 

Interviewer: “What do you feel are the biggest challenges IT leaders are currently faced with?”

Harish: “Firstly, today, and moving forth, IT needs to be acknowledged as an inseparable core constituent of the very DNA of a business. Adding to that, it needs to be acknowledged that IT is very rapidly becoming an inseparable core constituent of our very human experience itself.

However, at the same time, IT Practitioners will need to acknowledge, that not everyone is wired for the typed of aptitude, capacity or competencies that they, IT Practitioners themselves, are wired with, to comprehend, understand or appreciate, the science, the engineering and the technicalities, to do with IT. In fact, IT Practitioners need to acknowledge and appreciate, that they will always be special, needed and important, because they will always remain a very tiny minority, that the vast majority of people around them will depend upon, for anything and everything, to work or happen. As flattering as this may sound, the truth is, we all serve different purposes in organisations, in business, in industry, in society and in life. IT Practitioners, specifically, amongst much else, serve the purpose of knowing what is required, to build, maintain and evolve IT, to meet the aspirations and expectations, of both themselves and others around them. This is where one of the biggest challenges for IT leaders emerges.

As the technological evolution continues to accelerate all around us, the challenge for IT Leaders is to help the majority of people around them, understand and appreciate, the technical or scientific challenges or complexities of meeting the needs, demands and aspirations of the organisation, especially, the constraints and limitations.

It will also be a challenge for IT Leaders, to help their peers within their respective organisations to make the most, of what evolving technology has to offer, in the greater good of the business. This is a challenge because unlike IT Practitioners, not everyone is as adept or will be as adept, at embracing or picking-up, the rapidly progressing new technologies, or software, or features, or tools, either to do new things or to do things better. All IT Practitioners, not just the Leaders, will have to develop an appreciation, for this difference, between themselves and their peers who are not trained or educated like them, in the IT field.

At the same time, another huge challenge for IT Leaders, is to start thinking, speaking, ideating, implementing, executing and managing aspects of business, that go well outside and beyond, what they may have been academically, technically or professionally trained for, for all their lives, predominantly. They will have to think and get involved in aspects of the organisation, its processes, functions and objectives, that in practical fact, may have nothing to do with software, hardware, network system, etc, at all, whatsoever. Personally, to many an IT Leader out there, getting into the Mental Model as such, to enable them to do all these things, with a vision or perspective aligned with that of all their non-IT peers in the organisation’s leadership, is likely a gargantuan challenge.

The matter of fact is, that the IT of today, and the future, is not about ensuring employees in an organisation have their PCs, their email and access to shared folders up and running uninterrupted. Rather, it is about, supporting the sourcing of consumer needs or aspirations, supporting the product as well as process innovation, and then getting a desired product all the way into a consumer’s hands. And then, it is about yet much more. In fact, it is about everything, inside and around the organisation, as well as all of the organisation’s activities. Therefore, the IT Leader, moving forth, has to also be a strategic Business Leader, that his or her organisation, can rely upon for Profit, from short-term, to long-term.”

Interviewer: “What would you recommend IT Leaders start taking action towards to prepare for the future?”

Harish: “For a start, IT Leaders need to draw their focus upon the subject of learning, on two tiers.

The first tier, is to embrace and engage in learning for themselves, about business, management and all sorts of organisational functions, outside of the space of technology, such as HR, Marketing, PR, and so on. Then learn how to capitalise their cross-functional knowledge, of their specific area or areas of specialisation, that lands them in the IT Leadership role, and cross-functional knowledge, in different areas of business and management.

The second tier, is to increasingly position themselves, to influence and play a part in the wider or general learning of the organisation, to drive or shape the direction, of plans, investments and so on, in employee or people development, so that employees across all functions, at every level, are trained and continue to be trained, adequately and appropriately, to work with technology, both currently relevant, as well as that foreseeably relevant in the future, for the organisation’s needs and objectives.”

Interviewer: “Things change so quickly in the IT industry, what does it take to stay on top?”

Harish: “To stay on top, you need to stay ahead.

You need to develop your own foresight, or otherwise, resources for foresight, to enable you to stay ahead. And then you need to use that foresight to drive your decisions and strategies.

Mitigate threats, as much as you can, before, they arrive, at your doorstep. Capture and exploit opportunities, before others realise them. You can do this, with effective foresight and Futures Studies.

You cannot predict the future. You can, however, study it, and then, from the findings of your study, prepare for it, adequately. Firstly though, understand the difference, between trying to predict the future, and trying to study it.

All of that said, things are changing rapidly today, with technology, because a lot of changes are happening very frequently. Not all of the changes are lasting, game-changing, ground-breaking or future-defining. The trick is to spot, identify and understand, the ones that will be. Focus on being prepared for those specific imminent changes that are going to matter in the long run and you will do fine.”

Interviewer: “What is the best piece of advice you have received within your career over the years?”

Harish: “When I was an undergraduate, studying Commerce at The University of Western Australia, my Professor for Consumer Behaviour, the late Professor Anthony Pecotich, told the lecture group I was in, to remember, that whenever you pass any subject at school or university, or when you pass out of any course with any certificate or any degree, do not make the foolish mistake of thinking of yourself, or considering yourself, as an expert in that subject area. Always accept, that once you have learnt or passed something, you have come to know just a little bit, that you can then use, to begin learning, a little more out of infinitely more that there is to learn out there, in that subject area, beyond that point in time.

 

About Stratserv Consultancy

Stratserv Consultancy is primarily in the business of helping businesses prepare for the business world of the future that has yet to arrive, before it arrives. Stratserv does this with the principle that it is better to create the future, rather than wait for it, keep up with it or adapt to it.

Just as pagers are obsolete today thanks to mobile phones or smart phones rather, smart phones and smart pads too will be obsolete tomorrow with the advent of other newer smart technological devices that are handsfree, smarter, faster and better. As typewriters are obsolete thanks to the advent of computers, all keyboards too will become obsolete with the advent of touch and voice based systems. This is a sample of the reality of our ever changing world and atmosphere, and dealing with this reality, is exactly what Stratserv helps every business organisation it works with to do.

Registered in and operating out of Singapore, Stratserv is the country’s pioneering Future Studies focused Management Consultancy. Stratserv is a young, small and humble Consultancy. It is also a Consultancy that studies the future, to identify what will work, how it will work and why. Everything Stratserv does is with the future in mind and focus. Stratserv is unique and beyond convention. By its very nature and purpose, Stratserv is necessarily beyond its time.

Digital Transformation – Is it time for a status check?

Spike Choo, Director, ICT, Asia Pacific at Frost & Sullivan, delivered a workshop around “Digital Transformation – Is it time for a status check?”

This session covered:

  • Factors impacting Global/Regional trends in Digital Transformation
  • Identification of good Digital Transformation approaches and how to measure enterprise maturity linking it to the challenges faced by CEOs/CIOs in the region
  • Case studies on successful implementation and unsuccessful implementation of digital transformation
  • How do enterprise CIOs/CDOs drive Digital transformation moving forward?

ABOUT SPIKE CHOO
Spike is an experienced business manager with more than 10 years experience in managing lines of business for leading service providers, digital media companies and technology vendors in both emerging and mature markets globally. He is a leading expert in telecom media and value-added services and has consulted for a number telecom operators, application services providers and media companies operating in both emerging and mature markets in Asia Pacific. Some of his past work experiences included spending a number of years working in emerging markets including Bangladesh, Peru and Indonesia for companies such as Grameenphone, Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent and Frost & Sullivan.

How to ensure CIO’s relevance and effectiveness in 2020

Gary Saw, Sales Director, Asia at Snow Software, delivered a roundtable discussion on “How to ensure CIO’s relevance and effectiveness in 2020”

Snow Software hosted an Executive Roundtable, bringing together a select group of IT leaders to discuss and exchange ideas to manage one of the most expensive assets of an organisation, software.

Leading CIOs know the importance of aligning themselves to business goals such as Digital Transformation. This alignment is only possible with a detailed understanding of all technology usage, especially cloud. According to Gartner, the amount of Tech spend that will be controlled outside of IT by 2020 is 50%. The result – an increase in complexity, accompanied by a decrease in visibility, which results in a loss of control from the CIO.

During the morning discussion, Snow Software looked at the drivers for the adoption of SAM and the challenges along the way of the SAM journey. Some of the key questions addressed over the peer-led roundtable were:

  • How today’s CIOs get full visibility of the IT estate and why this is crucial for the success of any IT initiative.
  • What are the implications as CIOs digitise their IT estate with a cloud first model?
  • What are the challenges faced by CIO’s given the ever-growing threat of vendor audits and increasingly complex licensing rules from large software publishers such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and IBM.

ABOUT SNOW SOFTWARE
From self-service technologies for mobile and desktop users through to intelligent software license allocation in complex datacenter environments and automated approval and procurement processes, we put our solutions at the center of the organization, empowering all types of IT stakeholders to maximize their productivity and contribution without introducing unacceptable costs or risks, ensuring that every penny invested in technology to support business operations is money well-spent. Some call it Software Asset Management, Cloud Spend Management, Enterprise Mobility Management, Unified Device Management or even just license compliance. Like thousands of organizations around the world, we call it Snow.

CIO path to 2025 in a cloud, AI and mobile first world

Stijn Paumen, Vice President Sales & Business Development at Wandera, delivered a roundtable discussion on “CIO path to 2025 in a cloud, AI and mobile-first world”

CIOs/CISOs no longer have a choice when it comes to embracing cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence and alternative security strategies. These trends are here, permeating their organizations rapidly, and are poised to drive momentous shifts not only in IT but in global business overall. What technologies are most relevant to help CIOs build a path to absorbing these disruptions seamlessly into their enterprise without creating additional complexity?

ABOUT WANDERA
Wandera is the global market leader in enterprise mobile security, delivered through its pioneering web gateway. Providing maximum visibility into mobile data, Wandera goes beyond threat detection to prevent attacks and contain data leakage. The solution’s threat intelligence is powered by MI:RIAM, a real-time security engine that analyzes the industry’s largest mobile dataset to uncover new vulnerabilities and zero-day threats as they emerge. Wandera is a Leader in IDC’s MTM MarketScape and recognized by Gartner for its threat capabilities, and was awarded SC Magazine’s Best Mobile Security solution in 2017.

Open Banking API & Partnerships

Himanshu Shrivastava, Managing Director, Head – Digital Technology (APAC & EMEA) at Citibank, delivered a workshop around “Open Banking API & Partnerships”

Citibank APAC journey to APIs, leveraging existing tech and nudge towards next gentech. Business transformation to Open Banking partnerships and being an ecosystem player and enabler.

ABOUT HIMANSHU SHRIVASTAVA
Head of Digital Technology – APAC/EMEA, Global Consumer Technology, Global Consumer Business, Citibank NA. Himanshu and his team are responsible for accelerated delivery of Citi’s Mobile first strategy and driving digital channels to next generation technology capabilities. Responsible for Development and Deployment of Internet and Mobile banking platform, API, ESB and CMR applications for Asia and EMEA Consumer Business. The primary focus for this role is application development, deployment of technology based business critical solutions, standardization of platforms & processes, managing large teams in diverse geographies, off shoring & outsourcing, vendor management. Himanshu joined Citi in 2003 as a Manager – Application Development in Business Systems Team of CitiFinancial, India. Since then, he has had many stints within Consumer Business Technology in India and Singapore. He has extensive experience in Product Development, Project Management and Implementation. Product/Solution design using various technologies. He leverages his knowledge of Citi’s systems and technology to deliver solutions to clients. He holds a Bachelors Degree from the Delhi University specializing in Computer Science, Mathematics and Science & a Masters of Business Administration from Institute of Management and Technology, Ghaziabad, India (I.M.T.) specializing in Marketing and Technology.

Building innovative digital platform dashboards to improve business and operational visibility and readiness

Steve Ng, Vice President, Digital Operations and Platforms at Mediacorp, delivered a presentation around “Building innovative digital platform dashboards to improve business and operational visibility and readiness”

In our dynamic business environment, IT leaders are constantly faced with both unplanned and unforeseen challenges which demand our utmost attention. This approach has disrupted our normal daily workflow, operational visibility and priorities.

In this session, Steve shared some insights and ideas that help his team to have better oversight of the business and operational environment, improved control of tasks and incidents with the help of automation and streamlined workflows, and other tools. This is a journey where we are moving from a reactive posture towards a managed and proactive approach.

ABOUT STEVE NG
Steve is an innovative and transformative leader with a vision to delivering high quality business outcomes through effective use of technology, people and processes. Steve has broad business and technology experience in blockchain, cybersecurity, cloud platforms and people management. In Mediacorp, Steve is leading the blockchain technology applications and cybersecurity digital transformation initiatives. Steve have worked in various business and technical regional roles in Amazon Web Services, EMC, HP and SanDisk.

Technology changing culture and the changing role of the CIO

Shivani Saini, Chief Information Officer, APAC at GSK Consumer Healthcare, delivered a workshop around “Technology changing culture and the changing role of the CIO”

“What is the I in CIO and what does it mean for you?” Shivani Saini shared about how CIOs play an increasingly important role in the corporate landscape, where IT moves from the backend to the forefront. Enterprise thinking, deep business understanding and effective communication are key in driving the digital agenda of corporations today and CIOs play an evermore important role in helping teams adapt to new demands of the future!

ABOUT SHIVANI SAINI
i. APAC CIO, GSK Consumer Healthcare
ii. 21+ years of in IT and Shared Services in global, regional and market roles in Japan, Belgium and Singapore. 19 years in Procter and Gamble, and 2 years in GSK of
iii. Track record in driving digital transformation in sales, marketing, supply chain and organization culture.

Enabling TelcoTech with big data

Eugene Yeo, Group Chief Information Officer at MyRepublic, delivered a presentation around “Enabling TelcoTech with big data”.

MyRepublic’s strategy on staying nimble and lean through TelcoTech. Use cases of how MyRepublic is leveraging on big data to create value in the firm.

ABOUT EUGENE YEO
Eugene is Group Chief Information Officer at MyRepublic. His primary focus is on driving business agility and transformation across the regional footprint of the company, through the use of innovative technology and efficient business processes. Combining his experience in enterprise software development with a deep understanding of ISP operations, he leads the development of customer-centric, agile OSS/BSS platforms and operational processes that allowed for the stratospheric growth of the company across the Asia-Pacific region. He is a regular keynote speaker at TM Forum events globally, and sits on the advisory panel of various startups and educational institutions across Asia-Pacific.

Interview with Himanshu Shrivastava, Managing Director, Head – Digital Technology (APAC and EMEA) at Citibank

Himanshu and his team are responsible for accelerated delivery of Citi’s Mobile first strategy and driving digital channels to next generation technology capabilities. Responsible for Development and Deployment of Internet and Mobile banking platform, API, ESB and CMR applications for Asia and EMEA Consumer Business. The primary focus for this role is application development, deployment of technology based business critical solutions, standardization of platforms & processes, managing large  teams in diverse geographies, off shoring & outsourcing, vendor management.

Himanshu joined Citi in 2003 as a Manager – Application Development in Business Systems Team of CitiFinancial, India. Since then, he has had many stints within Consumer Business Technology in India and Singapore. He has extensive experience in Product Development, Project Management and Implementation. Product/Solution design using various technologies. He leverages his knowledge of Citi’s systems and technology to deliver solutions to clients.

He holds a Bachelors Degree from the Delhi University specializing in Computer Science, Mathematics and Science & a Masters of Business  Administration from Institute of Management and Technology, Ghaziabad, India (I.M.T.) specializing in Marketing and Technology.

1) What do you feel are the biggest challenges IT leaders are currently faced with within their business?
Biggest challenges I find currently are:
Balancing Speed
Cost and Quality of Solutions being delivered.

2) As an IT leader, what do you feel businesses continue to get wrong when it comes to their IT strategy?
IT is a support function for the business, in fact IT is business now.

3) What are the latest trends and behaviours you predict will be surfacing on the market over the coming 12 months?
AI/ML using Big Data will be BAU.

4) What is the best piece of advice you have received within your job over the years?
Doing is easy, getting it done is difficult.

5) What is one key takeaway you hope our IT audience leaves with after hearing your presentation on site?
Be an ecosystem player to win, and it’s not so difficult if we have the thought.

Interview with Ramesh Munamarty, Group Chief Information Officer for International SOS

Ramesh Munamarty is the Group Chief Information Officer for International SOS. He leads the technology function for the Group that includes the engineering functions for the leading digital products that the company offers. International SOS is the world’s leading Medical and Travel Security Assistance Company and is in the business of saving and protecting lives from more than 1000 locations in 90+ countries. The Group companies also include Aspire lifestyles which inspires the extraordinary in lifestyle services for leading financial institutions and high-end retail businesses. MedAire provides medical and travel safety services to leading commercial airlines, corporate aviation and yachts.

1) What do you feel are the biggest challenges IT leaders are currently faced with within their business?
One of the challenges that the leaders have is balancing innovation with growth. The advent of new technologies such as AI, ML and Blockchain can be a gamechanger to enter to new domains, however the growth with current strategy may prevent organizations being agile to fuel innovation for the next growth wave. The other challenge is driving organizational change management to make the enterprises be more agile. The third challenge is providing superior customer experiences with talent well versed in modern technologies and getting appropriate funding.

2) As an IT leader, what do you feel businesses continue to get wrong when it comes to their IT strategy?
Companies don’t link IT strategy with customer needs and don’t have clear metrics that link the KPIs of IT to the Enterprise KPIs. Many companies are also inward looking and don’t consider IT to be a strategic function that can be a differentiator and gain competitive market share.

3) What are the latest trends and behaviours you predict will be surfacing on the market over the coming 12 months?
One of the key behaviour change will be the agile way of working and leveraging modern technologies such as AI, ML and blockchain. In addition, data analytics will be a key focus area for several companies. There will be an increase in Cloud Adoption and network transformation to be ready for Cloud such as SD-WAN.

4) What is one key takeaway you hope our IT audience leaves with after hearing your presentation on site?
Drive digital transformation by organizing agile teams into pods, reusing tech patterns and focusing on business outcomes.

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