The Future of Enterprise IT

Ananthan Thandri
Head of Technology and Development Operations at Siemens Industry Software
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Ananthan Thandri (00:00):

... low-code development, IT has a huge opportunity to modernize the legacy applications was talking about, this monolithic ERP applications and create a higher value for the company. So if IT doesn't do it, the end-users are going to do it themselves. Cloud along with low-code I think is a game changer.

Joe Toste (00:18):

Welcome to TechTables conversations with top technology leaders, taking a closer look at the world ofIT and digital through the lens of agility and innovation. I'm your host Joe Toste. I'm super excited today as we shift our focus to the Enterprise IT market with Anathan Thandri, head of technology and development operations for Siemens Industry Software. Huge thank you to Anathan for taking time to come on the show and meet with me. In today's episode we'll reflect on the six major areas he forecasted about in 2014 about the Enterprise IT market. Those six areas were user experience, application development, application delivery, processing big data in real time, predictive information security, and finally, all about people.

Joe Toste (00:59):

But that's quite enough from me, without further ado I'm thrilled to welcome Anathan Thandri, head oftechnology and development operations for Siemens Industry Software. Thanks forcoming on TechTables. Super excited to have you coming on today.

Ananthan Thandri (01:11):

Thanks for inviting me to your podcast, Joe. Super excited and looking forward to our conversation today.

Joe Toste (01:18):

I love it. Let's kick off today with a little bit about you and your background at Siemens.

Ananthan Thandri (01:22):

Yeah. Quick background is I'm currently the head of global technology and development operations for SiemensDigital Industry Software. As part of my function, my responsibility is taking care of all aspects of product development operations. Which includes engineering infrastructure, development support, product licensing, license compliance technology, technical publications, localization of UI and anything and everything to do with product development for I guess about 10,000 plus product developers within our company. I'm personally in the high-tech world for now close to 30 plus years.

Joe Toste (02:01):

That's fantastic. So you've been doing high-tech as long as I've been alive.

Ananthan Thandri (02:05):

Yeah! Probably. Definitely.

Joe Toste (02:08):

I love that. So while preparing for the podcast, I found an article you wrote titled Enterprise IT in2020. It's now January, 2021 of this recording. What I found insightful was that what you wrote in the article, I think it was in February, 2014. And how on point you were with your thesis around what corporate IT would look like in2020. You've heard about the changes in the enterprise IT market that would need to happen for enterprise IT orgs to stay relevant in 2020. I don't know if, COVID probably played a huge role in how you think about it, especially going into the future. In addition, you mentioned some key areas where consumerIT will profoundly alter expectations in 2020. I wanted to reflect on these six. I thought they were really great. These six major areas that you forecasted about. The first one was user experience. The second one was applications development. The third one was applications delivery. The fourth one was processing big data in real time. The fifth one was predictive information security. And then finally with people. But let's start with number one, user experience. Can you give us a quick summary of what you wrote about user experience and then where you think it's going in the future today?

Ananthan Thandri (03:23):

Yeah, sure. Thanks for asking this, Joe. I'm glad that you were able to read that article. It'll be interesting to reflect on my predictions which I guess I made in 2014 about enterprise IT, how it will be in 2020 now given that we are in 2021. So overall the relevance of enterprise IT has significantly increased in my humble opinion, but not necessarily in all the areas I mentioned in my article. So forexample, I think cybersecurity threats has significantly increased the importance of IT. Another example is the last 10 months, the COVID. So IT became super important. Within our company about 95% of the employees, probably 20,000 plus employees we have, 95% of the employees were working from office and overnight, they had hundred percent started working from home. It just happened just over the weekend and it put a lot of burden on IT's shoulders to keep the business running.

It just happened just over the weekend and it put a lot of burden on IT's shoulders to keep the business running.

Ananthan Thandri (04:22):

So IT has done a fantasticjob. All the companies, I would say, I would commend IT for a great job theydid, and that they continue to do during COVID. So now if we really wanted toreflect on individual things, so let's take a user experience first. I wouldsay enterprise IT has come a long way, but not quite at the level of consumerapplications. We have some cool enterprise apps now in the market, which arevery user-friendly. The collaboration technology has got much, much better.What we are using now, Zoom or any of the, there are a lot of collaborationtools. And the interesting thing is the users are actually using it to thefullest extent. So I think that's important to recognize. And then there areother applications which definitely is improved from a user experience point ofview. Having said that, I would still say that our big monolithic VIPapplications are getting better, but not to the extent you want them to be. So[inaudible 00:05:28] I see definitely a bit of a challenge there. And the nextthing is application development. As you mentioned here-

Joe Toste (05:35):

Okay, okay, before we moveon, I want to jump on user experience because you said some pretty great stuff.So I'm curious, there's two thoughts I had, the first one was, do you see ITtaking a bigger role post pandemic, really that seat at the table with theC-suite? Do you see more of that from your lens right now?

Ananthan Thandri (05:56):

I would say yes, it'sdefinitely accelerated that, but if you really look at it at the last fewyears, I have seen, and I experienced, CIOs have a lot more say in what ishappening in the business. Whether it is internal processes or optimizing theprocesses, cost control, are also a lot to do with how they work with thecustomers, how we help our customers. So I definitely see that that role of CIOhas certainly elevated in the last few years, just because every company is ahigh-tech company now. Everybody needs the technology they need, and the rolethe CIOs play is critical for the success of the business.

Joe Toste (06:47):

Yeah, that's really great,I've heard it this way, and I think I wrote about it on LinkedIn yesterday, butthere's the Chief Information Officer and then they're also really becoming theChief Innovation Officer at the same time, just with everything going on. Youmentioned monolithic the ERP systems, the SAP, the Oracles of the world. Justfrom a user experience, why do you think it's so hard for them to catch up? Doyou think it's just the legacy, they're the big boys and others are theincumbents? I'm just curious around your thoughts on why they're so slow toreally transform user experience and even design at that point?

Ananthan Thandri (07:27):

I think one, I would saycertainly is the complexity in business processes. I think they are trying toautomate those business processes, whether it is our management or inaccounting or anything like that, it's really complicated in terms of what weneed it to do. So the fundamentals are built in the system many years back whenthe ERP was started or created, I would say, but now they are putting thelayers and one layer at the [inaudible 00:07:55] or just trying to make theuser interface much more easier. It's become \a little bit of challenge becauseof the business logics fit in, or written in this applications. So I think mypoint is that unless and until you break down these applications into smallerapplications and then connect them through APIs, which is now becoming more andmore critical and important in all the business functions, it's going to bereally difficult for them to get to a user experience which is going to be asgood as any consumer applications. I think the complexity, the heavyweightapplications, the business logics involved in that is partly part of the reasonthey are struggling to make it a nicer, in my opinion.

Joe Toste (08:41):

Yeah. That's really great.That actually segues really well into number two of applications development.Love to hear the predictions around that.

Ananthan Thandri (08:48):

Yeah. So I was thinking aboutthe application development, I think I talked about agile development and whatwe needed to do. So I would say agile development has made significant inroadsin enterprise IT. I've seen it and there's no doubt about it. It works reallywell when we build custom home grown applications, but again, it'll go back tothe same thing when you're really trying to implement a big ERP CRMapplications, the ideal model still has a little bit of a challenge. They allbuilt with the waterfall mentality, you've got design and you got to code, yougot to test and you got to go and implement. And if you're a globalorganization, you've got to implement you've got to have phases ofimplementation, all kinds of things you have to do, right? So it just has, thewaterfall model fits well with the way it is turned out and it is to beimplemented.

Ananthan Thandri (09:39):

So I still see that agile isa bit of a challenge in the big ERP and CRM applications. The other thing whichI noticed is in the agile development, particularly in IT, is it also involvesend-users. So end-users have to be part of the team and they should be willingto spend time to test features and new functionality regularly on top of theday-to-day work. That is not well understood. We all talk about agile, Idevelop a code, I got to push it, and then someone has to test it for me. It'snot just me, so the end user has to test. So I think that user involvement inagile model is not well understood. The other thing is also in that space, isthat not many end-users like constancy of change and that's part and parcel ofagile, right? So you keep on changing and giving new functionality regularly.

Ananthan Thandri (10:31):

Some of them don't like it. Idon't blame them for this, it is just because you're asking them to do theday-to-day work. "Hey, you got to do this to test it for the newapplication or new functionality is available." So it's a lot of stress onthe end-users as well. So I think that's part of the challenge we have, but ina software development world that we are in, this is great. This whole thing,both agile and CICD and took off so very well. And we definitely see huge valuein that. But as an IT it is getting there and it works really well when you'rebuilding some custom application or the business users really understand theirrole. But if they don't, and if they're the bigger applications, now you stillhave the challenge of how you implement agile.

Joe Toste (11:15):

I view it as, that's onepiece of agile. I think there's a second piece of agile. I'd love to hear yourthoughts on as far as an agile mindset.

Ananthan Thandri (11:23):

Yeah. So I think, as I said,I mean agile is just the development, it is this whole mindset and everythingwe do, how we do it. I would say from an end-user point of view from anexecutive's, they always had this agile mindset, everything they want today oryesterday. So I think from one point of view, it is always there. We alwaysthat we wanted to make sure we get this done and we had to do it quickly and wehad to move fast. But when it comes to just, how do you execute that? And theseare some of the practical challenges we see. The other thing on the agilemindset also, is that are we willing to take small incremental improvements?Which is very important. So that-

Ananthan Thandri (12:03):

... small, incrementalimprovements, which is very important. So that's why we start with the conceptof MVP and then you have this... MVPs, it's a minimum viable product. So youhave this and then you can't continuously improve the functionality in this. Thatmay not go well with some users because they don't like this. They want whatthey want. That's not a minimum viable product, that is much more than aminimum viable product. So you've got to work on that. So then it's not that...I don't know whether I can say that they don't have agile mindset or not, butit's just not understanding that.

Ananthan Thandri (12:36):

And in having that clear... Iwould say the mindset in terms of, "Okay, I'm willing to take a minimumnow. And then I know that you are going to work, continue to work and continueto improve, so I'll work with you to get to what I want." And what I wantis never static. It changes. Business changes every day. So there is nothinglike, "Okay, I'm happy with what I want." No, your want is going tochange every day, so we just constantly continue to work on that.

Joe Toste (13:02):

Yeah. That's really great.Having that iterative mindset and approach in IT is super important. Let's talkabout number three, application delivery. Again, it dovetails really well withapplication development. Thoughts, your prediction, how you feel aboutapplication delivery right now?

Ananthan Thandri (13:19):

I think the applicationdelivery, it's improved. I think my vision at that time, or I would say myidealistic thinking was that we all have an App Store with the Apple, GooglePlay inside our enterprise, and everything you can download. And there is aconstant update to these apps and things like that. Not really. Probably I maybe too idealistic in thinking that. It's not necessarily realistic, but thereare definitely improvements in the enterprise app store world, I would say. Weare self implemented internally. ... is that if you build your own mobileapplications you can have an app store, so you can download and you canobviously make it available for your end users to download any time, and youcan have constant updates. So we can do that. But if you really look at thecommercially available software vendors, those who have their applicationsavailable on a mobile platform, they make it available on whether Apple Storeor Google Play.

Ananthan Thandri (14:20):

So the importance of havingan enterprise app store for those applications is not that important becauseyou can go and download from any of these available Apple Store or GooglePlace. It is there, I would say. But the more I think about now is that howimportant it is given the vendors have the strategy of making it available inApple and Google. Do we really need to maintain all those internally? Becausewe are not anyhow maintaining those applications. But anything we developinternally, that needs to be in app store. The other thing is Microsoft has gottheir software download. It's like an app in the App Store for all yourdesktop. So we can push all our software into that store and then we'll tellemployees, "Hey, go to that and download it, and all the latest updateswill be available." So those things have certainly improved in the lastseveral years.

Joe Toste (15:16):

Processing big data in realtime. I really liked this. I'd love to hear your thoughts and where you're attoday and where you see this going.

Ananthan Thandri (15:24):

I would say in this case, asignificant improvement is seen in the last five plus years. Now, thetechnology has improved leaps and bounds and enterprise IT has certainly takenadvantage of it. Whether it is a flash storage or in an in-memory database,predictive models. Certainly IT has done a lot of work in this space, and Iwould say particularly in the consumer markets. The enterprise IT organizationshave done an excellent job with the technology we are talking about here,whether it is AI or whether it is real-time data processing. One thing Iwould... kudos to all my it organizations is that with the information readilyavailable to the decision makers with all this technology we are talking about,and I would... Yeah, thanks to IT companies have significantly improved intheir data-driven decision-making. So I would certainly say that there are noexcuses anymore. The data is available anytime, anywhere, so you have thatavailable on your fingertips to make decision right decisions for the company.So I think IT has played a significant role in that space. So in this case, Iwould say I think we've made significant improvement.

Joe Toste (16:38):

That's great. I don't want tojump ahead. There was a great question that I asked LinkedIn this morning, butas far as big data, are you at the point where you're layering on AI? I'mcurious about how... Are you automating any of that? Leveraging any of thatnext gen technology? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Ananthan Thandri (17:00):

If you're talking about theEDA market or EDA tools and how we do it here, I think if that's the questionit's of that, I would say that AI and ML have a significant role in EDA. Wehave our own tools and developed our tools for just commercially available tohelp companies design AI accelerators faster. Developing an AI architecture forany given application requires EDA tools today because it's a semiconductor.It's interesting that with many companies who are in a high tech business aredeveloping their own specialized hardware architecture to optimize theirsoftware. And they all need EDA tools. And then inevitably they all become techdesigners, so they obviously need the EDA software. And then we also, I wouldsay that we have integrated machine learning into our own EDA tools. This isjust to help our customers to get better results more quickly, it's faster.

Ananthan Thandri (18:02):

So for example, we're usingour mission language in our EDA tools, we have been able to help our customersto reduce their turnaround time in their physical design and verification by1/3. So we are leveraging the technology inside of our products to help ourcustomers. As far as in IT, the AI and the ML, we use a lot of, I would say,data processing. And ML is, I would say, not dead yet in terms of how we use itand what we use it for. But data analysis and predictive models are our bigones for us, so we are able to actually help our internal sales organizations,our executives on using some predictive models to help them when it comes totheir contract renewals, how our customers are using our software, and helpingthem to realize what functions and features they are using with our telemetrydata so that it also helps our product groups to adjust their UI design andwhere they need to focus on when it comes to functionality. So all those thingsare done internally by collecting and having real time information bycollecting telemetry information.

Joe Toste (19:19):

Let's move on to number five,predictive information security. You obviously mentioned at the beginning,cybersecurity threats in IT becoming obviously a huge theme. Love to hear youspeak to that.

Ananthan Thandri (19:30):

This is, again, another areaI think I would say that the industry and IT as a whole have made big strides.We can never say that we are 100% safe from cyber threats, but I think I wouldsay we are more aware today and well informed of the threats now than ever inthe past. And huge kudos goes to IT. I would say they've done an excellent jobin educating employees in this regard. Many companies do this. So they have notonly just simply like an learning and training classes or lessons in terms ofknow what they can do online, but they also do these phishing tests and makingsure that people are not clicking on these things, and they continue to educatethem, what is the problem by doing this?

Ananthan Thandri (20:18):

And I think those are allgreat educational tools which we have, and we continue to use it. So I think wehave gone beyond blocking and tackling, as I probably mentioned in that report.But I think we are certainly getting more into the predictive space. But thisis an area I would say that no matter how proactive we are, we still have toexpect, anticipate threats, and more importantly prepare to react very quickly.I think that's the main thing here. So how quickly we'll find and how quicklywe react is very important for us in today's world. So that's what I see today.

Joe Toste (20:59):

That's great. This is myfavorite part. It's all about people. You talked about six, it's all about people. I'd love to hear your thoughts on where we're at right now on the people front.

Ananthan Thandri (21:09):

Yeah. The talented people arealways in demand, and the demand is increasing. And I would say I've seen a lotof young IT professionals in the last five plus years who enter the workforcehave immense pride in what they do and they are really hungry to make adifference in the organization. They're hardworking, they are talented, howeverthey struggle with office politics. They keep questioning, "Why?"And, "Why are we doing this?" So I think it is certainly something Iwould not blame them for that, but I think certainly it's a struggle I see.Their high energy and impatience sometimes actually makes them get frustratedquickly in the enterprise world. You come out of college and everything you cando quickly. Or if you come from smaller companies and you were trying to workfor a larger companies, then you have this governance. A lot of things you hadto go through, it just frustrates the heck out of them. It's not only just inIT. I've seen this with software development world as well as we are hiring a newcollege grads, computer science grads. So we definitely see that it'shappening. I think as IT leaders or in general of business leaders, we have torecognize that and we have to adjust accordingly. We have to work with thembecause I think that there's a lot of talent, and how to get the best out ofthem is very important for the leaders to obviously execute. But recognizingthe talent and then the frustration they have is very important.

Ananthan Thandri (22:43):

So the key to success here,to me, with the employee retention, is you want to hire people for theirattitude. And skills can always be developed. I think sometimes what happens,we jump into first skills, what skills we are looking for. And I think to someextent, we do need to hire people for skills but I think what is more importantis the right attitude. And I think that the right attitude, the culture, ifthey will fit into what we are doing is very important. I think if we do that,I think our retention rate will definitely go up.

Joe Toste (23:17):

That's great. I'm smiling ateverything you listed off right now, because you described to me. Now, I'm notjust out of college, I'm 32. But hungry, hardworking, high energy, impatient. Ithink you're describing... Great book for the audience that are listening, forthe folks who are younger, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I'm sureyou've read it. It's a fantastic book. I think everything you listed off my ownboss would probably agree with. Being that I work at a large company, this is exactlyit. But I'm growing and maturing. Yeah, working with the high energy folks.It's great. Finally, I know that you're not the Nostradamus of enterprise IT.Does your original thesis hold up in 2025? Let's maybe fast forward a littlebit. Will enterprise IT be here or...

Joe Toste (24:03):

Maybe fast forward a littlebit. Will Enterprise ITB here, or is automation is just going to cannibalizeeveryone's jobs.

Ananthan Thandri (24:08):

So let's talk aboutautomation. So I think the Enterprise automation plays a key role even today.And it's there for quite some time and automation monitoring and all thosethings are very much in play. But what we see now is a little bit different. Sothis AI ops, which is basically artificial intelligence for IT operations isgetting a lot of steam now. And as I said, automation is not new to IT, butwhat AI ops brings to the table, it's ability to take action real time withouthuman intervention. They are able to even when we are having this monitoring,we are doing all this monitoring systems, we have it available and we monitorall the systems 24/7. One of the challenges always is how do we separate thenoise from actual alerts, events? So that was always a challenge we had, butnow with the AI ops and mission learning together, and they are able toseparate the significant events from the device and able to take action,respond, and then also obviously continue to learn and try to fix the[inaudible 00:25:17].

Ananthan Thandri (25:17):

So I think AI ops is a prettycool technology or process, whatever we wanted to call. And then I think it isgoing to stay. And it's very important for us to understand that. The couple ofother factors, which is going to play a role along with that, 2025, is which Iwill say is that in application development. You hear this low code or no codedevelopment, which is now getting a lot more attention. And what it does is itactually empowers the end user much more to build applications or nicer UIs ontop of existing applications. So local development, it has a huge opportunityto modernize the legacy applications I was talking about this monolithic ERPapplications and create a higher value for the company. So if Your IT doesn'tdo it, the end users are going to do it themselves.

Ananthan Thandri (26:13):

So there is a definitely anopportunity to... If you're asking whether they will be there or not, they haveto do this. And they have to adapt to this, the new technology. Cloudadoption... We see that today and we already see the impact of cloud adoptiontoday. All you need is a credit card to sign up for cloud services. And nowwith cloud services, and then with a low code development, you can build yourown application very quickly and you don't need to wait for IT. Cloud alongwith low code, I think is a game changer.

Ananthan Thandri (26:43):

And the last one is aboutmobile, right? We talk a lot about mobile. Everybody's on mobile and mobiledevice has made every human being technology savvy. As an example, now mymother is 80 years old. She's never touched a computer in her life, but she'sso comfortable using her iPhone with several of these apps and calls me onWhatsApp all the time, forwards and text messages and all these things. Shedoes it. She knows how to use YouTube so very well. I think the, and with notraining, there was absolutely no training given to her. So the consumertechnology continues to become so easy to use, very user-friendly and you gotmillennials who were born and when they were born, they had the mobile phone prettymuch. Either parents had the mobile phones and they entered the workforce, theexpectation from IT is huge.

Ananthan Thandri (27:37):

So I think it is going to putnot on these, these are the areas where it is going to put a lot of pressure onthe enterprise IT to step up. So I believe five years from now, if you look atit, so IT's role will be more prominent in the cyber security and ingovernance. Definitely. I know IT is not going to go away. So it's still goingto be there. So the skills you need to run IT in 2025 are going to bedifferent. It's a lot different from what we have or we need today. So I thinkthat's another area IT leaders have to take. And I would say that as IT leadershave to recognize that and start looking for the talent.

Joe Toste (28:22):

Yeah, that's really great. Iam a millennial, but I will say I had a mobile phone. The first one I got wasthe very first Nokia. You could play Snake on it in seventh grade, and then itevolved from there. And now I've got a two-year-old and he is so funny. Hemimics me, he pretends he's podcasting, he's on the phone, he's got a fakephone. And then he picks up my real phone and his face is similar to mine. Sohe's unlocking it. And he's navigating around that consumer technology onmobile gives you a headstart. It'll be fun when the enterprise world gets soeasy that toddlers can use it. And there've been many advancements in the areasof AI and ML. And this is actually the next question I got to say is come fromthe audience on LinkedIn. So shout out to LinkedIn for dropping this question.So there've been many advancements in the areas such as AI and ML, cloudcompute and augmented reality. What role do these play in the EDA industrytoday?

Ananthan Thandri (29:21):

Yeah, so I think as I mentioned,we, as an organization, EDA software development company, we are leveraging thetechnology a lot in terms of what we want to do and, how we provide the helpour customers with the AI and ML. So as far as the cloud is concerned, I wouldsay that EDA is highly compute intensive and thousands and thousands so it'smind boggling when you hear some of our customers and they're on the privatecloud, how many codes and now what memory they have, and knowledge. It's mindboggling. It's highly compute intensive.

Ananthan Thandri (30:01):

So when we run [inaudible00:30:03] private cloud internally to do our [inaudible 00:30:06] and we usepublic cloud for best capacity and our customers either run on the privatecloud or on a public cloud or hybrid, combination of both private and public.So there is a demand and that will continue to increase demand forinfrastructure as a service for EDA products. So as the semiconductor farmfactor continues to reduce the need for testing, compute for verificationincreases a lot. So you're going to see a lot more need for compute in the EDAspace, both the media companies as plus for the EDA workload within ourcustomer base.

Joe Toste (30:48):

That's great. And the secondpart of that was complex products have those steep learning curves and requirea lot of support from product vendors. Are there opportunities for technologiessuch as virtual assistants to bring and improve to the learnability and supportfor such tools?

Ananthan Thandri (31:04):

We have an excellent customersupport portal available. You can query on anything and you get the relevantinformation. So all those things are developed using the current technology wehave. Whether the bots kind of thing will help in the EDA space, I am notreally sure. It may, but the thing is EDA is very complex and it's highlytechnical. Programming bots to do it takes time and machine learning willcertainly help, but I don't really know. It may change from now, but right nowI don't see that it's anything used.

Joe Toste (31:40):

I noticed that you earnedyour MBA from St. Mary's College. I used to play basketball in that gym duringsummer camps and for traveling teams, that's my fond memories. Could you speakto the benefits of IT leaders having both a technical and a business backgroundin today's fast paced technology environment?

Ananthan Thandri (32:00):

CIO is not just about being atechnologist, right? I'm not a CIO or an IT leader. In my humble opinion, asuccessful IT leader is one who is a technologist, a business processoptimization expert, a customer service agent, empathetic customer service agent,I would say, a change agent, a good communicator, and a strong leader who setsa vision and rally the organization to work toward that vision. Sounderstanding the business realities, the market, the company operates, thecustomer feedback, all helps to optimize IT practices.

Ananthan Thandri (32:38):

So for example, I visitedseveral of our customers with the sales team to understand how they use ourproducts and how we can help from IT to optimize their environment. I wanted toknow how easy or difficult to do business with us and why. And so that feedbackreally helped me to optimize our IT landscape and get better and more easy todo business with us.

Ananthan Thandri (32:59):

And I also shared some of thebest practices we have within our, of what we do with our customers. So allthese things really helped the relationships held by the businesses overall.Similarly, understanding finance internally and speak in financial terms isabsolutely important for IT leaders, right? So CFOs are more interested infinancial return then how cool is the technology? So it's important tounderstand what's cashflow, ROI, NPV, IRR, depreciation schedule, and whatnot.I mean, everything is related to financial. You absolutely need to understandand how it is applied. And then the third thing is about marketing is needed,is a key strength needed. IT leaders, particularly CIOs have to continuallymarket our services, right, communicating new services or any changes we do,and it has to reach the employees. And it has to answer the employees questionof, "What is in it for me?" We can't push any more changes. We can'tpush things enterprise wide to all employees, "Hey, you got to dothis." Now you got to tell why you're doing this and what is in it for them.It's very important. So the communication plays a big role.

Ananthan Thandri (34:08):

So in general I would say isthat IT leaders, the role is not just about technology. It definitely involvesthe understanding the business, the softer skills, the communication, and all thosethings. And I think it's not any more nice to have. I would say it's a must.

Joe Toste (34:26):

I love that you hammered thathome, especially with the CFO. A lot of times I've noticed IT leaders willreport to the CFO and they probably want to hear what the return is, what theIRR is, not a cool technology that you want to roll out. Speaking to languagesis super important. Can you talk about your experience just from a high level,creating net new products and maybe how you think about digital innovation?

Ananthan Thandri (34:53):

I was just thinking aboutthat and being in a high-tech company, digital innovation is about increasingproductivity of employees. And the reason I'm saying this is this, if you lookat a software company, 80 to 90% of the company expenses are people related,salaries and wages because software company is all about people, right?Employees are the single most important asset of the company. Period. Soanything we do, which eliminates any mundane, redundant, manual, inefficientwork, whatever it is, which it is a productivity gain. So for example, theyalways say this, think about giving back 5% of a developer time withdigitalization and automation. We are talking about thousands of hours back tothe developers employees. In those thousands of hours, more features andfunctionality can be added to our products. More testing can be done to have amuch higher quality and more time can be spent with our customers helping tosolve their problems. And so on. Huge value for the company. So-

Ananthan Thandri (36:03):

... problems, and so on. Hugevalue for the company. Increasing productivity is always our number onereality. How will we do that? Having said that we also developed several netnew solutions, like engaging our EDA customers in their design cycle in asecure way, developed several mobile applications for internal consumptions. Weactually developed also an enterprise app store, which is very small. Wedeveloped the apps with predictive modeling to help our sales teams in contractrenewal situations. So many more. Basically what we did was we made theinformation available, particularly to decision makers, anytime, anywhere it'spretty much.

Joe Toste (36:43):

I love that. Okay. And we'realmost there, but if you had a magic wand, what would you like your team toaccomplish in 2021 on the digital product development and software innovationsides?

Ananthan Thandri (36:55):

Some of the developmenttrends in 2021 are going to be AI-induced CI/ CD, continuous integration andthe deployment, [inaudible 00:37:04], cybersecurity, [inaudible 00:37:06], andin that area. So COVID-19 certainly pushed the limits on collapsed routes aswell. So there's going to be a lot more innovation happening there. So what Iwould like to see more work done by my team, incorporating AI and ML insoftware development to produce faster, more quality and secure products forour customers. We are the responsibility help the developers. And I would liketo see us come up with innovative solutions to help them achieve that. We havedone a lot of stuff here. We have our own [inaudible 00:37:36], we automatedthat with all the tools needed for both quality, as well as for security, sickchecking. But I think there is more to be done in this space. And I would reallylike to see that we continue to focus on that.

Joe Toste (37:50):

I love it. Okay. So we'regoing to move to the wrap-up section. What's your number one leadership lessonthe audience can take away.

Ananthan Thandri (37:56):

Yeah. I think I would saythat personally for me, if there is one, I would say a critical leadershipquality which I learned myself and I worked under a lot of brilliant leadersand I learned a lot from them is to identify talent and create a solidleadership bench. I think that, in my mind, is very important. Setting avision, executing [inaudible 00:38:23] and rallying your employees towards thatvision, making sure they know execution is key. Everything has, we always saythis, what's our strategy? Our strategy is execution. You get to execute. Youcan keep talking about everything, but you've got to execute. So execution isthe strategy.

Ananthan Thandri (38:37):

So there's a lot of goodthings I learned from the leaders I worked for. What I also learned isidentifying a talent and creating a solid leadership bench is absolutelycritical. And we want to surround ourself with highly talented employees andleaders and treat them very well. That's very important. And personally my goalfor my legacy to be whenever I leave my company, I'm not planning for anytimesoon, but not for my company to search for my replacement outside. But who dothey have to debate who to pick from inside the organization because of thestrong leadership bench I helped develop.

Joe Toste (39:20):

I love that. Wow. You said acouple of really great thing. Obviously execution is key. I love the executionas a strategy. I think I say that a lot around, you can talk about what youwant to do and you can debate about what you want to do and you can debate strategyand it can become a sink hole. But execution is the strategy.

Ananthan Thandri (39:42):

At the end of the day,execution is what helps you to build your credibility. Yeah, absolutely it isimportant that we have to do what we say we do. That's what I would say.

Joe Toste (39:54):

Yep. I love that. And Ireally like this question. What's the nicest thing someone has done for you?And it could be in business or it could be personal.

Ananthan Thandri (40:02):

Yeah. That's a tough questionbecause many people have done many nice things to me, both in my professionaland personal life. My parents, there's my wife, my children, my extendedfamily, my friends, my colleagues, all of them many nice things to me. So I'mreally blessed. So it's really hard to pick one, but I thought that this one,because it's always good to share a real story of getting help from strangersto spread past the [inaudible 00:40:35] we all need now. So this happenedduring one of my overseas trips, a few years back. I was basically getting tothe airport, driving back and the taxi driver was generally nice. It was aboutan hour drive. The drivers was generally nice, but very talkative. Asking lotsof questions about my travel, where I came from, where I am going, what do Ido? All kinds of things.

Ananthan Thandri (41:02):

And I was just been living ina [inaudible 00:41:05], it was the end of the day, is late in the evening and Iwanted to relax in the taxi when I was going to the airport. So my responsesalso showed my irritation, but he didn't really care. He just kept asking mehis discussions and talking to me. Was super excited talking to me. So after hedropped me at the airport, he promptly drove away and I said, Okay, so I walkedup to the check-in counter. It's a long walk from the airport entrance. And at thattime I realized that I left my mobile phone in the taxi and that's when itdropped down because I was going to take the phone to show them my boardingpass, my reservation. And that's when I realized that I left the phone in thetaxi.

Ananthan Thandri (41:48):

I really got a panic attackand I failed to take the receipt from the driver, so I have no phone number tocontact. My office was closed, it was late in the evening. So I was reallypanicking, left the phone in the taxi in a foreign country and just walking. Idon't know what to do. So I was walking back and forth and as I was walkingback and forth, I suddenly saw this driver to my big surprise just runningtowards me. And then he was having my phone with him. And he said that based onall his questions, he was talking to me, he figured out [inaudible 00:42:27],the airline I'm taking, and he came running to hand over my phone. So I wasvery happy with that. I would never thought that's going to happen.

Ananthan Thandri (42:35):

I was very happy with that.And in fact, I actually offered him some money and he refused to take it. And Iwas very thankful. I profoundly thank him. I would say this one is something Iwould say, because this is help from a stranger who I knew only for an hour,just gave me a taxi. And I was probably not nice to him because the way I wasresponding to him because I was [inaudible 00:43:00] all these questions. Buthe still came and did this and took the pain and the effort to make sure that Iget the phone. So it's something that I would say is one of the nicest thingssomebody has done to me,

Joe Toste (43:13):

I love that. That's so good.And the best part, and I love hearing positive stories, I'm a super positiveperson. I think that the best part about this story is the guy who actually didthe help too, is not going to know really the impact. And he's moved on, it'sbeen a couple of years from now, but it's so great. You never know just thestory that you leave and you're just complete strangers. So that's great. So aswe wrap up, where can people find you? Where do you hang out? LinkedIn,Twitter, what's your platform?

Ananthan Thandri (43:44):

LinkedIn is better. I have aTwitter account, I just don't use it much. I used to be, but not anymore. SoLinkedIn is the best place to get me.

Joe Toste (43:52):

That's great. Well thank youfor coming on Tech Tables. I really appreciate it, and looking forward toreleasing this episode.

Ananthan Thandri (43:58):

Thank you, Joe. Thanks forinviting me to your podcast. I really enjoyed all your questions and the hope Ianswered to your satisfaction. Again, thanks for inviting me and have a greatweekend.

Speaker 1 (44:09):

If you're interested inseeing what Nagarro, a digital product engineering company that excels atsolving complex business challenges through agility and innovation, can do foryour company. You can email Joe at Joe.Toste. That's T, O, S, T, E, atNagarro.com. Or message Joe on LinkedIn. For all information on the Nagarro,checkout Nagarro.com. That's N, A, G, A, R, R, O dot com.

Speaker 1 (44:35):

You've been listening to theTech Tables podcast. To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to theshow in your favorite podcast player. If you have an iPhone, we'd love for youto open the Apple podcast app and leave a quick rating for the show. Just tapthe number of stars you think the podcast deserves. To catch more Tech Tablesepisodes, you can go to TechTablesPodcast.com. And to learn more about oursponsor, please visit Nagarro. com. That's N, A, G, A, R, R, O dot com. And ofcourse you can find Joe Toste, yourpodcast host, on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Joe's last name is T, O, S,T, E. Thanks for listening.


Joe Toste
Joe Toste
Host of TechTables Podcast

Host of TechTables 🎙- Conversations with Top Technology Leaders