Dr. Sanjiv Gossain of Cognizant speaks to Ignite News on industrial digitalization

Sanjiv Gossain is a firm believer in the power of technology to solve major societal challenges. His knack for untangling complex problems defined his academic years and later a career spent bridging the gap between business and technology.

As the Cognizant Digital Business and Technology Leader and Global Head of Google Cloud, Gossain says that “no two days are alike.” Change has been the only constant during his decade and a half with the company, and his belief in the importance of what Cognizant does has never wavered.

“Our clients come to us for help to keep up with change,” Gossain said. “The business leaders want to be able to respond to increasing competition and rising customer expectations. The tech people want to figure out how to speed up to deliver products and services in weeks, not months. And then there are the underlying factors they all must deal with, including sustainability, which is where I see great focus these days.”

Data is another common theme among Cognizant clients, according to Gossain, and it’s an underlying factor that spans the breadth of customer concerns.

“The digital winners are the ones who can compete more quickly, be agile and responsive, as well as have clear insight into their operations,” Gosasin said. “I see the more established businesses struggle to get their data out of silos. This means they have the data but not the insight, and they are unable to use it to their advantage, to be more sustainable, more efficient, and more competitive.”

The pressure is on to digitalize, but there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” formula

Gossain refers to the companies that may have been around for a century or more, who now face new pressures and expectations, along with a treasure trove of technological opportunities. It can be challenging to make a sharp turn in an industry such as railroad, for example, which is why digitalization isn’t necessarily “one size fits all,” he explains.

“Digitalization is a very overused term,” Gossain said. “What we need to do is to help companies get to the root of what digitalization means to them based on the kind of problems they need to solve. This is a mindset shift as well.”


Don’t reinvent the wheel; design your digital process from the ground up

The path toward defining your own digitalization journey starts with picking the pain points. Ask yourself, “What will have the most impact?” urges Gossain. If you’re a bank, for example, you may want to decrease the amount of time it takes for a customer to open an account.

“Don’t just put technology into an existing process,” Gossain said. “Rethink it. Identify the business need and use tech to improve it. Reflect on how technology can make it better for the customers.”

Gossain describes digitalization as “an evolution, with mini revolutions along the way,” especially for legacy companies. For the past 27 years, Cognizant has supported big companies in their own evolutions, serving as the bridge between the business and the tech world, translating and helping inject digital value to improve, and in some cases, survive.

“We have seen a huge shift in the past 20 years,” Gossain said. “Back then it was all about what the competitor was doing. And now it’s all about new thinking, new ways of work, and corporate culture. The result of this is that we’re seeing more short-term projects, greater agility, and multidisciplinary teams that are far nimbler.”

No one is immune from digitalization’s reach

Digitalization has permeated nearly every business in every industry. Even tractor manufacturer John Deere is hiring more software engineers than mechanical ones, showing a willingness to change and an even deeper sense of urgency.

“We must turn to technology, think about impact, and then make the changes that contribute to a broader digital evolution, all while still running the existing business,” Gossain said.

While the problems that Gossain is tackling may have gotten bigger over his career, his passion and dedication to solving them with technology have remained constant. Whether a railway company, a pump maker, or a bank, Gossain and Cognizant believe that digitalization is coming, and the only thing you can do is to embrace it.

Tune in to Ignite Talks September 21-23 to hear from Cognizant and other leaders who are defining the technology-driven future for heavy-asset industries.

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