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Leadership in the Age of Data-Driven Transformation

According to a succession of industry studies, establishing the right working culture is key to unlocking the value of artificial intelligence (AI). What’s more, it’s widely acknowledged that leadership plays the most significant role in determining an organization’s culture.   

For a deeper dive into the all-important issue of leadership in the age of data-driven transformation, episode seven of season two of Future Says turns to Niraj Parihar, executive vice president, leader – Insights and Data, India for Capgemini. Working for one of the world’s leading technology service and consulting providers, Parihar is ideally placed to offer expert guidance on the challenge of effecting cultural transformations that pave the way for meaningful digital change.

Unsurprisingly, Parihar stresses the pandemic’s profound impact on all our working lives. One of the positives to emerge from the worldshaking arrival of COVID-19 has been the changes in attitude toward transformation via data analytics. From his perspective, the process is one of evolution, with different industry sectors at different stages of development. However, speed is crucial. “The organization that masters data fastest benefits the most,” Parihar says. And while protecting data is vital, our first instinct should be to share as widely as possible. Undoubtedly, he says, collaboration is where we’ll find the most value in data.

As Parihar explains, the last two years have been humbling. Above all else, responding to the pandemic has required agility and a willingness to learn new lessons every day. Remarkably, over the same period, Capgemini has posted record growth. Reasons for this include its ability to embrace change and a no-compromise approach to its long-standing commitments in areas like diversity and employee development. It’s important for companies recognize the pandemic is health crisis far before it’s a financial one; as such, the well-being of employees and their families must take priority. Similarly, diversity and inclusion programs have been expedited, not put on hold.

Parihar insists that hiring a more diverse workforce is only part of the story. “The big thing that makes the difference is the ‘I’ part of ‘D & I’… It’s good to have a good percentage of the workforce diverse, but if you’re not going to include them in your decision-making policy, it’s of very limited use.”

A similarly nuanced philosophy is shaping Capgemini’s application of data analytics to the HR process. Employee retention may be an obvious starting point, but it’s not a simple one. Choosing to focus on the causes of churn rather than its symptoms, Capgemini is creating a ‘happiness index’ that embraces 57 touchpoints on an employee’s journey. Personal development is an important part of the jigsaw. In this respect, data literacy is a two-way street. Technical experts need more business awareness, and vice versa. But Capgemini’s commitment to improvement doesn’t stop there. Parihar lists a range of ambitious and life-changing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that the company is actively and enthusiastically engaged with.

As for the future, Parihar acknowledges the emerging trends in technologies such as the metaverse, quantum computing, and 5G can appear chaotic. However, we are heading towards a meeting point – a convergence – of these sectors and more. And if there’s a secret to harnessing them effectively, it lies in the simple truth that nobody has all the answers. All of this suggests that it’s the leaders who are most willing to learn from those around them that are the most likely to create working cultures fit for the age of data-driven transformation. 

To watch the full interview with Niraj Parihar, and the preceding episodes of Future Says, click here.