The IT industry body NASSCOM’s annual Technology and Leadership Forum (NTLF) brought together industry captains to discuss a number of key themes, including the impact of artificial intelligence (AI).

NASSCOM 2019 was held in Mumbai over three days in February with the NTLF itself gathering leaders with expertise in AI, automation, cloud computing, big data and cybersecurity.

Embrace digital transformation

Indian IT service providers agreed they are well-positioned to help enterprises embrace digital transformation saying it is not only about finding the right technology, curating large amounts of data, or identifying the best use cases.

Successful AI depends on changing business processes. While business leaders often focus on the change that needs to take place at the enterprise, more needs to be asked about the changes that IT services providers need to make in order to better serve their customers.

Emerging trends were also on the agenda. IT leaders from Wipro, TCS, Capgemini, Infosys and Tech Mahindra, as well as senior executives from up and coming smaller contenders, such as NIIT, Mphasis, Zensar, Hexaware and Mindtree, joined the conversation on preparing for the next opportunities.

Best practice and AI

They discussed best practices for managing the impact of AI on their internal staff, the importance of reskilling, ways to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with clients, and how to cultivate an internal culture that embraces change along with uncertainty.

The event kicked off with a discussion of AI’s impact on jobs. It addressed concerns around the replacement of human workers by machines – a relevant topic in India, which built its IT foundation on business process outsourcing years ago. However, the dialogue quickly turned to reskilling teams, not just customer service agents but also senior level managers, since AI has the potential to impact tasks performed across all levels of an organisation.

Developing the soft skills required to better partner with clients when working on complex emerging solutions was also a key theme during NTLF 2019. Senior leaders emphasised the need to promote a sense of empathy that would allow teams to better listen, better understand, and ultimately better communicate with clients during engagements.

Executives noted that not only did the sales conversations need to change, but the ways in which these conversations were being held needed to evolve – an essential shift to expanding client interactions.

And finally, cultivating an internal culture that embraces change was also a key theme. Industry leaders noted that in order to compete effectively in a world that is changing rapidly, their corporate culture needs to be less risk-averse, to learn from failures more quickly, and to embrace uncertainty.

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