Technical Leadership in the Era of Digital Transformation by Puspanjali Sarma

Automatic Summary

Technical Leadership in the Era of Digital Transformation: A Guide by Pushman Ji Sharma

Hello everyone, I'm Pushman Ji Sharma, the Practice Lead for Data and AI at Rackspace Technology. As part of my role, I oversee our practice's entire gamut, from solution design and consulting to implementation for various clients. Additionally, I'm in charge of team building and leadership requirements when it comes to hiring new team members and providing top-notch solutions for our customers. Today I want to explore the theme of technical leadership in our rapidly evolving digital transformation era. I'll dive into trending technologies, the importance of digital transformation, and the need for a more adaptable leadership style in this critical time.

Trends in Technology and their Impact on Work

With technologies evolving at warp speed, businesses must keep pace to stay relevant. Particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for digital transformation has skyrocketed. Companies must understand how to adapt their leadership style to effectively steer their organizations towards successful digital transformation. Here are some key technological trends you should be aware of:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Whether it's simple customer churn analytics or advanced predictive maintenance, companies are increasingly leaning on AI and ML for analytics and decision-making.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA): RPA is automating laborious manual tasks, thus improving efficiency and cutting costs.
  • Edge Computing: As latency becomes an issue for companies requiring millisecond or microsecond data retrieval, edge computing is emerging as a solution.
  • Quantum Computing: This transformative technology is undoubtedly shaping the future of computing power and processing.
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality: From Metaverse to retail stores opening in digital spaces, VR and AR are changing not only the gaming industry but all aspects of life.
  • Blockchain: The rise of cryptocurrencies shows that decentralized and secure data management systems are now a necessity.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): From smart cities to smart factories, IoT is transforming traditional industries.
  • 5G: The upgrade to 5G holds promises of faster, more reliable telecommunications.
  • Cybersecurity: With digital transformation comes the important challenge of ensuring data and systems are secure.

Necessity of Digital Transformation Amidst Rapid Technological Change

The pace of technological change necessitates digital transformation for businesses to thrive. According to a survey by InfoTech Research Group, businesses have seen a significant increase in customers engaging with digital channels since December 2019. This increased digital interaction has led to a rise in demand for digital marketing, with many companies investing significantly in digitized products or services.

With the pandemic accelerating the pace of digital transformation, businesses are now faced with creating a work environment that promotes a balance between professional commitments and personal well-being. Hence, digital transformation necessitates not just technological change but a fundamental shift in mindset.

Leadership Style in the Digital Transformation Era

Implementing digital transformation programs is a complex task that requires a clear roadmap, understanding the success factors, and setting the right priorities. As a leader, you must understand the growing role of technology and how to adapt it to your organization's needs.

Despite the challenges, leaders need to guide their teams towards an inclusive and balanced work environment that cherishes each member's unique experiences and contributions. In this digital era, education is no longer just about degrees; practical knowledge gained from real experiences is equally important. With the correct mindset and open-mindedness, it's never too late or too early to lead in this digital era.


In the era of digital transformation, effective leadership involves adopting technology, understanding its complexities, and leading the team towards an inclusive and balanced working environment. Regardless of age or how well versed you are with technology, what's crucial is your ability to adapt, to be open to learning, and to lead. To quote Kofi Annan, "You are never too young to lead and we are never too old to learn."

I'm open to any questions or discussions about this topic. You can connect with me via LinkedIn or email. Thank you!

Video Transcription

Yeah, hello everyone. I hope all of you are having great time today in the conference. I'm Pushman Ji Sharma. I'm the practice lead for data and A I in racks space technology.So as part of my job, I take care of the complete uh practice in data and artificial intelligence in terms of consulting solution, design and implementation for different customer. I also take care of the team building and also leadership requirement in the in the practice building and in terms of hiring new people building the team and also uh delivering the right set of solution for the customer. So today I'm going to talk about technical leadership in the era of digital transformation. So why I want to talk about this particular topic is that we all the technical technology is changing very rapidly. And after the COVID situation has come into picture. Now, the pan after pandemic, the requirement for digital transformation has been has been speeding up a lot. In the meantime, where companies are looking for digital transformation in their organization. They are still not able to understand how they have to change their leadership style to lead the company or organization and the people in a in a right direction into her digital transformation.

So first, I would like to talk about different technology trends in the market as we know, artificial intelligence and machine learning is in demand. So most of the companies are looking for either building a data platform using some of the cloud technologies like Azure or AWS and then doing their uh analytics in terms of using a power bi dashboard or a table dashboard and enabling that particular analytics layer with machine learning use cases.

It can be very simple use case like customer churn analytics to a very advanced use case like predictive maintenance. Both the side of take this technology like typically deep learning for A I work or plain vanilla logistic regression kind of models are used in terms of bringing digital transformation for a particular process or overall in the organization. Second one is robotic process automation.

So in a lot of traditional uh companies, a lot of processes are human driven. You must have seen that when uh a particular uh invoice or memo is submitted to the company, there is a person behind the uh system desktop or laptop system who is kind of constantly checking those papers and entering those data in the system. So this kind of mundane task is completely getting automated by using robots and robotic process automation is one of the very prevalent um use case of A I because these bots are designed using artificial intelligence. The next technology is edge computing. In uh in, in the olden time, we used to use uh servers on prem in those servers, different types of systems uh like uh say OLTP system um uh design in um oracle SQL servers are hosted. Now the cloud has come into picture in cloud. Now we host all types of application including databases, different websites and a lot of other things. But when we try to access those systems, we see there is a lag for in terms of data retrieval or access of the application. Yes, that particular time has come down to a latency limit has come down to some say 5 to 10 seconds. But for companies, the requirement is millisecond or microsecond.

So edge computing is one of the concept where the applications and data is data storages are placed to the very nearest data store or source system from where data is extracted. So it's a very complicated process of data architecture. But this is one of the area each and every company is kind of looking into. Next is quantum computing. So we remember when our uh laptops used to be uh you know, kind of big boxes, it used to take a complete room to, you know, uh use uh one particular uh CPU because the CPU used to cover the complete width of the room that particular system has come down to so small that we can U use that same capability even faster processing use using TP US or GP US in our uh laptops of 13 or 16 inches.

But, and when it comes to distributor computing, when we need supercomputer to process very advanced level of uh you know uh data or say processing. For example, the systems we use to design and control a rocket quantum computing comes into picture there. Virtual reality, augmented reality.

These two are very prevalent uh concept for a long time. And the latest uh example is metaverse where each and everything has made virtual for us to consume even H and ma very big retail store. Uh We have the physical stores across the uh world and you'll have the mobile application and they have recently opened their store in the in the metaverse in a lot of high end companies, uh automotive companies uh luxury cars. So now they are dealerships is uh locations, they have simulators where the customer go and take, take the test drive. They don't have to take the car outside on the road for a test drive. They can have the same look and feel and experience within the simulator blockchains. I'm sure a lot of you have already bought a lot of, you know, cryptocurrencies or maybe in the process of investing in tho in those. So Blockchain has become one of the important technology nowadays. And also a lot of financial institutions are exploring this option uh as part of their digital uh transformation initiative to integrate uh this technology to generate their own Bitcoins. Next is IO we have heard about a concept like smart cities, smart factories. We have heard about concepts like IO, right? IOT in uh manufacturing iot in uh chemical industry, we have heard industry 4.0 digital IOT, right?

So now it's a need of the r the company, the traditional companies are very reserved uh companies uh are saying industries like uh manufacturing or say oil and gas, they have realized that it is not always possible to go to your uh manufacturing plant and keep monitoring the uh machines, the huge machines, it can be a very small water cooler or it can be a very big production system.

It's not possible to monitor those systems always uh with the, you know, team of human beings. So they want, they want to understand how exactly they can capture all the, all the different sensors, data, unstructured data and do some analytics to understand what's happening for a particular system or some machine in that particular plant and how they can mitigate the risk.

The risk means the system is going to run out of oil, the machine is going to break down in coming two days. If there is an early warning sign through the predictive maintenance A I use cases, then the company can keep our service team stand by to, to uh to you know, repair it on time in this way the companies are going to lose less amount of money. We know that during this pandemic when we were kind of pushed inside our houses and nobody was allowed to go to a manufacturing plant and work across the world. A lot of manufacturing company has lots, a lot of money because they were not understanding that the traditional way of working or human driven processes are not always going to work. Next is five G. So we remember when we used to talk uh you know, over telephone in landline connections. So that has become, you know, telecommunication, we started using mobile network. So now we are at four G and the mobile networks are going to get enhanced with the five G. And in the telecom world, a lot of things are happening in terms of five G cybersecurity as we are going into, you know, a very huge technological transformation.

For example, let us take the example of Meras security is one of the main concern when you are connecting with each other in a virtual world, how our data is processed, how each and everything we are doing is processed and how to secure that particular environment is very much important.

Cybersecurity is one of the very big concern in each and every industry and a lot of research and work is going on in this particular area. Drilling one level down in artificial intelligence. N LP has taken the front stage when it comes to building different A I use cases. A lot of industries are exploring options of chatbots, conversational A I to make their customer service more efficient. They are also looking at how they can uh make the models more explainable.

So explainable A I has come into picture. So these are the few things uh you know, we are exploring in the artificial intelligence world. So apart from all the, you know, different technology that we are seeing in the market. Artificial Intelligence is kind of a back end of each and everything that we are seeing uh at this point in time in the technology world. So now we have seen that technology is changing rapidly, very rapidly. And after uh the pandemic, right after the pandemic, it has become important for, it has become important for all of us to understand that the digital world is go is the new uh normal. So here are the statistics of the survey done by Infotech Research Group for 2022. As for the survey, they have seen a 20% increase from December 2019, July 2022 that a lot of customers are interacting with the products or services they want to buy or subscribe through digital channels. We have seen that a lot of of us are now preferring to, you know, uh log in a to a particular app to buy something instead of going to a mall, spending hours and hours in traffic or you know, spending time in the mall, we like to go and log into a particular portal, say Zara or say H and M or or such kind of big brands and we want to buy from their websites or say mobile app.

We have also seen that the requirement for digital marketing has taken a front stage because a lot of us start spending time over Facebook, Instagram, whatsapp, and a lot of different digital channels. And because of this kind of changes, a lot of different things are changing in the back end. So now hardly you will see a lot of advertisement happening on newspaper or TV. But primarily everyone targets the customer through youtube advertisement or say Instagram advertisement.

We have also seen that there is almost 20 plus percent of uh increase in terms of companies investing on digitized product or services Eskom 2019 till 2022. So it means that companies has also realized that if they are not going to keep up with the trends in the market, they are they are going to be obsolete in the market. We have also seen from the survey that a lot of people are also looking for permanent changes or transformative changes in their working environment on the the way they you know, subscribe or buy services or products in the market. So pandemic has accelerated the speed of digital transformation and which is a need of the art. So as the, as we have seen that with the change in technology, with the change in the environment and with the different natural calamity that came into picture, the digital transformation is the need of the R. So in this new era of disruption where personal professional lives is getting disrupt disrupted, where different industries, the business, the way they are running is getting disrupted of transformative change is very much important. A lot of employees in especially in the it world where I belong to.

They are looking for a lot of different things. Now in their work environment, a lot of employees looking for work, life balance and mental health. Nobody wants to travel for 1.5 hours or three hours in a day, work for 9 to 10 hours in office and come back because they have realized that without traveling for three hours, right? Without giving the three hours time from their personal life, they can do something different.

People have started working out, more people have started focusing on their hobbies and a lot of us who are working away from their hometowns, from their family. We have come to come back to our hometown. We and we have seen that we can start, you know, spending time with our family, our parents, right? So we have also understood that it is not always needed that we gather in a office every morning in a meeting room and talk and discuss and work it can also be done through our remote video conferencing. It is not always important for a person to be present in the office 365 days, but the companies can arrange say quarterly, one official meet up and make each and everyone talk to each other. Sorry. So, so a lot of us has realized a lot of different things. So now, since our mindset and the expectation we have from our organization is changing, the leadership also has to change. So digital transformation, when you try to bring in your in your company organization or industry, so it's less of technological transformation, more of a mental transformation.

Because as a leader, you have to understand what is the requirement for this kind of changes. Digital transformation programs are very complex because you need to understand why you are doing this. You have to have a very clear uh road map. You have to understand what are the success factor. You have to set up small, small goal for every three months or six months for this kind of transformation plan in your industry, you also have to set your priority right, to achieve something in your transformation plan. For example, you want to implement um very uh uh say advanced um database system using cloud technology. So what is required for that? As a leader? You have to understand, OK. For Azure to implement Azure cloud kind of a solution, we need to upscale people, we need to hire more people. We have to invest this much of money. We have to change the way our, our companies work. We have to upgrade our system or maybe we have to also educate other leaders in other divisions to adopt these new changes. So it is very much important for us as a leader to, to be technically sound and understand what's happening in the market. Because if you do not understand different technology and how complex or easy a technology and how easy or complex to implement it for a organization or enterprise at a large scale, you will not be able to understand how exactly you should be leading the transformative change in your organization.

A lot of leaders who are kind of in the in the late uh say fifties or sixties who they have very traditional mindset. When a leadership uh team is at the at that age range and not very young to uh you know, new changes and adapting to changes very rapidly, then it becomes very difficult for those leaders to lead the company in the new direction. So if the leaders are not able to lead the company in that direction, the company's culture or overall situation becomes very toxic because as an employee, you will be always unhappy, right? Nobody wants to uh spend 14 hours in a day working just because you are working from home, working from office is equal to working from home. This kind of understanding has has to be there in the leadership team just because it has worked in past before pandemic. When we were working in office, it is not going to work same now because when we are working from home, there are lots of disruption. So when we are talking over Zoom or set team Microsoft teams, there is a video conferencing happening right? There is a digital transformation happening in the organization. We know that now no need to be present in the office, but we can do everything online because in any coding or anything we are anyway is doing through laptop, right? The leaders needs to understand.

So in today's world doesn't matter how old or how young you are, it is never too late or it is, it is not impossible for you to learn what is happening in the world, how the business is changing, how technology is changing and how the working environment in our organization is changing.

What is the difference between the new generation and the older generation and how it is going to impact your business. Because nowadays education has also kind of become an option because people are kind are gathering knowledge from real time experiences. So instead of always looking for, you know, your bachelor master or phd degree to hire, you can check the knowledge in a different way. So these are a few examples. So your leadership team doesn't matter how old they are, they have to understand how technology can help them and how they should change their mindset in terms of bringing the digital transformation. As a closing note, I want to put forward this point. There is a very famous quote by coffee and that you aren't never too young to lead and we are never too old to learn. This is for the young leaders who thinks that they still need to, you know, grow older than 35 or maybe say 40 to lead the team or bring some transformation in the organization. No, at the age of 27 also, if you have the right mindset, if you have the capability to lead, you can still be a leader. And for the older generation in the leadership position, it is never too late for them to learn.

We are not asking you to go and take up certification of particular technology, but you have to know what is the pros and cons in terms of adopting cloud uh in your organization and what you need to do about it. So with this, I closed my presentation and now I can take questions if you have any and this is my uh contact details, my linkedin and my email ID. So if you have any idea, if you want to brain brainstorm something, let's connect and talk about that. Thank you.