Connecting People at the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018


Transforming the way we think, work and connect. This was the theme of the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018 held on the 20th of February in Shangri La hotel.  From 8.00am to 5.30pm, this was a day of networking, panel discussions, and speeches all designed to give you a better idea how to face the future as an organization.

Starting things off with CXO Breakfast Forum

First on the schedule was the CXO breakfast forum. To begin the day, Mr. Ruwindhu Peiris, Chairman of SLASSCOM, came up on stage to speak a few words.  He was followed by the keynote speaker of the forum, Mr. Yazad Dalal, Head of HCM cloud applications, Oracle Asia Pacific.

Ruwindhu Peiris - SLASSCOM Chairman speaking at People Summit 2018
Ruwindhu Peiris – SLASSCOM Chairman speaking at People Summit 2018 (Image credits: SLASSCOM)

Yazad stated that 60% of company costs are people assets. People are essentially the company’s biggest intellectual property. If you don’t treat those people right, he continues, extinction is a definite possibility.

Emerging tech creates new opportunities, he said, and contrary to popular opinion, tech isn’t replacing jobs. People just have to adapt their jobs to the new situation. He backed up this statement with an example of robotic surgery at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

Robots are efficient, yes. But they cannot replace humans and their intelligence. AI’s have an intelligence that is fit-to-purpose, he said. However, human intelligence is best manifested when combined with technology

Yazad Dalal - Head of HCM cloud applications, Oracle Asia Pacific at the SLASSCOM People Summit
Yazad Dalal – Head of HCM cloud applications, Oracle Asia Pacific (Image credits: SLASSCOM)

He further suggests that for the future, promotions, applying for leave, etc should be conducted online, in a manner that makes it seem less of a transaction but an interaction. The future will also have no keyboard, he states. Following the speech, a panel discussion was conducted on the topic,  as we face an uncertain future, how do we reimagine the way we think, act and connect?

Breaking out into 3 sessions

Following the CXO breakfast forum, next on the agenda of the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018 were the parallel breakout sessions. The keynote speaker for the breakout sessions, Mr. Keith Modder, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Virtusa, was up first.  He began with; “A big part of connecting is sharing, and sharing is about learning.”

He shared his opinion that the industry competitiveness is a revolution. Even if you start a bit late, the technology is available for you to leap forward and catch up with the crowd. This is what the brink of the fourth industrial revolution looks like.

Kieth Modder speaking at SLASSCOM People Summit
Kieth Modder – Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer at Virtusa (Image credits: SLASSCOM)

In the fourth industrial revolution, he said, companies should focus on a few key things to stay relevant. One is building a frictionless platform to interact with both customers and employers. A prime example of this, he said, was Uber.

Secondly, companies should build leaders that are relevant to the workforce of tomorrow. By 2020, he predicts that 50% of the workers will be temporary. The leaders should be taking that into account and be capable of handling the situation. Thirdly, companies need to create a culture that enables speed. It’s not about large companies anymore, he says. It’s about the fastest.

The company culture should expect a drastic change, he continues. The hierarchy will turn to wirearchy, where responsibility is taken individually and as a team rather than traditional hierarchy. Considering the talent pool, the source of talent would be virtual, he said. Skill sets would shift to design and thinking areas. And so, gamification becomes a necessity.

The speakers of the breakout sessions at the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018
Speakers of the breakout sessions L-R: Prof. Lalith Munasinghe, Rachna Sampayo, Kathy Tingate (Image credits: SLASSCOM)

Following Keith’s keynote, the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018 broke up into three breakout sessions. These breakout sessions covered a variety of topics. Conducted by Prof. Lalith Munasinghe, the first session dealt with data analytics. Handled by Rachna Sampayo, the senior HR director at Oracle Asia Pacific, the second session dealt with the advancing technologies and how to adapt your business to deal with them. Collaborative Workspaces: the third session was conducted by Kathy Tingate, ‎Director of HR in APAC at Microsoft.

One hour to break ice

After the panel discussion, it was time for the (secretly) most awaited moment of the day: lunch. Following a hearty lunch, it was time for an icebreaker. This was done by Fahad Farouk from 361. The game was simple. Each table was given a card with a few buttons. Fahad would ask questions and the teams had to press one of the buttons to answer.

Women in Tech: Discussed

After the icebreaker, we saw Ashok Pamidi from NASSCOM take the stage at the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018 to speak about diversity and inclusion. He opened by saying that the 90’s was when many global giants re-entered India At the same time, many women started entering higher education and the IT/BPM industry. NASSCOM took it on to themselves to empower women in the industry.

Today 34% of women in IT in India are in the workforce and are the primary breadwinners of their houses. But this data is from 2015. Yet the number is rising with more women being hired for entry-level jobs. But now other forms of diversity from generational, LGBT+, and disability have been opened as well.

Ashok Pamidi from NASSCOM speaking at the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018
Ashok Pamidi Senior Director at NASSCOM (Image credits: SLASSCOM)

He then shared at the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018 how NASSCOM works with many research institutes and also releases white papers for member companies. They also work with governments and run programs to recognize companies and workshops.

Over the last decade, he shares, there’s been a 1.8x increase in women workers since 2009. Currently, they’re working on various initiatives across 19 regions to increase this number. They’re also currently running two centers for disabled people in Bangalore and Delhi. Finally, they’re looking at creating a well-oiled machine to help women rise through the ranks.

S.V. Nathan, Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India speaking at the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018
S.V. Nathan – Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte (Image credits: SLASSCOM)

After Asok finished his speech S.V. Nathan, Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India was up next. He shared that digitization is the key to success. And if you look at digital learning there’s a lot happening. 85% of the population of India is millennials. He shares that millennials prioritize coaching and development. As such they’re open to the skills they earn from you.

The core elements of their approach are: Check in with managers with meaningful conversation and career coaching. Finally performance analyzing by public evaluations because while you judge others, others judge you.

How to implement: A business guide

Next, on the schedule of the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018, we had Prasenjit Bhattacharya, CEO of Great Place to Work India, with a guest keynote speech on implementation. He shared that the Marriott once stated that they’ll add 30,000 rooms in two years. Airbnb said it’ll do it in two weeks. This shows what a change in business models can result. We can be more efficient but it’s also on the what.

Which company was originally in the best place to introduce digital photography? Kodak. It wanted to wait. When you make tons of money, it may make you hesitant to cannibalize the existing business. And any other strategy may seem inefficient. He shares another example of Thomas Watson’s saying the world only has a market 5 computers back in 1958. Today the world’s top 5 companies all use computers. They’re not just technology companies but also analytics companies.

Prasenjit Bhattacharya, CEO of Great Place to Work India speaking at SLASSCOM People Summit 2018
Prasenjit Bhattacharya, CEO of Great Place to Work India (Image credits: SLASSCOM)

Analytics will define how business is done. Google already knows more about customers than your sales team. LinkedIn and Facebook know our employees. But the guys who know analytics may not know your business model. There are many stories of failures in analytics.

How do you change the mindset of the organization to welcome analytics? Collaboration. Analytics is meaningless unless every part of your organization is willing to corporate. If you want to capture an elephant you need to collaborate.

He then shared stories to say that digital workers want to meaning in life. They have no desire for the traditional retirement. They value trust with a network of trustworthy people. Then we moved on to the final session of the day, a panel discussion on implementation. And with the conclusion of the panel discussion, SLASSCOM People Summit 2018 came to a close.


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