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Building the Next

A blog by Jeff Immelt,
Executive Chairman, Athenahealth

It will be a pleasure to speak at NASSCOM.  I have a 25-year perspective on the industry.  We were around at the birth of many of these great companies:  Wipro, TCS, and, of course, Genpact.  I have known the founder … worked with the teams and realized the benefits.  It is fantastic … what you all have done.

Early on, we found IT services by accident.  In the 90s, our bets on the “markets” in India were met with limited success.  However, our bets on the “people” in India were always successful.  This was true in IT services…we improved cost and quality. But it was also true in areas like our huge research center in Bangalore, the biggest in the world.

But that is in the past.  Today, we are in the vortex of technical change, the largest I have seen. New technologies – like AI – are reframing the way we work. Legacy companies are struggling with digital transformation and consequences. I don’t mean just the buzz words, but the opportunity and risk that new technologies and business models bring. This is being played out against a backdrop of geopolitical change.  The “open door” of global sharing in ideas and people is closing.  This is happening around the world.  But work still must get done … opportunity still abounds.

Digital transformation is today’s biggest opportunity and risk. At its essence, it requires an understanding that data is a competitive advantage. It requires a willingness to break through the forces of inertia in your organization. And…it must deliver hard outcomes, not soft comfort.

New leaders are emerging to conquer these challenges.  These are people that “see the systems.”  They know how to deliver outcomes with new technology.  They know how to execute by liberating their workforce.  And, they know how to “absorb fear.”  They can act in the sea of uncertainty. They understand the importance of localization in a global context.

I hope to discuss all this with my old friend, Pramod Bhasin.  He and I have known each other for more than 20 years.  In 2003, we decided to spin out Genpact instead of running it as a business.  I felt we would slow them down; and I had great respect for Pramod and Tiger.  They have done a great job.

This is an important time for the IT industry. See you in Mumbai.

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