ET 'CIO of the Week': Jagat Pal Singh, CTO, Cybage



Jagat Pal Singh is CTO at Cybage. He enables Cybage to strengthen its overall technology focus and roadmap in alignment with the organizational vision and mission. He is a seasoned technocrat who plays a vital role in converting technical expertise into business objectives.

Question & Answers Session

1. I like being a CIO/CTO because..

  • It gives me an opportunity to discover something which is mostly unexplored, but still has the potential to have a great impact on the outcome. Also, this role allows me to fail fast and take a quick course of action to correct any aberration. Frankly, when I studied Computer Science in the early nineties, I never imagined the vast impact technology is making today.

2. Any 'Aha!' leadership moment in your professional career?

  • There are many Aha moments in this role, but the best I feel is the one that occurred many years ago when Microsoft published the roadmap for TFS. Of course, open source stack beat MS in the journey, but MSs plan made the developer community look at this space seriously. Since my exposure to SEI-CMM in the late nineties, I had struggled to find any credible software that could help in the implementation. Also, IT services companies in the late 90s or early 2000s were hardly spending money in building pieces which would optimize software building, such as assembly lines.

3. As a CTO what was the toughest decision you made?

  • Being a CTO of a private company is a little easier since the companys view of long term is often not compromised. So, R&D budgets are easier to allocate. However, the big challenge was to motivate technology experts and give them visibility into what business folks get. It wasnt easy because in the real world when you give the same importance to technology folks, business folks feel ignored. Today that empowerment has helped technology folks to be innovative and experiment, which invariably helps in better delivery.

4. What's the 'next big thing' in your industry vertical?

  • The next big thing for technology-enabled businesses is to be connected organizations. Delivering connected experiences to customers, partners, and employees. While technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud, Big Data, and Machine Learning (ML) are at the disposal of all organizations, their success will be determined by the focus and ability of organizational machinery to connect its various applications and data across organizational boundaries. This will take organizational intelligence and efficiency to the next level. The next big thing will be to architect and achieve this connected design.

5. One thing that IT departments should do better?

  • IT Department as a support function: One thing that all IT departments should strive towards doing better is empowering their users with self-service capabilities with infrastructure and systems that bring empowerment balanced by visibility and accountability.
  • IT Department as tech enablement for business: One thing that IT departments should do better is promoting goal driven experimentation by leveraging its R&D budgets. This function should not only complement, but also supplement the business in generating revenue and customer loyalty. It should incubate new solutions and business models led by its own solution architects, rather than the business leadership.

6. Where do you see the CTO role heading in the future?

  • All enterprises are bound to become technology-enabled enterprises with every passing year. As software and technology continues to take center stage (software at the center), the role of the CTO is transforming into one that of an architect who focusses on organizational intelligence and organizational design. It is becoming that of a business partner who is accountable for all the successes and failures across functions.

7. One thing that CTOs should learn from business?

  • One thing that CTOs should constantly learn from businesses is the revenue impact and profitability in every choice they make. The mantra to be followed is less is moreless fascination (not less understanding or less passion) with technology and more inclination towards ROI. The ability to weigh every decision with revenue and profitability at the center in a largely tangible and number-driven manner while taking some calls for the future.

8. The last book on your bedside and what you learned from it?

  • Unfortunately, I dont read too many books as most of the reading is around technology. However, what I read, I try to distill and internalize it. For instance, The Road Less Travelled by Dr. M. Scott Peck, the first few pages are imprinted in my memory. Life is not easy and the moment we understand it, expectation management is taken care of...; or Good to Great by Jim Collins, get good people in the bus; or Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, theory of 10,000 hours to become the best. These are the top three learnings from the books that have had an impact and still drive me.

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