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October 31, 2014

Shifting Focus Back To Healthcare from IT

Posted by Eric Paternoster (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:55 AM

Healthcare-IT2.jpg Healthcare organizations need to look beyond the traditional build vs. buy model and adopt a 'platform-oriented' approach to IT instead

US healthcare industry is in the midst of a perfect storm. Healthcare expenditures have risen to a whopping $3 trillion, about 17 percent of the entire gross domestic product (GDP) and are expected to increase further. Healthcare organizations are under tremendous pressure to improve health outcomes and lower costs amidst rapid consumerization in an active regulatory environment.

How can healthcare organizations re-focus on their core business or mission of healthcare? By re-thinking the approach to healthcare IT.

I recently sat down with Donald Trump Jr. for a lively video conversation on the state of healthcare IT in America -- why it is ineffective, and more importantly, how we can fix it.

Healthcare organizations increasingly rely on technology, spending $35 billion a year on healthcare IT to build key capabilities and support complex requirements. However, almost 80% of this spend is on managing technology and only 20% on strategic initiatives that support core mission. Here's the kicker -- 90% of large technology projects fail or don't deliver intended results. While IT is crucial to solve the healthcare problem, it has become a problem in itself and a major risk factor.

'Monolithic IT' approach is the issue. Traditionally, healthcare organizations developed their own technology platform or sourced it entirely from third parties to build key capabilities. Both these approaches affect speed-to-market, reduce flexibility to future needs and agility to address evolving requirements (does anyone think we've seen the last of the Affordable Care Act changes?).

Healthcare organizations need to look beyond the traditional build vs. buy model and adopt a 'platform-oriented' approach to IT instead. Infosys' platform-oriented approach allows healthcare organizations to acquire key capabilities 'as-a-service', without investing in complex and costly IT. It relieves organizations from technology adoption challenges, enabling them to re-focus on their core business or mission. Based on the level of 'configurability' and deployment readiness, organizations can acquire IT capabilities in three ways:

  1. Ready-to-deploy platforms, which are fully integrated and delivered in a turnkey fashion for organizations to acquire key capabilities quickly and cost-effectively
  2. Integrate-to-order platforms, which are stitched together from multiple platforms or building-blocks to meet an organization's unique needs
  3. Platformize or package existing IT capabilities into extensible platforms to support new capabilities or fill gaps

    Our commercial and public healthcare clients are starting to explore and embrace this approach and change the way they view healthcare IT. They are witnessing impressive early results: increased speed-to-market, reduced cost of operations, and improved ability to deliver outcomes.

    Watch this space for details and live examples. You can also tune in to watch discussion with Donald Trump Jr. at on November 1 on Fox Business Network or November 2 on Bloomberg. Check the local listings for Fox and Bloomberg for air times.

    October 27, 2014

    Is The Death Of The Type-In Password Near?

    Posted by Jagdish Vasishtha (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:57 AM

    What does Twitter's `Fabric' tool do for apps? [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKmem1RwheI]

    Finally! It took years and several high profile, wide-scale corporate security breaches, but American companies are finally being nudged into issuing credit cards with embedded microchip technology. To Europeans, this technology is nothing new. But the legacy technology characterized by the old magnetic strip put up quite a battle for an extended lifespan in America. We're all glad to see that organizations there are putting it to rest in favor of the technologically superior microchip.

    It always seems that cyber-crooks are one step ahead of everyone else, so when consumer-focused organizations take the digital security of its patrons very seriously, it's a positive step for global commerce. In that same spirit I heard the news that Twitter will very soon be offering a new tool for developers that could one day spell the end of the traditional type-in password. I think we can all agree that type-in passwords, like magnetic strips on credit cards, are antiquated. They can also be a pain in the neck. How many times have you visited a Web site only to be forced into clicking on the "Forget Your Password?" link?

    We received the news from Twitter's very first conference for mobile apps developers about a new platform called "Twitter Fabric". Part of platform Twitter introduced "Digits," a new way for developers to sign in to their apps that replaces the traditional password. Here's how it works: Twitter figures that the telephone number is a better identifier of a consumer than an email address. In fact, Twitter reckons that as you leave the Western markets and look around both the emerging and frontier markets, which between them account for the vast majority of the planet's population, people rely on smart phones and other mobile devices to get through the day. Not like the traditional email addresses that we tend to use on desktop apps.

    Given a global movement towards the smart phone, Twitter's Digits requires only a phone number. When the developer enters the phone number, Twitter sends an SMS code to that phone. Enter the code to start the app and the code never works again. Mobile apps such as WhatsApp have used a similar method for their log-in systems. I think the entire movement towards a two-step verification process that does away with the traditional type-in password is another blow to would-be cyber-thieves.

    Twitter gave away the Digits app for free as part of the kit that Flight conference participants received. There's no doubting that part of every major retailer's plans is some kind of expansion into the emerging markets, if they haven't already started the journey. Improved security measures like the one displayed in Digits are going to go a long way in appealing to consumer populations who are connected to the world via their mobile devices, not by desktops with antiquated email accounts.

    October 23, 2014

    How Fast Food Is Learning About Billions of Customers

    Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:04 AM

    Fast food apps growing in popularity [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_D_F0MiPbM]

    Call it the hyper-consumerization of the enterprise.

    If you don't think we're in the midst of a consumer-focused boom, then consider what the fast food giant McDonald's is reported to be testing in certain markets. No, it's not a new sandwich - it's a new app.

    If Mickey Dee's does indeed roll out this app after its initial test phase, I think we could be entering an entirely new era in which fast and consumer-friendly apps radically transform the customer experience. I am completely fascinated by a McDonald's app because we're not talking about a staid and conservative department store that is using apps to attract a new generation of customers. It's a global fast food enterprise that already excels in the marketing, distribution, and sales of its fast food products.

    The 'McD Ordering' app is reportedly being tested in a local American market and is already being met with positive reviews. The idea is that today's digital consumer is so conscious of saving time as well as demanding a savvy response from the enterprises he does business with that a drive-through window is no longer fast enough for him. Nor is the handful of minutes that it takes someone to walk inside of a McDonald's restaurant and order an item or two from the take-away counter

    The new app is devoted to the premise that a customer can scan a store code on his mobile device, place an order, and pay for it all within a couple seconds. The order is then beamed to the nearest McDonald's, where the cooks begin to prepare the food. By the time the customer arrives, the food is packaged and waiting for him at a special 'pick-up' counter that is separate and distinct from the traditional counter where people usually place their orders. The customer can also opt for a curbside check-in that allows him to bypass the drive-through window. A McDonald's employee walks out to the customer' car and deliver the food immediately upon his arrival.

    Why this app is noteworthy is because its speeds up the process of an already speedy and ultra-efficient system that delivers food to hundreds of millions of customers around the world each day. Other notable fast food chains like Canada's Tim Horton's as well as Starbucks have been developing similar 'pay-and-go' apps for digitally savvy customers. Starbucks has reported that its payment app is used 14 percent of the time in its North American outlets. Short of developing science-fictional transporter technology right out of Star Trek, I can't think of how getting food to a customer can get any faster or efficient.

    But wait just a minute. Could these apps be about more than just testing the limits of speed and efficiency in the restaurant industry? I think so. These fast foods outlets have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to designing and streamlining the customer experience. The aforementioned drive-through window is a case in point. At some outlets, there are now one microphone/speaker and two windows. The driver speaks her order into the microphone, drives up to the first window to pay, and then collects the meal at the second window before driving away. The fact that a new app would have employees running out to deliver a meal "curbside" in order to avoid an already efficient, three-part drive-through system suggests that the fast food industry is attempting to learn more about its enormous consumer base.

    In the case of McDonald's, the company has also reportedly been testing a 'McD App' that is separate from the 'McD Ordering' app. The former allows consumers to receive coupons and special promotions instead of focusing on the actual ordering and payment process. It's quite obvious that the company would do well to combine those two apps. If it did, think of how it would be putting Big Data to the test. McDonald's could learn about each of its customer's ordering habits and begin sending them tailor-made email and text promotions for the next time they order. This would presumably be done on a global scale with potentially billions of people.

    If such apps can pinpoint and customize a consumer experience within a global enterprise that is about standardization, volume, and speed, then think about what consumer-oriented apps can do for businesses that have less of a global footprint. By targeting special offers and helping customers avoid human cashiers altogether, any digitally savvy company can conceivably grow to become a global enterprise.

    October 21, 2014

    Insurance Companies Learn That Leaner Is Better

    Posted by Pankaj Kulkarni (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:55 AM

    Learning to leverage data in the insurance industry [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7ECOyxNMvI]

    I don't know about you, but the recent news that an eminent French academic has won the 2014 Nobel Prize in economics reminded me of the theory of so-called 'perfect competition.' One thing you learn upon getting a job in the real world is that perfect competition is hard to find.

    In fact, that's one of the reasons Jean Tirole won the latest Nobel in economics. He began performing some pretty amazing research after the onset of the global economic crisis that showed how innovation is stifled in many industries that are dominated by a few large companies. Instead of there existing perfect competition between companies, the very biggest enterprises tend to set prices (simply because they can), sit back, and bask in the glory of a lack of any substantial competition.

    Mr. Tirole's work has helped government regulators to address problems like monopolies. I realize that the 'm-word' is a controversial one, especially when referring to any enterprise in the financial services industry. (In America, for example, some experts still enjoy using the term 'too-big-to-fail' to refer to banks with a veritable lock on the market.) But there are such things as profound shortcomings in regulation that allow giant insurance companies and banks to keep prices and fees artificially high, thereby stifling innovation and new entrants into the marketplace.

    In the insurance industry in particular, such paralysis and lack of innovation can have an adverse effect on the people who need their services the most: patients who are sick with maladies or diseases that might take years to treat and might require the prescribing of expensive pharmaceuticals. In the United States, it's not unheard of for large groups of ailing senior citizens to charter buses that take them across the border to Canada, where treatments and drugs are much more affordable. Canada's insurance system is regulated in ways similar to those in European countries. In the United States, few such regulations exist.

    According to a dispatch I read just this morning, the Nobel recipient has been advocating increased regulation of the banking sector for years. He most recently said that he approved of new liquidity regulations as well as the need for governments to watch carefully the connections between the regulated and unregulated areas of the financial services world. That's because these enterprises are increasingly becoming global in scale, he said.

    What's encouraging about the insurance industry is that because of Big Data analytics, some innovative start-ups are beginning to re-define the age-old insurance business model. They're moving the insurance sector from companies that once existed because of data collection to those that thrive because of data analysis. In the same way the retail industry was shaken up by web stores that focused on the distinct needs of consumers, insurance companies are coming to learn that being consumer-centric has its advantages. It used to be that the only time a customer had any substantial contact with her insurance company was when she needed to file a claim. Today, however, companies are being proactive as to how they engage customers. In doing so, they learn more about them and their habits and can better offer customized policies.

    The latest economist to win the Nobel Prize has been warning us all about the dangers inherent in financial services behemoths that dictate products and services to their consumer base. What's a positive development - besides him winning the prize - is that insurance companies are starting to look to their customers for ways to develop new products and cement those relationships. Those companies are realizing that unless they listen to their base, their sheer size and near-monopolistic status is no longer enough to keep those customers coming back for more.

    October 17, 2014

    Sending Money Socially

    Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:08 AM

    In France, Transferring Money With Tweets [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHPC_J2iqC4]

    The power of the proverbial wake-up call. Some of us are lucky to receive them. They keep us nimble and always push ourselves and our organizations to improve. But there are those among us who are unlucky; they're the ones who don't receive wake-up calls. Remember the man who, more than 100 years ago, said the 'horseless carriage' wouldn't catch on because of all the petrol stations that would have to be built to serve them? Then there was the executive in the 1970s - a computer company CEO, no less - who said he could never see people keeping computers in their homes.

    Today we received a couple of huge wake-up calls. The question is: who will heed them and who will ignore them? The call involves the fact that a French mega-bank, Groupe BPCE, is teaming up with Twitter to allow customers to transfer money via Tweets. And that's not all. Indian private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) has launched a Facebook-based instant fund transfer service where money can be transferred to users' friends on social media network in real time and for free!

    This is earth-shattering news. In America, where I write this blog today on a business trip, you would be hard pressed to find a traditional financial services institution that is open because it's a bank holiday. Tomorrow, when banks re-open, most of them will keep traditional 'banker's hours', a daily schedule that has changed little since the 17th century. So anyone wanting to transfer money from one bank account to another (especially international wire transfers) will have to do a lot of waiting this week. Waiting for the money to clear one bank and then the clearing house and then the transfer agent and then the other bank. In an age when a Tweet can go around the globe in seconds, and go viral in a few seconds more (meaning it's been read by a billion people), why should banking customers have to wait patiently on a system that has largely existed since the late 1600s?

    The French bank and the Indian bank's alliance with Twitter and Facebook respectively are indeed major wake-up calls. If I were the head of a traditional bank, I would be using my bank holiday today to call an emergency meeting of the board of directors and ask if something - anything - can be done to make a similar collaboration. After all, grocery chains like Sainsbury's and Tesco is the United Kingdom have entered the financial services arena. Bank branches are popping up in Wal-Marts across the United States. In 10 years, will anyone need a traditional bank if these trends continue? I doubt it.

    Barely two weeks ago our CEO gave an inspirational speech on what to expect in the coming years. Dr. Sikka predicts it will be known as an age of software. Now I know exactly what he meant by that prediction. Any institution with the right software solutions can (following this particular example) become a banking institution. In fact, a consumer-oriented business would be silly not to use software solutions to offer banking services to its clientele. Is it any wonder, for example, that Facebook has applied for a banking license in Ireland?

    In the case of Twitter, the money transfer service is ingenious in that payments will go through the Groupe BPCE's so-called S-Money service, which allows money transfers via text message and utilizes the credit card industry's data security standards. The money transfers can occur without either the sender or the recipient being a customer of Groupe BPCE. Of course, the French bank will get its commission from each transfer, not unlike credit card companies, as will Twitter. I suspect that whatever the additional fees are to make money transfers this way will be more than offset by people wanting to transfer cash immediately. Not that we all don't like banking methods from the 1600s...

    Kotak Mahindra's service is built on a mobile-based Immediate Payment System, developed by the National Payment Corporation of India. In order to access KayPay (as the service is called), users will have to register their bank accounts. Facebook user id, password and an One Time Password (OTP) is used to authenticate the transaction. Once it's completed, the sender and the receiver will get notifications via SMS and Facebook.

    Indeed, this week's announcements should be a wake-up calls all banks: innovate and collaborate ... or go the way of the horse and buggy.

    October 15, 2014

    Redefining The Insurance Industry

    Posted by Ravi Kumar S. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:40 AM

    What's ahead for insurance? [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqBCtakf5Nw]

    The founders of the insurance company Oscar have an interesting slogan: "We didn't start this company because we love health insurance. Quite the opposite, in fact." Spend some time learning about this start-up and the state of the insurance industry in general, and it becomes quite clear what the founders of Oscar mean.

    If ever there were an industry that was suspicious of innovation and penalized creativity, it's the insurance business. Take a look at your next insurance bill. Do you even remotely understand it? Is it obvious as to how you can file a claim? Is there anything clear and easy-to-understand about the entire business? The answer, I gather, is no to all of these questions. So when three young entrepreneurs founded Oscar, they wanted an insurance company that was, as one of them describes it, like your family doctor. A company that is reassuring and takes the time to know its customers. You see, because insurance is so profitable without barely any effort or know-how, it is one of the last domains that is moving away from brand centricity to customer centricity. Retail, financial services, and pharmaceutical companies have embraced this movement.

    To put it mildly: there is no other choice. Today, we are living in a connected world. The line between real and virtual world is blurring rapidly, thanks to new technologies like vehicle telematics, smart wearables and internet of things (IoT). I have a feeling that this is just the beginning. The industry would continue to witness rapid and disruptive innovations. For example, connected cars will give way to driverless cars, usage-based insurance will make way for behavior-based insurance, workforce will be replaced by crowd source, customers will become collaborators and the list goes on. With enormous amount of data being generated on real time, the focus is shifting from data collection to data analysis. Many insurers are adopting an enterprise-wide data-centric approach and are implementing advanced analytics and modern big data tools to extract meaningful insights for making key decisions.

    And the customer is a key driver for all these changes. The truth is that the world has changed. In today's digital age, customers have all the information they want at their fingertips. This is playing a big role in insurers' overall strategy. Several insurers are using social collaboration tools to connect with the customers and engage with them effectively, across the insurance lifecycle. Insurers are also providing increased customer self-service capability and focusing on improving customer experience at every touch point.

    Think about it: Innovative start-ups like Oscar are just going to march ahead if insurance behemoths don't become more responsive to the needs and expectations of their customer base. The good news is that the rapid expansion of digital technologies, coupled with the advantage of cloud services and big data technologies are offering limitless opportunities to insurers to transform their business model and redefine customer relationship. As new players are leveraging these technologies to take massive strides, it is essential for the traditional players to sense the changing trend and realign themselves to stay relevant.

    October 13, 2014

    Retail's Revolution: A Special Delivery

    Posted by Dinesh Bajaj (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:38 AM

    In some countries, the government-run post office can often be a poster child for inefficiency and all that is wrong with federalizing an organization. Add to the mix the decline in mailing traditional letters because of email, and post offices have faced some challenging years.

    In the United States, for example, a debate has raged over the future of the country's post office. Some people say it should go private. They point to companies like Federal Express and United Parcel Service as examples of how efficient a mail delivery system can be when it is run for shareholders instead of by the government.

    I wanted to cast a spotlight on one country's postal service in order to demonstrate how and why technology enterprises are born, as well as how they progress from start-ups to global corporations. What caught my eye was a new company in America that touts itself as a 'robotic' retail post office.

    Think about the long lines at the post office. Much of what you wait in line for can and should be automated. And sometimes you're there because a package that came to your house had to be signed for by you - and you weren't home at the time. So you have to wait in line at your local postal branch to pick up the parcel on a day you're not at work.

    That's why I'm encouraged by the appearance of this new company called Swapbox. When your parcel arrives at one of its locations, you receive an email. And these are not once-a-day deliveries. What Swapbox's founders have done is to strike deals with 24-hour pharmacies and other corner retailers that are close to where you live. So the moment the box arrives, you are alerted and can pick it up. For the 24-hour retailer, it's a boon in that you might buy a few things while you're picking up the package.

    What's most important about this postal start-up is that it feeds into a rapidly growing e-commerce trend. I know what you're thinking: How does this bricks-and-mortar model affect e-commerce? Well, the latest wave of retailing from the online giants is to get you what you ordered online as fast as possible. They have figured out that by using local retailers that are nearest to population centers, people who shop online can get their packages within hours if they agree to pick them up at these predetermined locations.

    Swapbox is just one of many services that are leveraging the "online-to-offline" e-commerce trend. What many retail experts predict is that when Alibaba, the China-based online retailer, brings its online-to-offline method of e-commerce to North America later this year, it will force a reorganization of the entire industry. That's why start-up companies like Swapbox are suddenly appearing on the scene. Some heavyweights in the retail world have said that Alibaba wants to establish a good rapport within the sector by making various investments in Silicon Valley-based e-commerce companies. I think the more likely story is that Alibaba is less concerned about establishing a good rapport and more focused on becoming the global market leader. And an enterprise does that by investing in and doing business with other companies that can help it reach its goal.

    I would not be surprised in the least if Alibaba were to do business with Swapbox. What a Swapbox customer does is to get a kiosk assigned to her that is in her vicinity. When her package arrives in the kiosk, she receives a code via text or email that she can use to open the kiosk and get her package. The idea is that Swapbox will work with many online retailers who want to get their goods to their customers as quickly as possible. For decades, Americans have been shouting from the rooftops that their postal service needs to be modernized. Today there are some who advocate the entire agency going digital. I suspect another course is that it might just slowly fade off into irrelevance, year by year, if such innovations in the e-commerce sector continue to take shape.

    Which brings me to a report I read not too long ago. The author emphatically stated that there is a hierarchy of receptivity to 'productivity-improvement innovation.' At the top is the private start-up, followed by the non-unionized business, and then the heavily unionized business. At the bottom of the heap, he said, is the government bureaucracy. Judging by what we're seeing in the online-to-offline retail trend, I think author of the report has it right. Indeed, we're on the verge of an entirely new way to deliver and receive the goods we purchase.

    October 9, 2014

    Goodbye Doc!

    Posted by Jagdish Vasishtha (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:09 AM

    Tim Cook talks about Apple watch [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOvnHEs_SfE]

    There has been a huge buzz around the recent announcement of Apple watch in the wearables segment. The watch has nicely packaged social, fitness, home, health and payments into a single device. It has a number of optical sensors, which along with an accelerometer would be able to measure an individual's activity and heart rate in detail. The apple Health app, along with the new developer tool called Healthkit, provides new ways of tracking these vital parameters and promoting a healthy regimen.

    There is an interesting correlation between the cost of electronic devices like camera lenses, touch glass and fingerprint readers, once they have been incorporated into a mass market mobile smartphone. Studies have shown that the cost of such devices drop faster than Moore's law once a leading smartphone (e.g. iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc. have adopted it). What is studied less is that this price drop could have a huge impact on adjacent markets and spawn a new range of solution offerings, which was not possible before due to the high input cost of these devices.

    For example, Apple watch could bring down the price of sensors and open up a new market for solutions like 'remote patient monitoring' for the healthcare sector. There have also been other health and fitness devices that have been launched recently, like Garmin Vivofit, Withings Pulse, Fitbit Smartscale, AirSonea, Tinke, Jawbone up24, Withings smart blood pressure monitor, Basis, etc. Hospitals and care providers could either work with these consumer devices or provide their own solutions and improve efficiencies and ultimately bring down the cost of healthcare. Now, that would be a fantastic future!

    October 6, 2014

    Hospitality Industry Gets A Tech Makeover

    Posted by Deva Senapathy (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:23 AM

    Hotel room technology is changing the way you stay [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lzTFjzccBU]

    When asked how his company would utilize the Web during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, one of the worlds most respected CEOs answered that the conglomerate would not jump headfirst before thinking things through. A reasonable enough answer with 15 years of hindsight, right?

    Well, think back to Web 1.0. There was speculation enough to make your head spin. Many CEOs slapped a ".com" on their businesses and expected a windfall. Some 99 percent of those businesses never went anywhere. That's why the guarded, skeptical approach of that conglomerate's CEO seemed so radical in the day.

    What the Internet's boom and bust and boom again have taught us is that it's really good for certain things, and among these is harnessing the power of the crowd. Given that realization, certain industries - the hospitality sector chiefly among them - are learning to completely revamp their centuries-old business models. The result is that the world of hotels is getting downright radical.

    The stuffy hotelier entering the world of rad, you say? Yes, indeed. Reverse bidding models and real-time offers that are powered by sophisticated software and powerful computing sounds like the hospitality industry has taken a page right out of the less-than-hospitable world of the financial brokerage houses. It's fascinating that both industries rely on getting the most efficient process and best price out of would-be customers using offers that are derived from algorithms. It's a good time to throw away the dusty reservation book.

    Indeed, the world's largest hotel companies are re-thinking age-old models by using new technology solutions. For instance, the traditional method of gauging profitability by measuring room utilization as well as food and beverage revenues has been thrown out the window. Today, leading hotels are delving into and developing far more complex metrics to redesign their business models. A hotel's size (a scale metric) has less to with its profitability as does its ability to get consumers to pay for as many amenities and so-called luxury services as possible. What's needed, therefore, is wide-scale IT systems integration with hospitality industry domain expertise. Hotel companies want customized solutions to deal with the many challenges that are unique to their domain.

    One of the very few elements that came out of the carnage of the dot-com bust in the late '90s was the knowledge that if used properly, the Web can be an amazingly effective tool to trace and then sell excess capacity. The worst thing in the hospitality business is an empty hotel room. If you can find customers willing to pay even a fraction of what the room typically is rented for, then you're one step ahead of the competition. What's made the industry radical by those standards is that private people have discovered that same power. That is, they're using innovative Web tools such as airbnb to rent out their apartments or even entire homes when they're not around. What the marketplace is doing is to create a boutique hotel system through completely digital means. Travelers can find rooms online that are often larger and furnished more like a regular house and pay less per night than staying in a regular hotel.

    The traditional hotel industry is striking back (and very effectively, I might add) by leveraging IT. Global procurement systems, booking systems, customer care centers, and location-based guest databases are all part of an integrated IT ecosystem that tracks individual customers and delivers the amenities that they want even before they ask for them. There are obvious parallels to banking fees in the financial services industry. Consumers don't mind as much if the fees appear to be "bespoke" and therefore a part of the enterprise's high standards of service.

    A superb example of just how radical the hospitality business has become is the Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Its customer service is unmatched and there's a Hyatt for every type of business or resort traveler. Jay Pritzker, the innovative businessman who bought the first Hyatt motel in 1957, is a favorite subject of business school cases - and for good reason. When he first bought the company, there were two accepted business models for the hospitality industry: one was a large (more than 1,750 rooms) hotel with convention hall amenities that was near an urban center. The other involved smaller, more upscale hotels that were often at pricey resort destinations.

    The Pritzker family is so well regarded because they refused to accept either model. Over the decades, the Hyatt Hotels Corp. combined the luxury feel of a resort with all the big-city convention amenities into one of the most successful chains of the 20th century. The company did so by reckoning that customers would pay for the right kind of Hyatt when their travels took them to places for business, pleasure, or a combination of both. Today there are Grand Hyatts, Hyatt Residence Clubs, and even Hyatt Zilara, an all-inclusive resort chain, among other brands. In fact, there's a brand for every kind of discerning customer and they all operate across one, seamless IT system. That's the essence of today's digital consumer. The same philosophy that Hyatt has utilized all these years is what other savvy players in the hospitality industry are doing today because of their best-in-class IT solutions.

    If a crowd-sourcing website can undercut any hotel by renting out private rooms, then hotel companies know that they either have to embrace new models or start bleeding cash. Digital consumers are fueling a hospitality renaissance because of offers and prices that come to them from pro-active hospitality enterprises with the right IT tools.

    October 3, 2014

    How To Get Exponentially Better Results

    Posted by Sandeep Dadlani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 2:45 AM

    Chances are you're not with a start-up company. You're not working out of your parents' garage. You most likely have a huge network to think about and it's filled with legacy technology.

    Can big, established companies get the same kind of exponential growth that innovative start-ups do? You bet. That's one of the main messages I heard time and again this week during the annual Oracle OpenWorld event.

    I had the honor of delivering the keynote address at the CIO Summit a couple days ago. I met an amazing amount of people from enterprises across all sectors. What they're focused on the most is making sure that their IT systems deliver the best results for their respective companies.

    That becomes complicated when an enterprise is global in scope. Like I said at the address, a 30-year-old at a start-up can easily move all his operations to a cloud because there aren't too many things to move! But if you're a technology chief at a Fortune 500 company, you have a dizzying array of choices in front of you. That's why you need to work with the right IT partner.

    There's an old saying that you should think globally but act locally about the issues that move you. In that same spirit, I urged my fellow CIOs to manage what I call a vital duality: renewing your core business AND disrupting the market. (And, perhaps, carving out a completely new market in the process.) In other words, think like a nimble start-up but also act to ensure that your company doesn't get bogged down by inefficient legacy systems.

    One of the companies I have had the pleasure of working with is Family Dollar. They're a traditional business. A discount retailer. Their technology needs are much different than, say, a biotech firm with a number of promising treatments in the R&D pipeline. Yet, we at Infosys, work hard to deliver the same kind of high-tech partnership with a traditional retailer as we would with a biotech company. Because in both cases, the CIOs of the respective firms are focused on delivering value to their stakeholders.

    Infosys has also helped the respected bank vault and financial services company Diebold make a dramatic technology transformation in the past few years. This company has built bank vaults for more than a century, yet it is now forging ahead into the next century with seamless IT systems and an impressive connection to its digital consumer base.

    The best thing about Oracle OpenWorld is the chance to make so many face-to-face connections with partners and potential partners. I have enjoyed discussing with so many of them that no matter what kind of company they're from, they can expect exponentially better business results when their IT systems are the best they can be.

    October 1, 2014

    Engineering a Bright, New Future

    Posted by Ravi Kumar S. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 2:34 AM

    Vishal Sikka's keynote address highlights from Oracle OpenWorld [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxGi7dzqf7w]

    Of all the enlightening experiences I've had so far at Oracle OpenWorld, perhaps the most interesting is that voice they keep playing in the central courtyard between all the exhibition halls. The man essentially says: We're not in the smart phone age. We're not in the tablet age. We're not in the mainframe age or the Cloud age. Then he pauses and says: We're in the Information Age.

    They keep that soundtrack on a loop. So whenever I'm outside, walking between the vast convention halls, I keep hearing that voice. I've been pondering the distinctions the man (perhaps it's a voiceover by Larry Ellison himself) keeps making about what defines this age. Information. Notice how our era isn't defined by a piece of hardware. It's what is stored and is amplified on all that hardware.

    One of the biggest themes this week at Oracle OpenWorld is Engineered Systems. It's how the industry describes the way in which hardware and software is coming together. It took a long time to do so, didn't it? Well, not really. Most enterprises in the technology world were symbiotic. They focused on their core competencies and everything worked well for decades. Software companies wrote software and hardware companies manufactured the hardware that ran the software.

    To be sure, there remain Apple devotees and Microsoft fans. But what was once a rivalry between certain software and hardware companies (for what they believed was the future of the industry) sure has simmered down. In fact, Intel's CEO, Renée James, told the opening night crowd at Oracle OpenWorld that going forward, software-defined architecture will dominate the business. That's a huge affirmation of the potential inherent in Engineered Systems.

    When Dr. Sikka, said yesterday during his executive keynote that learning doesn't stop when you've graduated from college, he meant that Infosys is going to continue to recruit the best and brightest in the industry. And that this newly revitalized enterprise will foster a culture of learning throughout its many businesses. Dr. Sikka also said that we won't just be learning by working with Fortune 500 companies but also by partnering with innovative start-ups. One thing's for certain: There's going to be a lot of learning going on at Infosys.

    That's because we understand that no longer do vast corporations dictate products and services to consumers. It's the other way around - we learn from them. "There are sensors everywhere," said Dr. Sikka. "But with those sensors come tremendous opportunities." He was talking about the revolution in the retail industry. Yet all companies are now driven by the information they cull from their consumers and they're learning how to better adapt to the constantly changing marketplace.

    There's a reason, I think, that Dr. Sikka ended his executive keynote address to Oracle OpenWorld with images of a beautiful flower garden. The company under his direction is blossoming anew. It's building on an impressive, illustrious past. We're focusing on building great industry apps for everyone in as many industries as you can think of. And in front of this huge initiative stands the digital consumer. We know it and our partners know it.

    As I walked to the Infosys booth at Oracle OpenWorld and sat down for a few moments to discuss with potential partners the exciting opportunities ahead of them, I realized that we are indeed living in an age defined by information. It's the ideal moniker for an era in which we all have a lot more to learn from each other. That voice in the courtyard is right. And getting there will be half the fun.

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