Now that we are all in this era of cloud and collaborative technologies, it’s time for the customer service function to undergo a digital transformation that re-imaginescustomer engagement itself. It’s time they became more unified, collaborative and intelligent. This is a large opportunity, as I feel large enterprises generally under-invest in customer service capabilities.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Raj Mamodia.
Raj Mamodia is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Brillio. He leads the organization in its mission to become the leading digital technology service provider in the world. Since founding Brillio in 2014, Raj has established the company as being “unreasonably focused” on our clients, empowering them to compete better in their respective markets using Brillio’s deep understanding and know-how on the superpowers of technology. A forward-thinking leader, Raj has built Brillio on the ethos that, “To build a great company, it is not enough just to develop great products and solutions but also to contribute to all stakeholders.”
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I am from a Northern State in India called Rajasthan. It’s only been my father’s vision and support that allowed me opportunity to pursue studies outside my village.
I was, and still am, very influenced by my parents. They had a profound impact in shaping my life’s journey. After engineering school, I established a nice business selling earthmoving equipment, but after I got married, IBM offered me a job. In those days it wasn’t hard to enter into tech even though I was a mechanical engineer due to the IT boom. After getting married, IBM offered me a job in the U.S. and I never thought I’d stay more than 2–3 years! 20+ years later, I guess you can say I never left the U.S. or IT.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
During my early days in the U.S., I was invited by an early friend, Rick Hamilton, the GM of Blue Planet Software, to play golf at an IBM event in Half Moon Bay, Calif. I had never played golf, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. So I bought new golf shoes, because of course you need to look the part if nothing else. And I wore them everywhere around the hotel, not knowing it was not appropriate to do so!
Rick remains a friend and a client today. I’ve gotten a little better at golf since then and we still have a good laugh about that story from time to time.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My parents played a big role in shaping my relentless pursuit of opportunities. They also gave me the courage and grit to continue moving forward in spite of life’s many challenges. I would still be living in my village, and not have the opportunity to realize my full potential if it wasn’t for my dad. He would always tell me (in Hindi of course) to never settle and work for someone else. There is no shortage of opportunities — go find yours!
My later professional achievements have been significantly influenced by my wife and kids. It’s because of their support that I was able to pursue my entrepreneurial DNA and it has allowed me build a purposeful mission at Brillio.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Two books still stand out for me. Despite their age, they have withstood the test of time: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. So many great lessons in both.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Brillio’s purpose from the day we started in 2014 is to “Empower our clients to compete better with the new know how in technology.” Combined with Brillio’s values which are “Customer Success, Excellence, Entrepreneurial and We Care,” this has been our North Star through the good times and bad. Like most companies, our vision and values were put to the test in 2020 and I couldn’t be prouder of how resilient we were for our clients and putting their success first.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
When I started Brillio, it was very important to me that I establish a foundation to introduce disruptive technologies to underserved communities and villages in India. Therefore, the “Bringing Smiles Foundation” was established. Eight years later I am humbled by what we’ve been able to accomplish. 800 volunteers, including many Brillio clients, have brought the program to over 375 schools and more than 100,000 students.
This year, we are bringing the program to the U.S. and expanding its charter to include mental health. I am hoping to raise significant money to help this growing national crisis. It’s been accelerated by the pandemic, but it was a crisis long before COVID-19.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is the adoption of digital technology to help transform services or business. Simply put, when done correctly, digital transformation leverages technology to make life easier for the consumer. Companies have become obsessed with taking the friction out of the customer journey and converting customers for life. Technologies such as Cloud, Mobile, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and IoT all contribute. At Brillio, we call these” the four super-powers of technology,” and their relevance has never been greater than in the last 18 months. They are the foundation of all the transformational work we do for our clients.
According to numerous reports, all four areas are looking at CAGR growth through 2025 of at least 10%. Where other areas of IT investment were put on pause or canceled outright last year, CEOs accelerated their investment in these areas. I remain energized in helping our clients navigate these dynamic areas. It’s all that Brillio has ever done. We will never chase the ‘next shiny object’ in lieu of helping our clients bring clarity on how these technologies can help them out-perform their competition.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
Industries such as Information and communications technology (ICT), Media, Banking and Financial Services are in my view among the most “digitally mature.” That doesn’t mean their digital transformation journeys are over, but it does mean their long-term outlook is more promising. Transportation, Manufacturing, Education, Hospitality, Healthcare and Construction are a few industries that could afford to accelerate their digital transformation investments in order to compete effectively. These are all industries, and I’m generalizing here, where digital is viewed as a ‘channel’ instead of as the business itself. It is a subtle but important distinction. When I meet CXOs across industry, the ones who have embraced digital transformation will succeed; the ones who don’t are at best in “survival mode” at this point.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
One recent example that comes to mind is the award-winning work we did with a large regional bank. They came to us in 2019 for help transforming their operations, process and customer service. To help them achieve success we engineered a new-age digital banking experience, guiding them through a transition from old monolithic applications to implementing microservices and API architecture that provided a digital foundation. It has delighted its users within the organization and its customers, enabling the bank to remain competitive in today’s market.
Another experience that’s been rewarding is our work with a network strategy and technology company. Brillio has been responsible for delivering product engineering services across the client’s product portfolio in recent years, and we’ve also provided design services for their Software Development Kit (SDK) and Call Home solution. It’s been a rewarding experience for both teams, so much so that we’re now partnering together to co-develop and market a comprehensive network management SaaS solution that will feature a range of capabilities including Network Configuration & Change Management (NCCM), AI Operations, Network Assurance, and Security.
I’m glad your question includes operations and processes, because some of the best untold stories of digital transformation impact these areas of a company’s supply chain. For example, we work with a 7,000+ employee company specializing in temperature-controlled warehousing and logistics, including multi-temperature storage. The company has over 250 facilities globally. They have grown organically and through acquisition, and the company was recognized recently by Fast Company as one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2019 and #1 in Data Science. They differentiate themselves by using data science to not only deliver value to their customers, but also drive their industry forward. They have launched the first Automated Warehouseand have become a digital transformation trailblazer!
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
I think it has, yes. From my conversations with CXOs around the world, my sense is we are still in the early stages of this journey. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s Industry Digitization Index, you may be surprised to learn that the U.S. and European industries are both operating below their digital potential. At best, these markets are still below 50% digitized. There’s still a lot of work to be done.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
To start, CEOs should be asking their management teams how they can use digital transformation to drive a better business outcome — one that benefits its customers and can be tied directly to a new revenue stream. It should help organizations create new products, service lines or business models.
Want a role model? Try to emulate Amazon, arguably the most customer obsessed company in the world. If you start with the customer and work backwards, you will find many ways to use digital transformation to become more customer centric. I promise you that along the way, you’ll uncover new revenue streams!
I am also seeing digital transformation’s impact on driving product innovation. Think about how engineering and product managers are designing new products using augmented reality and AI. It’s amazing how this type of innovation has disrupted the product development lifecycle.
I often think about one of Brillio’s most important partners, Microsoft, and the shift they made from desktop driven revenue to cloud computing at about the time I started Brillio in 2014. This is nothing short of transformational. Azure positions Microsoft very well for many years to come.
Now that we are all in this era of cloud and collaborative technologies, it’s time for the customer service function to undergo a digital transformation that reimagines customer engagement itself. It’s time they became more unified, collaborative and intelligent. This is a large opportunity, as I feel large enterprises generally under invest in customer service capabilities.
I think most people think of digital transformation helping companies externally but it can also help companies internally become much more collaborative, organized and ultimately engaged with each other. This will force a cultural shift away from traditional business structures and hierarchies and empower people to act more “entrepreneurial,” which is one of Brillio’s core values.
For example, we had to react very quickly to the pandemic. We had over 2,500 Brillians who we needed to ensure were safe. To lead us through this, I turned to our company’s core values, specifically “We Care” and “Customer Success,” which had us in parallel instituting our clients’ business continuity plans (BCP) and also ensuring every employee worldwide was equipped to work from home. By March 23rd, we had accomplished both objectives. This led to a 10% spike in workforce productivity and a 20% increase in employee engagement. In 2020, 95% of our projects met or exceeded their productivity goals.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
A lot has been written about 3M and their approach to innovation — including what they refer to as the 15% rule. It’s a company I have long admired. They allow employees to work on what they are passionate about. They give their employees license to experiment and work on projects that they love. It reminds me of my dad telling me to “spot opportunity and go after it!” That’s essentially what 3M is telling their employees to do when they allow them to spend 15% of their time on innovation. It’s amazing to think that the program dates back to before 1950. Think about that…over 70 years and it’s still as relevant today as it was when it started.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are many quotes that I can attribute to global leaders that mean a lot to me. I often find myself coming back to a quote that I have created for myself:
“Those who don’t believe in your mission still do you a tremendous favor by improving your conviction. So keep them around.”
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you. I would welcome the chance to hear different perspectives on this topic. In closing, I’d like to say there’s no better time to be in this industry than right now. Digital Transformation is forecasted to grow around 20% CAGR through 2027. But with that opportunity comes huge responsibility for an organization like Brillio, and that is why I’ve made it my life’s work.
I can be reached at [email protected].
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!