Posted on: April 11-2016 | By : Prashant Ranade | In: Customer Age,Digital Age,Leadership,Mind Map | No Comments

In the 1950s, it took 20 years for one-third of the Fortune 500 to be replaced, something that now happens about every five years. This fast-changing era is propelled by technology-driven transformation, and the impact is felt by individuals, corporations, industries and society itself.

Perhaps the greatest impact is felt by business leaders, who are under constant pressure to adapt to the changes or risk getting left behind.

The next few years will see an exciting “war of the worlds” between digital upstarts and industry incumbents. Industries like retail, hospitality and transportation are being disrupted by companies like Amazon, Airbnb and Uber, which leverage the power of technology to consolidate small pockets of distributed capacity on a common platform to provide economies of scale and compete with industry leaders.

This new digital age calls for a new definition of leadership.

Leadership in the Digital Age

For many decades, the notion that the smartest people make the best leaders was a widely-held belief. The idea of “smartness” — as measured by the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) — was viewed as a primary determinant of success, and it was commonly assumed that people with high IQs were destined for lives of accomplishment and achievement throughout their careers.

However, Daniel Jay Goleman’s groundbreaking writing on the concept of “emotional intelligence” — as measured by the Emotional Quotient (EQ) —theorized that traditional leadership qualities like intelligence, toughness, determination and vision were important, but that truly effective leaders also displayed a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes qualities like self-awareness, inspiration, empathy, social and relationship management skills.

With digital technologies like mobility, social networks, big data analytics and cloud now deeply embedded in every aspect of our personal and professional lives, today’s business leaders need to possess a completely new set of capabilities in addition to IQ and EQ to succeed in the digital age.

Leaders then must develop or increase their Digital Quotient, or “DQ.” Just as organizations look for ways to improve the DQ of their strategies, capabilities and culture, leaders, too, will be measured by these important competencies and attributes. Some aspects of a leader’s DQ include:

  1. Managing the Unknowable: The sheer volume, velocity and variety of information being generated in today’s world makes it impossible for one person to have all the answers. Digital age leaders need to acknowledge the limits of their expertise and build a reliable network of knowledgeable experts to help them navigate through the choices.

  2. Entrepreneurship: Great leaders are not necessarily great entrepreneurs, but in an increasingly uncertain world, the ability to take risk becomes a critical success factor for every leader. The ability to identify and understand trends, place bets and, most importantly, scale up or cut losses in a timely manner needs to be embedded into the business as usual practices in every organization. “Failing fast” and “falling forward” are critical precursors to success in the digital era.

  3. Mind Map: Organizations look to their leaders to interpret the big picture vision and chart a course for the organization through the maze of business and technological issues. The ability to visualize the big picture, understand the end game, and set operating boundaries in a fast changing, dynamic business environment are all part of the leader’s mind map.

  4. Discern at Speed: Speed is the most distinguishing characteristic of the digital age. No matter how fast you are moving to transform your business, the depressing reality is that you still probably aren’t moving fast enough. The vast volume of information available and being generated requires leadership to be able to distinguish quality from quantity in real time to drive effective decision making. Leaders need to possess clarity of purpose, thought and action to align teams to achieve common objectives.

  5. Succeeding in the Customer Age: A common management truism states that one can only ever choose two of the following parameters: speed, quality or cost — but the new digital age customer is uncompromising. They demand performance on all three metrics: they want it all, they want it now and they want it for free. Leaders in the digital age need to fundamentally transform themselves and their organization’s mindset to meet and exceed customer expectations in this new normal.

  6. Inspiring with Technology: Technology presents infinite possibilities. Whether to generate ideas or propagate the vision across the organization, and digital age leaders must be able to harness this power creatively to benefit their organizations. Technology can be a great leveler, enabling every individual to realize their potential.

The New Leadership Mantra: Intelligence + Emotional + Digital

In the past, development programs like the MBA focused mainly on the development and application of both technical and “soft” skills to build managerial and leadership capabilities. In today’s digital world, however, these are quickly becoming threshold capabilities. In other words, solid cognitive and relationship-building abilities are now the price of entry – and anything above the minimum requirement does not significantly impact the quality of leadership.

While the news media often portrays startups as young exciting companies who can do no wrong, it is sobering to remember that the failure rate for startups is more than 90%. The ones that the media writes about are the 5-10% who make it through multiple rounds of heartbreak and failure, often in the span of a few months. Likewise, industry incumbents are not immune to failing in the new digital age. They must adapt to changing realities and deploy counter strategies to compete against and beat the upstarts at the digital game.

Today’s business leaders require more than a high IQ and EQ. Successful leaders will also possess and practice the qualities of a Digital Quotient; rapidly adapting and transforming their enterprise by injecting digital capabilities into the organization’s DNA. In practice, this can be accomplished through acquisitions, by setting up new divisions to stay relevant to the generation of digital natives, and by realigning organizations and business models that require every individual to reassess their skills and acquire new capabilities to compete in the disruptive future.

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Prashant Ranade
Prashant Ranade is the Co-Chairman and former CEO of Syntel, a global provider of integrated IT and...

Posted on: March 21-2016 | By : Swati Phalke | In: Analytics,Big Data,Business Agility,Digital Skills,Digital Solutions,Enterprise Technology,Leadership | No Comments
For many years in the IT services business, there was a reasonable amount of demarcation in project execution using technology skills such as Mainframes, Client Server, Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence, and ERP. Projects were getting executed in silos for every Line of Business (LoB) within an enterprise. However in today’s digital world, there has been a huge disruption of the business model. Boundaries within the businesses are getting blur. For instance, retailers are entering into banking space to enable quick lending, sports companies are entering into consumer wellness, and mobile companies are entering into payments. Enterprises have restructured themselves to capitalize on the synergies within various lines of businesses. Hence, many digital projects need multiple technically-skilled professionals to join hands to deliver these business driven projects.

Swati Phalke

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Swati Phalke
Swati Phalke is Practice Director, Digital One at Syntel. She has over 19 years of technical and...

Posted on: February 26-2016 | By : Visukumar Gopal | In: Business Agility,CxO Innovation,Enterprise Technology,Innovation,Intelligent Business,Leadership,Managing Business Risks,Project Management | 2 Comments
An organization’s operational efficiency is largely dependent on how well it manages different projects. This calls for a well-defined project management approach that ensure projects achieving all predetermined goals with optimized allocation of resources. A Project Management Center of Excellence (PMCoE) enables organizations to have an enterprise level approach towards project management. PMCoE serves as a centralized body or function which has the autonomy to educate, energize and enrich people knowledge. This entity also has the excellence, best practices and expertise on project management.  
I will be focusing on some core concepts in the blog series, where I will highlight the importance of PMCoE in all industries.   Let us start by discussing the prerequisites of creating a PMCoE.   Project Management and Project Managers have never been more important to the accomplishment of corporate work scopes. An increased emphasis on performance, accountability, and cost-effectiveness is driving industries to reassess work scope planning and execution. Organizations are using Project management as ‘the tool’ for effective streamlining. This change, however, requires planning. No longer can workforce size, resources, training, or experience alone help organizations to achieve their goals. Accomplishment begins with judicious alignment of resources, a shift in corporate culture, and with a committed management team. It is a journey to excellence.   Cultural shift towards Project Management has been on going. To achieve a more complete transition, it is important to empower resources at every levels of the management. Involving all levels of management immediately sends the message of total commitment. Continued work toward institutionalizing the process also strengthens this effort. Pushing change requires wide spread, committed involvement. It keeps things moving.   Project management is one of the critical levers for organizational success. Today, organizations which excel in delivering their business are often at a higher degree of project management maturity than others that have not progressed in the path of successful project management implementation.   Sometime there is a lot of doubt over adoption of either a top-down or bottom-up approach for implementing new processes and culture. The organization’s culture has to support transformation at all levels. The leadership team is the key driver of enhancements needed by the organization. They authorize implementation efforts, exemplify practices, and provide support, while the operations teams have to have the buy-in necessary for the actual implementation of the project. Cooperation between the leadership team and operations team is essential to ensure the level of excellence expected by implementing project management principles.   In the next blog, I will be covering Characteristics of a successful PMCoE. Stay tuned.
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Visukumar Gopal
Visukumar Gopal is Practice Head, LEAN & Knowledge Management at Syntel. He has over 20 years...

Posted on: December 12-2015 | By : Swati Phalke | In: Industries,Leadership | 1 Comment

Much has been written about the skewed ratio of female leaders in organizations, but there is much less research on how women can become leaders. There are many moments in a woman’s life when she has to make important career decisions, while growing professionally and personally.


I believe women are innate multitaskers, and can juggle different roles easily with their family’s support. To me, the operative word in “work-life balance” is balance, and here is how I try to maintain that balance while working in different roles.

  • Prioritization-Reprioritization: As leaders, we manage our workday by applying prioritization and reprioritization techniques. We should apply the same technique to our personal lives as well, in order to provide equal attention to all our undertakings.
  • Overcome the guilt factor: For a working mother, it is natural to feel guilty for not being able to devote the same attention to your children as a homemaker can. It is important to overcome this guilt by making up for the quantity of time with quality time. As professionals, we are well acquainted with the concept of quality over quantity, so that should be applied to your home life as well.
  • Positivity all around: Run away from all the negativity that surrounds you – use the ignore button tactfully. Learn from your colleagues, your team and your leaders, and look for the positive side in every interaction you have. I firmly believe that positivity and success go hand-in-hand, and these simple steps will create positivity in and around you.
  • De-stress yourself with small breaks: If you have the option to take small breaks, go for it. However, time management during these small breaks is extremely important, because they can also have adverse effects on your career. If not well planned, you can lose motivation, focus and confidence in your work. When you plan these breaks, be sure to set goals for them. After you have achieved your goal, you will feel rejuvenated and ready to resume your career race.
  • Respect domestic help: Domestic help is a working woman’s backbone. Getting help with household chores is a must, and you should think of it as an outsourcing program – complete with proper governance and a human touch. It is important to run a talent management and growth program at home, just the way we run them at work. Remember that your domestic service providers are also working professionals, so be sure to give respect so you are respected in return.


I have been practicing these guidelines with all my professional and personal stakeholders. It has helped me play my role effectively in boardroom, in the kitchen, and back in the boardroom.

Swati Phalke

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Swati Phalke
Swati Phalke is Practice Director, Digital One at Syntel. She has over 19 years of technical and...


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