Cloud has helped us move in an accelerated fashion towards digital transformation: Sunil Kanchi, CIO, UST Global

Sunil Kanchi UST Global

A global player, UST Global is spread across 25 different countries in 5 different continents. The cloud plays a pivotal role in the company’s business, as the firm has made sure that all its applications are hosted on the cloud. Sunil Kanchi, CIO & SVP, UST Global, shares the significance of the cloud for his organization in an interview with Express Computer

Please share with us the relevance of a technology like cloud computing for your company’s business?

UST Global is in the business of providing technology services to primarily Fortune 500 and Global 1000 customers, spread across 25 different countries in 5 different continents. We started our operation in 1999 and have been in this business for almost 18 years now. Since then, we have seen this industry evolve tremendously. In this fast-paced age of technology, we are not only trying to match up to our customers’ requirements but trying to become the top leader in the industry by guiding the global economy to find the best use of technology, while at the same time supporting our customers to leverage the same technology to become leaders in their respective industries. For example, we are enabling various healthcare firms in the US and other geographies to become leaders in the space. We do so not just by providing them with technology services, but by helping them innovate — using technology as an enabler. This is how we have always been looking at providing technology services to our customers.

Moreover, the global economy has changed rapidly – from dot com, to today’s time, when everything is on a mobile platform and/or using mobile tools and applications. We have also adopted a mobile-first cloud in our business — not just externally for our customers, but also internally for our employees spread across 25 countries. Many of our employees work from customer locations, our own delivery centres across the globe, or even from home sometimes. By implementing cloud technology, we have been able to provide them access to all information through one platform, enabling them to work from anywhere at any time. So, cloud has played the role of an enabler in our transformation journey. We have made sure that all our applications are hosted on cloud. For that, we had to ensure that all our applications were cloud-ready or built for the cloud. Hence, it is not just taking an existing application and porting it out of the cloud but rebuilding many of these applications for being cloud-first or being native cloud applications, to ensure that they are most responsive and enable our employees to be the most productive.

UST Global, as an innovation-led technology service provider or technology-led innovation provider, thrives to provide the best-in-class tools to its customers. To ensure the same, before experimenting with a new technology solution for our customers, we implemented these solutions internally first, and resolved any glitches that came our way before deploying them to any of our customers. All in all, cloud has been a significant part of our journey. With partners like Oracle, we have been working to move from on-premise solutions to cloud – whether it is HCM solutions or others, we have been able to leverage both SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) platforms to accelerate the productivity of our employees and to deliver better services to our customers.

What role does the CIO office play in helping the organization achieve its vision?
As a business CIO (Chief Information Officer), my aim is to look at what technology can do for our employees and how we can leverage it to work best for them. My role also encompasses seeing how technology can best help each of our business functional leaders to achieve their goals. For example, I work very closely with the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) in making sure that we have best-in-class financial tools and financial systems in place. I work with our CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and business leaders to make sure we are enabling our employees and providing best-in-class technologies so that they can be productive in their business operations. Specifically, in the case of HR, our CHRO (Chief Human Resource Officer) and CPO (Chief People Officer) are working hand in hand to make sure we can enable our employees to be the most productive and to get the best out of every employee.
Four years ago, we put together a roadmap to determine how to bring in the best-in-class tools for our employees – starting from the recruitment process, to their journey and lives with UST Global, and finally their exit from the company. From hire to retire, we re-imagined every step of the process to see how we can leverage best-in-class technology tools. Previously, we were only providing innovative and innovation-led digital technology services. Anticipating the future, we realised that our employees should be comfortable in working hand in hand with high-end technologies such as – Artificial Intelligence, behaviour analytics, robotics, automation etc., and be comfortable in dealing with extreme kinds of data analytics. Hence, we worked together with Oracle to improve our process efficiency by 30 – 40 per cent, by deploying new tools and technologies and by making the best possible use of Oracle Taleo solution. That’s how we worked to create a new vision for our employees and our organisation.

How is your organization using the cloud for automating HR functions?

We are using Oracle’s HCM solution. The HCM cloud solution is available all the time, it’s scalable, and has its own disaster recovery (DR). The advantage that it especially brought to us was that it helped us in enabling functions that we were worrying about earlier and made our life a lot easier. It’s one of the primary reasons why we went with it. The second challenge was that our employees were not able to adopt the digital transformation that we were bringing in — something that our customers required. The Oracle HCM Cloud provided us with the opportunity to move in an accelerated fashion towards the digital transformation that we were trying to bring in to our organization.

In the previous solution that we were using, even day to day tasks, such as upgrades, and simple customizations were a lot more difficult. With Oracle’s cloud solution, we now don’t have to worry about the same because everything is automated. Moreover, as a global organisation operating in 25 countries, it was extremely difficult for us to declare that our HCM solution would not be available for 24/48 hours. Oracle ensured that the solution was deployed in a negligible downtime. Additionally, I would say that solutions such as intelligent bots, CRM solution, etc. were enabled through the PaaS integration that Oracle provided. Previously, these were a lot more difficult to employ. I think with thePaaS integration, we have got a business enabler software advantage, that we lacked initially.

Did you have to face any shift in organization culture post implementing the cloud-based solution?

Absolutely! Initially when we deployed Oracle Fusion HCM, we analysed all our existing processes and changed each one of them to make them more effective. We wanted to make sure that we were bringing in at least 30% reduction in touch time, and 30% reduction in the amount of time in which, any activity would need to be done. So, we made a significant investment upfront in making sure new processes were brought in or improved processes were brought before we deployed the tool. Hence, when we deployed the Oracle Fusion HCM suite there was a significant shift in terms of employees’ customer satisfaction because now it was taking them 20-40% less time and less effort to do the same activities than before. So, that is the significant positive benefit that the employees saw.

The second is in terms of what I said before i.e. the discipline that we wanted to bring in, rather than having 25 countries have 25 different processes, or 50 different teams have 50 different processes. We wanted to bring in a lot of standardisation, but at the same time ensure that there is flexibility. By implementing these technology solutions, we were able to reduce customisation, and bring in significantly high amount of discipline. At the same time, we were also able to provide the flexibility and the freedom of the suite that we needed to do through the configuration that we provided to our customers (which is our employees in this case).

The third most important point is that the Oracle HCM suite deployment was used to bring in the changes that we wanted to bring in for our employees — as we shifted them from traditional technology to this new digital era. Hence, we leveraged the two as an enabler to accelerate some of the behavioural changes amongst employees and also enabled them by providing more digitally savvy tool sets. This was a very intentional and focused change that we wanted to bring within our workforce, and it was enabled through implementation of Oracle solutions.

In the first phase of the implementation of Oracle Fusion HCM, we addressed recruitment, on-boarding and talent management. Post the implementation, the time taken from recruiting an employee to the point of on-boarding has reduced to almost 50 per cent, hence, enabling us to react faster to market needs. When we do this end-to-end and once we have deployed all the pieces that we hope to complete in this year, our end-to-end hire to the retire processes would be completely digitised, and we are expecting significant savings from that.

Further, in the pre-implementation stage, creating a new service or solution would generally take us from a month to may be two-three months, which after deploying cloud technology has been reduced to two-three weeks. Now we don’t have to worry about the time taken for such activities, as there are multiple benefits like scalability that come natively with cloud. Lastly, the overall employee satisfaction level in using the Oracle Fusion HCM suite has been great. We are able to take many of these solutions and PaaS accelerators and provide our employees with the best in class tools and technology, like chatbots etc. The employee experience has become much richer with this entire deployment for us.