AI is a concept that enticed everyone with its stance as soon as the idea stemmed into the minds of humankind. It initiated with myths, developed into rumors, embarked as stories of hope, and currently, it is at such a stage that it has proliferated in our lives.
It has entwined in our daily lives to such an extent that we do not even recognize we are utilizing AI to conclude our everyday tasks. While AI has been around for decades, its mainstream adaptation has just been prospering. Thanks to the forerunners of the industry that put tireless efforts and work into enhancing the concept.
Harita Gupta, the Head of Asia Pacific at Sutherland, is a pioneer in the industry—who provided the push to the concept in its early stages. Harita has been diligently involved in the IT industry since her early days. Through her curiosity and long years of experience, she has brought notable significance to the AI industry.
In an exclusive interview with CIOLook, Harita let us know her journey and the reformations she made with her expertise in the industry.
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader to your current position at Sutherland. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
My journey in the world of IT started way back in 1984 – when I post graduated from IIT Delhi and joined a Computer Software and Training company called NIIT. It was the very early days of the industry in India, and the whole mission was the adoption of IT for Business and Govt. And all this needed a trained workforce.
I spent my early years in Software Development and Training. Then moved to set up the first Centre of Excellence for Web technologies – focusing on IBM WebSphere, Microsoft .Net framework, Ariba and other platforms. This Technology, Learning and Process Engineering foundation held me in good stead as I moved to Microsoft India and then managed Premier Services for Greater China and India.
Again, the learning was immense, and it was a time when Microsoft pivoted to focus on Cloud and the Azure stack with Satya Nadella leading the company. I was fortunate to be part of the journey.
And then, in 2017, I joined Sutherland – leading the Global Enterprise business and now as Head of the Asia Pacific business. It’s been a fantastic journey. If I reflect back on the challenges – I would say that there was an unconscious bias in the early days – that a woman could not succeed in the world of Technology and IT. And multiple times, I dealt with this – but with the confidence and support of my leaders in the companies I worked for its been a great journey.
Tell us something more about Sutherland and its mission and vision.
Sutherland is a unique digital transformation company. We are the engine behind the experience giants of today—the companies best known for the transformative experiences we deliver. We’ve learned much of what we know about great experiences by working with the best.
Like us, the clients we work with care intensely about the human experiences they provide for customers. We work with businesses across various industries, including Banking & Financial Services, Insurance, Healthcare, Retail, Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment, Technology, Travel & Hospitality and Logistics. Our mission is to deliver exceptionally engineered experiences for customers and employees today that continue to delight tomorrow.
For over 35 years, we have cared for our customers’ customers, delivering measurable results and accelerating growth. Our proprietary, AI-based products and platforms are built using robust IP and automation.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted the AI industry through your expertise in the market.
Human-Computer interaction has always been at the forefront of Technology. Once you simplify this – then using AI to do a particular task / use Analytics for insights and prediction based on data collected/build tools that are business ready – is really the key. Implementing AI solutions is hard unless one focuses on process and process mapping. So, my advice would be – to focus on the process and build AI solutions around the use cases.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives Sutherland.
At Sutherland, we respect our employees and value their contributions. We are dedicated to creating a work environment that is professionally challenging and personally rewarding. We believe in teamwork and, as a team, delivering exceptional results to our clients and their customers. We are committed to the professional development of each person as they progress through their career at Sutherland. An employee is empowered to foster innovation and take personal risks to improve the organization’s service offerings.
Integrity, Leadership, People, Clients, and Entrepreneurial Spirit are the 5 core values of Sutherland. Our culture is built around our core values, and every employee imbibes the values and lives by them, reinforcing the commitment towards the organization. Our values provide us with guidelines to help us achieve meaningful results. Our corporate values are signposts to mark the path and outline the behaviors we are expected to demonstrate in our dealings with each other, our clients, and the communities in which we operate; leadership development and succession plans are tightly integrated with the culture of our winning behaviors – 100% Accountability, 100% commitment, complete trust and integrity, debate drives transparency and excellence and 100% focus on results.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
At Sutherland, we combine our technical capabilities with deep industry knowledge along with platforms such as AI-enabled chatbots, Self-help/Heal tools, IoT based monitoring and management tools. These are all contained in a global delivery model to ensure the customer/user experience is the best it can possibly be in today’s ever-changing IT landscape. Sutherland leverages AI-enabled tools and technologies to transform the workplace and customer experience. Our AI-Powered Analytics Approach leverages organizations by enabling faster-contextualized decision-making to improve business outcomes. Our omnichannel offer helps to deliver a consistent and frictionless experience for customers across the full range of interaction channels, including contact center, web, mobile, social, kiosks, and stores.
We do this by enabling a single unified view of customers using cloud-based data warehousing technology, market-leading API management and integration platforms, and Sutherland Connect, our omnichannel communication platform. We help our customers progress on their transformation journey by partnering with businesses to help design, deploy, integrate, and evolve market-leading technologies.
What change would you like to bring to the AI industry if given a chance?
I would like to ensure that whenever we implement something new – which will impact a significant customer set or population/people – we do a rigorous impact analysis and security analysis before going live. And there should be a body like ISO or SEI – which enables the process to deliver fit for purpose AI with the appropriate audit framework in place. Otherwise, we will be unleashing something that may have a potential negative impact over the coming years.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the AI sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
I believe that companies are leveraging the advancements and are becoming very conscious about ESG and the implementation of AI. This is resulting in exponential growth in the aspects of social and corporate governance as it enables them to become prominent organizations in the niche.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Sutherland?
I envision myself continuing to work with people and customers and making them successful. I also want to be at the forefront of innovation and aspire to get involved with the startup ecosystem – to learn and adopt the new digital tech.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the AI sector?
My advice would be to learn and read about the opportunities and invest your time in understanding how to use AI in daily life and at work. And connect the dots!