Deloitte Fireside Chat: How Next Gen Technologies Drive Transformation
(upbeat music) (audience applauding) - [Nishita] Thank you. - Good morning, everyone. We're excited to have you join Nishita and I in a conversation this morning around innovation. Nashita's joining us as the Chief Innovation Officer at Deloitte, and Deloitte has been a key Appian partner, really around the world, and particularly here in the public sector in the United States. And really to kick off, tell us a little bit about yourself, Nishita, what does Chief Innovation Officer mean? - I know, I often confuse the two too sometimes. Nice to be here, Marc, thank you for having me.
It's great to see everybody here this morning. In my role, I am responsible for thinking about the future of professional services and how we continue to evolve our business in terms of software, products, solutions, so that we're not just talking about really smart people, but we're talking about smart people bringing really intimate solutions to solve your more pressing business needs. So, that's my core job, it's a super fun job where I get to partner with folks like Appian. And in addition, just a little bit about my background, I've spent the majority of my career serving our government clients, and Matt mentioned the word convergence. We talk a lot about that too at Deloitte, and right now, my job spans across all of our industries and it's all about how do we bring our industries together to solve the world's most pressing problems.
- So let's key off of that, the term convergence, innovation, process automation, low-code. These are all terms, obviously, we're up here using and you're using as well. How has that impacted your customers and what Deloitte is seeing in the market today? - Yeah.
So I think one of the things is speed and agility, right? Is something that we see in high demand, as well as enabling us as individuals and people to do our job better and to do it with a higher value input and results. Meaning why should we as humans spend our time doing the automation pieces when we really should be doing the higher value thinking and the higher order relationship building, problem solving, and allow the software to do some of the work that's taking a lot of time. And so we think a lot about how do we use low-code no code systems, how do we use various platforms in order to enable core processes, core workflows to work for us and let us spend more time on those important topics. - So obviously, from my perspective, that seems perfectly logical. I was wondering if you could contrast that with maybe how the world used to be. - Yeah.
- You know, how have you seen that evolve into what seems plausible to all of us today? - Yeah, it's really interesting when you think about, you know, the past and how we've evolved over the various revolutions, whether it's industrial revolution, the data revolution, right, the digital revolution. It's all about continuing to focus on what are the core skills we as humans really need to use in order to advance society? And before it was all about using technology, using electronics, using computers in order to actually help us be more effective. Now it's all about actually helping the computers do the work that we want to actually be able to supplement with human interaction. So meaning, you know, we all talk about AIML, right? And we all talk about, you all think about, you know, the movies in terms of what's actually gonna happen. But what we have to realize is we control that, right? And we can manage that.
And when we really think about how we want to spend our time, and the instance that we're in now, where we are at an incredible talent shortage, right? Unemployment is at its lowest. We can't produce all of the skill sets we need out of our colleges. We can't enable enough people to do the work of today.
We actually have to move into having machines enable humans. - So, I wanna pick back up on that point in a little bit, but let's dig into that deeper. 'Cause I think that's a different kind of convergence. You know, we've seen this, I've seen this play out in different ways where historically, there's sort of been a tension between the idea of is it a people problem, is it a person problem? How are they doing? How efficient are they being? Or is it a systems problem? And I think it's fair to say in what you've described that the reality is it's both. - It's both.
- How do you see that awakening, that level of innovation, you know, on both sides, with the technology and the people, sort of converging? What, do you think that's... - Well, over the technology revolution, a lot of times it's just tech for tech's sake, right? It's cool, it's interesting. But what business problem is that tech actually solving? Is really where we have to come back to. And do you actually need, you know, the most complex, the most expensive, the coolest whiz-bang thing? Or do you actually need the technology to make sure that it's doing the basic things, the common things, the things that enable the business in the best way so that, you know, others can do the higher level jobs is what I was talking about. - So in that sense, how do you evaluate value? Value added or gain? I mean, how do you evaluate automation gains versus, you know, other ways of evaluating? What's Deloitte's perspective? - Yeah. We really focus on outcomes, right? As our goal.
Our goal is what is the business outcome? What is the mission outcome anyone is supposed to be achieving? So whether it's in the acquisition space and you're actually trying to get contracts awarded faster so that you get the support you need at the time and at the budget you need to have it at. How well are you doing at that? Not how many contracts did you process, but how many awards got made and how fast did they get on the ground? When I think about healthcare, and we think about all of the things we went through in the pandemic, right? It's about drug discovery and it's about faster tracking actual approvals and safety and reviews of those drugs to get them out to market. So how do we actually view value? It's less about the tech, it's about the business outcomes themselves. - Now, we've been part of this journey in the government space around automation really for 20 plus years now, and what you're describing as well, and I wanna get your perspective bit deeper on this, is it's continuing the trend of understanding projects or programs, not in terms of we have something we need to build now and then we'll have finished it when we deliver X. But it really is that constant innovation cycle.
- Yes. And it's, you know, we all use the term agile. It's all about how can you continue to deliver value incrementally, right? Not waiting for, you know, two years till something's implemented and then all of a sudden the world gets better, right? It's how can you incrementally get change and how can you see value improve? Because one, it gets buy-in faster, right? You have faster adoption when you can show value in quicker increment increments. You have a better ability to pivot and change when things don't work, right? And so, and by the way, something always doesn't work. And so you have to actually be able to have those points where you're continuously getting feedback, you're continuously talking to your customers, you're continuously testing the system, as opposed to waiting for a big bang at the end of the day. - So tell me a little bit about how you've dealt with that.
I mean, the term that I like to use when I'm out and talking to prospects and customers and partners is that many times the effectiveness of transformation initiatives can be determined by the, as I call it, the corporate psychological outlook of the client. How do you deal with that? Can you, what are some great examples? What are some not so great examples of resistance or excitement that you've seen? - Yeah, it's interesting. You know, you can say the tech is actually usually never the problem, right? It's really people, it's adoption. It's bringing people along the journey to understand what the tech can do for them.
And so we always talk about kind of what's in it for me, right? And making sure we're speaking to the user, the executive, the business as a whole as to what's in it for them in terms of that implementation. And some people's psyche is, you know, it's just tech. I mean, it's easy, I'm just gonna implement it and the people will just figure it out, right? And by the way, if you look at your phones, and every one of us has like an Apple phone, then we did just figure it out, right? So we technologists actually have to meet people halfway and say we need to make it easier to use, we need to make it intuitive, we need to make it so you don't need ridiculous amounts of training to use something, right, at the same time, we need executives and businesses to understand that it's just change. It's not actual learning something new, it's just getting used to something new. And so how do we help people do that in a way that makes them feel like they're part of the decision as well as they're part of the outcome? - I've paraphrased that differently through the years and said a lot of people, and I think particularly in government systems, think technology is something done to them, and they have to overcome that problem over time. How has Deloitte viewed low code and low code automation platforms in that context? You know, where do you see the applications and what are some of the success examples that you've seen? - Yeah, so I think the no code low-code does a lot of things.
I think it does improve speed and agility, right? So in examples of contracts management and systems that we've implemented, you know, they've been backlogs of, you know, 10,000, 20,000 documents in within eight weeks. You can implement a system that combines the data, the workflow, and the people in order to eliminate that backlog, right? So we've seen successes and that type of speed. The other thing I think it does is it provides an equity around talent. And when I say that, I mean, you know, in lots of traditional systems, you need tons of education, you need tons of training, you need comp-sci degrees, you need engineering degrees. And all those things are important. I'm an engineer, I get it, right? But at the same time, right, we need a broader base of talent to be fluent in technologies.
And we need more diversity, right? In our technology workspaces. And I say that as a woman sitting up here and I see a lot of the audience and we don't have a lot of representation, but the importance of representation is you're gonna build better systems. It's not about just doing it 'cause it's good, right? It's good for business.
You're gonna build systems that more people can use, that more people can get value out of, that you can scale across industries. And so that's incredibly important to me and to Deloitte. And so I think that these no code low-code platforms are incredibly effective at reaching that equity. - So picking that thread, I mean, this certainly is a transition away from, and certainly we've seen this in government, of focus historically on high code based systems or extraordinarily heavy customizations of quote-unquote off the shelf approaches. You're seeing that transition be a daily activity.
I mean, what is Deloitte's view on sort of the government willingness, or client willingness, for that matter, to engage in those multi-year efforts? - Yeah, well, so multi-year efforts are hard, like we said, 'cause it's hard to show that value. Now look, the government does incredibly complex things, right? And so that can't all be solved by any one technology or any one no code, no low-code, no code platform. But I think we have to think modularly and we have to think, hey, what can we use no code low-code for in order to create immediate impact in order to help our folks on the ground every day do their jobs better and elevate the human, their experience as well as their ability to contribute while we work under the covers on the complexity, right? And really understanding how do we take complexity out? What are the types of data that have to come together? What are the systems and support that have to happen? So I think it's a combination of both of those things, Marc. You know, when I think about what we need to do, when I think about the willingness to take on multi-year efforts, right? It's less and less of course, right? Because budgets are uncertain, talent is uncertain, focus is uncertain, administrations change, right? And so you never know exactly if you're gonna finish that multi-year effort. So it's important to think of it in smaller chunks as opposed to those big chunks.
- Now, you talked a bit about getting more people involved and more people engaged, and that certainly is a trend that all of us are seeing. The demands for new systems, new approaches aren't necessarily being met by an appropriate increase in computer science majors or those that can do high code. How is Deloitte addressing that issue? - Yeah, so it's a big initiative for us in terms of kind of what we call hire to train, right? We actually want to be able to hire a multiple set of experiences and skills so we get that kind of innovative thinking. We get the creativity, we get different perspectives, but we also know that folks have to have a basic level of training in certain technologies. And so I'm really proud that we've doubled our Appian certifications this year. Super proud to have the gold acquisition certification, your only partner to do that, because we are investing in deliberate training, we are providing incentives for our people in terms of bonuses and different performance evaluations in order to get these types of certifications.
- Now, a lot of what Appian has been used for has been around different flavors of case management. I'd like to describe it, you can go from a military customer to a civilian customer. It's essentially the same process. The labels are changing, just changing. How do you view case management, and for that matter, case management and low code with some of the other technologies that are coming in? How do you put an innovation eye on that? - Yeah. - That area.
- Yeah. Case management's been around for a long time, right? And everyone's got a unique flavor of how they do case management. But the basic workflow and the basic outcomes of case management are very similar. So my view is, look, we need to have a platform like Appian where you can quickly build accelerators, where you can quickly build workflows that you can take advantage of right away. But that you need partners with deep expertise in your mission and your outcomes in order to then take it to the last mile, right? And that's where really Deloitte comes in in terms of knowing and understanding those missions, being able to customize those solutions directly for your process, and being able to work with your organizations and have them adopt to more of the standard processes. 'Cause there's a combination, right? Of elevating the game so that we can update processes so they don't have to be so cumbersome, but we also understand that everybody's a little bit unique, right? And everyone's got their own way of evaluating, of processing, of doing their approval systems, and we have to be able to adopt.
And no code, low code helps you do that quickly, because you have all the underlying features and functions that you can put those pieces together. - So, when you think of a customer journey into a transformation, what timeframe do you put on that? How do you think about how they build up a program over time? - Yeah. It's interesting, it really depends on where everyone's starting, right? And people are starting in all different places of the transformation journey, and it also decide, you know determines by what does transformation mean, right? Sometimes people think it's just their underlying tech systems, but you know, there's the old thing, you can you can do digital or you can be digital, right? And doing digital is just putting in a bunch of technology and saying, "look, I'm upgraded," right? But you're not actually acting digitally, meaning your core processes around your tech haven't changed, right? Procurement hasn't adopted, security hasn't adopted, talent acquisition hasn't adopted. And so it's really about the entire business transforming to be digital, to work agilely together, to work as full stack integrated teams, to work as though the business and technology are partners and are not at odds with each other.
Because oftentimes that's exactly what we see in organizations is our tech departments and our business departments have sort of, you know, a relationship where they're either competing, 'cause the business is now into the business of tech and tech's trying to keep up, or they're antagonistic, and we've gotta really create that as a partnership. - Now, we've seen this blossom in wonderful ways around the world, particularly in the commercial sector. And I think to some extent, it's easier with commercial customers absent sort of the rigidity of the procurement process that's out there, if you will. You know, with a lot of your background in the government sector, how would you answer the question how can we get that approach to transformation in the commercial world brought into my government agency? - Yeah.
- You know, how do I spin something up on a whim in eight weeks without having the burdens that are out there? How have you seen that done? Are there examples you can- - It's a great question. Well, first I'll start by saying, you know, having worked at both the private sector and the public sector, people are people everywhere, and everyone's got the same human behavior and change adoption, and big organizations are very much like a government, right? Because they're big and there's lots of policies and there's lots of process and all of those things are true regardless of where you sit. That said, right, in the private sector there's a lot more focus on, look, speed matters because if I don't get there first, my competition will beat me, right? And so we've gotta figure out in the government, the government has a mission too, right? If I am not serving and making sure my military force isn't the best and the brightest, we have a problem, right? And they're not equipped the way they have to. We just need to make sure we're all focused on that ultimate mission and why we're doing this to begin with, and when we figure that out and then we say, okay, how do I actually start small? I don't need a big procurement.
I don't need a $10 billion, 10 year, you know, deal and procurement to change this. I can do this in the spaces I'm in and I can control change even within my department. I can then talk to the next department and then get change there. I can talk to the next department and get change there. So we've gotta think about this as grassroots, which I think low code no code really helps with, right? In addition to executive level buy-in into core platforms that are gonna be the cornerstones of transformation. - Very good.
Now we have a couple minutes left, and I always want to take the opportunity with someone that has innovation in their title to talk about what comes next. You know, you've heard, obviously before we came on, Matt talking about our perspective on sort of what we see in the immediate future. But looking at 2023, what comes after that? What are the next topics that you think we're gonna be talking about in the coming years? - Yeah. So some of the things I think we're already talking about when we talk about convergence is you think about the convergence of needing government, needing the industrial space, needing our tech space to come together to solve challenges like going to space and making space work for Earth, right? So when I think about those topics, I think about convergence of players working together and the technology that's gonna be needed to share data between us in order to work together on common platforms and not have siloed systems just for an individual organization, but that have platforms that cross organizations, right? I think that's something that's coming in tech.
I think about sustainability and climate, and I think about all of the new things that are gonna be developed out there in order to support sustainability and improve our climate situation, right? Whether that is things like helping capture carbon out of the air, or whether that's things like helping to give carbon credits to people who are actually doing the things we're asking them to do, right? And so I think there's a whole element around the climate and sustainability that's gonna be coming, and we're gonna need to then share more information around those topics as well. And then I think about kind of robotics, and we think about physical robotics, right? We have a big investment in what we call smart factory right now. You know, Matt talked about this whatever we wanna call this economic situation. I refuse to use the word potential downturn.
I think we're just talking ourselves into that stuff, because demand is high, right? The challenge is supply, right? And so when we think about a supply side constraint, what are the innovations that have to happen in the supply side in order to relieve that, right? And we think about we have a lack of people to do the manufacturing, a lack of transparency in the supply chain. And so how do we use things like physical robotics? How do we use things like AI? How do we use new technologies like Web 3.0 and blockchain to share information in a trusted manner across organizations? I think all of those are coming, and I think the no code low-code platforms are going to help us more quickly adopt to them.
- There's lot to unpack there. We'll leave that for another discussion. Thank you so much for joining me on stage today. Thank you for all for joining us. - Thank you.