AI is the Next Big Wave in Tech

Harnath Babu, KPMG’s CIO, emphasizes aligning with business objectives, understanding user expectations, and leveraging domain knowledge.

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In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and cybersecurity, leaders find themselves at the helm of navigating storms of change and innovation. A recent conversation with Nisha Sharma, Principal Correspondent at CIO&Leader, and Harnath Babu, CIO of KPMG, revealed the intricacies of steering an organization toward digital resilience and growth. With over 16 years of experience in financial services and consulting, the insights from this tech veteran shed light on key milestones, challenges, and the future of AI in transforming businesses.

Harnath Babu

Embracing leadership challenges and milestones

The transition into a CIO role is marked by a multifaceted challenge of aligning technology with business objectives, managing team dynamics, and meeting escalating user expectations. “The first thing was how do you really get, or take charge of the role, right? I think especially from a team to technology to user expectations to the domain,” Harnath Babu, CIO of KPMG, shared, emphasizing the importance of speaking the language of business to navigate these challenges effectively.

Overcoming technological hurdles

Adapting to technological advancements while ensuring business continuity and resilience has been a significant hurdle. The Harnath Babu highlighted the critical nature of being agile and responsive to disruptions, including those brought about by the pandemic. “Making sure that you can quickly respond to the challenges while you’re trying to transform the business,” he pointed out, underlining the need for a ‘secure by design’ approach amidst a landscape of evolving cybersecurity threats.

Strategic technology investments

When faced with myriad technological options, prioritizing investments becomes a crucial skill. The CIO advises focusing on business outcomes and return on investment (ROI). “You need to be clear in terms of what is the business outcome that you are looking for… prioritization happens very clearly in terms of the business practice,” he noted, advocating for a portion of the budget to be dedicated to experimentation and innovation.

The fascination with AI

Among technological advancements, AI stands out to the CIO for its rapid adoption and potential to revolutionize business models. “Every few years, there has been a new technology, a new wave within technology that has been coming and disrupting business models… AI is the next big wave in terms of tech,” he expressed, likening AI’s impact to the advent of the internet and electricity.

The need for BharatGPT and inclusive language models

Discussing India’s initiatives like Bharat GPT to develop language models tailored to the country’s linguistic diversity, the CIO underscored the importance of such technologies in leveraging AI’s benefits widely. “It’s a necessity, right?… I think it’s important for these large language models to have the capability to understand the specific nuances of the country,” Harnath Babu elaborated, highlighting the potential for AI to bring about inclusive technological advancements.

Insights for aspiring leaders

The journey of a CIO is riddled with challenges that demand a strategic, forward-thinking approach. Leaders can steer their organizations toward sustainable growth and resilience by aligning technology investments with business outcomes, embracing AI, and ensuring inclusivity through tailored language models. This conversation not only provides a roadmap for aspiring tech leaders but also underscores the critical role of CIOs in navigating the digital transformation journey in today’s dynamic business environment.

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