Ep 7:Why IT Agility is Crucial for Enterprise Architects w/ Viral Tripathi


Now that organizations have to pivot from 80% work from the office to 100% work from home, the need for an agile IT landscape is crucial. 

With almost 70 offices worldwide, Collabera needed made sure that their employees, users, and clients had secure connectivity and uninterrupted access to their core business applications. Sounds pretty intense, right?

Lucky for us, Viral Tripathi, Global CIO at Collabera, can give us some insights on how to elevate your IT without an office. 

In Episode 7 of #UnleashIT, we interview Viral about how enterprise architects can adapt and scale to the newfound demands of working from home.

We discussed four important topics: how enterprise architects can relate to their CIOs, emphasizing UX above UI, building a progressive IT organization, and pivoting to the cloud to ensure security.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to the Unleash IT Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

All of a sudden, the enterprise was designed for eighty percent work from office. Cour since now it was a hundred percent work from home. Welcome to unleash it, a podcast where we discuss the experiences and ideas behind what's working in enterprise architecture and digital transformation within the IT landscape. Unlock Your Business has digital capabilities. Transform your enterprise architecture. Unleash it. Let's get into the show. Hi Everybody, and welcome to this edition of unleash it. I'm very happy to have today's guest virl Tripati, who's the CIO at Collabora werel welcome to the show. Thank you, high clouding. I appreciate the very own welcome and thanks to the listeners for joining in. Little body with a technology career spanning twenty five years, so that they'll fortune to work with some of the finest brains in different industries and countries. More recently, I was a trusted adviser to CEIOS, developing and executing their technology strategies. So collabora PROID's technology and totals talent solutions through multiple businesses, helping clients with their talent strategies. In December of last year I joined collaborates air, CTEO to take their technology strategy forward and excerted the pace of that transformation. Towards the peel end of my first hundred days of CTEO, we were challenged with covid nineteen. What a challenge to have, and since then technologist paid a pivotal part in my own role as expended as the global CIA for the collaborate group. HOW BIG IS COLLABA? I mean, you're a global organization, aren't you? That's correct. So collaborate group of companies. We have about forty to fifty offices in the US and about seventy worldwide and across twelve countries. So we're fairly large organization and we're fairly well rounded in the total talent solutions that we provide to our clients. So that's you know, especially in covid nineteen, when you're dealing with a lot of different offices, when you're dealing with a lot of different countries, maintaining an understanding that it landscape and how you going to deal with it must be a huge challenge for you and your team. Absolutely so. Yeah, so, especially with covid nineteen, what happened was for a defined strategies and as covid nineteen happened, we were forced into a entire industry. Everybody was forced into a work from home model and people had to DAB overnight in some cases. Right. So with digital comes in some challenges. We were planning ahead of time. We were watching code with very closely and as soon as it happened, we launched the digital workplace so we were able to provide our businesses uninterrupted access and ability to work any time, any place. What was seve of the components that you rolled out within your digital workplace and what were some of the considerations you had to make so that the employees of Collabora we're actually getting the information they needed? So what were some of those consideration points that you made along the way as you were rolling that out? Yeah, that's a great question. So this was very complex and it impacted all of the company, every location, every geography. Right, it wasn't just a US event or a offshore, one particular country event. So what we started looking was where were the users and what are the better our businesses are in better our clients are. So the number one thing was that enabling secure connectivity, having uninterrupted access to the cool business applications and then also, for over offshore offices, making sure we at the right devices in place to be able to point the right connectivity in bandwidth and in some cases, where covid having hit, we set up small pop up offices with smaller groups and teams of people to to enable the continues worklane and all night, evolved into a work from home model. Yeah, that's interesting.

We're the specific tools that you use. I come from the enterprise architecture space, right, so I look at Covid as being wow, if you had great enterprise architecture in place, that was resilience, I used the term resilient, being very, very important. You were able to make a lot of these changes. But what kind of tools did you use? You know, it was enterprise architecture. What were you doing within that? Yeah, so great, great point. Right. So Enterprise Architecture is also one of my favorite topics of mine and I grew up as an architect. So techniques and tools are involving faster. So some of the tools that we brought in in terms of connected you were more secure, multi fact or thing to get a VPN connections and things like that. But the real collaboration was enabled to tools. Obviously, soon everybody's using man, so what's happening in the store right this meetings on zoom, but we also deployed Microsoft teams. That enables more collaboration file sharing, as well as working in actual themes and using certain applications and things like that. So a lot of other back and works as well happened in updating the architecture, ex alerting the pace of a child and develops and rolling out certain new features at the business needed to just do to the new realities of covid nineteen, for example, certain applications that enable business. We needed to update certain functionalities, some features and also the reporting and insight of what is actually happening in the marketplace. So says management, we can make certain decisions that are data to even in fact based. HMM, okay, so data driven, in fact based. So you really had to have a great understanding of all the applications that were already out there and it needs and where those gaps and were and what you needed to invest or divest within your landscape. Yeah, so I sort of lucked out a little bit it here, because new to the organization and one of the first things I started to start understanding the current applications landscape. So and and as as technologies evolved and as companies grow, they tend to expand that applications portfolio. And I was already taking a look at that applications port fully and assessing what what made sense. Working with the partners on my business side, we started defining certain objectives and key results. So on those o Krs I work with the architects to then start designing and developing the modern patterns that that needed to be adapted to to the new reality of going nightly. Okay, and when you got there, we and I'm always interested because I think some of the organizations that were mostly on Pram had a much difficult time reacting to covid and and you know, being agile and the the way of deploying new technologies. was your architecture more on Prem was it on the cloud? If it was on prime, did you have to accelerate your cloud or expand your cloud infrastructure? So we had a mixed to the environment, a hybrid environment. As such, a couple of the code applications were already on the cloud, but we had to start securing them, adding another layer of security on that, and along with that there are the applications that are on Prim we had to make sure there are no single points of failures, making sure the internal data center architecture was also robust enough to to enable the new connectivity which we needed. So all of a sudden the enterprise was designed for eighty percent work from office. Course, is now it was a hundred percent work from home. So a lot of things have to be changed in the backing systems and increased capacity. Getting bandwidth is one thing, but also inclusing capacity of certain backing systems and servers. One of the easiest way to do and scale speed is to to the cloud, and that's what cloud is good for. So since I already started evaluating the applications portfolio, it was easier to identify myself the applications that...

...will be suitable for different clouds. That race models like says, I sort of the past. We started making some adjustments accordingly and we continue to do so, as I need advices and we work very closely with our business on that. Yeah, you also mentioned that now it is responsible for delivering more of the features and functionalities that the actual business leaders want in order to meet your okay ours. Have you seen this, this shift? And some organizations they're actually splitting, you know, corporate it from product it, right, where corporate ID is your traditional helped us here, you know, standing up applications, your major ARP systems, all that, but it's really the product it. Folks are actually building these applications and the shift is turned front, not just one of support but one of really continuous improvement in making things better, delivery and analysis. If they've become a little software company within the walls of the it are going to say. And is this something that your your team's experienced? Yes, absolutely so. What are you're explaining is the need for a dual operating model for an a right one that is a steady state and then delivers that the internal operational capabilities that see want a business, but the other one that looks forward, is forward thinking and enables the digital transformation that is going through. Right. So, so that's a dual operating model that we need to adapt to. What is needed to achieve that dual operating model is also a shift from a project based execution to your protect mindset. Right, and let me start by confirming that the same shift has happened at Collabora when we are in the process of happening. While I believe that the will always be room for ID projects, especially in infrastructure, some of the core applications, forward thinking things that drive our business and add to the bottom and top line, those need to be looked in a different manner right. They need to be looked into like how can I ideate based on the ideation now came to learn? Sometimes you fail, but the more important part is you feel forward and then on you succeed. How can I scale at speed and how can it take that and institutionalize that naked get it to production? And that is the shift to the protect this mindset on developing, design, deploying in the managing those products and then in the product front there's got to be much more collaboration between the office of the cioh then, and and the business leaders, you know, walking into a new company. How did you how did you maneuver that? Because it's not it's not an easy thing, obviously, and there's a reason why shadow it took a such a prominent part of the it or it is age a couple of years ago because, you know, crazy people like me and marketing needed technology solutions and instead of waiting for the traditional it people to go, would just go and create them ourselves. And then, of course, we tap it all over the place. So how did you find you know, walking into as a CEI own and working with these business leaders. Know you're absolutely right. Right. So if traditional it takes time and in the whole days to build the application in the settlers of fifteen, twenty, thirty days, what as a CMO, for people like yourselves and business, it's easy to pull out the corporate credit card and just, for example, go to a SASS solution and just buy right. It's that it's ready and they also talk to get users such as you are. So the challenge unit for it and for CIU is to adapt and understand what does my business really want? And if I can't feel the gap, business is not going to be I wouldn't be if I was on the business side. Right. So you have certain business objectives to meet and there are very demanding deadlines and you need to meet them and if internal idea can help achieve and provide those solutions, create otherwise you would have to find other solutions. So we want to shadow ID or business I t but that that's a reality. Now. When I joined Collabora, I pretty grateful to have...

...a executive team that that's forward thinking and extremely collaborating, right. So we started with thinking. What what does product minds that really mean, right, and what does business need? So it starts with the user experiences, the superior experiences that technology needs to deliver. The technology can't deliver those experiences, no matter how shiny good to sort of what is, it's not good, it's not useful for the user and they want to adopt the experience is what drives things. So we started with architecture, back to the architecture principles and modern architecture, thinking what would let's start with design thinking. Let's understand our user journs. We created or digital personas of our users, try and understand what what they need, what their pain points are on how they use our technology, and then, based on that, we started tweaking some of our existing in flight projects and started shifting towards a product centricity and customer centric minds. So, all the sudden, new acts is playing a big role in this. Right, you act and you I development, as you pushing applications out. Any talk about persons. He is a marketing for someone. We are small. The time I hadn't thought about how I CIO would be. Is A and for their internal audience as well as they're, you know, the final customer and the end of the day, and how that drives it. That's that's new, isn't it? No, that that's new and I think it's here to stay. That's where it starts from, the the customer central city, the user centricity is is the core. That is how it is. It's a soft benefit and hence it was not much of focus to now. But as the shift to digital happens and as ASSASSP works come in with the superior user experience and easy to learn, easy to use, easy to get things done, internal Ip has to DAB right and otherwise it will be not relevant anymore. So, again, going back to the product mindset, it's about what is that design experience? We have a UIUX team and there's a huge distinction between U and Ux, right. That's a yeah, and I always focused on Ui, but now more focus on Ux, more on the design and what is the experience as well? Right, so that that's what it is, more like a traditional software company. What's moving into the IT world exactly, learning from the startups and on the West Coast where they come in, and that the great shift left movement that's going on, that they come in and very quickly they identify a core need and they focus on the core nial viable product, develop that MVP with the superior experience and then that that sets them up, that sets them up for the next stage and to expand. So that that's what we need to bring in, and that's it's easier set than done, but it has to be done. Yes, it is finding the right talent a challenge, you know, and bringing on board, you know, people that skills into an it the organization, because you're talking about developers who might be very happy working and software company and then all of a sudden you try to recruit them into a more traditional or, you know, I think it has a bad rap, but traditional it organization. How do you overcome that to get like top talent into these types of organizations? Yeah, interesting point that you brought up there. Right. So talent is is a shortage in general, ID talent. Yeah, right, and specifically for companies like Colabora, how we manage so what covide has shown. On one side is that you could be working in any part of the world and continue business, and on the other hand there's a or businesses, is talent strategies and talent solutions, right. So we have a pool of candidates, we help with our our clients with the challenge is to match the two with the specific needs that we have, right. That the devils in the details this. So that's where I'm finding giant. So on one hand there's a good pool of supply and they's a y troupe was to demand as well as the challenge is to match the two and find the right candy that that fits in culturally, which which Collabora puts in a huge effort,...

...may be level or values, and our culturally selling brate did, and so we try to make sure, like not just technology has to be to beat relationship where you are benefiting from the cultural and a environment that collaborate has to offer, as well as the company's benefiting from the heart, skills and ideas that the candy it brings in. Let's talk about one talent area, which is the enterprise architect himself. There you love enterprise architecture and unfortunately, enterprise architectures have always been seen as this. You Know Ivory Tower, you know they have all these like frameworks, like togf and everything like. You know, even different models that I don't even know the accrodyms to. But how is that changing? How is the enterprise architects in your organization changing? Yeah, so in the old days the enterprise architect used to be one of those sitting in the ivory diver looking in creating very rigid frameworks, whether it's exactman framework or or let's work all that pain. And I think the role is evolved. The more than architecture role has evolved to somebody who just wants in those kind of ivory diverse but it's a chief architect. First and foremost. You used to work closely with the CIO, someone like me, to understand the design business outcomes. And then, secondly, they need to collaborate with the solutions teams, provide them with the foundation and the design guidance to bring in technology solutions. So I believe that role has evolved significantly and dramatically in the right way. So, and based on these understandings, what the architechniques to do is man but what is happening in the world with the realities of Covid, the digital transformations, in the move to a from a project to project mindset. It. You need to understand the valley streams of the business that we just mentioned earlier, right, and then come up with different architectural strategies. It's an architecture. What House, my infrastructure architecture going to look like? House my Application Solution Architecture look like? And then, based on the data and things that are changing, right, how is my information architecture going to look like? So it's not just one thing that is rigid and a framework, and here it is, but it's more of a fluid things and and different leaures that you need to plug in to make sure that our clear business flows through this architecture. Yeah, and then, of course, you have security issues on top of that, right. They enterprise architecture has to figure out how all that security is going to place. They're worried about service delivery, service operations in the cloud. I mean, they're taking into consideration so many more different aspects. I would I would think that the enterprise architects much more of a guide or sub sort of advisor. Now to the CIO or is in. Before they were just off theoretical. Now they're actually in the in the weeds, you know, helping the CIO figure things out. Absolutely. So one of the things that I recently did was established a center of Excellence in the first center of fixing that I established was more than architecture, and that's exactly why. Right, because this is a group of people who are for thinkers, are looking at the foundation, on layer on which technologies are going to build. Their looking at and it's not a new it's a it doesn't replace existing rules right off of a formation security manager for a governments or a joy practitioner. This is an addition. This is a role that adds and compliments and Co exist with these other roles. So what the center of excellence, with this modern architect wature, does is work with the judge cue can take it from them. OPS to give sick offs. Right, it takes a village to secure right, it's more all right. So that's what we're saying. Like how to be embed experience security in functionality that the business needs at the get go. Start right there to build the...

...solutions that deliver the outcomes that you decide. Well, you have very you building a very progressive it organization and I think just some examples you gave today are are really going to be meaningful for our listeners. I just want to thank you again for joining us for other it was lovely to have you and today's episode. Yeah, thank you very much. So I do work with a forward thinking group Collabora. I it's I think it's important to note that I report directly to the CEO of the company and I'm most part of the Executive Management Committee. That the reason I'm very happy and just about that role is that it gives it a seat at the executive table right and that enables me to work and partner with the business to build this foundational letter capabilities and at that clear a vision that ID can help and drive that transformation at the business meets. So that's where you are, at the heart of digital transformation, aren't you? Like every company, transformation is is happening either you strategically plan and transform or it happens to you. So for me, what matters most is what is the role of technology here and from within technology. With regards to the discussion we're having, there are certain trends that we are looking at and certain things that we want to keep an eye out. So obviously that the general technology trendsits about automation and data and that will continue to grow. So and from a lens of an architect what we're looking at is is micro services and in and driven architectures. So theres some of the the key technology trends. Your specifically looking at micro services and that, and there must be many more technologies that we get this. We hear a lot of hype around Ai, for example. Our PA ARE OUR IP is irrelevant for Your Business, but what do you have on your radar? What are you looking out as an actually out that? Yeah, you have Nice, nice question. So actually I'm also looking out for ourp as well. So the June technology trends, it's also about automation, right. So as we go along, our deficient intelligence and machine learning gets better and better. It will over time evolve into eight a deep learning and development of neural network architectures. So that's a new field that's gaining more and more significance and will hear more about it in the next year or two. More closer to home, I think there's a significant advancement in process minding tools that can be used by all companies, including concluding at Collabora, to really understand the business workflow and in mind the processes that are happening, identify the opportunities for automation. I live. It's just a matter of time when they're, say, bought on every end user device, that that's happening and that's going to happen pretty rapidly as soon as we get out of this cover situation. That's going to happen. From a event driven in microsurvices point of view, what event driven means is it's more of an concept which is application for applications that stand across certain business functions. Right for example, and activity that is happening in my sales organization while they're using a CIM application, if that activity gets long and that log gets the Diet in into the event hub, and how can some of my back and processes in certain systems in the back and that other departments and functions use go pull those events and map up and derive some insights? So, but that's a concept of event driven and where microserverce architecture is playing a role. Is when I joined in, I looked at two things. One is the all legacy applications with the moralthy architecture that needed to be changed and the other submit new the mordern patterns, more on architecture design, scouted native applications that are working. More so for the legacy. We started looking at how can...

...we d couple this applications, how can we reduce dependencies and by doing so, the ideas to be able to wrap you build more dudes and and those features and capabilities that the business needs so we can deliver those outcomes to business faster and a scale. Great. So you thinking ahead, you're working as is your forward looking. You know your forward game plan all set. We will we wish you the best of success and we love to keep in touch with you, row, especially as we have more events coming up. We love to have you participate in them. Thank you absolutely cling. Thank you very much for having me and it was it was really pleasant. Every time we speak it's really nice and thanks very much for inviting me to be guessed and I love to talk to you games. Thank you. You've been listening to unleash. I T to ensure that you never miss an episode. Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player if you'd like. To learn more about enterprise architecture and tools to help unleash your businesses digital capabilities, visit lean ix dotnet. Thank you so much for listening, until next time,.

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