Having Our Pi and Eating It Too: Creating a Software-Driven Business
Today we bring you a special guest post by our Chief Technology Officer Dr. Sid Chatterjee and Chief Information Officer Mohit Bhishikar. Their joint post originally appeared on Sid’s LinkedIn site.
The saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” loosely means you can’t have the best of both worlds. At Persistent Systems, though, we’re all about Pi – the Persistent Intranet – which is providing us ongoing nourishment and satisfaction! We’ve always believed in using a proposed solution ourselves before trying to convince a client or partner to use it. In other words, we eat our cooking and test our recipes before serving them up to clients, and fortunately for us we have some great chefs (such as our CIO Mohit Bhishikar, my co-author for today’s post)!
In 2014, Mohit and the Persistent IT team took on the challenge of totally re-inventing our intranet, moving it from a decade-old basic website (the typical “laundry-list of links”) to a modern intranet capable of offering information securely to any eligible employee anytime, anywhere, and on any device. The employee demographics and the BYOD policy at Persistent suggested a mobile-first design for Pi: not “one-size-fits-all”, or slapping a mobile UI on the existing assets, or designing for the desktop and adapting the portal for mobile, but focusing squarely on the needs of mobile users and aiming to deliver an outstanding user experience for them (focused and shorter work flows, efficient navigation, etc.). At the same time, we were clearly not going to update our legacy ERP systems at the same speed, so the new business applications had to continue to work with them. The IT team built several innovative components as part of this re-invention:
- Lighthouse, a consolidated and searchable repository of all business development assets company-wide.
- Fishbowl, a search application to allow the HR Talent Acquisition team easily search for external candidates.
- Gemstone, a searchable repository of resumes of all Persistent employees, to allow matching of skilled personnel with project staffing needs.
- OrgConnect, an email analytics-based solution to leverage the collective contacts of employees.
Recently, DataQuest India interviewed Mohit about Pi. You can read about further details of the intranet here. As Mohit says in the interview, the overarching goal is to transform the company’s existing fragmented and rigid user experience into a cohesive, flexible, and personalized experience. And, most importantly, increase efficiency and effectiveness by using digital capabilities innovatively.
In the spirit of digital transformation being a journey, Pi remains a work in progress. The Agile/DevOps methodology used allows functionality to be delivered iteratively and incrementally. Last month, I experienced an apparent failure of an approval work flow within a business process. The IT team determined the root cause and added the fix to the deliverables of the next monthly sprint, while I was temporarily directed to a fallback solution (manual and desktop-centric, but it allowed me to get the job done while the permanent fix was put in place). I am back to using the automated work flow as I speak.
The well-factored and componentized design of the system has additional benefits. My team needed to establish a somewhat specialized skills database than what Gemstone provides for the whole organization. We were able to accomplish our goal while re-using most of the functionality of Gemstone, needing only to create a separate repository and a custom template. It is entirely plausible that our delivery teams will be able to take these assets and re-use them (with a certain degree of customization) in client engagements.
Do you have a similar story about digital transformation? We’d love for you to share your recipes!