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Prakash Kota is the CIO at Autodesk, a company he has been with for 15 years. Obviously, things have changed at the company and in the world since that first day, and Prakash has seen it all and adjusted to all the changes along the way. On this episode of IT Visionaries, he tells us about his journey and he breaks down what is going on at Autodesk today, including the types of internal innovation they are focused on and the new technology and bots they use daily.
- Digitizing is about removing friction and creating value
- Automation is important in digital transformations, but it should be used selectively and intentionally
- As a CIO, you have to have a mindset where you are always looking to enable your customers and employees to have a better experience and be more productive all the time
Working at Autodesk
Autodesk makes software so that their customers can make anything. In fact, a lot of things that people use every day were designed on Autodesk. There is a great deal of infrastructure behind the scenes to make all of that possible, and Prakash is responsible for much of it, not to mention his other responsibilities with enterprise security, business applications, CRM and much more. One of his other primary responsibilities is working with stakeholders and internal employees to ensure everyone is having a good experience with as little friction as possible. In fact, when Prakash became the CIO, Autodesk was going through an internal shift and a transformation. One of the big goals he was tasked with was digitizing the company and that meant removing friction through digital means.
“Digitizing Autodesk is a corporate goal that’s dedicated to transforming our employee experience and making necessary investments to ensure that whatever function the employees perform, they are having an effective and productive day so that they can contribute and bring so much more value to their jobs, and in turn, helping our customers get the most value.”
The role of automation
According to Prakash, automation is extremely important when you are talking about digital transformations. By automating processes and repetitive tasks, you can better leverage your workforce to do more high-value activities. But, it’s important to remember that you can’t move all tasks to bots. You have to be selective and intentional about what you are asking bots to do, especially as it relates to customer service because people do not always respond well to working with bots.
“Digital transformation is only done behind the scenes by leveraging automation. You are stitching things together and automating the workflows or processes – whatever IT exists – so that from a consumer standpoint and user standpoint, we are hiding the complexity and we are giving them a good user experience.”
Solving big problems
When you’re trying to solve a hard problem, it often gets harder and more complicated as you go. That’s why at AutoDesk, Prakash has a method of working backward. Thinking about the end-users, how a product will be launched, the press release that will go out to describe it and everything else, will help narrow the focus of the task. This allows engineers to deliver the perfect solution to meet the end result of the business outcome that is desired. You have to put the customer and the business outcome ahead of whatever technology you are excited about or want to use because even the coolest technology might not achieve the ultimate best result for the customer.
“The more folks within the organization focused on the business outcome and putting the customer at the center, whether the customer is internal or external, makes a huge difference.”
The challenges of being a CIO
As more processes become automated and things become digitized, the challenges facing a CIO are constantly changing. One of the most interesting problems a CIO has to deal with is the constant creation and allocation of data. Understand how and where data is coming from, and then deciphering how best to use that data is a challenge all CIOs are dealing with. Additionally, security and the speed of innovation are other challenges that CIOs must constantly be aware of.
One of the areas that most CIOs are excited about — including Prakash — is in the use of A.I. Integrating A.I. into internal and external processes has been a major project at Autodesk and in the broader IT field for at least the last few years.
“You need to have an appetite and a continuous learning mindset because the technologies are changing so much.”