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Genpact CEO Tiger Tyagarajan: AI Is Getting Good, But Still Can’t Replace Human Curiosity

Here is an excerpt from an interview of Tiger Tyagarajan by Adi Ignatius for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.

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Tiger Tyagarajan is CEO of Genpact, a global firm that advises clients on digital transformation. Tyagarajan helped transform a division of General Electric (GE Capital International Services) into Genpact, a company that now has more than 100,000 employees and annual revenue of $4 billion. He says there’s an important difference between simply “digitizing” your company (by, for example, automating tasks) and truly transforming it digitally, which goes beyond technology to develop the people and processes that make up a firm’s culture.

For this episode of our video series “The New World of Work”, Tyagarajan sat down with HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius to discuss:

  • The promise, and limits, of emerging AI technologies like ChatGPT, and how they could augment what employees do without necessarily replacing them.
  • The long-term promise, but short-term dangers, of the metaverse.
  • Surprising leadership and team-dynamics insights from cricket. “If there’s a game that teaches you grit, it’s cricket,” says Tyagarajan, who is passionate about the sport.

The New World of Work” explores how top-tier executives see the future and how their companies are trying to set themselves up for success. Each week, Ignatius talks to a top leader on LinkedIn Live — previous interviews included Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. He also shares an inside look at these conversations —and solicits questions for future discussions — in a newsletter just for HBR subscribers. If you’re a subscriber, you can sign up here.

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Tiger, welcome to the show.


Adi, thank you so much for having me.


A lot of the work you do is advising companies that are going digital. I imagine practically every company describes itself at this point as digital, but you have a more sophisticated lens on this. What is the biggest blind spot for companies that are on this transformation?


Adi, it’s a great question, because we are clearly seeing every company think through what digital transformation means. Now, the first thing I’ll say is we’ve got to distinguish what one could call digitization, which is automating processes, making it straight-through touchless, no human touches it, as compared to digital transformation, which is really running the entire business differently, having people take decisions differently, leveraging technology and tools and the cloud and AI and machine learning, dramatically improving user experience, customer experience, all of those things. Parsing those two would be important. And when it comes to digital transformation, one of the big learnings we’ve had is that it’s not just about technology. It’s about processes, it’s about the data underlying those processes, it’s about people. Because in the end, you really want to have people change the way they work, and that’s when you really achieve digital transformation. If you ask me for the single biggest roadblock, it’s how you drive change through an organization. And by the way, the more successful an organization, the more that challenge increases, as you can imagine.

You are saying one of the keys to digital transformation is how we’re interacting with our colleagues. What do you mean by that exactly?


Let’s take a couple of examples. Think about a bank that lends to small businesses. Something that’s very important for the economy, something that a lot of banks do, and the application comes in, typically someone in an operations function puts all the data that is available in the application onto the system. And then, the system then ends up taking the application to a risk officer whose job it is to evaluate that application and take a decision. Now, the reality is that you have a human who is prone to making errors, who has biases, often doing that underwriting. You change that to a completely transformed way of running lending operations and approval of a loan. You could think about the application coming in, getting read by a machine, getting photo’d onto the technology.

The technology then uses past data and patterns to say, “Here’s the kind of prediction that I have about this customer.” Payments, what the customer likes, the interest rate that works, should you approve or not, etc. And then finally, the risk officer takes a look at it, and then takes a final decision. You can drop cycle time for approving a loan from 20 days to minutes and hours. And the impact that has on the customer, the delight of the customer, the fact that it actually drives economic value for the customer and therefore for everyone, is really what digital transformation is about in that one example.

And you can apply the same example to supply chain where a retailer places an order for milk or chocolates or cheese, and that has to be processed. Now, all of that can be done again by the machine, including getting the truck, getting the right truck, having the best route, driving low carbon footprint, not just lower cost. Those are the kind of things that people are really beginning to do in order to change the way business runs.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Read more on Business and society or related topics Digital transformationOrganizational cultureOrganizational developmentOrganizational changeOrganizational learningOrganizational transformationProcess managementDisruptive innovationChange managementCompetitive strategyCustomer-centricityTechnology and analyticsAI and machine learningAnalytics and data science and Automation.


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