Article: I believe in the maxim ‘Ideas spread horizontally’: Moushumee Basu Roy


I believe in the maxim ‘Ideas spread horizontally’: Moushumee Basu Roy

In a candid conversation with People Matters, Moushumee Basu Roy, Head - SuccessFactors at SAP India shares her perspectives on enabling a culture of innovation, encouraging entrepreneurial mindset, the evolving technology ecosystem, and managing diverse teams
I believe in the maxim ‘Ideas spread horizontally’: Moushumee Basu Roy

Moushumee Basu Roy leads SuccessFactors, SAP’s cloud line of HR business in the Indian subcontinent. In her role is she is responsible for growing and managing the SuccessFactors line of business.  She has more than two decades of experience in Sales, Marketing and Operations in IT and Telecom across domestic and multinational organizations and has handled markets in Indian sub-continent across the enterprise as well as SME segments. Prior to joining SAP, she has worked with organizations such as CMC, Reliance Infocom and KPMG. Moushumee is an MBA from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (IISW&BM).

How do you enable a culture of innovation in what you do and your team?

Today, we all are witnessing an accelerated pace of change around us. The speed at which ideas are shaping or disrupting the business environment has increased manifold and in this context, innovation is not just about creating a differentiating aspect of business but it’s an essential survival skill both for an individual and to an organization. 

At SAP, we encourage our team to have an "entrepreneurial mindset" and strongly support creative and unorthodox thinking. Ideas leading to innovation can come from anybody in the team and I personally believe in what Seth Godin says, that “Ideas spread horizontally”.  Since most of our work involves working with diverse teams with different skillsets and backgrounds, we embrace differences in the team’s point of view and cohesively work towards connecting the dots to get the best possible outcomes.  At the core of our approach is the understanding that innovation can come from any source and hence, we work towards creating a workplace that is based on trust, transparency and inclusiveness so that ideas and innovation can flow freely.

Many resources come together to make what you do a success. How do you rationalize these resources and what can be some of the biggest challenges associated with bringing everything/everybody together?

Working with a team from diverse backgrounds and skills has its own challenges and benefits. Of course, the biggest hurdle in making the team effective is breaking the silo that in many cases tends to creep up and reduce the impact that the team can have on the business. As highlighted earlier, at SAP, we work with teams that are rich in diversity and bring to the board different skillsets and are often collaborating from different geographies. One of the key reasons for our team’s success is that we are a transparent organization and our workforce feels comfortable communicating varying points of view. This, in turn, provides us with a bigger repository of ideas and solutions to the challenges that we face.  At a macro level, I believe what brings us together as a cohesive unit is our shared belief and the sense of purpose that we have to make our customers run better.  

Over the past twenty years, the information technology space has undergone immense change. What according to you has been one of the biggest changes that technology has rendered and how has it impacted the industry? 

Cloud technology is, by far, the biggest change that we have seen. It is disrupting every industry that it touches and is compelling the old established legacy players to change their business models. It has radically democratized technology and has provided a level playing field in which both large enterprises and the small enterprises have the benefit of the same technology and the results are staggering.

One of the important aspects of cloud technology is that it reduces the dependency on IT and helps the ‘line of business’ functions like HR to become more strategic to the business. For example, for HR, one of the biggest benefits that cloud brings is the access to work-related software or information from any device, anywhere, at any time.

Do you think the adoption of cloud based technology has broadened the scope and application of solutions provided by IT industry?

Yes, massively. One of the prime reasons is that it helps organizations focus on its core competency and take away the problem of managing IT besides giving them the scale, efficiency and resilience.  As mentioned earlier ‘line of business’ functions which were traditionally dependent on IT are now independent and have access to innovations which were earlier quite restricted. This, in turn, has widened the scope and applications of IT solutions at an unprecedented level. 

This change in trends is captured in a recent Gartner report which says that in 2017 CMOs are expected to spend more on IT than CIOs. Marketing leaders currently allocate 3.24 percent of their company’s revenue to technology and CIOs’ technology spend equals 3.4 percent of revenue. Gartner expects that narrow gap between CMO and CIO technology spending to close during 2017. We are witnessing similar trends in HR and Finance lines of business wherein technology spend is also rising continuously.In an industry that undergoes

In an industry that undergoes continual change in the form of evolving technology, how important is imparting continuous training to the employees?

In the current business environment of fast paced change, the importance of training of employees cannot be emphasized enough. However, this critical area is often ignored or neglected by most organizations. As per a Deloitte report, more than two-thirds of companies believe moving to next-generation learning is urgent or important, yet only 6 percent have mastered the technology and content aspects of learning. Skill development and training in an organization will strongly impact the overall business results, boost productivity, and increase organizational competitiveness. It will also produce positive business outcomes in critical areas and at key moments in an organization’s development, such as during mergers, acquisitions and business restructurings.

Another aspect to be considered for Learning and Development is that apart from “imparting” and mandating training, today’s workforce needs ‘self-directed’ learning at their own pace, along with job needs and aspirations. The organization needs to provide a comprehensive learning platform and an environment that fosters the culture of continued and voluntary learning.  

Apart from “imparting” and mandating training, today’s workforce needs ‘self-directed’ learning at their own pace

Tell us about how your journey as a woman in leadership position like? Have you ever faced the conventional challenges that women face directly/indirectly face in their careers? 

I have worked for organizations spanning across industries such as CMC, Reliance, KPMG and SAP. I have been fortunate enough to work in very forward-looking organizations, to be recognized for my contributions and be able to work with some of the best managers in the industry, who walked the talk. Out of these, my longest stint has been with SAP and long before diversity became a buzzword at the workplace, SAP is a living embodiment of equal opportunities and equal challenges. The most refreshing part has been that I have not been treated any differently from any of my male colleagues when it came to challenges thrown at me or growth opportunities extended to me. Simultaneously, when as a woman, there were occasions where I needed to balance and manage things across home and work, there has always been complete understanding, trust and respect for that need for flexibility. So it’s been a satisfying journey and the challenges I have faced as a woman employee, which has in fact helped me feel alive, engaged, connected and fulfilled.

At the core of our approach is the understanding that innovation can come from any source and hence, we work towards creating a workplace that is based on trust, transparency and inclusiveness 

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Topics: C-Suite, Leadership, Technology, Learning & Development, Employee Relations

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