A Passion for Creativity and a Penchant for Change
As CIO at Convergys Corporation, a global leader in today’s highly technology-enabled customer experience management industry, Chandra Venkataramani focuses on innovation, insights and operational excellence, infusing his team with the strategic communication and creative thinking skills necessary to drive value-packed results for the company’s clients.
Heralded for his tenure in the industry and his performance both as a CIO and an operations executive, Venkataramani has received many accolades for his ability to drive bottom-line growth through operational efficiencies and the standardization of corporate technology platforms.
To what does he attribute his sustaining success and such wide-spread professional acknowledgement?
“I have stayed grounded in the reality that I have to be ready for change, and change is happening every day,” says Venkataramani, who is responsible for Convergys Corporation’s global technology infrastructure as well as the planning, development and delivery of technology products and services for clients.
A major change he and Convergys are currently facing – Concentrix, Synnex Corporation’s BPO arm, recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Convergys, combining the two large customer experience companies into a $4.7 billion powerhouse in the industry. Both Convergys and Concentrix have a global footprint and the combined organization will have upwards of 200,000 employees worldwide, Venkataramani notes.
“Concentrix has conveyed to Convergys that they have no intention of shutting down operations in Cincinnati, and Convergys’ IT staff are all focused on making sure the business continues to run smoothly while working on integration efforts to make sure the companies come together seamlessly,” he says.”If anything, the tech folks at Convergys will now have more opportunities being being part of a much larger company.”
Venkataramani believes today’s CIOs need to keep an open mind and embrace on-going technological changes, continuing to learn all they need to know to remain keenly aware of trends impacting their industries. And, of course, the customer – Convergys Corporation’s core – must always come first.
“Our customers outsource their very critical customer service and sales efforts to us, and we hire agents across the world, training them in our customers’ business to handle calls, emails and chat sessions on their behalf,” Venkataramani explains.
Convergys Corporation’s call operations’ workforce is 130,000 employees strong worldwide, supported by an IT team of over 1,500.
“As a team, our first priority is to make sure we support the ongoing call operations,” Venkataramani continues. Hence, it is imperative for IT personnel to grasp a deep understanding of all aspects of the business. Members of the IT team are encouraged to spend time on the call center floor to understand the operations teams’ pain points. Only then, Venkataramani maintains, can the IT team make the best recommendations for improving the process and efficiency.
Venkataramani, who has served as chief information officer at Convergys since 2013, has helped reduce overall technology expenses while increasing system availability through strategically-built redundant networks. He has led large-scale projects, like Workday and Peoplesoft Financials implementations, and he led the technology integration of the $1 billion acquisition of Stream global services across all Convergys platforms. Other innovative projects to his credit include mobilizing the company’s supervisor workforce and offering them real-time, actionable insights, which helped improve not only operational efficiency, but overall productivity. Under Venkataramani’s leadership, the Convergys IT team has also implemented several robotic Process Automation (RPA) projects to help clients and employees complete their tasks more accurately and expediently.
“Ultimately, the role of a CIO goes far beyond making sure a company’s systems are up and running. It is more than just managing the information a company needs,” Venkataramani says. “The CIO is now the watch guard for disruptors in their industries, and they must stay ahead of those disruptors to ensure their industries are ready to meet those challenges.”
He cites automation as the most recent disruptor in the customer experience management industry, noting that some aspects of customer service still require human interaction. Blending automation with the requisite personal touch into a smooth, seamless process where customers’ questions are answered fully and quickly the first time is the key to ensuring brand loyalty, he points out.
Igniting the Spark
As attendance at and participation in the annual comSpark Innovation & Tech Summit swells, so will Cincinnati continue to grow as a tech powerhouse and center of innovation, says Venkataramani, a comSpark technical advisor and Executive Host Committee member since the summit’s inaugural event in 2016.
“There is not another single event in this region that caters to such a wide gamut of people, from students to CEOs. It is unique because it offers something for everyone, and that goes a long way in bringing everyone interested in technological advances together. We’re not just educating people, but we’re giving exposure to companies looking for talent.”
There are roughly 3,000 tech-related jobs in Cincinnati and the surrounding region that need to be filled, he notes.
The Big Picture
In his spare time, Venkataramani is a photography aficionado. His passion for photography began when he was in college, dissipated for a bit, and has since returned over the past several years with the onset of technical advances in digital photography. It may only be a serious hobby – he has no plans to quit his day job, he jokes – but in the high-tech, innovation-hungry world in which he works, having a photographer’s trained eye for design has proven to be a plus.
“From a creativity standpoint, photography encourages me to think outside the box, engage in problem solving and dig deeper, consider and adapt to different angles,” says Venkataramani.
Today’s CIOs and other IT leaders – if they are to be forward-thinkers, continuing to keep pace with the inevitable fast-paced technology changes that lie ahead – might do well to look through that kind of sustainable business strategy lens.
For more information about Convergys Corporation, visit www.convergys.com.