Cryptocurrency, Big Data & the Future of Sales – SPJ Alumni Spotlight with TJ – Teghjeet Narula (Director – Sales, Oracle)

“Today, we use Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant at home to achieve simple automation through AI-enabled conversations. At work, we see an evolution in conversational bots that aid in automating redundant human tasks or improve operational efficiency.  

What we are seeing in action today is just a trailer of how the data age will take a shape in the future. Imagination is the only limitation that restricts us today.”

TJ – Teghjeet Narula
Global MBA (2006-07)
Director – Sales (Consulting), Oracle, Singapore

Could you give us a brief introduction of your personal, educational, and professional backgrounds?

Born and raised in an armed forces family, I had the privilege to travel and live across the Indian subcontinent during my childhood years. This unique opportunity gave me early exposure to diversities across cultures. During the final phase of my scholastic, I studied at an Irish Convent in northern India where I fostered an affinity towards Mathematics, Sciences, and Computers, which naturally steered me towards the ‘Oxford of the East’ to graduate as a Software Engineer from the prestigious University of Pune. 

Passionate for programming with a bachelor’s in software engineering, I launched my career as a technologist within the IT Sector working for R&D and global IT firms. It was through this period that I gained first-hand experience working on innovative technologies enabling business transformation within the financial services vertical. My curiosity to learn the business of financial services led me to scout for a post-graduation platform that would help me advance towards business and strategy roles for the technology sector within the financial services vertical. The Global MBA from SP Jain was the launch pad that transitioned me from technology to business management roles.  

In 2006, I relocated to Singapore and since then, have led and grown multi-million-dollar business portfolios selling software and technology for global tech firms, facilitating transformation with modern technology. As of 2021, I work for one of the world’s largest software companies and in my current role, I am responsible for growing consulting business with strategic Fortune 100 Global Systemically Important Banks (G-SIB) enabling them to transform their business using NextGen banking platforms.  

Due to the nature of my job, I have visited hundreds of cities across continents and networked with people around the globe. My yearning to travel and explore will continue to enrich me as a global citizen.

You graduated from SP Jain back in 2007. Are there any fond memories from your time at B-school that you still remember?

The Global MBA program at SP Jain was a full-time program for students with prior industry experience. A two-year MBA curriculum compressed to a 365-day rigorous learning format. The program challenged an individual’s capability on fast-paced learning with an expectation to deliver under pressure consistently. Starting the day at 6 AM and ending in the late hours of the night (sometimes midnight) for the entire year was an accomplishment by itself. Back then, I almost loathed my decision to get back into academia after spending years in corporate life. In hindsight, this arduous and intense post-graduate program helped me transform from a technologist to a business leader.

The curriculum was a fusion of classroom-based concept teaching enriched with case-based group learning – solving challenges related to strategy and business management. Back then, our batch was fortunate enough to have a diverse mix of industry professionals within the cohort, enabling us to collectively gain from each other’s industry experience. This experiential sharing within the group aided us to broaden perspectives during the program, and in the process, redefined each one of us. 

I will cherish the personal transformation accomplished during the program for life.

Data is the new oil, it is said. As a seasoned IT professional, how do you look at the power of Big Data and its impact on businesses? 

Crude oil, once refined, helps achieve meaningful purposes. Similarly, raw data by itself is futile, unless meaningful information is extracted and analysed. Big data as a concept helps derive insights out of unstructured, streaming, event-driven, or simply huge amounts of data. These insights trigger actions that lead to profitable outcomes.

Digitisation is the anchor pivot driving efficiency across industry sectors. The use of technology generates a byproduct – Data, and that too at an unimaginable scale. Big data is one of the strategic tools that data scientists use for arriving at meaningful interpretations with vast amounts of data. In recent years, we saw a demand spike in roles across data sciences and it will continue to receive mainstream attention.

In the last decade, proof of concepts around machine learning and artificial intelligence laid out a different path for NextGen technology beyond Big Data. At home, we use Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to achieve simple automation or information access through AI-enabled conversations. At work, we are seeing a proliferating evolution in conversational bots that aid in meaningful automation of redundant human tasks or improvements in operational efficiency.  What we are seeing in action today is just a trailer of how the data age will take a shape in the future. Imagination is the only limitation that restricts us today.

Businesses today across sectors that choose to use NextGen technology (including cloud, big data, 5G network, machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and automation) in purposefully creating profitable trigger process flows will have a jumpstart in the new era only to reap benefits and competitive standout in the years ahead. History has demonstrated that startups became unicorns only because they capitalised on using technology (& data) as an advantage to rethink business models that were unconventional, untried, and experimental alternatives.  

Differentiation resides with enriched user experience, customer centricity, operational efficiency, and innovation; powered by technology advantage. 

Internet is reshaping culture and cryptocurrencies are catching attention. What are your reflections on this new technology?

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralised networks based on blockchain technology – a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. Generally, central authorities do not issue a cryptocurrency, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.

Cryptocurrency is a by-product of blockchain technology and it does have a meaningful role to play in the future of financial services. Whether cryptocurrency will become a mainstream currency in ways fiat currency exists – is an ongoing debate. Improvements in Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), Embedded Finance, and Decentralised Finance (DeFi) continue to deliver interesting and compelling use cases for digital currency. However, blockchain technology has additional promises – smart contracts, the internet of things, personal identity security, logistics, digital media, notary services, public transportation, manufacturing, online gaming, food safety, and many more use cases continue to exploit its power today.

Industry sectors across financial services, government, healthcare, life sciences, insurance, media, retail, telecommunications, oil and gas, travel, supply chain, automotive, and manufacturing continue to reap the benefits of this technology for a more efficient operation. These benefits could enable a vibrant alteration in processes, enabling business transactions today.

There is a growing need to harness the inherent power of blockchain technology i.e. decentralisation and lower cost per transaction.

As a senior industry leader, what are your 3 big predictions for the future of the sales sector? 

The current era of globalisation allows access to the global workforce – bringing brilliant minds across the planet, working together resourcefully to construct a highly competitive industry with ease of global outreach and expansion. Today, customers face alternate choices that promise a better value. Transaction across Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) is undergoing a fundamental shift. Amongst a multitude of emerging trends that will influence the future of the sales processes, three key ones are:

  1. Artificial Intelligence – AI will transform the sales lifecycle, sales operations, and customer servicing. Self-assisted & staff-assisted customer engagements need to capitalise on machine intelligence and workflow automation. 
  2. Value Selling – Price premiums are a factor of brand equity, quality promise, and customer satisfaction, resulting in perceived value. Emerging and Incumbent brands will need to amplify efforts on targeted marketing and customer engagement to increase the perceived value of quality and benefits.     
  3. Hyper-Personalisation – ‘One size fits all’ phenomenon will face a challenge with escalating competition across sectors, driving the decline of monopoly businesses. Hyper-personalisation (assisted by technology) is going to be a vital differentiator across both, B2B and B2C segments.