Ajeet Singh, Co-founder and Executive Chairman at ThoughtSpot, details the key strategies he’s followed in constructing two multi-billion dollar companies from the ground up. He also dives into the biggest challenges facing CDOs today, why organizations must empower their leadership teams to drive meaningful change, and how big tech can be utilized for good.
The biggest thing people are trying to do right now is move to the cloud, and many have moved to the cloud already. Companies that were digital native, they were born in the cloud. It's been very natural for them, and it's very hard for an enterprise to compete with those digital natives, both in business and in technology. Where the challenge is for the CEO and CDO, with the momentum that we have going cloud is no longer a question of if we should do it, it's a question of how quickly we can do it and how we should do it. The biggest challenge that I see is it comes down to change management and talent.
You've got to invest, you have to empower, and sometimes you even have to bring enough of a critical mass from the outside and figure out a structure in which things can work together. You might have to acquire companies and put them with your existing businesses and figure out where we want to give responsibilities and how the two teams can work together in a way that the combined entity can eventually become digitally transformed.
If you can keep the users, the people, the humans in the center of building your technology, as opposed to thinking about a bunch of features, and if you can understand the person who is using the technology, you will end up building a very different product. Even in large companies, you can actually disrupt, modernize, and you can transform. It comes from leadership, and enabling and empowering a team to do what they need to be doing.
To make a big change, you need to have an irrational desire to do it. Because if you go through all the rationality, you will come up with so many reasons on why something shouldn't be done.
Humans don't like change. We want to do what we know. It's not natural for us to want change for the sake of it. If you want to transform what is important, you have to be able to have deep empathy for people that you are trying to influence. So if there is a CDO, and they want their teams to suddenly become a lot more data-driven, or do things differently. It has to be grounded in the reality of the life of people they're trying to change. They have to understand what pain they have, what aspirations they have, so that it can be framed in their context.
As we come back normal, it is very important for leaders to ensure that the good things that we have learned from the last year of the pandemic, we bring them forward, we keep them. And we don't just fall back to the old ways of doing things. If anything the pandemic has demonstrated that the world can do things at a speed that were previously unimaginable.
Ajeet Singh is the co-founder and Executive Chairman at ThoughtSpot, a company revolutionizing analytics with search and AI. Driven by his passion for creation, Ajeet has built two multi-billion dollar technology companies from the ground up - ThoughtSpot and Nutanix. Prior to starting ThoughtSpot, he was a co-founder and Chief Products Officer at Nutanix, the leader in the enterprise cloud industry and largest tech IPO of 2016. Prior to Nutanix, Ajeet learned the ropes of enterprise technology startups as the Senior Director of Product Management at Aster Data, later acquired by Teradata for $300M. Ajeet has also held business and technical roles at Oracle, where he was part of the team that first launched Oracle Database to the Amazon EC2 cloud. Ajeet holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, where he graduated at the top of his class.