Cloud telephony company Knowlarity recently appointed Ajay Shrivastava, as its Chief Technology Officer. Shrivastava shall join the Gurugram-based company from OYO Rooms, where he served as the head of technology.
Shrivastava comes with an invaluable experience of over a decade in technology products from companies including, Intel, Adobe, Microsoft, Expedia, SlideShare and LinkedIn.
“He (Shrivastava) will help Knowlarity to cement its leadership in Cloud Telephony industry. With his leadership, we will establish technology as the fulcrum of Knowlarity’s operations,” Knowlarity CEO Ambarish Gupta said.
News Nation spoke exclusively to the tech wizard who has created a reputation of sorts for devising technologically savvy ideas for start-ups, yielding in brand creation and customer friendly interface for the entities.
Here are excerpts from News Nation's interview with Ajay Shrivastava -
Q1. Please share your experiences while assuming challenging roles in leading technology companies like LinkedIn, Intel, Adobe, Microsoft, and others?
Ajay >> These are most amazing companies of the world doing cutting edge technology innovation work. You learn flawless execution, customer focus, prioritisation at the finest levels there. And above all, you are surrounded by amazingly talented people, which lifts your potential.
Q2. Takes us through your journey at OYO and what was your biggest contribution to OYO becoming a major hotel aggregator?
Ajay >> At OYO, I built the technology and team from scratch. Riding on the back of rapid technology evolution, the company grew exponentially from 4 to 200+ cities, from a handful to 7000+ hotels and 2500+ employees across the country. In the process, created the concept of ‘Solver Teams’ and ‘Minimum Viable Technology’ (MVT), which can help any startup execute flawlessly from scratch to a giant company.
Q3. You have built a reputation in the industry for providing cutting edge technology for start-ups to build their brands. What makes you think differently from your peers?
Ajay >> I was lucky to have the diverse experience in building brands from the ground up to working with some of the largest companies in the world. Owing to that experience, I believe I can identify which strategy should apply at what stage of a company; and how it should evolve with the growth of the venture. Often, the strategies used in large companies are irrelevant and even detrimental to a small growing company’s interests. This is where I see most startup's technology leaders go wrong and put their companies in competitive disadvantage, by replicating large company strategies as a golden rule.
Q4. You have laid importance on the fact that B2B (business-to-business) companies should focus on customer experience as done in consumer-facing businesses. Why do you feel so strongly about customer experience in B2B technology landscape ?
Ajay >> Indian software industry needs to focus on creating "product pull" by solving user's problems and compelling user experiences. B2B or B2C product has to provide wow experience to consumers. B2B product efficiency and experience directly impacts revenue of the customer. E.g. If a call centre product makes workflows easy, it directly impacts the consumers and agents happiness and also revenue of the company due to shorter turnaround times per call.
Q5. Your much talked about 'Minimum Viable Technology' and 'Solver Teams' concepts have created quite the buzz among technology bigwigs. Please explain the lean concept and its inherent benefits to firms in layman terms?
Ajay >> MVT idea is to enable low cost and large number experimentations is startups. The idea is to minimise loss in failed experiments and do further investment of product and technology in successful ones. But, usually Product/Technology teams usually start building "a cannon for killing a bird" in name of future proofing the solution/experiment. As one solution takes a lot of resources and time, many experiments could not happen on time. And as most experiments fail, what was done might also not be needed in the long run. So its double whammy.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) philosophy evolved, to avoid this “unnecessary over-preparation” problem which plagued products in all companies. No such philosophy evolved for Technology, and therefore, the decades old defensive and paranoid philosophy still prevails
MVP + MVT + Agile is the complete package
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is for product scope minimisation
Minimum Viable Technology (MVT) is for technology scope minimisation
Agile is for iterative technology execution
MVT is other words is - "Think long term, act short term" in technology execution
Solver Teams is about making a Hyper agile and well-oiled execution. Normally industry has accepted that friction across departments as a norm. It challenges that thinking and proposes a mechanism to have a synergic organisation. No competition that a beat that execution.
Q6. What do you foresee as your biggest challenges in your role as Chief Technology Officer of Cloud telephony firm Knowlarity?
Ajay >> Powering the next 10x growth of Knowlarity with world class Product and Technology offerings. The Product should "pull" consumers, rather than majority push happening via sales muscle which happens in most B2B products.
Q7. How do you envisage the growth of startups mushrooming in different sectors across the Indian corporate landscape?
Ajay >> India is inevitably going to be the home of upcoming giant innovate companies of the world. The number of startups signifies a healthy sign that the groundwork of intent and will is ready for the next-gen innovations to thrive. Pretty excited about it!