Last week I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Ashok Soota (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashok_Soota). For the ones of you not familiar with the name, Ashok is one of the living legends of the IT services industry and one of the most important figures of the Indian IT revolution. Among his major accomplishments, Ashok served as 15 years as CEO of the Wipro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wipro) which is currently valued at over $8.5B. After Wipro, Ashok started another crown jewel of the Indian IT industry: MindTree(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MindTree) which went public in 2006. Now 70, Ashok is making another attempt trying to revolutionize the IT industry by starting Happiest Minds, an IT services organizations exclusively focused on big enterprise trends such as enterprise mobility, big data, cloud computing, natural user interfaces among other technology movements that are redefining the IT landscape.
I’ve been a big fan of Happiest Minds and they have been great partner to both Tellago and Tellago Studios. However, since reading the first press releases about the company, I was always intrigued by its mission. Are the new technology movements such as social, mobility, cloud, data consumption strong enough to lay out the foundation for the next generation of IT services organizations? What can possibly motivate a 70 year old with a huge legacy to protect to go back into startup mode? The answer to both questions became apparently clear during my conversation with Ashok.
We spent hours debating the enterprise software market, the IT service industry, new technology areas and many other topics. Every step of the way, Ashok showed a deep knowledge of the different technologies we were debating, the key players in the ecosystem, current market dynamics and how they can influence the IT services business. I didn’t need to ask his recipe for staying so technically current after so many years in the industry as the answer was totally obvious: Ashok has a deep passion for learning new technologies and for exploring ways to leverage those technologies in the enterprise.
The same passion that causes Ashok to stay current in the technology space is what caused him to start Happiest Minds. “These are the most exciting times in the last 20 years of the tech industry” he says. Without hesitation, he firmly states that there is never been a time in the IT industry on which so many revolutionary technology movements are colliding together and therefore the opportunity of disrupting the IT industry is tremendous. Did I mention he is 70?
I’ve found myself revisiting my conversations with Ashok many times over the last few days and, since our last meeting, we have exchanged a few emails expanding in some of the topics we discussed. Despite the many aspects we discussed in terms of technology, the market and even the history of the Indian IT industry I took home a very simple lesson: Passion and knowledge and are not only qualities that can drive your professional career but they can become a way of living. Passion and knowledge can certainly be the forces that disrupt entire industries or that can cause you, at 70, to still get excited debating a geeky technology or to dream about changing the world.