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Futureshift

Awarded: Company of the Year 2020 [Leadership Consulting]

We are pleased to have been selected as the company of the Year 2020 in CEO Insights [www.CEOInsights.com]. Here is the transcript of the interview feature with the magazine.

Category – Leadership Consulting and developing a business framework to create outstanding products using robust technologies

Unique Offering: CxO on Tap or Virtual CxO


Article Content:

A common misconception about leadership consulting is that strategic management consulting is by large firms for large organizations. Futureshift turns that myth on its head with its Virtual CxO or “CxO on Tap” service by bringing global competence and cutting-edge technologies towards building in-house capabilities for its clients. Their range of expertise helps launch products efficiently, towards successful transformation – a pivotal need for businesses of all sizes, especially the start-ups and mid-sized companies wanting to cross the chasm.

Futureshift works with founders and business leaders charged with a mission to transform organizations by challenging the status quo and being outcome-focused.

CEO Insights interviewed Vinodh Soundarajan (Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer) and Rajesh Soundararajan (Co-Founder and Chief Problem Solver) at Futureshift Consulting, on their secret sauce for success, their consulting methodology, and challenges facing the industry at large.

CEO Insights: As leadership consultants are required for strategy formation, planning and problem-solving in almost all industries, what are your strategies to make the most out of this vast business opportunity?

Rajesh Soundararajan: At Futureshift, we develop future-proof strategies for our clients based on three core values – expertise, passion, integrity.

Our Customer engagement begins with a thorough review and understanding of business, goal setting, and outcomes. We then build a scalable, sustainable progress or transformation model, covering market, people, process, solution, technology, investment and execution. We follow it up with a maniacal focus on execution through POCs, Pilots and Scaling with course corrections as required.

While the above approach looks commonsensical, it is most often the only right way to build consensus and deliver bold outcomes.

CI: Brief us about various offerings of your company.

RS:

Our mission is to help clients transform their organizations and build scalable, sustainable products rapidly by working at the intersection of strategy, business, technology, and market.

Rajesh Soundararajan

ZMOT.ly [Zero Moment of Truth] is a blended consulting offering of Business, Product and Technology, where we provide clients, Virtual CxO or ‘CxO on the tap’. This management consulting service is designed to achieve future-proof scale, sustainability and agile, progressive transformations of product and engineering, organically.

Futrlabs, the second offering, is a deep-conceptualized innovation centre that builds technology components for the consumer, industry, and social service sectors. With technology as the bedrock, we address the right issues with the right solution, be it using AI/ML, RPA, Mobile, Social or simply ‘common sense’ technologies. These solutions are designed to help achieve success effectively and quickly. Our flagship products are e-commerce (Shoppeazy) and e-learning (3×3 Learning). Futureshift is also a strategic AWS partner in the education vertical.

Better Bhavishya, the third pillar, is an effort to give back to society and drive a lasting impact on education, healthcare, and the environment. Better Bhavishya blends industry expertise and technology capabilities towards social change. It delivers strategies and a roadmap for measurable outcomes and profound impact in social-sector space and NGOs. We are also a strategic knowledge partner to Katha.Org’s 300M initiative.

CI: What are the differential factors of your services that separate you from your competitors? Explain your USP.

Vinodh Soundarajan: Our objective is to deliver success, scale and sustainability at the intersection of business and technology. Since this is a leadership focus area – we provide “CxO on Tap” or Virtual CxO (Chief Product Officer, CTO, CMO) service to achieve stated organizational goals.

Three critical factors set us apart and make us different in the market.

  1. We bring strong leadership experience from reputed global firms, with deep cross-Industry expertise, and pan-global presence.
  2. We work with a lean start-up culture, yet bring the outcome-focus of an established brand, to our global clients within India, Asia, the Middle East, and the USA.
  3. We are uniquely positioned to work at the intersection of strategy, business, market and technology, achieving seamless scale and sustainability.

CI: What opportunities do you foresee in the current market dynamics and how are you leveraging the most of these opportunities?

VS: Industry 4.0 has completely changed the way manufacturing and service companies are doing business. Technology and efficient software solutions are critical for businesses to reach and engage with their clients. Futureshift’s ‘CxO on the Tap’ offering is uniquely positioned to provide its client’s best Strategy, Market and Technology solutions.  We give shape and action to customers’ dreams, bringing to fore 50+ years of experience in Product, Market Strategy and Technology Transformation to deliver wildly successful and sustainable outcomes.

CI: Tell us about the recent revenue growth, and the future roadmap of your company.

VS: 2020 has been an excellent opportunity for us. Two of the areas, e-commerce, and e-learning that we have advocated for almost a decade took prominent shape during COVID-19. Communications breakthroughs and high broadband speed that reached masses, combined with burgeoning digital payments is a generational shift, and we were adequately geared to take advantage of the situation. In parallel, with the severe shortage of global experience and trusted leadership, Virtual CxO’s will be in high demand, where organizations large and small can get ‘CxO on the tap’, just enough to make their business transformations real and sustainable.


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Futureshift

A big day! A new ray of hope for India’s Children.

Today is a big day for India’s 300 million children, especially her underserved communities. #KathaKatha India launches an online learning portal empowering every child towards making them a Reader-Leader, with the #300MillionChallenge.

Shri. @Manish Sisodia, Dy. Chief Minister of Delhi, inaugurated the portal along with Padma Shri Ms @geeta dharmarajan, Founder of Katha.

At Futureshift ConsultingVinodh Soundarajan and I are humbled to be knowledge partners on this #NoChildLeftBehind initiative, an issue close to our heart.

#BetterBhavishyaArvind Kejriwal#KathaLabSchool#TADAA#AWSPP Sunil Acharya#MoodleHaja Sheriff#onlinelearning#transformingeducation

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Futureshift

A new e-learning partnership with Katha.Org – #300MillionChallenge

We are happy to be associated with Katha India.Org as their #KnowledgePartner. We are working closely with Katha’s #300M Citizen’s Initiative with a #3x3Learning #MoodleLMS Solution on #AWS

This project empowers children by creating reader-leaders, and, hence, preventing them from entering entrenched poverty.

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity Geeta dharmarajan and PP Sunil Acharya and inviting us. It is a pleasure to work on such BHAG.

w/ Vinodh Soundarajan and Rajesh Soundararajan

#givingback #education #betterbhavishya #socialimpact #bethechange #NEP2020 #seniorleadership #nurturing #community #relevance #transformingeducation

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Futureshift

Blended Learning Design Models

Learning Series – (Part 4)

Blended Learning Design Models

Blended learning design models are learner platform models that describe the design and delivery strategy associated with a particular learning program. Futureshift Learning distills the variety of blended learning models into two basic types: linear learning models and hub learning models, each possessing specific inherent strengths and weaknesses.

Linear Learning

In the linear learning model, participants are required to complete a series of training interventions in a stepped, or lock-step, manner. The example model shown in Figure 1 provides an illustrative view of a linear training program.

With linear learning, a participant is not permitted to move around too much within the program or curricula because most of the learning program’s design is based on a building-block design structure. These types of models are exceptional for certifications, pay-for-skills, or apprenticeship-style programs in which the participant’s progress is carefully tracked, and specific “waypoints” are used as progress checks to validate the participant’s mastery of the knowledge and skill elements.

Linear learning’s weaknesses are that the models tend to take much longer to design and develop, and much longer to complete for the learner. The model’s strengths lie in its structure and stepped process. Also, the building-block style of learning is beneficial because it is comfortable for many learners and allows the learners to achieve satisfactory performance at each step before having to move on to the next level.

Hub Learning

While linear learning provides tremendous structure and direction, hub learning design models give freedom to explore with a variety of choices from which to choose. Hub learning has the core content at its center with a variety of radiating supplemental learning elements available. Figure 2 demonstrates a representative hub learning model.

The learner has the option of selecting only those elements he/she desires (including the choice of selecting none). The mixture of selections varies for each learner dependent upon the preferences and needs of the learner. Hub learning programs are arguably more straightforward and faster to build than linear programs, and they are considerably more flexible and customizable. Hub learning’s greatest weakness is that it is highly dependent upon a self-motivated learner to gain maximum value from the model.

It is challenging to prescribe a single learning solution because of the diversity of the situations. Figure 3 illustrates some pros and cons associated with each model.

One additional factor that cannot be overlooked as you learner engagement. The critical feature is to ensure that the learner can use the training to develop skills and knowledge. The evaluate blended learning approaches is that experiential learning process is not necessarily improved just because learning possesses the highest learner applicability of your organization used high-quality 3D visuals. There is no learning. Numerous studies and professionals agree debate that better graphics add an aesthetic quality to a once a learner can apply learning in a presentation; however, aesthetic quality does not equate to the meaningful and experiential manner, he/she can see better learning. This is a common trap into which many completely learn the materials and successfully apply inexperienced training designers fall prey. Learning is not them.

You might also like – Learning Series – Blended Learning Approaches (Part 3)Learning Series – Why Blended Learning Strategy (Part 2)Learning Series – Crafting a Blended Learning Strategy (Part 1).

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Futureshift

Building a Partner Ecosystem

Here’s is a short presentation on building a partner ecosystem.

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Futureshift

The 3 must-haves in our client engagements

When we founded Futureshift, we were driven by a purpose to, to help inspired people to do great things, to achieve their goals.

“To inspire the inspired achieve their inspiration”, tongue twister of sorts.

Our client engagements hence have these three components –
1. To work with inspiring customers who believe in their dream and whose values align with us
2. To work with the founders and owners that have accountability for their purpose and the outcomes.
3. To engage in the stimulating and challenging problems that contest status quo and mediocrity.

“To help inspired people to do great things, to achieve their goals.”

And that is how we get to do things that we love. We wake up each morning and help people achieve their dreams. We hit the bed each night, with an immense feeling of fulfilment on being part of the journey of dreams of other people. In all our engagements, the most significant investment we make is our time and energy.

We do our best to understand our client’s vision and align. We look to see if that inspires us beyond money and consulting hours. If we are not able to align, we have an open conversation explaining our position clearly and step back. We thus end up deselecting our prospects, which I why every project that would do is awe-inspiring. We are not there for the pennies and cents with bargain hunters.

That way, we ensure we can give our best for our client and ourselves.

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Futureshift

Blended Learning Approaches

Learning Series – (Part 3)

Blended Learning Approaches

In our earlier post – Learning Series – Why Blended Learning Strategy (Part 2), we went on to see why Blended Learning and the three primary reasons why blended learning is used.

Dependent upon your definition of blended learning, you can argue that there are as many approaches to blended learning as there are various combinations of all the different media available. What becomes paramount to a winning training strategy is the instructional design strategy and approach. It all starts here, and the decisions that are made here ripple throughout the learning. Poor instructional design choices cannot be covered up by slick programming or outstanding graphics. A poorly designed training session will still be a poorly designed learning event, regardless of how fancy the animations or how sophisticated the delivery. The only difference is how much money is lost in the process.

Futureshift Learning distills blended learning approaches into two major categories: learner-centric and business-centric drivers.

Poor instructional design choices cannot be covered up by slick programming or outstanding graphics. A poorly designed training session will still be a poorly designed learning event regardless of how fancy animations or how sophisticated the delivery. The difference is how much money is flushed away in the process.

Learner-Centric

A learner-centric approach provides considerable upfront instructional design emphasis on the learner and the learner’s conditions of learning; for example, the use of Gagne’s The Five Conditions of Learning, which includes five categories of learning: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, attitudes, and motor skills. Learner centric approaches rely upon sound upfront instructional systems design. The tried and true analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate (ADDIE) process starts with analysis and include evaluation throughout its process model. Adherence to these processes ensures that the training created is designed to provide maximum transference to the learner, thereby optimizing the available solutions to the learner.

Business Centric

The intent of a learning event is to transfer knowledge, skills, and/or abilities to a learner. Therefore, you could assume that all approaches are learner centric; however, this is not the case. The core of a business centric approach is the reality of understanding and meeting the business drivers. Learning in and of itself is a great thing, but it is not always a company’s primary mission to educate their workforce. Manufacturing and productivity are requirements that must be met; therefore, the business demand can dictate the design steps and decisions just as readily as a focus on the learner.

Training exists in many forms, and certainly, it depends on the content to determine the need for complexity. For example, if the business driver is to ensure that all employees receive training concerning changes to administrative practice, the training design should be limited to communication. Conversely, should the situation involve the deployment of a brownfield launch, including new manufacturing equipment, the business impact will drive the design decisions, this time with a very robust modality. These two approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive of one another. With some creative forethought and design, many learning projects handily weave both learner needs and business needs into the final design. In the next post, we will visit the Blended Learning Design Models – Learning Series – Blended Learning Design Models (Part 4).

You can also visit – Learning Series – Crafting a Blended Learning Strategy (Part 1) and Learning Series – Why Blended Learning Strategy (Part 2)

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3X3Learning Cloud Futrlabs Futureshift

Why Blended Learning Strategy?

Learning Series – (Part 2)

In our earlier post-Learning Series – Crafting a Blended Learning Strategy (Part 1), we had an overview of a blended learning strategy. In this post, we are going to go a little deeper into ‘Why/ of a Blended Learning Strategy.

Why Blended Learning?

Blended learning is heavily favored for three primary reasons:

  1. Optimal learning strategies – mixed-media learning approaches have been proven to be the most effective means of learning, especially when you are dealing with large numbers of learners;
  2. Reach and flexibility –blended learning can reach across large areas at any time or (virtually) any place; and
  3. Economics – done right, blended learning is a highly valuable business solution that can be a very good economical investment.

Optimal Learning Strategy

Numerous studies are available in both the commercial and academic fields that clearly demonstrate that the most successful training approaches are those that involve higher interactivity and use more than one modality for learning transfer. Therefore, answering “Why blended learning?” becomes simple; it is the most effective approach for learning.

Be careful though, blended learning still requires sound instructional design in order to be effective. Simply creating a series of different modes of content does not make for excellent learning transfer.

Reach and Flexibility

Traditionally, training was completed by trainers who diligently traveled from site to site ensuring that all personnel was properly trained. Often the cost and time associated with delivery remained a challenge. Adding on large enterprise-wide training rollouts introduced a great deal of variation due to the sheer number of instructors required.

The face-to-face benefits of training are undeniable, but some form of interactive exchange mixed with face-to face training was required. Blended learning neatly fills that niche. Blended learning also offers flexibility. Considering instructor-led sessions, where participants are required to attend at set times, dates, and locations, blended learning offers flexibility in the delivery so that personnel can attend at their convenience.

A word of caution, though—simply setting up webinars as a distance learning solution without first truly understanding the learners and the business need is not a sound decision. Good intentions without well- constructed instructional strategies can still end in poor results.

Economics

Cost will always be a factor in the selection of a training approach. Blended learning requires an investment at the onset of the training. Like most things, you get out of the investment what you put into it. Instructional design steps can appear to be expensive steps that many organizations are tempted to skip. Beware of that slippery slope!

Building an optimized training plan through instructional design is really the only way to go. The old adage “penny wise and pound foolish” comes to mind. Many organizations pursue the false quest of a rapid blended learning solution that skips the details in the planning stages; consequently, the results can be catastrophic. Remember, most companies’ greatest differentiator is their people. Why are organizations in such a hurry to shortchange that competitive edge?

In our next chapter, we will talk about Blended Learning Approaches and how you can use them.

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Futureshift

Crafting a Blended Learning Strategy

Learning Series – (Part 1)

Like even the most complex decisions, blended learning strategies are rooted in the basics. Upfront instructional design is required for truly meaningful learning. Review your organization’s culture and structure to determine whether a learner-centric or business-centric approach is best for the design and implementation of learning in your environment. The model can be distilled into one of two types: a linear model or a hub-based model. From this design stage, the next step is to factor in the various types of training media or modes that best suit your training program and its audience. If you can address these main components, you are well on your way to launching some of the best learning tools and techniques.

Overview

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects associated with today’s blended learning solutions isn’t in the technology or bandwidth; it’s understanding that successful blended learning is firmly rooted in sound instructional design strategies – design strategies that focus on transferring skills and knowledge to the learner while delivering value to the business.

In any competitive business environment where time, resources, and money is the differentiators, your people are your competitive edge. Leveraging the value of your people relies heavily on deploying the right learning solutions and having learning solutions that effectively transfer skills and knowledge to participants in a timely fashion. So what type of learning solution is truly the right solution? As it turns out, the answer is blended learning; however, the media, modes, and makeup of each training solution should be different, depending on a number of variables.

At Futureshift, we base our learning strategies on determining what those variables are and how they will impact the learning process. Before deciding upon training media or modes, Futureshift recommends that you assess and investigate your proposed approach. Make sure your targeted training approach can achieve both learning and knowledge transfer expectations and deliver business-tangible and measurable results.

What Is Blended Learning?

Futureshift defines blended learning as the combination of synchronous (e.g., face-to-face training) with asynchronous (e.g., computer-based or alternative media) training that creates the best possible learning solution for a given target audience.

Blended Learning Definition

Blended learning is the combination of synchronous (e.g., face-to-face training) with asynchronous (e.g., computer-based or alternative media) training that creates the best possible learning solution for a given target audience.

Mastering the new instructional avenues that technology continues to provide can result in some of the best learning programs ever made available. Blended learning provides multiple modalities in which participants can explore and learn. Yet for all its attraction, blended learning also can be fraught with many dangers, too, the worst cases involving staggering amounts of money for beautiful and elaborate sessions that are poorly received and ultimately never used or valued. Blended learning isn’t the issue; it’s the decisions made associated with it that may lead to negative experiences. Blended learning is by far the best learning solution available today—as long as we have done due diligence, which we will discuss in our next series of posts.

Next Post – Learning Series – Why Blended Learning Strategy (Part 2)

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Futureshift

Intelligent Automation

Automation Strategy

Process Automation is not a simple replacement to the current manual processes followed. Intelligent Automation is aptly illustrated by EY in this report, “Intelligent Automation – Reshaping the future of work with robots”

  • At the beginning of this transformation is the collation of the current process and clustering them into Functions.
  • The next step of Standardization involves identification of differences within each process step and unifying the process based on best practices.
  • Optimization involves a critical review of the end-to-end process as well as a deep review of each process step to make it lean and streamlined. This step requires individual owners to discard their prior notions and adopt a new lean principle.
  • At the final stage of evolution is the application of Automation to the optimized process
Intelligent Automation Snapshot

Organizations often resort to shallow record-playback approaches to Automation. Automation, in itself is a Software. Automation needs the same rigor of Architecture and Design considerations as that of Software. Functional and Technical modules derived in the Optimization step above needs to be designed separately. Concepts such as Open Interfaces and Loosely Coupled Design are important. Every process step like Data Entry, Data Retrieval, Web Login, Web Scraping, HTML Parsing etc should be designed as individual building blocks controlled by XML metadata for configuration. This will allow the reuse of each module across multiple websites and data schema during custom implementations. The output of this design exercise is a collated library of Automation Modules. Each customer implementation will involve a review of the process steps and stitching together of the right modules in the necessary sequence, setup with appropriate XML parameters.

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Base Tenets of Automation

  1. Modularity – Automation must be modular and allow for easy improvements and extension without redoing the whole project. Wherever possible, API and callback hooks should be provided in the core modules
  2. Extensibility – Each module must be designed with extensibility and Configurability at its core. Effort must be placed to externalize variables, data, messages and errors that will need to be modified with each implementation
  3. Maintainability – The single most point of failure of Automation is maintenance. Since Automation projects are usually hard-coded without attention to future change management, it keeps breaking for too often to justify its value. This is where rigorous software design principles are required
  4. Cleanliness and Hygiene – Much like complex software, Automation needs to be cleanly separated with code comments and Source Control Repository for maintenance and  versioning

Usage of Tools

Automation uses many organic technologies like Seleniun IDE, which is a time-tested UI Automation framework. There are other similar open source tools like UIVision. Commercial Automation tools include big players like AutomationAnywhere, BluePrism and UIPath.

In this Video, Edureka has compared these three commercial tools along fifteen-point criteria

Conclusion

In conclusion, Process Automation is a special project that requires the best process experts, lean thinkers, and software architects to come together to build a lasting and valuable Automation platform. Automation is as complex as building the right software and organizations should champion it the same way as they do complex software projects.

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