Engineering impact: An interview with Cognizant, UK IT Awards finalist

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Engineering impact: An interview with Cognizant, UK IT Awards finalist
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Engineering impact: An interview with Cognizant, UK IT Awards finalist

The pandemic has stalled growth across many industries, but tech is not one of them. In fact, many firms were forced to upgrade their legacy IT systems, creating a huge opportunity for their suppliers.

Professional services firm Cognizant is one of those suppliers, helping its customers to navigate the pandemic in many areas. The company has enjoyed great success, reaching the shortlist for six different categories at the upcoming UK IT Industry Awards. Allen Shaheen, executive vice president of digital engineering, says that outcome is all down to delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Allen Shaheen

Who is Cognizant?

Cognizant is one of the world's leading professional services companies, transforming clients' business, operating and technology models for the digital era. We emphasise the importance of delivering exceptional customer experiences created at the intersection of cloud and digital. We help our clients master every layer of the modern digital stack and deliver in a coordinated manner at scale. Cognizant is one of a handful of firms with the ingredients to credibly deliver with key partners against the entire stack - in essence, engineer the modern business.

How are you different from your peers? 

Our goal is to take a holistic approach to help our clients become modern fully digital business.  In order to do that we focus on three key areas that, combined, give us a differentiated approach:

  • An industry-based consultative engagement model
  • Modern digital credentials developed organically and accelerated with acquisitions; and
  • An innovative talent organisational that helps us acquire and develop talent.

Over the past 25 years we have developed a strong industry focus, with solutions tailored to the specific challenges faced in different industries, from financial services to healthcare, retail and consumer goods to energy, utilities and others.  We also bring a deep understanding of our clients' business landscape often based on decades of experience with our clients and their core processes, historical applications, and IT organisations and culture.  Adding our strong digital credentials, we are able to help clients successfully navigate their modernisation journey. Finally, our innovative talent organisation approach, including pod- and community-based structures, are particularly well-suited to the needs of engineering modern software companies.

What was your proudest company achievement of the last 12 months?

It's hard to pick just one accomplishment, given the scope of amazing work our people are doing day in and day out, but in light of the unique challenges of the last year, I would have to highlight the work we have done to help people and businesses navigate the world-changing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, we have helped connect millions to the medication and remote medical consulting services they need, provided access to predictive data on disease spread through communities and enabled individuals to more easily cash economic impact payments at any financial institution, even if it wasn't where they regularly banked. We provided free technology modernisation to public institutions whose legacy systems strained under the demand created by the pandemic, and implemented contactless screening procedures to improve safety for millions of people in the energy industry.

This barely scratches the surface of the work we did, but I'm very proud of the way our teams stepped up to prove that what we do at Cognizant is truly about engineering impact.

What are you working on this year?

We're continuing to help more clients accelerate their digital transformation journey. The pandemic has greatly accelerated this process. It's often said that the pandemic has advanced the state of digital transformation by at least five years, and we're working across every industry and geography to make sure that this process is sustainable, scalable and aligned to future challenges including those linked to global climate change and sustainability.

A key focus area in particular is our investment in partnerships with the Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google cloud platforms (as well as next-generation leaders such as ServiceNow, Salesforce and Workday), which are all pursuing an increased sector-based approach that complements Cognizant's alignment to our clients' vertical industries. With this focus, we see opportunities to deliver competitive solutions in the areas of cloud migration, data migration and modernisation, as well as AI and IoT services that are driving change for our clients.

Why are events like the UK IT Industry Awards important to the IT industry?

It's a very positive thing to get together with our peers and colleagues to celebrate the impressive work that we collectively do. Recognition is important, but these events are also a great learning opportunity for all of us; a chance to trade notes, gain new perspective, and to look back on where we've come, where we're headed - and yes - to have some fun!

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