Praveen Bhadada, Global Business Head – AI at Persistent Systems: Pioneering Innovation in a Rapidly Evolving AI Landscape

Generative AI (GenAI) is rapidly transforming industries and redefining technological boundaries with Persistent Systems stands at the forefront of innovation and strategic implementation. We had the opportunity to speak with Praveen Bhadada, a seasoned expert in business transformation and leadership, to gain insights into how he is steering AI at Persistent Systems through this dynamic landscape. With a deep-rooted history in AI and a visionary approach to harnessing its full potential, Praveen shares his strategies for building effective frameworks, overcoming challenges, and aligning innovative initiatives with broader business goals. Join us as we delve into Persistent Systems’ journey in the GenAI space, their strategic partnerships, and the transformative impact of AI on their operations and the broader IT services industry.

Praveen, with your vast experience in business transformation and leadership, how do you approach building and maintaining an effective strategy for Persistent Systems in the rapidly evolving field of Generative AI?

In the last year, we have seen an enormous focus on Generative AI(GenAI). It has almost become ubiquitous for businesses and individuals alike. However, we have only scratched the surface of its vast potential, making it imperative for businesses to implement strategic measures to harness its full capabilities.

In this rapidly evolving field, our strategy at Persistent is centered on unlocking value for our entire ecosystem—our clients, our Company, our teams, and individuals. To achieve this, we ensure that our offerings, go-to-market strategies, and capabilities consistently align with our overarching vision of innovation and excellence.

We make strategic and continued investments in innovation and incubation, keeping us at the forefront of technological advancements. Equally important is our focus on ROI tracking, which allows us to measure the impact and effectiveness of our initiatives.

Cross-functional collaboration is the foundation of our approach. By leveraging the diverse strengths and expertise within our organization, we foster creativity and ensure we can tackle complex challenges from multiple perspectives. This collaborative spirit drives our success and innovation.

Lastly, we prioritize big, transformative ideas and encourage our teams to think ambitiously. By nurturing a culture of bold thinking, we aim to deliver groundbreaking solutions that advance the field of GenAI and create substantial value for all our stakeholders.

Considering your background in scaling consulting practices and leading significant growth at Zinnov, could you share with us one particular achievement or metric at Persistent Systems that you’re especially proud of?

One of the accomplishments I’m particularly proud of at Persistent is how we’ve leveraged our rich history of over 30 years in product engineering and solving complex data problems into a strategic advantage in the world of GenAI. We’ve made significant investments in capabilities, partnerships, and integrated teams, positioning us as one of the first movers on GenAI-powered opportunities for both builders and business users.

From partnering with hyperscalers to recently launching our GenAI Studios, we have been doubling down on our AI expertise across regions and industries. This strategic alignment has placed us at the forefront of the industry, and our achievements have been well-recognized by our clients, partners, advisors, and industry analysts. It’s incredibly rewarding to see our long-term commitment to excellence translate into tangible success in such a competitive and evolving field.

In your tenure at Persistent Systems, you’ve seen the company embrace GenAI with initiatives like SASVA and the GenAI Studios. How do you ensure these innovations align with the broader business goals and technological trends?

AI has been at the core of Persistent’s operations for decades, deeply embedded in our 30+ year Digital Engineering journey. When GenAI emerged, we were well-positioned to leverage our existing capabilities and quickly translate them into innovative GenAI solutions. One of our recent launches, SASVA, exemplifies this. SASVA is a secure and manageable AI designed to solve complex and specialized use cases in enterprise settings. Integrated within software engineering workflows, it enhances efficiency and agility while maintaining a focus on security and compliance. It offers theme-based releases for end-to-end software updates, a multidimensional knowledge base for complex code insights, and cost-effective GenAI solutions with fine-tuned small language models on low-cost infrastructure.

Similarly, like I mentioned earlier, we have established GenAI Studios in the US, UK, and India as platforms to co-innovate with clients. These studios facilitate explorations to unlock the full potential of AI in addressing business challenges.

Initiatives like these exemplify our commitment to making AI a key growth driver in Persistent’s journey to $2 billion in annual revenue. We follow a strategic vision that prioritizes both immediate and long-term impacts, ensuring that our AI initiatives not only lead but also evolve with the industry’s needs. We continuously analyze market demands and technological advancements to keep our AI initiatives relevant and progressive. Our strategic investments in capabilities, partnerships, and integrated teams enable us to lead in GenAI-powered opportunities while staying aligned with our business objectives. This approach ensures our AI initiatives evolve with the industry’s needs, driving sustained growth and success.

Can you walk us through the decision-making process that led to the partnership with major players like AWS and Microsoft in launching new GenAI solutions?

Our decision-making process regarding partnerships with major players like AWS, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Salesforce in launching new GenAI solutions is rooted in our vision as the ecosystem orchestrator of choice. We strategically align with key focus areas, making early investments, achieving certifications, and co-developing solutions with our partners. This approach allows us to leverage our partners’ strengths effectively.

In addition, early access to advanced technologies from hyperscalers accelerates our solution development, ensuring we can offer the latest and most innovative solutions to our clients. Our partnerships also align with our clients’ operations within these ecosystems, providing seamless integration and enhanced value.

From your experience in acquiring and managing large advisory deals, what key factors do you believe are essential for successfully negotiating and closing high-stakes agreements in the tech industry?

In my experience, successfully negotiating and closing high-stakes agreements in the highly competitive tech industry requires more than just focusing on tactical aspects. It’s about emphasizing outcomes and value creation for the client, underpinned by trust—a foundational element that shapes every stage of the negotiation process.

Approaching each engagement with a mindset of assisting our clients, we prioritize empathy and understanding. Viewing our clients as partners rather than transactions, we cultivate a collaborative atmosphere where mutual success is the ultimate goal. This co-creation mindset enables us to work closely with clients, leveraging our knowledge and insights to deliver tailored solutions that meet their needs.

By shifting the focus away from purely transactional interactions, we foster long-term, meaningful relationships built on trust, transparency, and shared objectives. This approach not only enhances the negotiation process but also sets the stage for continued success and partnership in the ever-evolving landscape of the tech industry.

How has your experience as a guest speaker and media spokesperson influenced your leadership style and your ability to influence and drive change within Persistent Systems?

These experiences have significantly influenced my leadership style. It provides an outside-in perspective, highlighting client priorities, competitor strategies, and learning opportunities. Cross-functional viewpoints sharpen our thinking, while urgency is instilled where significant opportunities emerge. This comprehensive perspective drives change and innovation within Persistent.

Reflecting on your career, which project or initiative would you say has been the most transformative for you personally, and why?

I’ve come to realize that it’s not just the successes but also the failures that have been profoundly transformative for me. Each setback has presented an opportunity for growth and learning, teaching me invaluable lessons that have shaped my perspective and approach to challenges.

Moreover, the experiences of working closely with clients and witnessing firsthand how they navigate and solve real-world problems have been incredibly enlightening. Their insights have provided me with a deeper understanding of their needs and aspirations, guiding my decision-making and problem-solving processes.

In addition, I’ve found inspiration in the stories of visionary leaders and their approaches to leadership. Reading about their experiences and learning from their successes and failures has been instrumental in shaping my own leadership style and principles.

Throughout it all, patience has been a constant virtue, reminding me that success often requires perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity. It’s the ability to stay focused and determined, even when faced with challenges, that has been the true cornerstone of my journey.

In essence, it’s the combination of learning from failures, gaining insights from clients, drawing inspiration from leaders, and embodying patience that has propelled me forward on my transformative career path.

Looking forward, what emerging trends or technologies in GenAI do you believe will be critical for Persistent Systems and the broader IT services industry in the next few years?

As I mentioned earlier, GenAI has become pervasive in the lives of both businesses and individuals. However, we’ve only begun to tap into its potential. The technology has truly democratized AI across businesses. Looking ahead, the future of GenAI holds significant implications for Persistent as well as the broader IT services industry. Some key trends include enhancing AI model sophistication, improving integration ease, and expanding use cases across various sectors. Advancements in natural language understanding and automated decision-making are expected, alongside efforts to reduce energy consumption and operational costs. Additionally, ethical AI and explainability will gain prominence as businesses prioritize building trust and transparency in AI applications.

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