Anand Sahay, CEO & Executive Director, Xebia – Interview Series

Anand Sahay is the CEO & Executive Director at Xebia, prior to joining Xebia, Sahay was a vice president at Interglobe and a general manager at HCL Technologies. He began his career as a software programmer at Tata Consultancy Services.

Xebia is a pioneering and proven authority in the digital transformation arena, partnering with many of the world’s leading companies to help them become digital leaders and build resilient organizations at any scale.

Whether it’s harnessing the potential of data and AI, leveraging the flexibility of cloud computing, modern software development, or embracing the efficiency of low code, Xebia provides comprehensive services that address every aspect of the digital landscape.

Since its founding in 2001, Xebia has grown to more than 5,000 people across Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific – including over 3,000 employees in five delivery centers in India.

Xebia started in the Netherlands in 2001, and has since expanded internationally, and most recently has opened its headquarters in Atlanta, GA. Could you discuss some of the challenges of expanding to the USA, and why Atlanta was chosen?

As an IT consultancy and software engineering company with an established presence in EMEA and APAC, we are navigating challenges that come with scaling operations in the U.S. – from building and managing a fast-growing global team to honing our value proposition in a hyper-competitive market. However, there is significant upside for our expansion and we have plans to grow revenue 4x and create 1,000+ jobs in the Americas over the next several years.

Selecting Atlanta was a decision that cut across several strategic areas. It puts us close to a handful of our current customers, as well as a large roster of prospects. The Atlanta metro area is a thriving hub for digital innovation and home to startups, as well as Fortune 500 brands that are transforming their businesses and reshaping their industries with AI and intelligent automation.

Atlanta also enables us to continue our legacy of industry partnerships with a regional presence of Microsoft, Google, AWS, and Salesforce. As the world is in a new phase of digital transformation, solving business problems requires leveraging a partner ecosystem and a set of capabilities that enable the best possible solutions and outcomes for customers.

Finally, Atlanta is a great place for us to scale up our team. The city has a robust talent pool based on the proximity to top-tier universities like Georgia Tech, The University of Georgia, Moorhouse University, and Emory University.

How does Xebia attract and retain top talent in the highly competitive field of AI?

Demand for AI talent, specifically software engineers and data scientists is only increasing. Continued layoffs in certain tech sectors only tell a partial story. The reality is that companies across banking, insurance, retail, travel, pharma and other industries are all becoming digital-first and need tech talent that specializes in data and AI.

There’s a long-standing myth of the lone wolf software engineer or data scientist but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that everyone has their own working style and preferences, at Xebia, we believe that the way to attract and retain top tech talent is to create a company culture that prioritizes community and continuous learning.

We take extreme pride in all 5,500+ Xebians. In a world where AI is rapidly becoming a commodity, it’s easy to also think about the people building AI solutions as a commodity. Our approach is people first and our top priority is to support the passion of exceptionally smart people from the recruiting process all the way through to ongoing professional development.

How does Xebia measure the success and effectiveness of its AI initiatives, both internally and for its clients?

At Xebia, we firmly believe that for AI, and specifically GenAI, to transcend the hype, there needs to be a true system and strategy in place to operationalize the AI to make it scalable across the enterprise and have those initiatives be aimed at achieving some kind of tangible business objectives.

For clients, Xebia measures the success of its AI initiatives through a multifaceted approach that aligns closely with our clients’ strategic goals and operational benchmarks. KPIs include the acceleration of digital transformation, enhancement of customer experiences, improvement in operational efficiency, and the achievement of competitive advantages in the market. Ultimately, effectiveness is gauged by tangible outcomes such as revenue growth, cost reductions, and enhanced decision-making processes, supported by data-driven insights​​.

Internally, we assess the impact of our AI initiatives on improving our methodologies, innovation rates, and employee skill advancements.

With increasing concerns about ethical AI and data governance, how does Xebia ensure the responsible use of AI in its projects and solutions?

AI has been an integral part of Xebia’s offerings for years, so Responsible AI (RAI) is deeply ingrained in our culture and standards. Our commitment to using AI and GenAI responsibly manifests through our principles of fairness, consistency, explainability, data privacy, robustness, and accountability of our training data and algorithms.

We have found success in upskilling our teams through organizational initiatives on the potential impact that AI can have both positively and negatively. Coupled with a data governance model that emphasizes data privacy, security, and integrity, we have found that on an individual level, our team takes a conscientious approach to practice Xebia’s commitment to ethical AI adoption.

Xebia is known for its focus on Cloud Services, AI, and Machine Learning. Can you elaborate on how Xebia is integrating these technologies into its consulting services and the impact this is having on your clients?

This is a great question. So much of what was considered “digital transformation” two or three years ago is now table stakes. Today we’re at an inflection point of Industry Digitalization, which is a culmination of the digital transformation journey. Organizations today need to harness the collective power of cloud services, AI/ML (as well as low code, agile and devops) to fundamentally reshape their companies and industries.

Integrating these core technologies into our consulting services is not one-size-fits-all. We look to build a customizable foundation with varying projects and customer needs. By focusing on four areas of digital convergence – intelligent automation, applied and GenAI, cloud & data modernization, and digital products/platforms, we help organizations chart a course for long-term success. By advising and supporting our customers on strategy, we’ve helped customers across industries drive significant efficiency gains and competitive advantage.

Xebia places a strong emphasis on knowledge sharing and innovation. How does this focus contribute to Xebia’s success and its ability to stay at the forefront of technological advancement?

Our focus on knowledge sharing is a key pillar of Xebia’s success. Initiatives like knowledge exchanges, Innovation Days, and tech rallies ensure that our current and prospective team members have the resources and environment to explore and achieve their full potential and drive innovation and expertise in AI and other technologies. We also support ongoing learning with our Xebia Academy which provides our team members with training courses and upskilling opportunities to ensure they remain as competitive as possible.

Given Xebia’s expertise in AI, how do you envision AI transforming business operations and client services in the next five years?

Since the early 2000s, Xebia has been at the forefront of data and AI and this has provided us with an ongoing competitive edge. We’ve watched the various AI trends emerge and have continuously stayed ahead of the curve. While applied AI (using ML and other AI techniques to solve specific business problems) will continue to transform businesses and client services, GenAI will rapidly accelerate the creation of entirely new solutions. Over the next five years, the convergence of AI capabilities will empower companies to garner new insights, innovate at scale globally and deliver customers unprecedented personalized experiences.

Generative AI is taking the world by storm, what are your views on it and how is Xebia staying at the forefront of this groundbreaking technology?

The opportunities and advantages presented by GenAI are multifaceted and entirely real. At the same time, so are the challenges. We see three in particular: businesses need to capture the value of AI, manage AI responsibly and in a cost-efficient manner, and master the skills necessary to thrive in the new Hybrid Workforce.

Education will remain a key part of how Xebia stays at the forefront of GenAI. We are committed to helping guide and assist customers through their journey with a full range of AI Workshops and Training Programs, including GenAI Use Case Discovery, GenAI “How To”, and AI-Assisted Software Development Enablement. In addition, Xebia provides Certified Pods/Consultants for implementation, and we can help set up an AI Center of Excellence for businesses to drive the adoption of AI across the organization.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Xebia. 

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