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Through automation and emerging technology, CGI is ushering companies into the digital future

With 400 offices in 40 countries, the IT and business consultancy is guiding digital transformations on a global scale.

CGI's Montreal HQ. (Courtesy photo)

This article is sponsored by CGI and was reviewed before publication.

When it became clear that rapid automation would forever change the capabilities of modern business, many economists worried it would lead to a reduction in the workforce.

“That never became a reality,” said Doug Vargo, VP of the U.S. East Emerging Technology Practice at CGI.

In Vargo’s professional experience, business automation processes are essential in every industry today, and despite initial fears, pose very little risk to human jobs.

Bots take over the repetitive work, freeing up humans to focus on tasks that add more value to the company,” he said. “We’re seeing more organizations take a step back and look at how automation opportunities can reinvent the way they do business, now and in the future.”

CGI is a global IT and business consulting services firm that leads companies through the digital transformation process. As many organizations in longstanding industries like healthcare, retail and life sciences look to update their digital capabilities, they must first modernize their infrastructure. CGI works hands-on throughout the entire process of the transformation, assessing the maturity of a company’s digital state, building a technical strategy, developing and implementing automation opportunities and providing management of services.

Coined in 1946 by D.S. Harder, an engineering manager at Ford Motor Company, “automation” has come a long way from mechanized automotive production lines. Today, it is particularly game-changing for industries required to adhere to complex regulations and compliance mandates, such as pharmaceuticals.

“These organizations have to communicate with various government departments, remain compliant on the latest rules and pricing guidelines, and then calculate those changes for each product,” said Ravi Shankar, VP of the Philadelphia metro sector. “Having automation pull all of that information together into a database saves time and costs.”

“It’s about intelligent automation as augmentation,” added Meghan Miller, director of life sciences. “All of that data is incredibly expensive and almost impossible for people to ingest in time to make the best decisions.”

The realities of living in an unpredictable world combined with the pace of emerging tech requires Vargo, Miller and Shankar’s teams to remain agile and adaptive to changes and developments. When the pandemic struck in March, CGI’s digital transformation services hit peak demand.

“The pandemic has challenged many of our clients,” said Shankar. “Their customers expect even more digital engagement. Their employees are looking to them for new ways to get work done. All processes and interactions must now be contactless or online.”

Much of CGI’s transformation capabilities stem from its investment in emerging technology. Under Vargo’s leadership, teams conduct exhaustive research of what tech is hot today and what’s on deck for tomorrow, and apply their findings to clients’ wants, needs and the direction their industry is headed.

Staying on the cusp of what’s next is critical for CGI’s clients who turn to the company for strategic guidance to remain competitive and satisfy their own clients’ needs. Shankar predicts the next wave of automation will happen within the retail space. Pre-pandemic, he said, not all of CGI’s retail clients were equipped to handle a complete and sudden transition to online shopping and two-day shipping. Shankar’s team formulated a strategy to automate the back-end processes that would enable them to streamline their delivery processes from weeks to days. Moving forward, he sees other retail companies following suit.

At its core, CGI solves complex problems for industries with rigorous standards. Doing so takes a combination of hard and soft skills — a mix of technical proficiency, creative thinking, and the ability to adapt to change and tackle the unknown. As its talent pipeline grows, there are local opportunities for passionate technicians with an entrepreneurial drive.

“It can be a difficult journey at times, ” said Vargo. “But what keeps it interesting here is the entrepreneurial element. If you have a dream, passion or want to invest yourself in a specific area of interest — you can do that. It’s not a mundane 9-5.”

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