AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Ahead in the Cloud: Alpna J. Doshi, Group CIO of Philips

One of the joys of being part of AWS is that of seeing the innovative and inspiring ways that our customers are using the cloud and driving transformations within their organizations. And these are simply two sides of the same coin: the cloud is enabling new ways of doing business; the practice of management and leadership these days is more about innovating and taking advantage of short cycle times to provide value to customers than anything else.

With this in mind, we are happy to announce the launch of a new series of posts on this blog called “Ahead in the Cloud,” (not coincidentally, the title of Stephen Orban’s forthcoming book about cloud best practices). In each post of this series we will hear from a different leader who is using the cloud to change how business is done. Instead of looking at case studies, though, we will be trying to see the world through that leader’s eyes: these will be personal profiles that try to understand how these leaders think and what we can learn from them.

And what better place to start than with Alpna J. Doshi, the Group CIO of Philips? Here is Alpna in her own words.


What’s the coolest thing you’re working on?

Innovation Incubation Unit. Philips IT is driving the digital transformation at Philips and has built an internal incubator where emerging technologies are tried and tested and a compelling business case is made for the organization to evaluate its merit. Keeping a keen watch on emerging trends/hypes and analyzing the potential of few promising ones, we are providing breakthrough results in assessing emerging technologies. Several projects that have been completed and submitted to the business are: Chatbots/AI, AR/VR, Robotics process automation (RPA) and innovative Mobile Apps.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years?

At the peak of Digitization at Philips, developing innovative and disruptive ways to transform the company’s future.

Share someone who has been a mentor to you along the way, and the best lesson you learned from them.

There is not one particular person I would want to single out, but there is one key lesson I have learned over the years that I would like to share: There will be many operational challenges when you do breakthroughs, but you will get there if you persevere and take it in all in stride.

What’s your favorite Amazon leadership principle and why?

Customer Obsession. At Philips, our goal is to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025. Therefore the customer is at the center of everything we do, whether that customer is a physician, hospital, consumer, patient, or regulatory agency. Questions that I am consistently asking my team: Are we sincerely collecting enough customer feedback? Are we removing steps in our process that don’t add value to the customer experience? Is what we are working on helping the business to deliver a trusted experience? Can we deliver a solution that is better than what the customer expect or can imagine? I truly believe only those companies that put the customers first enjoy the benefits of being leaders in their respective industries. Those that don’t are mediocre at best.

How do you learn about new technology and its potential impact on your business?

Staying on top and ahead of trends is key.

I like to look at unique partnering models: Non-traditional “out of the box” partnering with other industry players, start-ups or leading technology companies helps me stay ahead. I am constantly collaborating with advanced manufacturing companies such as ZI to learn about new technologies (Robotics, Advanced Analytics) and thereby understanding the role that IT needs to play in making the factory of the future or the smart and connected factory a reality.

Also, I look at how we can be the first company of our kind to join different type of industry organizations/associations. Philips is the one and only healthcare member with TM Forum.  Given the potential impact of 5G on healthcare, we need to have a seat at the table with the communications industry from the start.

How do you decide on where to prioritize your technology investments?

Technology choices are completely aligned with our overall Philips strategy. We are consistently looking at what matters most to the organization today and in the future. This defines a finite set of IT priorities that guides our technology investments. It has us going beyond competitive necessities and foundational investments to building differentiating capabilities that improve customer experiences, drive innovation and lead to growth for Philips. This singular focus also builds an execution mindset and culture.

How do you think about the organizational impacts of adopting new types of technologies?

Every day we are faced with new types of technology at home, at work, everywhere. This level of consistent and faced paced change can take a toll on you as an individual, on your family and of course have an impact on the organization you work in. New technology requires changes in behavior and changing behavior is a long term objective that cannot be forced on people overnight. Organizations can be successful in implementing changes if they plan, communicate, train, manage conflict and effectively monitor the change they are making. In addition, the technology must be easy to use to gain acceptance. Also, if a technology does not have the interoperability required, users will go back to the using the same lengthy manual processes that you were trying to replace. A positive user experience goes a long way in the adoption of any new technology.

What does your morning routine look like?

I try to keep a standard morning routine. With tea cup in hand, I spend the first hour focused on world, industry and Philips headlines/news. It is important to keep a pulse on key events so that we can be proactive and take center stage in helping the organization evolve into its next version. This is followed by relaxed yoga, and then into the work schedule.

What are your top 3 book recommendations (personal or professional)?

  • Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown. Why?  If you are serious about Customers this books helps you learn about customer needs and how to collaboratively build the best possible solutions
  • The Essential CIO: Why The CIO Needs To Act Like The CEO by Matthew Graham-Hyde. Why? The role of the CIO needs to change dramatically in today’s day and age. We must have deep insights to every part of our business and manage IT like it is a business in itself.  IT is the heart of the business!
  • What I Told My Daughter: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women by Nina Tassler.  Why? As a mother of 3 amazing daughters, I wanted to share not only my own view but those of inspiring women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Madeleine Albright.

What’s your favorite failure?

Trying to keep a routine 🙂

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz is an Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and the author of The Art of Business Value and A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility. Before joining AWS he was the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Service (part of the Department of Homeland Security), CIO of Intrax, and CEO of Auctiva. He has an MBA from Wharton, a BS in Computer Science from Yale, and an MA in Philosophy from Yale.