George D. Schindler
President & CEO, CGI
President, CGI Canada
As it celebrates its 45th anniversary, CGI — one of the largest IT and business consulting services firms in the world — continues to innovate to help organizations harness the power of technology. Mediaplanet spoke with George D. Schindler, President and CEO of CGI, and Guy Vigeant, President of CGI Canada, to get their insights on how the pandemic is accelerating digital transformation and how business leaders can adapt accordingly.
CGI has become one of the world leaders in IT. Can you tell us about CGI’s journey?
George D. Schindler: CGI was founded in Quebec City in 1976 and has grown over the years from a small consultancy to a leading global services firm with 76,000 consultants and professionals at 400 locations in 40 countries.
We work with clients across every industry — from banking and government to energy and telecommunications, health, utilities, retail, and manufacturing — to deliver end-to-end IT and business services. This means we provide consulting to help them use technology to achieve business outcomes and can then partner with them to operationalize their strategies and manage their day-to-day operations.
CGI will be celebrating its 45th anniversary this June. How are you marking this milestone?
Guy Vigeant: We’re proud of our Canadian heritage and how we’ve expanded globally, all by staying true to creating value for all three of our stakeholders: our clients, our employees, and our shareholders. We deeply understand our clients’ businesses and industries, and have grown our business organically and through acquisitions to ensure we have the consultants and experts needed to deliver the insights our clients can act on.
Accordingly, this year we launched an updated brand identity with the tagline, “Insights you can act on.” More than words, this new tagline signifies our commitment to working collaboratively with our clients to build and implement the best IT and business strategies to create value for their customers and citizens.
How is the pandemic accelerating digital transformation?
GS: Prior to the pandemic, consumers were driving significant demand for digital services. IT’s role during the pandemic served to help organizations rapidly respond to the pandemic — whether that was through telemedicine or ordering and delivering goods and services online.
The shutdowns drove two key shifts: first, in the digitized consumer interactions with companies and governments, and second, in the transition to remote working. Enabling these new customer, citizen, and employee touchpoints will drive new and higher digital-first expectations that organizations must aim to meet.
What does this mean for company leaders?
GS: This acceleration is both an opportunity and a challenge as organizations now face three simultaneous priorities: accelerating digitization to meet consumer and employee expectations, modernizing to achieve immediate cost savings to fund digitization initiatives, and driving profitable growth to meet shareholder expectations.
We see more executives using IT as an investment to adapt their business models and drive new value for their customers while also continuing to rely on IT to achieve productivity and cost savings through digitization and automation.
How can companies and governments use technology to successfully navigate through crises like the pandemic?
GV: As we’ve experienced in our work with clients, technology has become the backbone for organizations. CGI’s research indicates that organizations that achieved an enterprise-scale digital transformation outperformed their peers both before and during the pandemic. We identified the three key organizational capabilities that set these organizations apart — and therefore, what we believe are essential to what comes next. These three capabilities focus on mastering business agility, adapting to the future of working, and reinventing technology supply chains.
What do you see in store for the future?
GS: It’s difficult to predict precisely what the new normal will be for each industry and geography, but one thing is certain: technology will be at the heart of it. Pre-pandemic, most organizations were already on a path to modernize and digitize. The pandemic response created more clarity and urgency to accelerate on this path. As a global end-to-end provider, CGI will continue to partner with our clients to help them with their digitization initiatives.