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As the world propels towards embracing digital transformation, Axiata Digital Labs (ADL) CEO Thushera Kawdawatta and CTO Namal Jayathilake believe that its products, culture of innovation and conviction in each of its employees make it a stronghold to enable digital transformations in the Asian region and beyond.

Can you tell us more about ADL, its journey since inception, including the key factors behind its stellar growth, and what differentiates it from its competitors?

Thushera: We understood early on that the organization needed a culture that valued its employees. It is worth mentioning that during this process, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the economy, which meant that our new hires, who were a majority of our headcount, had not been able to meet each other during the nascency of the organization. We believe our commitment and resilience to navigate through the hard times as a cohesive team set us in motion to become a strong organization that could ride the global trajectory of the rapidly expanding digital transformation industry, which is moving towards becoming a highly connected, integrated ecosystem. We realized early on that we had to integrate ADL into it to unlock tremendous opportunities for the company, our people and our clients.

We designed our products and solutions to fast-track digital transformation with new-age technologies, and we believe that our employees have the skills to innovate and implement products and solutions that would help businesses everywhere leverage the opportunities from the rapid overhauls in digital transformation technology. Our capabilities made us robust and enabled us to weather the unprecedented economic challenges of the last three years and continue along our rapid growth trajectory.

The global digital transformation market is poised to become a $7 trillion industry by 2029 as it takes centre stage the world over, and we are positioning ourselves with AI, machine learning, cloud and other digital transformation competencies that would help us to become a strong contender as a technology enabler in Asia and beyond.

How do you attract and retain top talent in the industry, and how do you inspire teams to drive value and generate exceptional outcomes amidst these challenging times?

Thushera: Most companies tend to focus on the weaknesses of employees, but since its inception, we believed that enhancing the strengths of every employee was going to make a big difference.

Once employees build and improve their strengths, their weaknesses become negligible, and you end up with more purposeful and skilled employees who can only strengthen the organization. We also believe in fostering a culture of innovation across every function of the organization, from all our technical work to all our operations, be it legal, finance, HR, or any others, and we encourage everyone to embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in whatever they do within the company.

With Sri Lanka at a crucial crossroads, how can companies harness technology to unlock opportunities despite the ongoing economic crisis, drawing from your experiences with Axiata Digital Labs?

Namal: In early 2020, when the pandemic-induced economic crisis forced businesses to adopt new processes and technologies to survive, it was a matter of adapting or winding up operations. Organizations had to make a cultural shift to enable themselves as new remote working concepts, hybrid working, collaboration tools, knowledge-sharing tools, remote learning, and other digitization tools saw rapid advancements and uptake. The crisis also triggered companies to reimagine themselves and overhaul traditional business models to survive and unlock new growth opportunities by harnessing the capabilities of emerging technology. So, it’s not necessarily how you harness technology, but rather your ability to adapt or even thrive in a crisis. In many ways, ADL was in a position to help companies with these adjustments and technological enhancements as we were relatively unscathed by the economic crisis, having embraced digital transformations early and working remotely from inception, serving multiple clients across the globe, from Colombo and our offices in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

How are you enabling your clients to reimagine themselves with technology to unlock opportunities? Can you take us through your suite of solutions and their impact?

Namal: ADL is an organization that believes in providing our customers with platforms that will not be obsolete within a few years. We have an impressive in-house developed product portfolio specialized for the telco and fintech domains. The technologies required to service these fields need employees skilled in niches like data analytics, AI, DevOps and Cloud technologies. What we essentially offer is an end-to-end solution to the business problem of our clients.

Our product suite, Axonect, comprises a range of digital transformation-focused products bundled with ADL services including product deployment, solution development and integration, managed services, and consultancies. Customers can choose what is best for them, and we work with them hand-in-hand to ensure that they harness the full potential of our products and solutions.

What is your impact on Sri Lanka’s journey towards a digital economy?

Namal: Though we are incorporated and headquartered in Sri Lanka, we have a significant global operation within the Asian region and gearing for rapid expansion beyond, beginning with Africa and the Middle East. As the majority of our business comes from foreign markets, we are a source of foreign exchange for the country.

We are also enabling local enterprises, telcos, banks, and fintechs with our products and solutions so that they can contribute to the digital economy and towards building innovative products and solutions that can bolster the digital ecosystem. In this regard, we persistently pursue discussions with other enterprises and build collaborations that could drive the country towards a dynamic, robust and vibrant digital economy

Visit our newsroom to learn more about our partnerships and how we’re accelerating the global rate of digital transformation.