From the White House to the Home Garden: An Interview with Ajay Batish, CEO, Incapsulate

Incapsulate, one of the first IT consultancies to partner with Vlocity, delivers solutions to all levels of government, from the White House on down.

Apr 23, 2015 by Rip Gerber
Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer
11 minute read in Government
Ajay Batish Incapsulate

Incapsulate has helped leading organizations in education and the financial services, healthcare and insurance industries use emerging technologies to gain better insight into their operations and transform the delivery of services to customers. As Head of Alliances at Vlocity, I recently sat down with Ajay Batish, CEO of Incapsulate, to discuss a range of cloud and earthly topics.

Rip: Ajay, thank for you joining us.

Ajay: Delighted to be with you today.

Rip: You’ve had a long and successful career in technology, building both services and product firms. Why did you start Incapsulate?

Ajay: You could say the genesis was disappointment. Over the years we've witnessed a sad race to the bottom, where IT consulting often resembles staffing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Not too long ago, in consumer electronics, we witnessed a similar race to low price, and low quality. Steve Jobs changed that when he returned to Apple. Jobs demonstrated that there was indeed a market hungry for quality and innovation at reasonable prices. We think the same holds for IT consulting. We set out to build a boutique consultancy, with loyal clients, who desire the best solutions available, delivered with well-managed risk.

Rip: Sounds like you are providing more than IT services.

Ajay: That’s right. How we deliver is in some ways as important as what we are delivering. Our clients don’t just want a stand-alone solution. They also want to tap into our experience and partner with us to learn how they can improve their own execution capabilities. So that means we also often act as change agents.

Rip: Is that why you chose to partner with Vlocity early on?

Ajay: Our partners like Vlocity and Salesforce are part of that success formula. We combine the best platforms and products with our agile methodology, our design-centric approach, great talent, with both horizontal and vertical specialization. This gives us a stronger ability to achieve the elusive mix of better, faster, and more cost effective. And the customer-centric nature of the Vlocity and Salesforce platforms allows us to more directly engage our clients and the end-users – in the development process, working side-by-side as true collaborators. Instead of “telling” them what we plan to do, we can be “showing” them what we are doing.

Rip: Why did Incapsulate sign with Vlocity at Dreamforce last year?

Ajay: Dreamforce is a great event, a great place to find the latest in what’s happening in the cloud. That said, we had been following the Vlocity launch closely. Vlocity is built on a stack we really like, especially the deep verticalization in industries we serve. Vlocity is a natural extension of what we do – and is focused on many of the same markets we serve, such as health, education and insurance. And we’ve had a great experience with Vlocity in these early days. We’ve already signed clients with Vlocity and they are excited about the business benefits we are now delivering. They appreciate how we are innovative.

Rip: Is that what makes your firm unique?

Ajay: What makes us special is the recursive nature of how we operate. Simply put, we eat our own dog food. Everything we consult on we use internally because we believe in it. That includes technologies, methodologies, and management strategies. Ultimately, it means being a learning organization at the heart.

Rip: Professional services firms in cloud computing are facing fierce competition these days. Does that change your standards of delivering services?

Ajay: It goes back to how we deliver. It goes without saying we want to deliver solutions that exceeds our clients’ expectations. To that end, we keep our own outcome-focused success metrics that go beyond what our clients are holding us to. But we also want to deliver in a way that goes beyond expectations. We want clients to be delighted not only with the end result – but also with the experience of getting there. So this means being a true partner, and helping them get better in the process. As has been said, success is a journey – not a destination.

Rip: As CEO, do you stay close to your firm’s engagements?

Ajay: It’s critical. Our leadership keeps intimately involved in the delivery of our clients’ projects. This is essential to building a learning organization. Our leadership touches multiple projects, we conduct weekly reviews within each practice area, and we are constantly sharing best practices. Our clients don't just have the project team working for them, they get the best thinking from across the firm.

Rip: Regarding leadership, what does it take to build a great culture?

Ajay: As the founder of Incapsulate, my first charge is culture. At the center of culture is people, so our work on culture starts with employee engagement. Given that we’re in such a dynamic industry, we only hire people who enjoy and seek continuous growth. But growth happens in different ways for different people, so engaging each employee as an individual, to understand what’s important to them and intersect that with the opportunities we can provide or support, that allows us to chart the path together. And we have to take care of our people. This means providing a flexible work environment and strong, innovative benefits – such as unlimited paid time off – so that they don’t have unneeded stress around work-life balance.

Rip: Switching gears, is there anyone who has inspired you along the way?

Ajay:  Steve Jobs. I admire him for proving resoundingly that quality does not need to lose to low cost.  I’ve borrowed one of his sayings here at Incapsulate: Jobs' life-long focus was building bicycles for the mind. At Incapsulate, we want to build bicycles for the enterprise. Jobs gets a bad rap by being a tough manager, even a bully. I’m currently reading the latest biography about him, Becoming Steve Jobs. It’s a terrific window into this iconic man. A lot of people he fired still respect him, and look back at those days under Jobs as some of their best. Even Bill Gates is still singing his praises. Jobs is quite remarkable.

Rip: Any other books that have inspired you?

Ajay: One favorite is Speed of Trust, by Steven M.R. Covey. Of course, trust is the bedrock of strong client relationships. And while developing trust can take time and effort, having it is what’s required to build high performance teams. And without trust, you need to add layer upon layer of process – slowing down the organization. Trust eliminates the unnecessary bureaucracy and stress found in many environments.

Rip: In addition to building trust, what other lessons have you learned through the years?

Ajay: When I was 9 years old, I started organic gardening with my father. He taught me three lessons, and they apply not just to gardening, but to any endeavor. First, patience. Identify when to invest and take the long view. Second, get your hands dirty. You learn a lot by getting your fingers in the soil. And third, discipline. Build strong habits and don't let up when you're tired. Especially when you are tired.

Rip: And how does that gardening lesson apply to today’s workforce?

Ajay: Young generations have always sought shortcuts. When we were kids, we were impatient – the future couldn’t come soon enough. Today, iPhone toting millennials are no different. I encourage dreaming big and setting sights high. But the next generations will be more successful, and get ahead faster, by incorporating patience, deep experience, and power of habit in pursuing their dreams. Just as in gardening, you have to first plant the seeds, water the plants -- harvesting only when the fruit is ripe and ready.

Rip: Ajay, thank you again for sharing your insights today.

Ajay: My pleasure, and I look forward to working with you and the Vlocity team. Incapsulate was founded in 2008, in an effort to build a firm to deliver high-impact services like a large-scale management consultancy but maintain the customer intimacy and agility of a startup. Incapsulate works with both the public and private sectors – and have supported clients at all levels of government as well as across a wide range of industries such as healthcare, education and financial services. Incapsulate blends deep technical expertise across a variety of platforms and technologies – ranging from mobile and cloud to data visualization using cutting edge tools – with a can-do attitude and understanding of business acquired from working shoulder-to-shoulder with senior executives and government leaders.

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