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An Interview With Abhinav Bhatnagar, Director, Global Cloud Operations & Strategy, Google

We talk to Abhinav about how the strategist's role is changing

4Apr

Abhinav is Head of Global Cloud Platform Operations & Strategy at Google. He has over 10 years of strategy & operations experience in the high-tech industry, with a strong record of driving growth and improving profitability in large, global businesses in the Intenet and IT sector – primarily with Google Inc. & Hewlett-Packard Co. He has held a series of senior leadership positions driving growth strategies, leading sales planning & operations, channel strategy, alliances and partnership strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and change management. We sat down with him ahead of his presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit to get his thoughts on the role of the strategist and the changing field in which he works.

What do you think are the main qualities of a successful strategy?

A successful strategy first and foremost needs alignment at the key stakeholder level before implementation begins. It should map the path from current to future state with the right milestones coupled with the right measurement mechanics. A successful strategy is also one that is aligned to the capabilities of the organization and builds on / is supported by the company's processes, people, tools, and systems.

How do you think the role of a strategist is changing?

A strategist now needs to constantly toggle between the ever increasing amount of data to really glean the right insights while also ensuring that he or she continues to build on primary research, qualitative storytelling, and project management abilities. This has required successful strategist to learn new skills, like big data analytics and new tools that in the past might have been optional.

How important is flexibility when creating new strategies?

Flexibility is becoming increasingly important. This does not mean that a company or an individual should constantly be changing its strategy or what made them successful in the past, but the dynamics of today’s business environment require companies to be agile, to adjust to new factors quickly. As new revenue and monetization models are developed, as product innovation continues to accelerate, it is important to stay flexible to adapt to the needs of the customer, your suppliers, the competition and the market in general. As a strategy leader, at a minimum, it is very important to always ask yourself if you are willing to let go of your old playbook when formulating new strategies.

Have the attitudes of a new generation of workers affected how strategy is formulated or implemented?

Yes, to an extent. Companies have to adjust their approach in order to both effectively reach the millennial audience as customers and also be attractive to them as employers, and that requires a change in how the strategies are developed. For example, the millennial strategist working on a strategic project expects to have an early seat at the table and motivating them requires getting more attuned with what drives him/her vs. sometimes in the old world where a senior manager could be more directive.

What can delegates expect from your upcoming presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit?

How cloud computing is changing our world and what’s next. Why is today both a great and a not so great time to be in strategic planning. What will make strategist’s successful in the future and how to become a trusted advisor to the business by unlocking new value from data-driven analytics.

You can hear more from Abhinav, along with other leading senior strategy executives, at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit, taking place in San Francisco on May 18-19.

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