Karan Yaramada- Rethinking Business Models Amidst the Crisis

Karan Yaramada- Jade Global

“When we begin with a thought to create a business, that’s what we end up creating. We should instead work on creating a legacy, a culture of people, practices, and exchanges that leaves an imprint”, so the conversation kick starts with Karan Yaramada, CEO, Jade Global, an IT Services company recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in North America by Inc. 5000 for 10 consecutive years, and Two-Time Honoree, listed among the Fastest Growing Silicon Valley and Philadelphia Enterprises in 2016 & 2018. Most recently, the company etched its place amidst leading IT names in two major power lists, for its AI-powered Managed Services and Digital Initiatives and advanced CRM offerings.

Karan Yaramada, the winner of the CEO World Award 2020, is growing to be a name to be reckoned with. One of his interviews on YouTube garnered 100K views. Quiz him about this and you get a rhetorical nonchalant answer, “Isn’t that commonplace?”. Before this interview, we gathered tidbits on Karan from videos, posts, his website, and articles spread across a decade. Our personal but thorough sleuthing informed us as much as this interview will. This decidedly shy Business Leader, a Harvard Business School Alumnus, has been on a quest to deliver today’s business, the right infrastructure, and activate digital transformation across their processes, and is doing so earnestly, and committedly.

His brainchild, Jade Global started humbly in 2003, armed with a singular Oracle Partnership in San Jose, its US headquarter and the first office, that stays strong to this day. By 2005, Jade Global had 50+ employees and Salesforce Alliance & Microsoft Gold Partnerships. Jade successively added Snowflake Managed Services, AWS, ServiceNow, NetSuite, and a Boomi Elite Partnership over the years to its growing partner landscape. Today Jade Global has 1000+ employees, spread across 7 cities, including offices in Austria, Canada, and India.

What is relatively unknown is that Jade Global is one of the few businesses that successfully navigated through the COVID-19 Crisis. And much of the credit goes to Karan and the leadership team that helped employees make the smooth transition to a completely digital venue and safe WFH culture. This one company practices what it preaches. But more on that in a minute. First, we get the story from Karan on how it all started. And how paramount has Karan’s ethical leadership been to this success. Crisis communication is also the crucial part of entire process.

Making an Idea Stick in the Brimming Silicon Valley Cup:

Circa 2003, looking for a future in the hotbed of IT was not a great option, let alone building one. The valley was still recovering from the whiplash of the recession and though talent was at large, finding the right people was not the easiest. Businesses and investors were careful and naturally reluctant. But for our Visionary, it was as George Bernard Shaw said, “Don’t wait for the right opportunity, create it.”

Karan Yaramada founded Jade Global in 2003 after having worked for about 11 years in the IT industry. He discovered an opportunity in the market amidst the chaos, where the nature of IT services was becoming more global. Karan left his secured IT position, having worked with big names like KPMG, Tata Consultancy Services, and General Electric, this was one of the greatest risks he took at the peak of his career. It paid off and how.  He landed himself the job of the first employee and CEO of Jade Global, working independently with no paycheck for the first three months. Jade Global began as a small business that handled Oracle support services and upgrades projects.

Karan observed a major shift in IT services and business. They were becoming more global, “There was an opportunity in the market to start an IT services company that had the culture, competitive pricing, and benefits of a boutique firm, but at the same time could provide customers with large-scale IT projects”, says Karan.

The stage of ideation though came with study and research, was only the beginning of a not-so-smooth path. Bootstrapped, bottom-up undertaking, Karan’s first year with Jade Global was spent working simultaneously on three Oracle upgrade projects. His movement from a solo ship to one with others onboard was a gradual one. As Jade Global grew, they expanded its offerings to include enterprise business application implementations, integrations, software product engineering, testing, support, Cloud services, technology advisory, and managed services.

Jade Global’s mission and vision statements are about creating a company culture where both customer and employee satisfaction are high.

Karan Yaramada

Jade Global embarked on another major expansion, physically. They opened a second US headquarter located on the East Coast in Philadelphia through acquisition. In 2019, Jade Global set up new entities in Toronto, Canada, and Vienna, Austria.

Not All Smooth Sailing:

“Looking back on how we started Jade Global from the ground up, going from 1-10 was much easier than going from 10-20 in terms of stages in the company. It was tough to hire, trust, coach, and train the right people, but it has been even more difficult to scale the business, “reflects Karan.

For Jade Global being adaptable to change is imperative to remain relevant and innovative and in the IT industry Change is innovation. And their composure through the COVID-19 storm stands testimony to that. People at Jade Global attribute the stability to Karan’s and the leadership team’s nature and demeanor that safeguarded them emotionally. But being the leader Karan is, he fairly places the merit on them collectively.

“The people. I was fortunate to meet a lot of good people over on this journey. I met people who had built their careers successfully in the same industry and they influenced me greatly. I am fortunate to work with teams who stand by me come what may. And of course, having customers who are trusting and willing to work with us repeatedly has also helped!”

This brings us to the proverbial question in these times. How did he survive the Pandemic? How did Jade Global a company with an employee force exceeding a thousand, level it up, while others were still coming to terms with the suddenness of it all?

Karan Yaramada Jade Global

“The Pandemic hit us. And yes, there was a period of shock and incredulity. But as a business leader, my first reflex was to offer a cushion to my people to fall back on.

While many are harping on about the “digital transformation” wave, Jade Global has been living and realizing it for its clients. Jade Global has steered 2600+ technology projects across a range of industries. One of the company’s mainstays is adaptation through digital synergies that are at the very root of all its processes. Digitization is a way of life at Jade Global, which was in effect even before the pandemic hit and virtual offices came into being.

“We had almost unknowingly been preparing for this period over the past few years. We went on to become a 100% remote workforce almost overnight without any glitches. This was possible because all our employees had company-issued laptops and secured VPN Access; everything was on the cloud, including our office collaboration suite, time and billing system, and network security.” Karan beams.

It was not just about the set-up, those were pieces that naturally fell into place, it was also the state of mind, that needed attention.

Jade Global’s leadership team along with Karan created guidelines to follow for the entire company based on a well-conceived and forethought design: the 3Ps Approach: In their first Virtual meeting the CEO urged his people to internalize this approach; Protect-Preserve-Promote.

“The response was tremendous and instantaneous”, he adds proudly, a look of wonder on his otherwise composed face, like he was reliving the very moment.

We want to know about the measures and steps the company took to ensure a smooth transition to a 100% digital fully functional space. Jade Global is committed to bolstering its employees’ creativity, drive, mental health, and sense of security, both physical and emotional. And it did not leave any stones unturned here. On the digital front, the company, as evident, was masterfully prepared, it was only a matter of fueling up certain systems and processes. And it was all revved up.

The secret was strong data governance tools and processes such as GDPR and ISO, robust security through endpoint controls, and all operating systems on the cloud. They witnessed zero glitches during this transition and saw a notable improvement in employee productivity and customer engagement. An increase in corporate communications and a great HR engagement program kept this running successfully.

The process, however, required collaboration across different operating and corporate functions. The company successfully broke down departmental silos and readied itself.

Karan remarks, “Breaking silos, collaboration, digital transformation, connected business. We walk the talk.”

  • Communication and HR: Jade Global effectively demonstrated that they can function equally efficiently from home. For them it was about putting the employees’ choice first.  They ran a simple 3 question survey every 2 weeks and observed the response on WFH and WFO, and the changes that would ensue if a balance of the two was to be achieved. This helped them systematically gauge the mood and take steps to mitigate any perceived risks. Jade Global today has powerful system in place leveraging technology to maintain social distancing and safety norms in the office.
  • Technology and Admin: Ensuring employee safety, topped their charts of considerations. Their IT teamed up with Admin and came up with the COVID-19 Hoteling and Contact Tracing App to effectively implement safety. This app allows users to book work desks in advance before they walk into the office. It further allows admin teams to create a seating map that enforces social distancing and limits the number of employees in the office. Also, internet connection to the disabled seats can be taken away including disabling wi-fi extenders. This ensures people work at assigned workstations and cannot break social distancing norms. The app further allows capturing thermal scan ratings and oximeter readings for all incoming and outgoing employees as well as successful contact tracing. If anyone tests positive, it would be able to trace all individuals who have been in their physical proximity for timely isolation and testing. Jade Global will continue offering this flexibility to its employees even though the imminent dangers now seem a bit tamed, with the vaccination out.
  • Finance and Innovation: Most businesses ended up cutting down large projects and other capital expenditure. However, Jade Global realized that this form of cash conservation – through deferred investments – can impact long term growth. They wanted to strike a balance. The company’s proactive Finance team enabled investment in IT to make front-end ready to go when things opened up again. They implemented process improvements, granular dashboarding and more to ensure that stay on the path to growth and development despite the current economic situation. The company equally shared the financial burden, with more than 75% of employees worldwide expressing willingness in taking salary deferral along with the leadership team that showed the path. The company swam through it with zero layoffs and the salary deferral program never actually taking off.  He expresses, “It never came down to it. And I am glad it turned out that way.”

We urged all managers to reach out to every team member so that we had an open line of communication between all employees. We were able to gain insight into the challenges of all employees and take the appropriate steps to solve these issues.

Jade Global’s Changing Graph since its foundation:

Jade Global entered the surging IT industry with only Oracle Practice and created a strong and prolific partner portfolio by 2005. This steady growth from 2005 to 2010 was decked further by Snowflake Managed Services steered services. These years were also marked by other equally riveting milestones like the establishment of Jade Global’s R&D Unit: Jade Labs, a locus for innovation and hands-on engagement with emerging tech.  Jade Global was widening and mounting in performance and numbers, with 160+ serviced clients and 150+ employees.

By 2015, Jade Global launched its AWS Practice and formed its Global Delivery Center in Hyderabad. Jade Labs, on the other hand, unveiled Xenon, Kanverse (AI), and INFA2ODI in succession. These marvels today are part of the very fabric of services and partner offerings at Jade Global.

Jade Global has witnessed a meteoric rise, resulting from its commitment to customer success, experience, expertise, quality, flexibility, and, most importantly, its employees’ loyalty and passion, and support from its strong clientele.

Jade Global meanwhile went on to acquire Saturn Infotech, opened fully operational offices in Austria and Canada, Delivery Centers in the US, and partnerships with ServiceNow, NetSuite & echoed excellence once again with its new upgraded status as Boomi’s Elite Partner, offering a unique flavor of services to an even bigger and widespread client base.

Jade Global has earned a reputation for delivering on time and budget, quality work, and personalized, transparent services. Being the right size gives us the extraordinary flexibility to pass on cost benefits to our clients. Whether it is implementation consulting, support, training, or strategic assessments and optimizations.

Jade Global Journey

Setting it Apart from the Competition

The role of IT partners is rapidly changing with companies becoming more and more aware of how much they are spending, concurrently consuming technology at an unprecedented rate. And one of the things that CIOs are driving while innovating is cost optimization. In the face of this abundance and prudence, how does Jade Global bring in a differentiator to its customers?

In Karan’s own words, in an exclusive ET Now interview, “In IT services it is difficult to differentiate the unique value we provide, but the Customer Experience that Jade Global offers remain unparalleled.” The company is known for having one of the highest customer retention rates in the industry.

“We have been careful in selecting our customers and partners. We have 1created a niche with Mid to Large companies with a focus on certain industries, where the CIOs are looking for a nimble (technology) partner to work with. This is the space we fit in very well”, Karan points out.

He continues, “today every business is an IT company. We take mature technologies like Oracle, Salesforce, Boomi, Service, etc. and apply them with our experience, wisdom, and expertise to optimize our customer’s business processes, taking them through a journey; digital transformation, migrating from on-prem to Cloud or process optimization, rather than just slamming technologies. It is the journey that matters to them, how we manage the change and transition.”

Jade Global could not have accomplished all that we have without the lasting and reliable relationships we insist on having with our clients.

Working with Innovation

The present business environment is complex, with IT seeping through every aspect of business processes. Whether it is AI, RPA, Cloud, Integration, managing this ecosystem is becoming increasingly challenging for businesses.

“It is like changing a tire in a running car”, fittingly explains the CEO of Jade Global. But Karan doesn’t believe in technology for technology’s sake. Usability and adaptability are vital. “We apply technologies to businesses that give them value through emerging tech. The end goal, according to Karan is the worthiness it brings to businesses.

Integration, Data, and Security, Karan says is what companies must focus on. Having the most advanced technology at your disposal without the existence of a connected business is like having a top model car without the fuel that runs it. Integration does that, it seamlessly loops and networks business processes, systems, people, and information.

Jade Global is not just offering mature technology but also creating its own. Jade Global has made it to this juncture due to its great partner alliances. “But then we weren’t the only ones out there offering an Oracle, or a Salesforce service. It was so essential to get our blend here, so our clients know the difference is not just in the service but the entire ecosystem we bring to the table”, shares Karan.

Converse, Jade Global’s AI, is a Cognitive Automation Platform that can support various use cases across the enterprise to remove bottlenecks, streamline business processes, and minimize manual touchpoints across workflows.  

Jade Global’s Unique offerings are distinct yet conducive, in fact, complementary to its partner’s growth. They have established a symbiotic relationship, where their homegrown technology and innovation enhances and adds to the services offered. Kanverse AI was one of the many. Some of these others are JumpStart Analytics, Jade Global’s Prebuilt Analytics for Oracle EBS, JadeConnect for Connecting the Enterprise through ServiceNow, Xenon Test Cloud, InfatoODI, The First and Only Informatica to ODI Data Integration Conversion Tool, Accelero, Accelerated Oracle EBS Implementation, Reverse Logistics, Warehouse Management and more.  

More Industries, more areas and more offerings:

Hi-tech & Life Sciences Industries have a great need for technology that enables process automation and seamless integration for both internal and external partners as well as applications. Jade Global has worked with over 150 Hi-tech customers to make strategic investments in launching unique industry solutions that will transform the business processes across the board. The solution consists of reference digital architecture with a pre-configured solution consisting of 70% of the most popular and relevant use cases in combination with leading purpose-built solutions.

Jade Global’s Pre-configured Life Sciences Industry Solution addresses Key CGxP requirements, Financial Reporting & Cost Management, Compliant Clinical & Commercial Supply Chain operations, pre-built Analytics, Trading Partner Integrations inclusive of overarching Compliance & Validation Framework hence providing a comprehensive Scalable Digital operations platform helping companies stay competitive and foster growth.

For the mind and heart

While Jade Global remains Karan’s world, we ask the IT leader what occupies him when he is not the CEO of the company. The man is a confessed bibliophile. And we are not surprised, a tiny glimpse of his inexhaustible library and we know it. So we ask him the next most natural question; what book(s) have left an impression on him?

“Bill Campbell. Bill is the former CEO of Intuit and someone who I know personally. I read his book The Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell. I admire how he was able to form deep relationships with Silicon Valley’s greatest leaders and create a legacy of growing companies. BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0) by Jim Collins, and many poignant autobiographies.”

Being a leader means you are a trailblazer like Karan is to so many. Our curiosity gets the better of us and we want to know who he as an IT leader, a thinker, and a change maker looks up to. The answer comes without a second thought, “I look up to Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, in how he changed the company’s direction and unleashed the power of Microsoft. The former Herbert Kelleher was the co-founder and CEO of Southwest Airlines. He had an amazing leadership style and was there from the beginning. It was his vision that propelled the company forward.”

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

The present reach of social media and channels has easily created an abundant culture of “thought leadership”. This has a flip side though. Anyone starting a business is self-branding with takeaways, insights, and the endless saga. But true leadership advice from altering businesses defying conventions, and creating new avenues, is rare. These people are the ones leading large teams, day-in day-out, in the real world. Karan Yaramada is one of them. And his advice to young entrepreneurs starting is as simple as it is beautiful.

Create a business model that above all, is adaptable to change.

You must make sure you are innovative in changing year after year to scale out the business, but at the same time, you can disrupt the flow when you make too many changes too quickly. You must be adaptable to and embrace change.

Take that one risk that matters. It can make paths that lead to an extraordinary life. And most importantly value the people you work with. I had millions telling me I could not reach where I am today and move where I want to be. But I am here, on my way because of the few who believed I could. That has truly made all the difference”, concludes Karan.

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