ESI Team

Becoming a Technology-First Company

March 8, 2023
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On the 18th episode of Enterprise Software Innovators, hosts Evan Reiser (Abnormal Security) and Saam Motamedi (Greylock Partners) talk with Akash Khurana, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Wesco International. With over 18,000 employees and $20 billion of revenue, Wesco is a leading provider of electrical, industrial, and communications MRO and OEM products, supplying vital infrastructure in countries across the world. Today, Akash shares his insights on digital transformation, the role of data in optimizing customer experiences, and the importance of AI in driving business outcomes.

As a seasoned technology executive, Akash has seen firsthand how Wesco’s full embrace of digital transformation has impacted nearly every area of the business. As he notes, these initiatives touch “everyone who's involved in the entire value chain.” In as complex and multifaceted a business as Wesco, staying current with technology and being unafraid to disrupt is essential to ensuring their customers across the world are getting the vital infrastructure services they need. Akash places emphasis on digital transformation opening up new pathways and opportunities across the business: “[digital transformation] creates new value channels for the organization, whether it's through new products, new services, new solutions, new ways of going to market, new ways of engaging with customers, new ways of doing business with our partner ecosystems, and new ways of tapping into innovation capability of the organization.”

Wesco’s digital transformation enables the company to optimize both internal processes and external, customer-facing interactions. Internally, technology advancements enables their sales organization to obtain inbound leads in an automated, data-driven method: “Rather than our team members going and finding ways to respond to commercial opportunities, we are bringing those opportunities using data and technology, and prescribing those opportunities to our sales organization…The speed to market, the speed to value capture is exponentially increased.” Externally, Wesco can interact with customers more holistically, and as Akash puts it, “We no longer talk [to our customers] about just the core transactional capabilities that we provide, but we are going in to understand their end-to-end value chain and pain points. [Our technology] allows us to stitch information across various subsystems that a customer might have in their landscape.”

Like most large enterprise organizations, a major priority for Wesco is leveraging its massive troves of data, and finding ways to harness it for optimization and efficiency. Akash again describes how utilizing AI and ML on top of existing datasets is enhancing their sales organization: “We have massive data from our end-to-end value chain. As we respond to commercial proposals, it used to be about how we go to the available product set, the product set that a sales rep is familiar with. It's very linear in terms of responses. Using AI, we can now provide not only one linear option to our sales representatives but multiple recommendations with different profiles, and different availability metrics, which allow much better capability for our sales organization.” 

As AI continues to reorient operational capabilities across many industries, Wesco is directing more resources toward utilizing it across the business. In both internal operations and customer-facing functions, Akash shares that AI is at the center of Wesco’s future: “We see AI  elevating our employee base to no longer be stuck in a mundane task, but focus on what drives value. We also believe AI can enhance the quality of every transaction we have with our supplier partners, in terms of speed, accuracy, and efficiency.” To that end, Akash shares that the company has even put together what it calls an “AI Factory,” where nearly every business unit is put under the AI microscope: “We have something we call the AI Factory. Every business model, every opportunity that we think of, we take a lens of what can AI do in this area? You really need to make it part of your operating model so that it becomes the way you operate, the way you think about technology, the way you think about providing services and solutions.” It’s a prescient reminder of a changing world, and that the CIO of the future would be wise to embrace powerful new tools like AI.

Listen to Akash's episode here and read the transcript here.