Chief Information Officer

Delta Dental’s Chief Enterprise Architect Describes How to Build an Intelligent and Nimble Enterprise

Delta Dental Chief Enterprise Architect Mukundan Agaram shared his thoughts on what it takes to build an “intelligent” enterprise during his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CIO membership at the 2018 Information Technology Leadership Forum: Data Strategy & Innovation in Chicago on February 28. In his presentation, “Building an Intelligent and Nimble Enterprise,” Agaram offered tips to help IT professionals quickly adapt to a rapidly evolving global marketplace.

Many organizations want to use data to become intelligent and nimble. However, few organizations are capable of performing deep data analysis and generating actionable insights that lead to improvements across all departments.

Building an intelligent and nimble enterprise is ideal, yet most organizations struggle to achieve their desired results. In many instances, organizations follow strict rules that are tough to change as needed. As such, these organizations risk falling behind the competition due to their inability to adapt.

Meanwhile, IT professionals often are tasked with keeping pace with a constantly moving global marketplace. These professionals are responsible for helping their respective organizations deploy new technologies and optimize their value. At the same time, new technologies regularly become available, and IT professionals must update business processes and systems accordingly.

“In the IT organization, we are always under the gun. Business is moving at the speed of light, and we are always playing catch-up,” Agaram said. “No matter which system is being used, it is always becoming antiquated, and we have to replace it quickly.”

Finding the right balance between business demands and technology upgrades is difficult. If IT professionals take a proactive approach to their day-to-day operations, they could find innovative ways to help their respective companies achieve the optimal results.

“If we can achieve a balance where you’re able to meet the business demands proactively and maintain an even keel on the technology debt … this would be ideal,” Agaram noted.

Collaboration may play a key role in how IT professionals foster a culture of innovation throughout an organization as well.

“We want to build a community of subject matter experts that can drive the future of a company.”

IT professionals who communicate with employees across all departments can build strong partnerships. Plus, IT professionals can work with different departments to find the best ways to bolster organizational productivity and efficiency.

“Business and technology share a symbiotic relationship,” Agaram stated. “Through continuous collaboration, we’re able to create new innovations.”

Oftentimes, IT professionals are at the heart of an organization. With a proactive approach, IT professionals can set the tone for many departments and transform the way that an organization partners with its employees and clients.

“At the heart of the enterprise operations, it feels like the eye of the storm,” Agaram pointed out. “We have to do different things from different clients … and we want to continually keep evolving our book of business.”

In addition, flexibility plays a vital part in an organization’s immediate and long-lasting success.

“The rules of the business constantly change, and we need to make it so our systems evolve and adapt to these rules.”

An organization that gives its IT professionals the flexibility to update rules based on the global marketplace is well-equipped to meet or exceed customer expectations. This organization can develop rules that ensure it can maintain maximum flexibility at all times. As a result, the organization can accelerate the innovation cycle.

“The rules of the business constantly change, and we need to make it so our systems evolve and adapt to these rules. We need to be able to separate all of our rules from the rest of our systems,” Agaram said. “Rules should be designed in a fashion that allow for change.”

IT professionals must serve as subject matter experts within their respective organizations too. That way, IT professionals can become valuable influencers within their organizations. These professionals also can help shape the future of an organization and deploy technologies that make it easier to drive innovation faster than ever before.

“We need to establish subject matter expertise within the organization,” Agaram noted. “We want to build a community of subject matter experts that can drive the future of a company.”

Technology alone is insufficient for an organization. Fortunately, an organization that prioritizes intelligence and flexibility may be able to find innovative ways to deploy technology and optimize its value.

An organization that empowers its IT professionals to be proactive can stand out from the competition. This organization will foster a culture of innovation that begins in an IT department and extends across all levels of its operations. Therefore, the organization can encourage communication and collaboration among all departments and ensure these groups can innovate to accomplish common goals.

“Having the ability to leverage technology in a proactive matter is important for a company to stay intelligent and nimble,” Agaram indicated. “The company needs to embrace innovation and make innovation pervasive across a company … so people within the company have an opportunistic mindset.”


Mukundan Agaram is a seasoned IT Thought Leader and practitioner in the arena of Decision Management and strategic and innovative Business Capabilities.

Mukundan has over 25 years of diverse international software development experience architecting and leading transformative IT initiatives that are at the heart of mid to large enterprises. Mukundan Agaram spear headed the Enterprise Architecture and development of ETS; DDMI’s strategic flagship product responsible for automating their mainstream operations including dental claims processing. In his current role as the Chief Enterprise Architect, he is charged with the architectural direction for the next generation of ETS that will provide a quantum leap in DDMI’s Enterprise Capabilities.

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