We are living through unprecedented times where digital technology is reshaping our lives. Axiata Digital Labs (ADL), an innovative software provider specializing in telco-focused digital and IT services and solutions, has been at the forefront of this wave. The company has grown rapidly in just three short years, with teams in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia serving organizations in 14 countries. In conversation with Arteculate, ADL’s newly appointed Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Namal Jayathilake, shared how the company is leveraging its unique expertise to help businesses embrace the trends of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and deliver higher value to their consumers.
The new CTO of Axiata Digital Labs: Namal Jayathilake
Namal is a long-time technology industry veteran with decades of experience in leading roles. He’s been working within Axiata Group for over 18 years since joining Dialog Axiata PLC in 2004. During his tenure, he was a vital part of the team that delivered groundbreaking OSS/BSS, rating and charging, Data Analytics and AI, and Digital Transformation solutions for the telco giant. The bulk of these innovations was aligned with the overarching Axiata strategy and vision. As such, the team’s innovative solutions were picked up and replicated for other companies under Axiata Group, which eventually sparked the creation of Axiata Digital Labs in 2019.
Upon joining ADL, he took on the role of Vice President of Engineering, Emerging Technology. In this role, he provided guidance and expertise on many of Axiata’s internal innovations. As CTO, he’ll lead the entire Engineering Organization at ADL. Namal now brings strategic leadership in engineering, delivery, R&D, and technology for business sustainability. Alongside his experience, Namal holds an MBA (PIM) from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, a PG Diploma in telecommunication, and a B.Sc. Eng. (Hons) in Electronics and Telecommunication from the University of Moratuwa.
The growth and expansion of Axiata Digital Labs
ADL officially began its operations in January 2019. Initially, it focused on catering to the needs for software development, delivery, and project execution, within Axiata Group. Later, ADL opened its offerings to organizations beyond its parent group. Thus, allowing these organizations to tap into ADL’s products, talent pool, and expertise for their digital transformation journeys.
While its primary domain is telco, the team has also worked to tackle digital banking and digital transformation domains. ADL is also working closely with TM Forum, a prominent figure in telco, and has won several awards and international recognition for its services and concepts. As it was created from and grew around telco, it might seem as though transferring this knowledge to other domains will be a bit challenging. Yet, ADL has made this their greatest strength.
Namal went on to say, “Telcos have to maintain a high standard in software development, delivery, and maintenance. The systems need to be able to handle large loads, sometimes even ten or twenty thousand transactions each second, while functioning 24/7 365. Applying the knowledge and expertise gained in the telco domain in solution delivery has allowed us to stand out from other software providers.”
Over the years, ADL has delivered over 150 projects and created over 18 innovative products in several strategic domains. This rapid business growth has allowed the company to expand its team from 200 to 1300 with satellite operations in Malaysia and Indonesia. Collectively, they drive the digital transformation journeys of organizations across 7 countries—an admirable feat accomplished in about three and a half years.
Upskilling and nurturing talent to drive innovation
A key reason for ADL’s success is its approach to upskilling its employees. Individuals across its teams are encouraged to further their education and broaden their experiences. Moreover, with the number of projects running in parallel at any given time, professionals at ADL have many opportunities to apply what they have learned. Such opportunities to put theories into practice are crucial, states Namal.
Further, with their partnerships with global players, employees can even receive exposure to international standards. Employees are provided with sponsorships, guidance, and training facilities to nurture their skills. ADL also has well-established learning groups defined for respective employees to gather together to discuss and plan their education with like-minded individuals. Many of these employee programs are aligned to the Axiata Group’s Talent Management vision to create industry leaders and experts.
We’re currently living in the fourth industrial revolution. One where the world around us is becoming digitized and technology and analytics are an integral part of our life and becoming more widespread. In a sense, we’re evolving from a physical world to a cyber-physical integrated one with the advancement of technology.
Recognizing this, Namal states that ADL is working towards creating technology that can be seamlessly integrated and coexist in a cyber-physical space to enable digital organizations. Considering the speed at which technology changes, it can be tough to keep up. But ADL is well-prepared to continuously learn and apply the knowledge to create business value from selected new technology trends.