4 MAY 2014 Consulting®
ShortTakes Trends, Views and Analysis
Cognizant’s ‘Code Halos’
For the past two years, Malcolm Frank, Chief
Strategy Officer and Chief Marketing Officer
of Cognizant, has largely stepped away from
the firm’s day-to-day operations to conduct
research into how CEOs, CFOs and CIOs can
and should adapt business practices to leverage
the information that surrounds every person,
device, process and organization. The result?
What he and Cognizant call ‘Code Halos’,
the fields of information that surround people
and products they purchase. In April Frank
co-authored the book, Code Halos: How the
Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business.
Frank sat down with Consulting to discuss
Code Halos and their inevitable impact on
nearly every business now and in the future.
Consulting: Let’s go back a few years. How
did this all come about?
Frank: This started out of our Center for
the Future of Work. About four years
ago, we launched a technology transition
around SMAC—social, mobile, analytics
and cloud—and we thought this will fun-
damentally transform the future of work.
How firms are organized, how they inter-
act with their customers, how they gener-
ate value… A lot of firms are going to go
through a real fundamental shift. We stared
doing research around this and started ask-
ing some questions: Why did Company
A win and Company B lose? How did
Myspace screw that up? How did Yahoo
let Google through? Blockbuster seemed
to have everything; how did they lose to
these guys who were just sending DVDs
through the mail? It became very clear to
us that there was this concept of the Code
Halo, there is the physical you and then
there is the virtual you. And companies
that not only recognized the virtual you,
but also knew how to interact with it in a
meaningful way were the clear winners.
Consulting: And what does that mean for
the future? And for your clients?
Frank: We think this is a management challenge for the next ten years. We’ve been
very pleasantly surprised how we’ve been
escorted into the C-suite to engage in this
conversation. Our clients are all recognizing how significant this is and they realize
that what happened to a Blockbuster isn’t
isolated to that industry. They realize that if
they don’t get their act together this could
happen to them. Clients are realizing that
they need to interface and interact with customers in a completely different way. That’s
sort of the Amazon and physical realtor
story. We are seeing retail and investment
banking do this. Banks are trying to say
they are relationship based but they are not.
Banks are realizing that if they could see
the financial code halo of that person, they
could begin to understand what their needs
are and how to tailor products or services to
them in a meaningful way. That’s when we
see clients get this concept really quickly
and see how it could impact their business.
Consulting: Is this change being driven
mostly by the consumer?
Frank: Yes, absolutely. Customers who
have experienced this in other industries are
saying this is nuts. How is it that Pandora
knows exactly what I want to listen to but
I’ve banked with you for 20 years and you
have no idea who I am? The other factor, I
think, is a real sea change that’s going on
with the Millennial generation. These people have grown up in this environment and
Cognizant’s Malcolm Frank