It's time for ISMAC

By Venkatesh Natarajan, VP-IT, Ashok Leyland

Venkatesh Natarajan, VP-IT, Ashok Leyland

Ashok Leyland (NSE: ASHOKLEY; BSE: 500477) is an automobile manufacturing company based out of Chennai. The company has a current market cap of Rs. 173.88 billion.

Information Technology evolution has brought in a slew of demand for IT and IT enabled devices and services in different verticals of business, while encouraging innovations across all sectors. With the changing business eco-system, it becomes imperative for any organization to adapt the new technological innovations and platforms, to be the front runner & enhance its services sophisticatedly to meet the demands of clientele. A right investment into right technology is crucial to overcome the obsolescence of technology in today's hypercompetitive market enriched with tech-savvy customers. Considering IT as a business partner rather than just business enabler, organizations must pioneer new approach towards market. A host of IT platforms available in the market today facilitate everything, be it developing business applications like ERP & CRM or manufacturing execution systems.

Technology & Business in Welded Relationship

The dependence on IT is greater today. The day is not so far when IT and business will get merged into a welded relationship. Google's research on driverless car is the exhibit A that showcases the significant expansion of IT foot print in automotive industry. In future, technology will play a significant role in enabling organizations to build an automated office and assisting with compliance to statuary requirements by tracking and monitoring vehicle abuse. The advent of new technologies like infotronics and telematics are enforcing customers to take their vehicles to respective dealer workshops for repair or maintenance instead of road side workshops, since these technical components require a high-level skill set.

Leveraging connected vehicle module and the associated data captured using sensors, the business model can be transformed including establishment of various Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) with customers, deriving insights into warranty expenditure, and virtual test driving experience. Today, technology covers every facet of our business operations including manufacturing, IT, supporting, marketing, finance and Human Resource.

Every organization in India is now in the path of digital transformation. The transformation in my view is all about innovation and building such culture in the organization involves questioning and challenging the status quo, adopting best practices, and benchmarking our performance to external world. It can't be changed overnight. CIOs or IT heads should aggressively keep pushing to accelerate the process of change.

Dhasavatharam of CIO

Unlike 10 years ago, today's organization have a very robust business analytics platform. With rapid changes in technology trends, on the span of one day new model pops up in the market, pushing the existing technological models to the edge of obsolescence whether it is related to applications or it is related to hardware infrastructure; posing a major challenge to CIO Today's CIO plays 'Dhasavatharam' namely Chief Information Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Change Officer , Chief Process Officer, Chief Integration Officer, Chief Collaboration Officer, Chief Digital Officer and Chief Information Security Officer. He takes the onus in the critical area of managing IT budget, where there is a perceived benefit from the adoption of those technologies. Organizations must invest on building capability as well as acquiring capability from outside and continuously monitor the skill elementary within the IT organization and user community.

Embracing ISMAC

Our maturity curve is evolving from IT enabled organization to IT led organization, since the much more proactive IT is no longer viewed as a cost center but rather viewed as the value centre which is delivering value to the business. With strong expertise in mobility and analytics, we are pushing the boundaries of social media. However, being a large organization that has sunk heavy investments on building captive facilities, our cloud migration is slower. Nonetheless, we are prominently embracing ISMAC (IoT coupled with Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) and telematics initiative to gain deeper technology insights into business operations. Personally, implementing analytics and mobility has enabled me to improve customer retention & association as well as daily sales and bring down inventory. In today's cost-competitive environment, organizations should be metric-oriented and IT team should keep track of the innovations, achievements, developments and overall benefits gained from IT deployment and drive the team towards a culture of innovation and collaboration. In essence, IT teams should ensure that they are always equipped with technology and have deep insights into cost structure, while proactively understanding business needs. (As told to Susila Govindaraj)

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