Digital transformation continues to be hot for CIOs and technologies that aid this transformation are gaining further importance.
Express Computer’s Rashi Varshney spoke to key IT decision-makers and chief information officers (CIOs) in large companies across sectors, discussing not only their strategies for the year ahead, but also their major implementations in the past year.
For 2017, we found out that most of the CIOs will look for ways to increase the pace with which they can anticipate demand, give digital power to colleagues across the enterprise, and increasingly be viewed as a source of innovation for the company’s growth. IoT, mobility, and automation topped the list for most CIOs.
According to Hubert Yoshida, CTO, Hitachi Data Systems and Russell Skingsley, CTO, Hitachi Data Systems Asia Pacific, agile infrastructure, cloud, and the benefits of DevOps will gain greater attention as a way to speed up the development and deployment of applications and services with less defects and wasted effort.
The Forbes survey sponsored by Hitachi Data Systems also outlines that to ensure the governance and accessibility of data, IT needs to create a centralized data hub for better management, use and protection of their data. This centralized hub will need to be an object store that can scale beyond the limitations of traditional storage systems, ingest data from different sources, and provide search across public and private clouds as well as mobile devices. “With digital transformation rising up the agenda of CIOs across the world in 2016, we expect to see an increasing number of organizations striving to reach digital maturity in 2017,” comments Skingsley.
New CIOs for digital maturity
Large giants have hired their first CIOs ever in 2016 or new CIOs to achieve a sophisticated digital maturity in 2017. For instance, Radisson Hotel owner Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group hired the company’s very first CIO – Kevin Carl in 2016, and global cybersecurity leader Forcepoint recently named Meerah Rajavel as its new CIO to become a transformative cybersecurity company.
Closer home, smartphone maker Intex Technologies appointed a new CIO, Yashpal Soni, with an aim to strengthen business priorities and the company’s reputation for excellence and innovation. In his new role, Soni will lead the alignment of IT strategy with business strategy, information technology & systems, IT shared services, information security, ERP implementation, business process re-engineering, and IT risk management, adding one more pillar of strength to the company’s development.
We feature below views of a few CXOs, as they share their perspective on how the year 2016 was for them, and their plans for 2017:
Yashpal Soni says that technologies such as HANA, IOT, and mobility excites him the most for the upcoming year. For Intex’s workforce, the CIO says that he will be implementing dealer management at tertiary level, along with demand management, MES, and service management. “Will ensure cradle to grave cycle with dashboards and single source of truth,” states Soni.
For business process re-engineering, Intex has recently engaged E&Y for IM strategy for the group. “This will bring in almost two years of the alignment with business strategy which may result in business process re-engineering, new projects implementation for business benefits,” he informs. Intex has also put IT security as a top priority. Soni is planning to solve information security and IT risk management in two ways – technology implementation and creation of Information Security Management System (ISMS) organization.
The focus areas for 2017 will be – automation, IOT, information security, GST, and demand cycle and OTIF (On- Time In-Full) for improved supply chain.
G Radhakrishna Pillai
In 2016, one the largest diagnostics companies in India, SRL Ltd, focused on improving its staff effectiveness and customer experience by leveraging mobile devices, apps and other new age technologies.
SRL automated the process collection for its phlebotomists (Home Collect Experts) by using a mobile based solution. “A customer books a test based on location and time for home collection of specimen through SRL’s web and mobile app,” mentions G Radhakrishna Pillai, CIO, SRL Ltd.
All the bookings goes to SRL’s Oracle RightNow CRM in a single pool, and are then auto-distributed among the available agents. This implementation has improved efficiency of the agents and has also resulted in customer satisfaction as the agents are now more punctual, there is no repeat in the visits and it is easy to use.
For 2017, mobility will remain in focus for SRL. “We will use maps more for location based pickups (specimen) and drops (reports) , and will also rollout logistics tools for daily monitoring,” says Pillai, adding that this will improve the turnaround time for consumers.
For the sales force, SRL will hand over tablets with e-catalogues, for giving tech-enabled sales pitch to their clients.
GMR Infrastructure Ltd
Infrastructure giant GMR Infrastructure Ltd is giving tech power to the workforce as well as digitizing the business processes.
“We are setting up cloud ready datacenter for the entire GMR corporate operations adopting SDDC (Software Defined Datacenter) framework which gets commenced by end of Feb 2017,”
says P. Reddy, AGM – Enterprise IT, GMR Infrastructure.
He believes that in today’s IT world, cost optimization is a fancy word to hear, but planning, implementation, adoption and sustenance is the toughest challenge faced by senior IT managers especially in non-IT companies. Hence, P Reddy has decided to work in a phased manner. “We have targeted this is two phases. Accomplishment of the first phase is by end of March 2017,” he informs, adding that he will implement mobility, BYOD and will strengthen the IT security at GMR.
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, the flagship hospital of the Apollo Hospitals Group is a multi-specialty tertiary acute care hospital, spread over 15 acres, with 710 beds and 52 specialties. It is one of the most sought after destinations in Asia for healthcare.
Vishal Gupta, Head – Information Technology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals reveals that last year he did a technology refresh almost on all fronts of IT, including infrastructure, storage, security and applications. “There were major projects we completed like PACS, Oracle ERP, office 365 and CRM etc,” he points out.
Gupta informs that next year will be more happening with target projects related to customer experience and service excellence like nursing tasks automation, mobility solution, and paper-lite automation mainly related to clinical areas. “IT at Apollo will also introduce buzzing concepts like virtualized network, software defined data center, application intelligence and IoT etc,” he mentions.
Gupta is excited about next generation technologies because of the current competitiveness in the healthcare market. “Today’s patient compares the experience and ease of getting healthcare service. I believe the days are gone when healthcare facilities were able to sustain only on basis of clinical excellence and a list of star doctors, however having said that, the underlying principle of our IT investment is always based on a solid business proposition and we don’t deploy a technology only just for a sake of technology,” affirms Gupta.
Amity Education Group
Threats to the education sector and universities are becoming prime targets for hackers. JS Sodhi,CIO, Amity Education Group and Executive Director-Cyborg Cyber Forensics & Information Security (CCFIS) created a National Cyber Alert System with its flagship technology Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sensor to make Amity University’ cyber walls unbreakable. The Amity Education Group has over 1,00,000 students studying across 1000 acres of hi-tech campuses spread over Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Noida, Ghaziabad , Gurgoan and many national and international campuses across the globe.
JS Sodhi and his team created a National Cyber Alert System with ATP sensor. In 2016, Sodhi and his team ensured that the technology supporting national cyber alert system, ATP sensor should simulate IT infrastructure and IT appliances, and should also emulate gas stations that are connected to the internet and various other SCADA appliances to capture SCADA based attacks and malware.
“In the next phase of ATP sensors by 2017, we will work on artificial intelligence and will communicate with each other while simulating the IT infrastructure of the entire country. These ATP sensors will be synchronized on a common platform to generate automated alerts and share their captured data with each other to plan self-defense accordingly,” remarks Sodhi.
Cyient (formerly Infotech Enterprises), an Indian company focused on engineering, networks and operations boasts to be the first India-based company to move to Workday- a global SaaS based Human Capital Management (HCM) platform covering recruitment, on-boarding, human resource management, talent management, absence management, compensation and reporting.
“In terms of business automation, we are the first India-headquartered company to implement Workday for HR processes. We started the implementation in 2016 and the go live was on December 5,” says Gaurav Kataria, CIO, Cyient. “In 2016, we became the first company in India to automate the HR process and Workday has helped consolidate our Hire to Retire process globally across 26 countries, with 13000+ employees,” he adds.
Besides this, the IT team has revamped SAP Financials from ECC to SAP S\4 HANA, IT security strategy review and upgrade with respect to increased cyber security threats, improved data reporting and analytics, and created proof of concepts around IoT. “We have increased the level of our vulnerability test on app levels as well. For tightening the security, we have also setup security operations center (SOC) in the company,” informs Kataria.
Cyient’s IT aims to improve and simplify business processes in 2017 and will increase automation of business processes to help drive productive improvement.“We have also listed new tier 3 certified data center to help setup private cloud, and we will increase the adoption of cloud technologies in 2017,” he states.
Mobile apps will be enabled for several processes for the workforce. “We will focus on mobility, analytics, machine learning for overall productivity of our employees,” he adds.
Sanjiv K Jain
Minda Management Services Limited (MMSL)
Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group is one of the key manufacturers of automotive components in India. The group has 38 plants in India and overseas including Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan with office in Japan. With multiple businesses, several Joint Ventures, and a global footprint the need was felt for an apex entity that could provide leadership and direction to the group, with focus on the future. Minda Management Services Limited (MMSL) is the culmination of such an organization. Established in April 2007, MMSL has emerged as a powerful entity of professionals providing thought leadership and direction to the group in the key areas of strategy, marketing, finance, legal, projects, HR, TQM and communications with office in Gurgaon, India and a design and marketing office in Japan. For such a company communication plays a huge role. Hence, in year 2016 the focus was on standardization and automation along with steps towards implementation of unified communication.
“We implemented near to real presence videoconferencing solutions at 19 locations to have faster decision making, reviews and trainings,” states Sanjiv Kumar Jain, Group CIO, MMSL, adding that the IT team also implemented mobile applications in some customer facing applications, and adoption of e-commerce for aftermarket product selling.
“We also rolled out our centralized ERP footprint to more units in the group, shifted the datacentre to our corporate office in Gurgaon with hardware refresh and created a BCP site at Noida. Adopted cloud for our non-critical but very user centric applications for higher availability and access from any location at any point of time,” points our Jain. He reveals that the year 2017 will bring more focus on digitization, converged IT solutions, mobility and business analytics to have faster decision making and reach to customers. “We will automate production lines and link with ERP for online production monitoring and eliminate the manual processes,” shares Jain.
The Group CIO and his team will expand videoconferencing systems to more units and individual executives for better and focused meetings looking into the business expansions in different time zone locations.
Gurgaon-based ACME Group manages telecom tower sites in India and Africa. It has 15000 field technicians across the country, who are managing the telecom tower across the country. There were many open tickets pending long overdue. The company was paying huge penalty to the customers. Submission of bill to the customers was after 120 days, because field technicians were not sending reports on time. There was a huge financial loss. The company was facing tough challenge in Root Cause Analysis (RCA), because all data was manual and non-authentic. So maintaining the telecom site was an expensive proposition. The IT team at ACME developed a mobile application for all field technicians, and the company has distributed tabs among technicians. To optimize the budget, ACME has give the option of BYOD, with 50 percent each cost being borne by the company and technicians. All technicians are paying some amount on monthly basis.
“This project implementation was major until 2016, as it brought a sea-change across the organization, such as real time data, tracking of technicians, and started a new culture of digital workspace in ACME across the globe. In 2016, the company created around 10-12 apps for its employees working in various segments,” informs Kumar.
Further, ACME is now leveraging benefits of IoT in a big way. It has connected all the solar plants, via SCADA, and has implemented central monitoring systems for predictive analysis. ACME has placed sensor devices at all its 40 solar plants to gather and analyze real-time data.
“In 2017, this project will be our focus,” states Kumar.