CIO – The Change Agent and Business Enabler

Rajesh Dutta
Chief Information Officer
Usha Martin Ltd

CIO – The Change Agent and Business Enabler

Rajesh Dutta
Chief Information Officer at
Usha Martin Ltd

Today, there is a new chair in the boardrooms of corporations across the world. For the CIO. The transition from Management Information Systems (MIS) to earning their place in the boardroom, underscores the role of technology in changing the role of the CIO.

That said, with the pandemic still at large, today’s CIO has to be the one that ushers in change. As Rajesh settles into the role of CIO at Usha Martin Limited, one of the world’s largest wire rope manufacturers, he reflects on the evolution of the CIO from a business perspective.

 

 

And this shift in perception has not come easy, as he notes how education has been one of the biggest tasks he has had over the years as he strived to help business operations succeed. Managing stakeholders, educating them on why change is needed, and why it is needed now, is one of the biggest challenges that CIOs around the world face. Needless to say, while most organizations have undergone a change, developed IT infrastructure, adopted technologies, implemented applications, and so much more. But how much of this change has the organization adopted? It is in the adoption rate and reach of change that is a true testament to the skill and prowess of a CIO.

As businesses grapple with the aftermath of the global pandemic, Rajesh says the role of technology in improving productivity, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness will only increase. But there are considerations to be made:

  • CIOs need to understand their ecosystem, and their organization’s appetite for technology adoption and change, and tailor their IT vision and roadmap to work alongside their efforts to educate the leadership and build awareness.
  • Building, maintaining, and upgrading the infrastructure is crucial for businesses irrespective of the industry vertical. Especially for manufacturing industries, identifying the right infrastructure is the first step to technology adoption.
  • Security is the biggest threat to businesses adopting new technologies as with each new technology comes its own security considerations. But he also sees that businesses have been adequately sensitized on the need for security, and readily allocate budgets for all proposals pertaining to security.
  • Cloud will remain the norm for all businesses looking to adapt to the New Normal. Rajesh believes that identifying appropriate solutions based on Public, Private, and Hybrid cloud models and choosing the right partner for implementation is key to the success in allowing employees to access the necessary applications, resources, and infrastructure to perform their functions.
  • While the Internet of Things and smart factories are buzz words, he believes that getting the corporate network right is a precursor to a successful implementation of smart factory solutions.
  • Data – how it is gathered and how it is used will dictate the successful businesses from the rest.

“The Cloud journey is inevitable. Whether you are a manufacturer, utility, or any other business, accessibility of critical applications and infrastructure is of paramount importance in the light of the pandemic.”

In order to maintain harmony between corporate operations and manufacturing facilities, it is important that businesses consider modernizing their applications such as ERP solutions, collaboration tools, and infrastructure, while also adopting a cloud journey to allow the remote workforce to function efficiently and productively. Modernization of applications and infrastructure also presents opportunities for digital journeys such as Digital Marketing, facilitating an improved connect with customers, and increasing the business’ ability to target their customers.

While these opportunities exist, Rajesh insists that identifying sponsors and convincing stakeholders of the business case for change is one of the most crucial functions of the CIO. Especially in the case of transformational journeys such as Cloud, gathering consensus and acceptance from stakeholders is only the first step. While choosing the right strategy, and the right pace of transformation is crucial, it is equally important for the organization to also evolve alongside.

The finest example, Rajesh says is how businesses generate and consume data. In his journey, he has discovered that educating the leadership on how critical data-driven decisions are, and how the business can benefit from them. Consequently, he looks at Enterprise IT modernization and stability to be the pre-requisite for Industrial IT.

With studies showing that almost half of the global workforce may continue working remotely even after the impact of the pandemic dissipates, Rajesh says the organizational culture needs to align with the new normal.

Drawing from an experience in implementing SD-WAN solutions at his previous organization, Rajesh realized that while adoption was a challenge, when people at all levels of the organization saw operations running smoothly in the wake of the pandemic, adoption automatically increased.

 

 

Building a culture of adoption of new and emerging technology is the very basis for long-term success for businesses. As CIOs, we hope for the best but have to prepare for the worst, planning for business continuity, disaster recovery, and relevance in the light of disruptions, like the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown presented.

Due to the catastrophic impact the pandemic has, it has now become easy for CIOs to justify the investment and budgetary allocation for IT Transformation. Rajesh says that while the leadership and the different levels of the organization now are more open to adopting new technologies so long as the CIOs can provide appropriate business cases and examples addressing how technology can transform the business, and how it justifies the cost implications. What is equally important is the prioritization of the different phases of this journey. Rajesh explains how by prioritizing transformation based on the immediacy of the need, and the imminence of measurable, tangible results will drive both adoptions, as well as investments. This way, change can become sustainable, and continuous, allowing for the business to remain agile and ready to capitalize on opportunities in the future.

Rajesh believes that while cutting-edge technology such as AI, ML, Cloud, and Smart Factories are key things CIOs should watch out for in the future, the cultural shift in the post-pandemic situation is the bigger takeaway. Even with manufacturing businesses, as much as 70% of the work can be performed remotely. With software-defined data centers, software-defined networks, and other infrastructure, the need for physical presence has diluted and made way for virtual collaboration.

This is the right time for automation to play its part in transformation journeys. As long as you can secure your environment and have the necessary infrastructure to adopt new technologies, the road ahead is merely a question of choosing the right journey, strategy, and plan for your organization.

CIO PROFILE
Rajesh Dutta
CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER
USHA MARTIN LTD

Rajesh joined Usha Martin amid the global pandemic for good reason. His experience spanning close to a quarter of a century touches upon the different facets of IT, from hardware to software, and from solutions to strategies. With a broad mindset focused on striking the right balance between IT and Stakeholder value, Rajesh takes a pragmatic approach to his role as the Chief Information Officer, where he believes his principal role is educating stakeholders in the cost and value of IT. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering from NIT, Hamirpur.