'Change or Perish'- the New Mantra for CIO

Date:   Wednesday , July 02, 2014

Mahindra & Mahindra Limited (BSE: 500520 | NSE: M&M | ISIN: INE101A01026) is an Indian multinational automobile manufacturing corporation. Headquartered in Mumbai, it is one of the largest vehicle manufacturers by production in India and the largest seller of tractors across the world. The company has the current market cap of Rs. 71,351 crores.

The Indian IT industry has gone through several changes over the past few years. Virtualisation of the Data Centers has resulted in huge savings in terms of cost, space and resources and this will definitely have a long term impact. The internet has moved from \'search\' to \'watch\' mode, signalling the shift from data to voice to video, bringing the internet closer to users. Allied to this is the \'death of distance\' as communication has taken a big leap from chatting to video calling. Innovations like Tele-presence now provide a \'near to real\' experience by virtually eliminating geographical boundaries. The influence of social media on the consumer has also increased exponentially with businesses banking on the same to sell their products and services. This has resulted in a win-win situation for them as well as their consumers. And of course, how can we ignore the rapidly growing area of mobile apps which has helped businesses reach out to a larger customer base.

In terms of technological trends driving the industry at present, I would say analytics and mobility are predominant. Now, users literally have the world at their fingertips as they can work from anywhere, at anytime and on any device. At Mahindra, we are working towards this by leveraging synergies within the Group and creating a uniform customer experience across the Mahindra brand, ensuring a strategic advantage.

We are also gradually moving towards cloud based applications. This is in keeping with the upcoming trend of moving data to the cloud. However, this technology needs to evolve and become more robust. A secured \'network of networks\' is how I see it evolving. Another fast emerging trend is the \'Internet of things\'. Products and services are getting aligned which will result in the evolution of new business models and this could lead to the emergence of new industry sectors, while others may disappear at the click of a mouse.

There are essentially four things that are collectively changing the nature of consumer demand. These include the devices consumers use, high speed connectivity, an intuitive user interface and social media. This implies that businesses must gear up for constant innovation in order to reach the consumer. Essentially, technology will drive the three \'Es\', i.e. Enable to reach the mind of the customer, Enhance the way transactions are carried out and Engender the way business will be conducted.

As CIO of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., I strongly believe that the CIO should align organisational priorities with technological priorities so that as technologies change, a rapid realignment is possible. \'Change or Perish\' is the new mantra for the CIO of today. The technology road map I have charted out for the organisation encompasses \'Healthier, Leaner, Faster & Smarter\' systems and \'Enable, Enhance and Engender\' for the customer and the business.

Our priorities include utilising new technologies to drive new business models in terms of Cloud, Mobile and Big Data. Business models will slowly change, taking \'digital\' into account. A clear example of this is e-commerce. Only by concentrating on \'innovating\' will we shift to a new orbit which will enable us to discover these new models. We are concentrating on delivering the \'Business Value of IT\'.

Keeping myself abreast of the latest advancements in the world of technology also helps in charting out priorities and my team is empowered to act as my \'eyes and ears\' in this regard, though I am there with them on their journey. My advice to them is to \'learn to fail fast and move on\'. Technology will always change at a very rapid pace but our \'IT knowledge bullet train\' traverses faster. I should also mention that at Mahindra, we have a Centre of Excellence or CoE for mobility, analytics and e-commerce which not only has its finger on the pulse of the industry but also anticipates new and emerging trends, evaluating them for the good of the company.

India is well placed on the global technology map but there are several challenges that need to be overcome before we can move to the next level. There is a huge opportunity in the country due to lack of legacy systems, allowing us to leapfrog to new technologies as they emerge. This is evident from the number of internet users India has generated, compared to the rest of the world. Second, as we upgrade to newer technologies, it gets tougher to eliminate older ones. Also, if we have to bring technology to the grass roots level, then State-Center coordination is important. The country may face several challenges on its path to technological development but there is nothing that stands in the way of our progress and in fact, I would say that we are better placed to embrace new technologies as compared to the rest of the world.