Johny Paramian, Executive Vice President and Group CIO, GMR Group
The shift in thinking of the leadership teams within organizations from 'Cost Cutting' to 'Raising Productivity' and 'Enhancing value' has been gaining momentum over the years. Information Technology has a key role in raising productivity across layers of an organization and also in enhancing value of products and services. Today, Information Technology is the repository of processes and also information pertaining to the various realms/functions within the enterprise. Typically, in most organizations, Information Technology is deployed and is made available. However, in several enterprises IT may not be fully leveraged in the manner it should be in business processes.
Some of the ways in which enterprises can use Information Technology resources and capabilities to improve productivity and enhance value are detailed below. These possibilities are presented in the increasing order of newness of manifestation in enterprises:
• E-enablement of Processes - This is the progressive adoption of technology across functions of an enterprise. It involves shifting of manual processes to system based automation. An example would be the automation of administrative processes such as airline ticket and hotel room-booking.
• Riding on Workflow Automation - Automation of business work flows in conjunction with effective metrics along with a mature governance mechanism ensure the speeding up of cycle times. Shorter cycle time means that more work is achieved using the same team size during the same measure of time. An example would be the implementation of approval processes in line with the Delegation of Powers. This ensures that there are no delays in obtaining approvals, particularly from those in the higher echelons of hierarchy within an organization.
• Leverage the Power of Aggregation -Move repetitive and predictable work from in-house to outsourcing agencies (Business Process Outsourcing). In other words, ensure smart outsourcing across domains of the business using the Information Technology resources of the enterprise. This would raise productivity particularly when those external resources have the skill sets to perform those tasks better than the in-house resources. Needless to say that effective controls and security mechanisms are built in to ensure prevention and/or detection of fraud. An example would be the whole chain of processes from 'procure to pay'.
• Breaking the Traditional Time Barrier - Businesses need not be constrained by normal working times. For example, web and mobile app based retail (Flipkart, Amazon, etc) are all very familiar to us. Most times the current generation only buys goods and services online. In fact, this is something that is almost taken for granted. There is a great thrust even from the government to provide various citizen related services online. Online banking has already been around for some time now. These are just a couple of real life examples to support this paradigm shift of several services that can be rendered over the IT backbone and accessed from anywhere using several form factors (Laptop, Tablet, Smartphone, etc).
• Look at Things from the Viewpoint of the Individual - Enhance value of products and services by making it for an individual's requirement. Customized service tailored to the specific wants of an individual is the new mantra. This enhances the value of the product or service several folds. Today, with the smart use of Internet of Things, several things can be achieved which in yester years was not even in the horizon of dreams. An example could be the real time promotional offer streamed to a customer who is window gazing at a retail store in a mall. The information relating to the customers buying preferences along with the ability to track the customer is the key to this.
I have highlighted some of the possibilities in increasing productivity and enhancing value. Infinite options exist within enterprises. There are some fundamental issues to be addressed before one can harness these options:
• Business would need to articulate the challenges that need to be addressed
• Information Technology would need to be perceived as partners in arriving at solutions to the business challenges
• Implementation should be spearheaded by business leaders
• Change management should be part of the implementation process
• 'Value creation'/'Productivity Improvement' should not be lost sight off
• Innovation should be part of the journey