Digitization of Business Processes Drives Change in IT

Sunil Kumar Soni, CIO, Ester Industries Limited | Wednesday, 14 May 2014, 05:35 IST
Headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana, BSE listed Ester Industries Limited is a manufacturer of polyester films and engineering plastic compounds. The company was founded in 1984.
Information Technology (IT) has been around for decades now, growing in importance and expanse. As technological advances continue to change the world and dazzle users, IT departments are gradually redefining their roles, moving out of the backroom and placing themselves right at the centre of corporate strategy. IT departments in many non-tech firms have traditionally been hidden away, ensuring essential processes and functions such as payrolls, supply chains, and other infrastructure upgrades, which are implemented in a timely and cost effective manner. This digitization of business processes is an ongoing function; a shift to flexible, pay-as-you-go, smart technology makes sure there is plenty still going on in the back office. The more significant change driving the evolution of IT departments, however, is coming from the demands for digitization from every corner of a company. From digital campaigns for the marketing department to more intuitive customer connections for the sales team, the IT department is now positioned to identify and grasp digital opportunities for a company to put on use. With many of its functions ascending to the cloud, corporate IT has the bandwidth, foresight and experience to work with various department heads to ensure a secure digital evolution of the organization while keeping an eye on the well-oiled backend IT machine that keeps it all going.
There are numerous options for organizations with even the most archaic infrastructure to successfully transform into more technologically sound, flexible and cost effective businesses. A commitment from the CXOs towards making these advances and the recognition of IT as one of the most important drivers of success, go a long way in determining and implementing a technology strategy customized to the needs of the business. Pay-as-you-go models have made implementation easier than it has ever been before. When it comes to choosing the right partners, companies today have their pick from the big, global names to small niche vendors. It is up to the IT departments to collaborate with business unit heads and ask the all-important questions to determine the company's specific needs like what do they want your technology to do that it is not doing today, are any capabilities missing from their current infrastructure and what business results should the technology drive?
CIOs' Looking Glass
Over the past few years, the CIOs have seen a number of disruptive technologies seep into the enterprise all at once. This fundamental shift in technology has given rise to a unique set of challenges for IT leaders. With the increasing migration to web-based applications, the infiltration of employee devices, and adoption of unsanctioned personal clouds, the first big challenge for CIOs is securing devices and data that are increasingly beyond the control of the IT section. While it is impossible to completely eliminate all threats in this new IT environment, the idea should be to develop a structured, easy-to-implement plan that takes into account all aspects of security. This plan will provide a roadmap to integrating new technologies into the enterprise as securely as possible. For instance, while controlling individual devices is a losing battle, it is very much possible to grant users access to the data they need via web apps that do not store data on the device itself. 
The idea is to address these issues by understanding the needs of employees and offering them a safer alternative as opposed to just telling them all the things they cannot do. Big data is another challenge to the CIOs to effectively convert into a key success driver with the right tools. According to industry sources, 90 percent of all data in the world has been generated over the past two years. Businesses are generating more data than ever before but many are struggling with filtering and mining this data to make informed short and long term business decisions. Success with big data boils down to the right tools, and there are plenty to choose from. IT leaders will find all kinds of Business Intelligence (BI) software aimed at helping them get the most out of their data. In addition, CIOs will continue to find ways to deal with the more traditional challenges of balancing legacy applications with evolving operating systems and enabling integration across platforms. Solutions will be increasingly geared towards delivering growth-based capabilities as opposed to being limited to process improvement for operational efficiency. 
The Indian manufacturing industry is undergoing a gradual but game-changing transformation; competitive pressure has forced the industry to find ways to overcome the bureaucratic and infrastructural challenges that have long plagued local businesses and prevented foreign investment. Organizations are now being run in a global environment by well-educated, professional business heads. As a result, the industry is seeing effective implementation of internationally proven management strategies geared towards ensuring quality while maximizing productivity. Businesses are investing in their employees and giving a preference to customers. These new management models have led to a technical and cultural evolution of the industry. Companies are analyzing and overhauling production processes to ensure efficient operations and product quality. Culturally, companies are moving towards a collaborative approach to innovation as opposed to the traditional top-down model that restricted creative thinking. 


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