Biz Alignment Is CIO's Top Priority Always

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 09, 2015


Manoranjan Kumar, CIO of Shree Cement is known in the industry for making large-scale business innovation with IT. With over 25 years of experience in information technology, Kumar has spearheaded several important projects with various organizations and won several prestigious awards and accolades to his credit, including the recent CIOKlub-BSE IT award.

A Master of Science in computer science from Pt. Ravishankar University, and MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur, Kumar believes IT-business alignment plays the most critical part in an organization – which goes on to determine the success and failure of an enterprise. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Kumar discusses his journey as CIO, path to IT-business alignment and tips for budding CIOs. Excerpt.

- Please tell us about your journey as a CIO.

I started as systems executive at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in 1987 and was in-charge of capturing and entering the flight landing and take-off data in the system for the billing purpose. Thereafter, I moved to various senior IT positions in companies like Samtel Color, Rockwell Automation and Dalmia Industries.

I joined Shree Cements in 2013, driving IT operations, IT security and infrastructure management at the corporate, regional and marketing offices.

Prior to that, I was CIO at Kanoria Chemicals & Industries, responsible for ERP implementation for their manufacturing plant in Ethiopia, and was also responsible for IT management and SAP ERP management at the Delhi office. I’ve also worked as IT Head at Lanco Group for 5 years, handling SAP implementation for its power, real estate and construction verticals, connecting all group companies over MPLS for voice, SAP and video conferencing.

- What are some of the biggest challenges in the manufacturing industry today? How can CIOs help overcome those challenges?

There are a number of challenges in the manufacturing industry that affect the CIOs. I would say, unpredictable market conditions, poor infrastructure and also issues related to the real estate are issues that impacts cement manufacturing entities, which require an efficient logistics system.

Secondly, in the manufacturing sector, the alignment between IT and business is often lacking. This gap in business-IT alignment can often be attributed to poor communication, which in turn affects the way projects are managed. Quite simply, the IT alignment plan needs to have a business metric, not an IT metric of delivery of application.

Most importantly, the right implementation of technology to get business insights matters in sectors like ours, where automation can save 6-7 hours of turnaround time for each project. Here what becomes important is that the CIO should be able to map those tools to suit the business needs.

- What are the key tech priorities for your organization this year?

We have been experimenting with three key technology projects for this financial year. We are implementing Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Dashboard, which will help senior executives in exploring the different styles of analytics to resolve their business imperatives. With an increased emphasis on metrics management and the growing use of performance management, this kind of solution becomes a need. Going forward, we are also planning to implement big data for the business use. Further, we are coming up with a mobile application for marketing and logistics department to automate the system and reduce overhead cost.

- Can you please explain ‘the one important decision’ that made a difference to your organization.

I was given the project to implement Integrated Logistics Management System (ILMS) at Shree cements. The company was facing a turnaround delay from vehicle that carry material within the plant to go out from the plant. The process being manual, a lot of data integrity issues were taking place. There was need to automate the entire system, which we did and it resulted in a lot of time and cost saving. For example, earlier document verification and issuing token was taking around 30 minutes for each vehicle. Once the vehicle was registered and RFID tag given, every vehicle was identified through RFID tag. With automation, the vehicle time was reduced to 10-20 second as against 15-20 minutes in the manual weighing process. This is one area where the company benefited a lot.

- What’s your advice to aspiring CIOs?

As business technology goes through a fundamental shift, the role of the CIO is changing. In the coming years, CIOs will face newer challenges and take on new roles. The most successful CIOs are those that recognize and adapt to these changes.  I would advise every IT manager to have a good understanding and awareness of the market, business operation. They should work towards aligning IT and business, map the right tool to help their organization and identify solutions only when those suit the business needs.