CIO Can Wear Multiple Hats To Stay Relevant

by Swaminathan B    Mar 31, 2017


Toyota Financial Services India Limited (TFSIN), the Indian subsidiary of Toyota Corporation (TFSC), which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation(TMC) Japan, provides financial services to customers wanting to buy Toyota vehicles. Given the nature of its business, the company is influenced by both automobile and financial services industries - both of these are highly technology driven. Hence, the organization thrives on IT implementation and innovation. For example, TFSIN recently implemented disaster recovery [DR-as-a-Service] solution to ensure robust business continuity and trimmed down the company’s operational expenses by 35%.

These and other technological innovations are spearheaded by Harish Sharma, Head-IT at TFSIN. Sharma, recipient of several prestigious awards and accolades, is one of the few CIOs in India who enjoys wearing multiple hats. He heads not just the IT operations of the company, but also shoulders responsibilities of HR and administration with equal zeal.  

In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Harish Sharma - Group Vice President, Head - IT, HR & Admin - Toyota Financial Services (TFS) India, discusses his organization’s IT infrastructure, challenges of donning multiple roles and the possible investments the company is planning over the next one year.

- CXO Today: What are the ways the role of IT Head in an automobile financing enterprise differ from traditional finance firms?

Harish Sharma: The main objective of an automobile financing enterprise, especially when it’s a captive one, revolves around customer experience, convenience and retention. So, a clear understanding of various customer touch points and providing solutions to make that a delightful experience would be key.

- CXO Today: You hold multiple positions in the organization. What are the top three challenges you face and how the CIO role helps you to excel in other areas?

Harish Sharma: I enjoy wearing multiple hats. However, I would like to highlight challenges such as time management, the ability to switch across HR and IT topics seamlessly and keeping up the motivation of the team members. While I’ve tried my level best to mitigate these challenges and have done to a great extent, it is still a work in progress especially on the time management front.

Being a person with an IT background, service management and project management skills come very naturally. These skills have helped me immensely in my role to manage various initiatives/activities within HR and Admin domains

- CXO Today: How is your organization is digitized to support the digital economy? 

Harish Sharma: As an organization, we are taking steps to move towards digital especially from customer touchpoints. Fortunately, demonetization did not impact us adversely and were able to wither the storm very quickly. But what it did was to bring back the focus and urgency of transforming our business processes using digital technologies.


Toyota Financial Services

- CXO Today: Could you tell us about any recent tech implementation in the organization?

Harish Sharma: Given the nature of business, our company is influenced by both automobile and financial services industries - both of these are highly technology driven. For example, it has recently implemented [disaster recovery] DR-as-a-Service to ensure robust business continuity and managed to trim down the company’s operational expenses close to 35%. The solution we designed along with our partner ensured that not only our recovery objectives were met but also at a fraction of our datacenter cost. 

CXO Today: How does your IT team simplify the lives of business partners and customers on a day to day basis?

Harish Sharma: IT plays a major role in our business. In fact, it is the backbone on which our business processes are managed. Its imperative that the IT team is always on its toes to ensure there is no or minimal disruptions to business. Apart from ensuring availability of IT services, the IT team also focuses on ensuring IT becomes a true enabler to business in solving their operational challenges on a day to day basis, as well as meeting strategic objectives and finally enhance customer experience and delight them.

- CXO Today: What would be the top IT spends of your organization over the next one year?

Harish Sharma: Apart from the usual ‘run-the-business’ expenses, we foresee notable investments in digital and analytical solutions in the coming months.