Data analytics has helped us in better planning and budgeting

by Shweta Verma    Sep 10, 2013


There aren’t too many organizations in India that are really deploying data analytics in a big way to drive their business decisions. Rajiv Sharaf, CIO, Reliance Infrastructure, explains how analytics helps them be more decisive and effective in their day-to-day operations. Excerpts

Please give us a snapshot of some recent IT initiatives in your organization.

RInfra has taken various IT initiatives like SAP-ISU upgrade, analytics project for O&M function of the distribution business, Enterprise Performance Management Project (EPM) analytics project for road business - Enterprise Road Management System (ERMS).

Could you briefly explain how they have benefited the organization?

These initiatives have helped our organization immensely through better analysis of the data which has helped us take decisive steps to achieve financial and operational excellence in our business.The SAP-ISU upgrade has helped users access SAP through portable devices like PDA and iPAD, mobiles etc, ensure better system performance, improved Single Sign On (SSO) and other security features.The analytics project for O&M function has helped in initiating better planning, budgeting and report consolidation. Analytics for road business and Enterprise Road Management System (ERMS) has helped in better analysis of the potential source of financial leakage, analysis of traffic condition on the lanes of the Toll Plazas for better traffic management. For instance, in case of any abnormality at the lanes, an event is triggered to the process owner so as to initiate timely action for the closure of the same.

CIOs have the arduous task of playing a balancing role between IT and business. How do you approach this?

In the past, business and IT worked in silos as a result most of the enterprise-wide IT software implemented in the manufacturing and utility sector failed as IT did not take the efforts to understand the pain areas of the business and IT software were deployed instead of business solutions.In today’s time most of the CIOs have worked in business and have subsequently moved to IT function hence they have a better understanding of business domain their requirements and pain areas. The blend of business and IT has helped CIOs in providing an appropriate solution. In our organization, to have better understanding of business, our IT team has deployed an IT relationship officer who interacts with the IT council, the IT council is the representation from business and O&M which takes the inputs from the end-users and initiate the discussion with the IT relationship officer. The practice has helped the organization immensely as there is better coordination between the business and IT and IT is driven by business and not the other way round.

How has the role of the CIO evolved over the years?

The role of a CIO has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past couple of years. Earlier the key role of the CIO role was only to provide the technology to enable business. However, now the CIO is required to understand the business, its pain points, competitive scenarios and provide technology based solution to the business. So what we see now is that, the role of the CIO has evolved from that of an enabler to that of a critical partner.

What are some of the major IT-related challenges that enterprises have to face today?

Most of the organizations around the globe have been deploying enterprise-wide applications in their businesses. However, solution providers had developed standard modules in their applications which did not cater to the requirement of the industry/organization. As a result, organizations had to customize the solutions as per their business requirements, adding complexity in implementing Enterprise Architecture solutions.Going forward, technology/solution providers should have uniformity of processes across sector/industry so that minimum customization is required while implementing the solution. This process shall also be helpful to organizations when new software versions of the same applications are released by the solution providers thus facilitating the adaptability while implementing the solution for their businesses.

With CXOs across different functions becoming more tech savvy, how has it affected the CIO’s role?

Nowadays, CXOs are more tech savvy and understand IT better. As a result they are able to clearly define the business challenges and their expectations from the IT perspective. Hence, I would rather say that they do not compete with the CIO but complement the CIO’s role.