How Shalimar Paints Is Weaving Its Digital Story

by B Swaminathan    Nov 21, 2017

Ashok Jade

Shalimar Paints is India’s oldest paint company, with a century-long legacy and rich heritage. Established in 1902, this iconic paint-maker is also a pioneer in the field of paints and coatings. With digital initiatives disrupting all the industries, the paint industry is also not an exemption. In an exclusive conversation with CXOToday, Ashok Jade, CIO-Shalimar Paints, explains the company’s digital journey. 

CXOToday: What are the digital initiatives have been taken in your company?

Jade: Shalimar Paints is first paint company In South East Asia and we are 115 years old. India’s Iconic structures like the house of the President of India, Howrah Bridge, Ram-Sethu are painted with colors of Shalimar Paints. We have strong R&D and foundation for Industrial Paints and our paint is being used in Indian Railway Coaches, Maharashtra State Traveller buses, Best Buses in Mumbai soon. Paint Industry is transforming from Product to Service. Paint is no more an only product. It is offered as service… Paint companies are offering complete painting solution includes Paints Material, Painting, and Decorating House, Stencilling and many, that to hassle-free. In such new business model, the role of CIO and Information technology is very critical. We have to match requirements of new business model for business growth.

Some of the key initiatives taken by IT recently in Shalimar Paints are:

Influencer Management thru which all we have connected all our around 15000+ Painter on Mobile App… Painter database, their reward, sales team engagement with them etc etc, everything is being tracked through Mobile App which is helping us to push secondary sale…

Another key project is – “Empower” which is our Mobile App for Sales force team… Our 350+ field sales team which is on move is connected through this application. Their field visit tracking, order, collection, inventory, target and achievements, product catalogue, everything is being managed through mobile app IT has made sure Zero dependency of Sales team on back-office. Next key project in the pipeline is Business Intelligence—BI which is fully equipped to give around 50+ Analysis of Sales, Inventory, Collections, and Outstanding in Market, Returns so on… Fasted, accurate and data driven decision is the culture we built thru BI in Shalimar Paints…

In short, IT Team is most proactive and agile to deliver things for business growth.

CXOToday: According to you what are the key factors for success of Digital Transformation of Organisation?

Ashok: We need to understand Digital Transformation is journey and it’s not a destination, so you need to start this early…

I suggest the following success mantra:

First Mantra is:: Start Early - Learn Early - Fail Early - Restart Early.

Just think, what the reason now a days big companies are afraid of Start-ups. What is the reason all big companies are taking over or investing in Start-up? Take an example of PayTM, why big investor is pumping money in it. Because Start-ups are Agile, Innovative, Early starter and they learn — re-learn and de-learn very quickly. And the same principal IT and CIO should adopt in Digital Transformation of Organisation.

Another Mantra is: Digital Transformation being journey, take baby steps rather than big-bang approach. When you take baby steps, then risk of failure is lesser, and even if you fail, losses are minimal and you can correct the mistakes quickly.

The third important factor for IT and CIO is - be in market, don’t sit in AC Cabin and wait someone will come to discuss ideas with you. 

Keep regular update and touch of market and competitors… Observe - Learn - Implement. This is the way to go for successful Digital Transformation.

CXOToday: How do you identify IT Initiatives? What all points to be focused for successful implementation and business value?

Ashok: Engagement is key of ideation and successful implementation. CIO must understand his business well… if you fail to understand business model and current challenge, you can’t be leader of Digital Transformation of your organisation.

CIO will understand problem and expectations only when they will have formal and regular engagement with CXO and functional heads… after this, you being technology icon can generate idea to solve problem and meet expectations.

Don’t speak technical terms and jargon with any of CXO or functional head. Speak business language which is the best way for internal selling of idea. Another important factor for successful implementation is your Team. Build high performing and dedicated Team… 

Carefully segregate work to be done by your team and to be outsource. Identify good and committed partner and make sure partner also have skilled and dedicated resources. If you fail to do this then your project is on risk. Do the proper engagement with all stake holders before rollout of project. Training and change management is one of the key factor to be considered.

Lastly, Share the credit with all concerned stake holders. Don’t try to grab entire credit of success…

CXOToday: Finally, what is your advice to CIOs and IT Heads who are eager to start their Digital transformation journey?

Ashok: I would suggest, start early. If you don’t start, somebody else will do it and you will be on back seat by that time. Don’t be afraid of failure, it is going to happen…  note that some of your projects are bound to fail… What matters in the end is, how quickly you learn and restart. Don’t ignore the early signal of failure to minimise risk of failure.