IFFCO Undertakes a Complete Digital Journey

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 23, 2017


In a world where constant advances in technology and digital ubiquities are shaping the business landscape, the only way for enterprises to survive is by embracing and managing the change.The Indian Farmers Fertilizers Co-operative Limited or IFFCO, one of India’s small scale fertilizer cooperative federation realized this mantra early on in its digital journey. With around 40,000 co-operative societies as members and almost 5 crore as farmer base, it recently bagged the best co-operative award by UNESCO for its sheer sustainability and successfully undertaking the digital path, which several others may not thnk of treading.

The 50-year old entity that has always been ahead in matter of technological advances, has recently come up with a mobile apps, which knits the entire IFFCO employees including 5500 into one group. Developed in house, it is a breakthrough into the era of mobile apps, M R Patel, Director of IT services told CXOToday, explaining the latest tech initiatives of IIFCO and throwing light on its digital efforts in the course of its journey.

Bringing farmers under the same roof

The mobile app has been designed support IFFCO Bazar, a brand name of IFFCO eBazar Limited, whose aim is to provide all agricultural inputs under one roof. In each store the products and services of IFFCO and its subsidiaries will be sold and made available to the farmers, according to him.

“The new app would enable us to connect to each other at IFFCO without having to remember one’s phone number or e-mail address on the go as you can still find out all the details through your smart phone with the help to this app,” Patel explained detailing the features of the app. “In this we would aim to have everything from leave application to leave sanction to different stages of work under one roof,” he stated.

Patel informed that the App was developed using Oracle technology which enables speedy finalization of mobile Apps. It also operates simultaneously across platforms- Android, Windows or iOS.

Apart from buying and selling, members can share knowledge and best practices of farming with other fellow farmers. “We have this running in 12 languages providing instant information in agriculture and related information,” he added.


The digital journey

While in IFFCO, there are a number of more such initiatives and a rigorous approach to work and explore newest technologies, Patel said, IT has always played a very important role at the organization. He recalled, “We started this IT journey way back in 2000, when we implemented a number of applications for the welfare of the farmers as that’s our primary objective.”

In 2003 the company deployed an HRMS to streamline its system. 2007 we went for marketing application E-Vikas. In 2010 with a view to build a dynamic IT infrastructure, the cooperative implemented ERP solutions from Oracle. It selected IBM’s robust hardware platform including IBM’s Power 6 P570 servers and DS 8700 Storage, TS 3310 Tape Library for their server and storage requirements to run its ERP application.

 “We rolled out Oracle e-business suite (ERP) in the area of finance and materials with seamless integration with other legacy business applications and saw remarkable results.

Of the various other initiatives by IIFCO, Patel said, over the past years, the company upgraded its Data Center in Delhi with latest P8 Series Servers, Flash Storage and San Switches. It has set up a Disaster Recovery (DR) Site at its tier-IV Data Centre in Hyderabad with Recovery Point Objective (RPO) of 10 Min and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) of 2 hour. The company also supports extensive usage of Video conferencing nationally and internationally.

“We also explored the option when Oracle came out with a new technology called ADF.  We rolled out almost fifteen workflow applications using latest ADF Technology. Now we are converting most of the applications at least the legacy side to ADF where, programming is thin and response time is excellent,” maintained Patel.


ERP on cloud

In no time, the company realized, since its key application is ERP, implementing the Oracle ERP Cloud system would help in more ways than one. As IIFCO already had a familiarity with Oracle, we felt it would lead to easier migration, less costs and reduced risk – embedded disaster recovery and security. The solution also comes with strong analytical capabilities, mobile device access and improved Master Data Management.

Going forward, the company will host a chunk of its IT infrastructure on cloud as Patel has set a timeline of 2020 for that to happen.

IT is a rigorous process

The organization has also implemented Biometrics Attendance Recording System in Plants, Corporate office and regional Offices. While today the IFFCO Sadan, the company’s headquarter in New Delhi’s Saket Place is Wi-Fi enabled, it has introduce some of the state-of-the-art infrastructure such as rolling out a Cooperative Information Portal for member Cooperative Societies, sending promotional and stock availability SMS in Hindi to farmers by field staff and launching IEBT web portal for IFFCO retired employees.

Patel’s message to budding CIOs is that they should keep track of all the new technologies in the market and educate themselves with these latest technologies. Only then he would understand to set up a seamless IT infrastructure, with whom to partner and what will be the gain from a specific technology. With proper knowledge of the business and technology, the CIO’s role today is redundant, and this is the rule the IT team diligently follows at IIFCO, Patel summed up with a smile.

[The interview was conducted at the Oracle OpenWorld Event 2017 in New Delhi]