Innovation is the Core of Business: Adi Godrej

by Sonal Desai    Jan 15, 2009

Adi Godrej, the chairman of Godrej Group of Industries, is a man of many interesting facets. As an entrepreneur he has been responsible for restructuring and modernizing his entire group and moving away from family hegemony that inflicts so many family-owned businesses in India. For instance, he has chosen CEOs from outside his family to head his various group companies.

He undertook a complete overhaul of his businesses and instilled new processes at a time when most" companies were resistant to change and saw any disruptive change as a threat to their business.

Despite being a regular name in the Forbes list of some of the richest people in the world, Adi’s core values have remained middle class. This has allowed both his personal brand and his business to have a connect with people.

Adi is also a businessman whose tech-savvy and personal interest in technology adoption has benefited his business immensely and added that bit of dynamism to the Indian FMCG industry. Excerpts from the interview.

How is Godrej Group positioned vis-a-vis the Industry today?

We are in many businesses. We will continue to expand in the B2B segment, and our major areas of growth are the FMCG and property divisions. We are growing at a faster rate then the competition in the FMCG market. In the property market, there is a huge scope for all players to grow. It is a vast market with huge growth potential.

How important has technology been in Godrej’s business transformation and expansion initiatives?

We deployed ERP more than a decade ago to connect with vendors and customers. Today, the ERP covers all modules even the HRD. We further expanded the scope in customer relationship by bringing CRM online. With eCRM, we have taken it a step forward. We refresh the technology regularly. From an MFG Pro ERP ten years ago to SAP, we have come a long way.

While you have an in-house IT organization and a group company which is into IT, why is it that you outsourced your IT architecture to an external vendor?

Recently Godrej Industries and our consumer division outsourced their IT architecture to HP. Each division/group works independently, and so the decisions were also independent. All the same, each department has a different skill set. We wanted to benchmark and balance those.

In your view, how important is the role of a CIO in the organization? And what are your expectations from the CIO?

Very important. However, he is not a business strategist, a CEO is responsible. CIO is a part of the business strategy team, and is a part of the business decisions. It should be understood that technology does not dictate business, business dictates technology. A business should be able to leverage technology. BI is also a very important tool to understand customer behaviour. Information is collected and used well. However, technology modules cannot be the center of business. Innovation in products and processes are at the center of any business.

Where do you envision Godrej Industries in the next five years?

We will grow at 25-30 per cent, of which 15-20% per cent will be through organic growth, and the rest will be inorganic through mergers and acquisitions.

Personally, are you fond of gadgets?

No. I only use the email and occasionally access the internet." I have a Blackberry Bold as a personal tool. I do not have a laptop. I work on a desktop.