We Cannot Dispute IT Dependency: Atul Punj

by Manu Sharma    May 28, 2009

Atul Punj is the chairman of Punj Lloyd Group, a global EPC firm. A graduate in commerce from Delhi University, Atul joined the family business at the age of 22. Under his chairmanship, Punj Lloyd has grown into a world-class organization with operations in the Middle East, the Caspian, Asia Pacific, Africa, South Asia, Europe, and China. Atul still remains a hands-on manager of the Punj Lloyd Group.

Atul is known for his drive to get results, strengthen client relationships and develop strategic plans to enhance a company’s competitiveness. He had a clear vision of seeing his company as one among the top five construction companies in the world. Today, Punj Lloyd enjoys a leadership position in the industry, and it has an impressive list of both international and national clients. In an interview with Manu Sharma, Punj discusses the major role IT has played in monitoring all Punj Lloyd projects, and how his company leverages IT for business innovation.

What are the key factors that impact your industry? How are you as a company responding to these challenges?

The key factor that impacts our industry is the government. Infrastructure cannot exit without the help of the government. It makes no sense to think that the private sector can replace the government in this space. It is impossible.

What has been the impact of the meltdown on your business? How are you coping with the current recessionary business climate?

We have seen no slowdown in India or at least no slowdown in the tenders so far. I know many organizations in this space that have been impacted. But what has been impacting us is the banks’ ability to fund this industry. Some banks are on a liquidity crunch and so that has impacted our industry. This has led to slow development in the infrastructure space.

Over the last 10 years large enterprises have automated their business processes and increased their efficiency by deploying IT, what has been your experience in this regard?

IT is very important for any infrastructure company. In fact, Punj Lloyd is a very diverse group and is presently working on 80 odd projects in 19 countries. There is no way that one can monitor all these projects without proper IT in place. It helps us monitor all these projects on a regular basis.  

Technology is very critical for the infrastructure industry. It has changed the way we work today. It helps us identify new projects and track materials and also helped in sustainability. So we cannot dispute that we are totally dependent on IT.

Do you think IT can be leveraged for business innovations or is it only a tool that aids business operations?

IT is leveraged for business innovation on a 24X7 basis, but it is not our core business but a function. All information, statistics, analytics come from tools made available to our employees across the globe through IT. So, we use it as an enabler that constantly provides us information.

What are your expectations from the CIO/IT department?

Our IT department provides shared services across the whole organization. They ensure that information is accurate, timely and that the analytics we want to see is present to us as and when needed.

Are you a gadget-savvy? What are the gadgets you use?

I use a laptop besides my Blackberry and also Oracle EPR for my data.