Cross-domain career shift tips for CIOs

Pravin Savant, the new CTO of advertising agency Lowe Lintas Pvt. Ltd. has varied experience across industry verticals with stints in companies like Star India Pvt Ltd, Godrej Industries Ltd and Ballarpur Industries Ltd. Savant shares his IT plans for Lowe Lintas.

Pravin Savant, CTO, Lowe Lintas
Pravin Savant, CTO, Lowe Lintas From television to advertising is quite a domain shift. What is the reason behind joining Lowe Lintas?
If you look at my profile, you will observe that I have worked with different industries in various roles. I was with Star India for four years, which is one of the biggest media companies in India. Lintas gave me an opportunity to be at the other side of the table. At Star, we were the content creators while at Lintas we buy content. So I thought that it was a great opportunity for me to gain a 360 degree view of the entire value chain. Additionally, Lowe Lintas is part of a huge multinational company, which helps me to utilize my knowledge at a larger platform. Can you share your experience on the kind of challenges generally faced by a CIO when he joins a new organization?
Technology is largely similar across organizations. So at a CIO level, the challenge is not limited to only technology as such. It is a common platform where you work with same the vendors for hardware, connectivity and applications. So I do not see too many challenges as far as the technical shift is concerned.

Understanding the people aspect and aligning yourself with the business can be a much bigger challenge. The CIO should take efforts to know stakeholders well and gel smoothly with his new team. Getting familiar to a particular environment where you have to adjust with the users, business stakeholders, and the existing technology infrastructure is more of a challenging job. How did you cope with the change in industry domains?
Of all my moves, advertising is the closest to my earlier domain. Shifting from one domain to another increases excitement and interest. Coming from a different domain has its advantages. You are stuck with set thought processes once you spend significant time in a particular domain. Shaking off these mindsets can become quite difficult. This way, lack of domain expertise helps you keep an open mind to adopt the new corporate setup.

You are stuck with set thought processes if you spend significant time in a domain. Shaking off these mindsets can become quite difficult. So coming from a different domain has its advantages.
, Can you tell us about the existing IT infrastructure at Lowe Lintas?
Currently, we have about 20 people in the in-house IT team. Apart from this, we have outsourced a few activities; if include these people, the team strength can go up to 55 people. As far as IT infrastructure is concerned, we have our own data center at Lower Parel, Mumbai. As a multinational company, we have access to multiple data centers across the globe. So we host our applications with data centers from U.S. and U.K. We also make use of different skill sets, which are available in Hong Kong, China, U.K. and New York. Apart from this, we outsource different activities. For example, almost 75% of application development is outsourced, and infrastructure management is outsourced to the extent of 40%. Core business applications are completely managed by our in-house team. We have SAP as a backbone, and several Microsoft SharePoint-based applications. Going forward, what are the future IT initiatives that you have in mind for Lowe Lintas?
We are looking at a significant revamp for the entire IT architecture, which is planned to happen in the next 12 to 18 months. As part of this plan, we want to introduce business process management solutions. We are also facilitating the usage of collaboration and knowledge management, which is a priority. We will conduct several customer-focused activities, as we plan to come up with an important customer relationship management initiative. A significant amount of investment has been allocated on the IT front. I will not be in a position to reveal the exact numbers, but as a percentage of our revenue, it will be amongst the highest in the industry.

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