Technology driven makeover for Usha International

Usha International, a vintage consumer products brand is currently undergoing a makeover. Subodh Dubey, the new group CIO of Usha International, talks about the role of technology in organizational transformation. You have an industry-wide experience in the technology domain. What is the reason behind joining Usha International?
I joined Usha International in October 2009. It is a 72 year old company and a well known consumer products brand. The company is now undergoing a rebranding exercise, and is in the process of launching new products for the Indian market. The company that was investing Rs 15-20 crore in advertising, is now investing around Rs 75-100 crore. So there is a 500% increase on the media expenses. Usha International is also emphasizing on after-sale-service and supply chain management.

With this goal in mind, management wanted technology to play key role in the company's makeover. They wanted to make optimum use of technology for business benefits. These were some of the factors that compelled me to join Usha International.

Recent CIO career moves
Cross-domain career shift tips for CIOs

From manufacturing to retail: A CIO's career change Can you elaborate more on your existing IT infrastructure?
We are a SAP organization. SAP was implemented in 2001, and is based on IBM AS 400 hardware, which was amongst the first implementation in India. For network and data security we have hardware from Checkpoint that takes care of firewall and access control. We also use a VPN for remote access management and RSA token authentication for accessing SAP. For the purpose of accessing SAP we have RSA tokens in place. As a CIO, what are the new changes you plan to introduce within the organization?
I am working on enhancing the current systems and also ensuring control and monitor of the current ERP solutions. I am also ensuring that the entire technology team will be part of all the IT initiatives that we take from business perspective. So we will keep on launching new projects and the team will be involved in taking the projects ahead. As part of this transformation phase, what are the new initiatives you plan to take?
We are trying to bring in mobile sales force automation which would enable the sales staff to connect remotely with customers and the organization. Apart from this, we are also working on service mobile automation and implementing warehouse automation. Also, the IT team at Usha International is working on service portal for Customer Relationship Management.

We haven't yet finalized the vendor for the above mentioned processes but have started the process of evaluation. Sales force automation will be in place by March 31 while work on the service portal will start in June. The company is strongly focusing on service. We are also looking at upgrading our storage by installing a NAS box. Currently we do not have any enterprise storage in place. The implementation will happen in the month of April and we are evaluating vendors for the same. The IT budget is normally 1% of turnover. However, next year we plan to increase this budget to 2-3% of company's turnover.

Read more on CW500 and IT leadership skills