CIO priorities for 2010: India Edition

As far as India is concerned, CIO priorities have shifted focus from cost control to customer service as well as budget mapping post the economic slowdown.

CIO priorities for 2010: India Edition
As far as India is concerned, CIO priorities have shifted focus from cost control to customer service as well as budget mapping post the economic slowdown.
Meheriar Patel
Post the economic slowdown, as companies steady themselves on the path to recovery and growth, there has also been a change in CIO priorities. Previously, disaster recovery topped the list. Now, CIO priorities are geared toward meeting pent-up demand and investing in new projects.

CIO priority 1:
Customer comes first: The market is extremely competitive at the moment. Therefore, projects that increase immediate profits (like systems to improve customer satisfaction) should be on the top of the CIO priorities list. For example, as a retail company, we are looking at new developments in the areas of online commerce and response to loyalty programs. My primary target for the year revolves around customer service. An important question I will have to answer is about how can I spend appropriately to get customer-friendly systems in place? How can I serve my customers better, and which are the systems that will help me to do this?

CIO priority 2:
Caution should always be extant in the mind of a CIO: No company can ever afford to throw caution to the wind. Cost control is an important part of the deliverables of any department now. It is a constant endeavor irrespective of recession. Cost optimization is thus, always a priority for a CIO. In Globus, each of our stores has a separate target, and we like to view them as independent business units. When a budget is formed, every department needs to follow it closely to ensure success.

Now that financial restraints are not so tight, the priority is to further develop in-house systems. These systems take time to develop, and now the organization can afford to invest.
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CIO priority 3:
Budget mapping: One of the CIO's main priorities is to concentrate on the investment needs for the full year, and appropriately pitch the budget. An organization needs to keep in mind both its turnover and capabilities. This transpires to the role of the IT team. Budgets will then be concerned with what systems the IT guys run to give support to the in-house team, as well as the customer.

CIO priority 4:
Take it easy with big projects: Globus as a company has developed a production lifecycle management system in house. Now that the pulling of financial restraint is not that tight, the CIO's priority is to further develop in-house systems. These systems take time to develop, and now we are a stage when the organization can afford to invest in these growth agents.

CIO priority 5:
Get help, outsource: The CIO should understand that running large IT teams and trying to get work done smoothly is something of a herculean task. Here at Globus, we outsource many of our processes, and have tie-ups with many companies including Reliance. Outsourcing should feature prominently in the CIO's priorities list for this year. Once the product goes live, these processes can be taken onboard, and supported by the in-house people at later stages.

CIO priority 6:
Business Intelligence: All corporates now have global ERPs, and what they need is more customers and sales. One of the major priorities for CIOs this year is to put systems into place that will optimally tap resources. We took this measure two years ago, and it has brought about a great change for my organization; the way we look at data and mine opportunities has undergone a sea change.

CIO priority 7:
Set systems not a priority at this point: Most companies already have their back-end systems in place. So at this point in time they will not leverage any projects that deal with updating of existing ERP systems. Therefore, I feel it is now time for companies to look at the customer and give him prime importance. So the next CIO priority is to focus solely on the customer when looking at IT systems.
CIOs need to chart out what is crucial to their operations at this moment. These core systems and the related projects need to be triggered, which eventually leads to customer retention and sales growth.  
Meheriar Patel is the chief technology officer and head of human resources at Globus Stores Pvt. Ltd.
(As told to Sharon D'Souza)

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