After a successful career of more than 35 years spread across different reputed organizations, S R Balasubramanian has retired. In his last CIO role, he was Executive VP for IT & Corporate Development at Godfrey Phillips India. He played the CIO’s role in the company for four years. Balasubramanian also runs a popular technology blog, Information Technology Management with a Purpose.
After bidding his CIO role adieu, Balasubramanian continues his professional activities by providing consultancy on a freelance basis to companies on technology implementation. He is part of various CIO groups, and shares his knowledge and gives guest lectures at management institutes.
In the CIO role, he considers the ERP implementation at Hero Honda as one of the milestones of his career. The entire program was run on pre-defined business drivers and it also involved various applications outside the ERP. “The ERP deployment project was run as a business project and not as just another IT application. The whole emphasis on ERP was in terms of how the business would run. With the deployment we brought outstanding benefits to the process automation. Business process changes took place in terms of production, sales, material handling, etc. The benefits, when quantified subsequently, were higher than what we had invested in the ERP,” recalls Balasubramanian.
Another milestone in his career as a CIO came during his stint at Gujarat Heavy Chemicals. This was one of the first companies to work using Windows and Windows-based applications on a graphic user interface.
On the role of a CIO today Balasubramanian says, “It is absolutely essential for a CIO in present times to also know the business aspect of the company. The role of the CIO is the application of technology in the organization in order to fulfill the organization’s objectives, therefore, in terms of the work that he does it should go beyond his technology briefing.”
He also feels that in a company the CIO should report directly to the CEO. “A CIO reporting to another functional head brings in a certain amount of bias. In many organizations they say the CIO reports to the CFO, and therefore the entire course of IT is accounting-led, which is wrong. The same thing will happen if the CIO reports to the operations head or the head of sales, hence it would be best if he reports directly to the CEO.”
Balasubramanian, who started his career in 1975, has been associated with Indian Oil Corporation, A F Ferguson, Hero Honda, Gujarat Heavy Chemicals, and ISGN Technologies under various designations at different stages of his career.