Back in the summer CIO had an opportunity to meet process management guru Ganesh Natarajan. The relaxed Indian has authored a number of books on business process management, outsourcing and knowledge management (KM) and was in London lecturing at the London Business School.
Natarajan moved into IT from engineering and discussed with CIO the lessons he learnt as an engineer which he now applies to process management in the IT world. He is vice chairman and CEO of Zensar, which specialises in business process outsourcing from Pune in India.
Natarajan had four years as an engineer in the manufacturing of materials. "I moved into IT as there was a need, and I liked it so much I have stayed with IT," he says. Asked what his greatest lesson from engineering was he says, "Engineering is to take a larger perspective and how to address a real problem. Engineers do not get carried away by the problem at hand, but look at the cause of the problem," and you sense that Natarajan doesn't believe the same is true of the IT world.
The CEO takes a similar view to business process management (BPM) and outsourcing, describing it as "real business" rather than an IT solution.
"You need a good process, then add the technology. It starts with someone being humble enough to want to change," he says of the need for senior level leadership in any BPM change.
Zensar has gained a lot of customers and experience in the retail and financial sectors as a provider of business process outsourcing services and business process technology, amongst its top flight customers is US retail giant Walmart. From Pune it develops systems for merchandising, supply chain and purchase order as well as the full gambit of processes retailers require end-to-end of their organisations.
"Supply chain is always the problem area," he says, adding that "Walmart is always optimising its supply chain".
As a result, Natarajan sees BPM as a unique opportunity for CIOs to play a major role in the improvement of supply chain and back office functions of their organisation. "Use your budgets to create and RoI," he advises, before adding that he sees CIOs increasingly approaching his organisation looking for advice on how to use business intelligence (BI) applications across the organisation to improve BPM. "IT now drives business strategy rather than just being part of the strategy," he says of the marriage of BI and BPM, led by CIOs.
Natarajan joined Zensar in 2001 as CEO and almost immediately set out on a BPM project for the organisation. "They wanted me to look at the organisation all over again. So I had a mandate to build a major new company and to find a reason for it. So we became more innovation led in our processes, so we can show people how we can be innovative for them."
Zensar has had the National Grid as a client for 16 years now and prides itself on scaling its existing relationships upwards.
Although busy lecturing and running Zensar, Natarajan still finds time to write, he is currently penning a book on the lessons Africa can learn from India's recent success as a technology and business hub CIOs rely on.
The books of Ganesh Natarajan
Business Process Reengineering
One of the most prevalent concepts in the business today, reengineering involves a fundamental rethinking and redesigning in the way we work. This book, one of the very first to emerge from India reveals a fascinating picture of what business process reengineering (BPR) can do to re-energise an organiosation.
Implementing BPR - An Agenda for the CEO
For most business managers, corporate heads and leaders of organisations, Business Process Reengineering is no longer a mystery. It is an opportunity, to chart out a new future for the organisation, to destroy or obliterate age old systems that are too slow to function in the IT era.
Inspired! investigates the essence of inspiration in a series of interviews with exceptional individuals some of whom lead regular lives like us while many are renowned leaders in diverse fields such as business, social activism, education, sport, the government, the arts and the media.
Knowledge Management - Enabling Business Growth
This book explains how technological and conceptual synergies can be deployed for conversion of knowledge to knowledge management in the organisational context. Written by professionals who have tremendous expertise in consulting and developing knowledge management solutions, it captures the essence of the times that is being referred to as the dawn of the knowledge society.
Unleashing the Knowledge Force- Harnessing Knowledge for Building Global Companies
This book traces the impact of knowledge force in the early stages of a business and throws light on the different frameworks of knowledge force relevant to businesses. Further it presents a new Knowledge Management Maturity Model (KMMM) for describing different stages of knowledge maturity in keeping with the phase of business growth. The applicability of the model across various industry sectors is also discussed.
Winds of Change
Indian IT- an insider's view In this book, that will prove to be of immense practical value to IT professionals and entrepreneurs.
Is BPM just hype?
Is BPM just hype, or a window of opportunity?: CIO UK Debate part 1
BPM allows CIOs to take control of their destiny: CIO UK Debate part 2
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