CIO is a global title and with our sister titles across the planet we bring you a new series of reports on what are the main issues CIOs face and that are being reported in our fellow CIO titles. Compiled by IDG News Service with contributions from Debarati Roy, Alice Xu and Allan Davies.
The challenge of helping to build an automobile start-up in India drew Mohit Agarwal to Carnation Auto India as its vice president for IT. The brainchild of Maruti Suzuki's famed former CEO, Jagdish Khattar, Carnation was the country's first multi-brand automobile sales and service network – going after a $3.3 billion market. The concept tapped into a latent desire among car owners for a branded, transparent, and efficient way to get their cars serviced. (In developed markets, a third of cars are serviced by third-party operators like Carnation). Until Carnation came along, car owners had two choices: Dealer service centers or unlicensed garages. One of the pillars on which Khattar sold the new idea was the transparency that IT systems could bring to customers. The CEO "made it crystal clear from the start that he wanted an IT infrastructure that would be a benchmark for this industry in India -- and he expected me to move beyond my role and take strategic business decisions as well," recalls Agarwal. His first big move was to implement SAP, and the results are processes detailed and defined around precision, clock-in clock-out time frames for every job and each level, and multi-resource scheduling, which today, contribute to Carnation's competitive edge.
At Country Garden Group, one of China's largest property development companies, vice president Liang Deli has been focused on systems that help executives of the company better control its processes from design through construction and decoration. One particular challenge has been to enable senior management to easily get up-to-date information on housing projects. Liang's team integrated data from different sources onto one platform and added functions similar to Google maps. Managers simply click on map locations to see all the information about particular houses without typing a word. That navigation system has set a benchmark for IT at property companies.
Disaster recovery may be top of mind for many CIOs in Australia, where recent calamities have included flooding in Queensland and Victoria, cyclones in Queensland and massive bush fires in Western Australia. Allan Davies, the CIO of logistics firm Dematic, counsels that the first priority in any plan should be ensuring the safety of people – "ensure your IT team are fully aware of their responsibilities in the event of an evacuation", he says. And disaster recovery today must go far beyond simply recovering IT services; rather, IT needs to develop a comprehensive business continuity plan. "The key word here is 'business' and it's imperative that the 'business' takes ownership of the processes. In my experience, however, this still seems to fall on the shoulders of the CIO, so be prepared and step up to the plate. Seize the opportunity; it's another avenue to demonstrate the value of IT to the business," Davies says.