CIO: Where does innovation stand among your priorities?
Sunil Lalbhai: Dr Manmohan Sharma, guru to many of us in Atul, has continuously stressed this idea of innovation in the entire supply chain and beyond. If one looks at all what has been done in Atul, he will find that many ideas have been conceived and implemented for the first time.
CIO: What drives innovation, strategy, or the availability of a specific technology?
Sunil Lalbhai: I suppose it is the passion to do what has never been done before, it is the desire to take calculated and finite risks, it is the courage to accept failures in such risks and it is the commitment to build a learning organization that drives innovation. These are key attributes and the obligation of leadership at different levels.
CIO: Is Atul an early adopter of technology or in the tried-and-tested camp?
Sunil Lalbhai: The history of Atul will reveal that the company has many firsts not only in introducing products in India, but also processes. Atul has been, on many occasions, an early adopter of technology and even if the company has selected tried and tested technology, it has invariably and significantly improved it.
CIO: How can the IT help drive business performance?
Sunil Lalbhai: IT can empower managers in many different ways; technology helps improve speed, accuracy, efficiency and productivity. The mandate is to use technology wherever available and (or) find customized and innovative solutions with or without outside help. For example, though Atul is using Oracle ERP for some time now, it can be utilized a lot more. For example, there is a considerable scope to derive more value in the areas of planning, scheduling, CRM, asset management, etcetera; it will also be possible to derive value by creating a uniform platform for all the companies under the umbrella of Atul.
CIO: How can this engagement be made more seamless and painless?
Sunil Lalbhai: It is by the realization that we are all part of the same group working to serve the customer and by developing an understanding that though we may be many, our destiny is one, closely linked with that of the organization. Teamwork and solidarity starting from the top management, focus and clarity of work to be done by the user(s) and the IT managers are essential to achieve the desired results and create an atmosphere where everyone concerned enjoys the work.
CIO: Should IT or business units justify IT project ROI?
Sunil Lalbhai: The business or function receiving the benefit, quantitative or qualitative, may take up fully or on shared basis the responsibility of taking care of the capital and (or) revenue expenditure.
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