by January 8, 2010 0 comments

Signs of economic revival are now visible and we are slowly coming out of the
gloom of downturn. Where some industries like automobile benefited from this
recessionary phase, some like real estate and insurance sector were worst hit.
This low-phase has forced almost all industries alike to re-assess their
businesses from a different angle, which has brought out many invaluable
revelations related to their businesses. As we stand at the threshold of a new
beginning, Its important to reasses our business prioritries and understand how
the emerging technologies in IT can help leverage business growth. The PCQuest
Infrastructure SummIT 2009 has a panel discussion in most cities, wherein key
CIOs were invited to share their learnings and discuss the way forward. The
topic of this panel discussion was ‘Gearing up IT for the next wave of growth.’
The panel in Delhi comprised of J.S.Sodhi, AVO-IT at Amity University, Upal
Chakraborty, CIO, DLF, Vijay Sethi, CIO, Hero Honda, Anil Kumar, DGM-IT,
Oriental Insurance with Anil Chopra, Editor, PCQuest as the moderator of the

What recession taught us?
The panel started with discussing major leanings that recessionary period
brought forth. An interesting point that emerged was that the IT infrastructure
of an organization has to be flexible enough and scalable both upwards and
downwards. The panel highlighted the disadvantage of the lock-in Opex model of
IT infrastructure management wherein an organization has to pay a fixed amount
for a fixed period of time to the service provider, whether or not the
infrastructure is being used.

 Upal Chakraborty, CIO, DLF said, “We had entered into an Opex model for
our IT infrastructure management, where we were locked in with a service
provider for 4 years. When the downturn hit, the transactions decreased and
people left, leaving a lot of IT infrastructure like PC’s idle. But we still had
to pay for that which we were not using. When we enter the growth phase again we
would take care not to go for such a model where we can’t easily downscale.” The
panel said that it has to be ensured during the contract-drafting with the
service provider, that provisions enabling sudden downscaling or up scaling are
in place. Also it was emphasized that a capacity-on-demand Opex model is more
favorable, wherein you pay only for what you use.

“We believe in
bringing benefits of technology to the end User (Student) level. We are
already providing recordings and live transmission of class-room lectures to
multiple locations over our own MPLS and now are working towards taking
these live and recorded sessions to mobiles.”

J.S. Sodhi,
AVO-IT at Amity University

“IT can play a
major role in reducing the energy consumption and carbon footprint of an
organization by working on redesigning processes and using technologies like
workflows, video conferencing, bringing paperless culture, building
management system and facilitating working from home.”

Vijay Sethi,
CIO, Hero Honda

The ability of the IT infrastructure to support customer relationships
efficiently was also highlighted, as during the downturn, retaining and
attracting customers remains the biggest challenge. Anil Kumar, DGM-IT at
Oriental Insurance added that, during this period they focused on improving
their customer service by enhancing their company portal which enabled its
customers to obtain policies, lodge and track their grievances, implement claims
and track its status all through the portal, thus making the processes
hassle-free for customers.

The panel emphasized on the importance of employing green IT during downturn
not only for reducing carbon footprint but also to reduce the cost base
drastically. On this, Vijay Sethi, CIO, Hero Honda said, “Energy savings of the
IT equipment whether at datacenter or at user level can be achieved by doing
things like virtualization, consolidation, changing CRTs, etc. Also the carbon
footprint of organizations’ products can be reduced during in-use phase by
making products even much more energy / fuel efficient.”

The panel agreed that the recessionary phase enabled organizations to go back
to the roots and re-audit their IT infrastructure and consolidate whatever
already existed. This also gave them an understanding of users’ exact needs and
enabled them to innovate solutions / products according to user’ needs. J.S.
Sodhi, AVP-IT, Amity University said, “During this period, an innovation that we
implemented was live classroom lecture transmissions over MPLS to multiple
locations, without using expensive video conferencing equipment. We also
implemented virtualization in our data centre, employed blade servers and
re-audited our security compliance during this period.”

mobile access and extending the boundaries of the enterprise are
technologies we should be looking at. In the real estate industry, project
management and monitoring is vital. Business process management aided by
tools is something all CIOs should look at”

Upal Chakraborty,

“We wish to enhance
our portal and employ Internet technology to enter the remote areas to
deliver insurance policies where people are still not able to make use of
insurance policies in true sense.”

Anil Kumar
, DGM-IT, Oriental Insurance

The way forward
On gearing up the IT infrastructure for future, the panel felt that there is a
need to enhance the productivity within an organization by deploying work-flow
enhancement solutions and disruptive technologies to make workforce more mobile
and efficient. Deploying Business Process Management solutions to improve
productivity was also stressed upon by the panel as a future focus area.

The importance of project management for growing industries for monitoring
time and cost attached to the projects came out in the discussion.

Deploying efficient customer and dealer relationship management solutions was
also highlighted as focus area for businesses. The necessity to focus on
compliance of not only applications but also infrastructure was also emphasized.

Concentrating on generating awareness about Green IT within the organizations
was stressed at and the importance of making the IT infrastructure less energy
consuming and consequently less cost consuming was brought out in the
discussion. The panel also highlighted the importance of encouraging the use of
video conferencing and following paperless culture.

Amrita Premrajan

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