As a CIO, you cannot rest on your laurels. One has to constantly look for new opportunities and scope for improvement in the business, and identify areas where IT can make a difference.
Besides making a strong business case for IT adoption, a CIO has to ensure that internal processes are reviewed and improved upon, on a regular basis. For this to happen, it is essential for a CIO to have a grasp of the business environment that his department operates in and have a tab on the overall business goals of the company.
When I come across a not-so-good or immature IT in some organizations, I find the only reason behind it is the CIO's lack of understanding of the business and its linkages with IT. If you want to have a matured IT organization, it is essential to have an understanding of the business environment.
In Maruti Suzuki, we have tried to ensure that the understanding of business of the people in IT is fairly good. So our people spend time with people on the shop floor and get a sense of their pain areas. To take a step further, we have now got some people from business background into the IT department. They have spent 8-10 years in different roles in business units. We train them in IT and induct them into our department.
Customer satisfaction is another critical area for the CIO today. I have a clear view on this. In order for a business to sustain, you need to have strong processes to manage the business, whether it is customer handling processes or internal processes, such as manufacturing and supply chain. For any process to be sustainable, IT has to be an essential part of it. Therefore, to have a good customer-centric process, you need IT to sustain it at every level. So, defining processes is the first part, and sustaining it through IT is the second most essential part.
To reach out to customers through digital media, the automotive industry is now moving from a mass broadcast type of advertisement to 'selling to one'. Therefore, social media today helps manage both the customers and the advertising spends. Earlier, our investment in digital media used to be miniscule but today it is a significant part. We have to be there on social media as our customers are also there. We have built a huge database of 8.5 million customers of ours and we are trying to connect with them on mail and through online communities. So, managing customers using digital marketing is a big strategy for the company, and we in IT we working closely with the marketing team on these initiatives.