In the digitally altered scenario, where every millisecond is crucial to deliver productivity and customer-responsiveness, certain technology and processes like process automation and data analytics play a major role in transformation of business and take customer experience to a different level. Automotive industry globally is at the forefront of adopting some of these cutting-edge technologies to transform from a mere equipment/product pusher to an experience creator.
Skoda, one of the global auto majors, having a niche in the mid-market and premium passenger car segments, started its tryst with process automation in India almost three years back. To begin with, According to Mahesh Patil, CIO Skoda India, the process began with identification of the gaps and implementation of process automation in areas that can facilitate the growth faster.
The aim was to get real benefits in terms of productivity, preparing MIS reports, understanding the data quality and bringing in cost efficiency. Ever since the launch of process automation project, IT has covered over 30 areas. It was all done internally to optimize the cost and automate the regular and mundane tasks that were earlier performed manually.
“The key driver behind process automation was to optimize cost and also see wherever we could use our own existing resources. We ensured that no additional license cost or support cost is incurred during the process and also in the future,” explains Patil.
IT ensured that the existing stack of .Net, SharePoint and SQL Database was utilized to the hilt. “For any additional licenses, we decided to have the cost supported by the management without any additional expenditure incurred on implementation,” he adds.
The next logical extension of process automation was Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The process to implement RPA at Skoda began around a year ago. “The need to introduce bots was again mainly aimed at cost saving, improving quality of reporting and saving man-hours from the repetitive manual tasks,” tells Mahesh.
“Installing these bots has helped us immensely in collection of data and usage of the same to make things simpler and save time,” says Patil.
Analytics for Smart Factory Initiative
Skoda introduced an analytical tool for management reporting. The tool helped in extracting data from existing applications such as ERP and other function specific systems and centralizing them on a single platform. “With this, generating day-to-day data and reporting to management in a dashboard became faster. We were able to extract a lot of insights as the tool operates with multiple applications at the backend,” says Patil.
The plan is to deploy predictive analytics in the near future. This will be helpful in many ways. If suppose there is a trend noticed on any failure, a report can be generated and some predictive maintenance or rollback (if required) will be made possible. “Implementing predictive analytics in our existing analytical tool will take around two years,” he adds.
While new technologies come handy in solving many businesses issues, however, the road in no less challenging for the future. As a CIO, the key challenge is to explain the benefits of deploying new digital technologies. Management looks for ROI on every single buck that’s spent. “Our aim is to introduce advanced technologies such as RPA, IoT, Predictive Analytics and make pervasive use of those to ensure long-term benefits with minimum investment. And that is quite a task cut out for IT both in terms of establishing the ROI and implementation. Our key objective is to understand the business goals and deploy technology that creates superior customer experience ,” concludes Patil.