IT Leadership

How Rajesh Uppal is Democratizing Digital Innovation at Maruti Suzuki

The ‘Tech Fest’ held at Maruti Suzuki in December 2018 was much more than just a regular technology fest. It was a direct glimpse into the company’s digital roadmap – all the new age digital technologies that the Indian auto giant is currently experimenting with and planning to adopt in the coming future.

These include, but not limited to, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain and even some highly forward looking and ambitious technologies like data transmission through sound and light. Overall, more than 40 use cases of new technologies that can be implemented in the company were demonstrated at the exhibition along with technology partners.

The fest is an initiative started by the company’s Mode 2 IT team, a special team handpicked by Uppal a few years ago that continuously explores new technologies for adoption at Maruti Suzuki and works dedicatedly on experiments/PoCs on emerging technologies to find their possible business use cases.

According to Rajesh Uppal, Executive Director – IT, CIO and CHRO, Maruti Suzuki, “The objective behind the fest is to democratize the innovation that our Mode 2 IT team is doing, getting it synced into the organization and creating the whole innovation culture at Maruti Suzuki.”

To truly seep the innovation in, the whole company was invited to the exhibition to witness the use cases presented and then asked to give inputs in writing as to how these technologies can be put to use to improve current processes and how they can be multiplied into various projects going forward.

The result was that the exhibition was visited by over 1500 employees, including the top management and business leaders of the company, who saw those technologies and gave lots of suggestions around how those can be adopted in their respective functions. “The interest that generated with the employees and the excitement it created among them was phenomenal. It was an interesting thing to sustain the Mode 2 innovation effect,” explains Uppal.

To ensure that innovation work done by IT is not seen as mere theoretical exercises, the fest also exhibited stalls of five innovation ideas that were showed in 2017 and actually got implemented in 2018.

As always, Uppal has found an ingenious way for taking the company along and getting them to participate in IT’s innovation journey for greater impact.

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