IT Leadership Opinion

Hybrid IT is the Way of Life; Its Management is Key to Success: Vijay Sethi, Hero MotoCorp

With rising adoption of automation and self-driving infrastructure pieces, there is a visible shift in how organisations manage their hybrid IT infrastructure. Also, it’s true that a wider multi-cloud adoption has resulted into complex hybrid IT environments—all of which form the core of IT operations.

What is hybrid IT? It basically includes multiple cloud environments, virtualized infrastructure and also elements of legacy IT. A typical organisation, barring the unicorns born in the digital era, is riddled with the complexity of a diverse technology stack made of various components and that makes it hybrid in nature. Moreover, hybrid IT is a management approach which is mostly workload-centric across all of these environments.

The demand for agility and speed has necessitated technology organisations and CIOs to adopt quick, short and rapid bursts of technology projects, whether around Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Analytics, Robotics Process Automation or around Internet of Things, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Social Networks, Mobility and so on. ‘Fail early, fail fast’ is the order of the day. “Gone are the days when an ERP implementation done within a year was considered to be a great achievement and hoardings were put around the city to boast it. In today’s time, if something is done in as less time as two weeks, it’s considered late and slow-paced. This is aptly supported by the influx of new-age technology that is enabled by API and hybrid cloud infrastructure,” feels Vijay Sethi, CIO, CHRO and Head of CSIR, Hero MotoCorp.

However, it’s true that we have to run the base. We can’t just throw the legacy IT not just because of the significant investment that has gone into it but also because it continues to bring in great business value even in today’s context. “Not everything can be done by the new-age technologies and not everything can be done by the old-age, monolithic legacy technology. Therefore, hybrid IT is the order of the day for any organisation, says Vijay.

Hero MotoCorp, a 34-year old automotive major, has kept its date with modernisation both in terms of products and technology. With over 85 million units sold, it is the largest two-wheeler company globally with over 6000 customer touch points and an equally powerful digital presence. With a majority market share in its segment, the company is planning to increase its capacity with the new plant coming up in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh. It will be the company’s 6th plant in India and will take its total installed capacity to over one crore two-wheelers in sometime.

To run this vast business comprising of manufacturing locations, distributors, dealers, suppliers and many other components is no mean task. “Without going into details of each and every IT component that’s put to work to achieve the business goals, at Hero MotoCorp while on one end we run old design software, ERP app, PLM on the other we are also using the latest version of mobile apps and doing numerous pilots including cutting edge technologies like AR,VR, IoT, AI and more. Similarly, on one end there is RPA and on the extreme end of legacy within the hybrid IT is where we write programs to integrate and transfer data from system A to system B. We are managing both the extreme ends of technology that’s hybrid in nature,” says Vijay while explaining his point of view on hybrid IT Management.

Recipe for Hybrid IT Management

Vijay Sethi shared a few of mantras for hybrid IT management that he and his IT organisation has applied in Hero MotoCorp with desired success.

Realisation: A successful hybrid IT management starts with the realisation that both legacy and new-age technologies have to co-exist. People, who are not that tech savvy and those who are, will have to use technology. Both processes, which are not very tech enabled and those that are highly tech enabled, have to work in tandem. “Once you realise that they have to co-exist, the way forward becomes easier. It is fundamentally true that any organisation will have to run both,” says Vijay.

Learn to let go: You can manage your hybrid IT well if you are not attached to the technology pieces. “Many a times, CIOs tend to get attached to the technologies they have implemented. If you’re attached, you will not be able to focus on anything else. You will only be able to dispassionately manage hybrid IT if you are not attached to a particular technology and start looking at it through the lens of whether it is still brining in the required business value to the table,” suggests Vijay. If the technology has ceased to serve its purpose, let it go. At Hero MotoCorp, one of the biggest examples of non-attachment has been the Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) system, which was one of the biggest implementations from a major enterprise software company. However, it was phased out as it didn’t serve the purpose anymore.

Look at your architecture: Most of the complexities of managing hybrid IT are because of non-optimised or ad hoc technology architecture. This is an area that CIOs end up ignoring. A not-so-well thought and loosely built architecture could be disastrous for hybrid IT management. “You have your old systems running and then you start adding the new technologies like cloud, social, analytics, etc., leading to a hybrid IT that is all jumbled up. Think like an architect, go back to the drawing board and get the basics right by planning your architecture well. This will save you a lot of headache when managing hybrid IT,” says Vijay.

Choose the right technology and partners: As complexities increase, the only way out is the right technology and partner. Ironically, while technology adds to the complexity, it also helps solve it. If the technology is not implemented properly, it will only add to the chaos. “A common hurdle is the overwhelming and ever-growing amount of data across platforms to integrate and automate in order to ensure applications and services are delivering the best customer experience. Therefore, the right set of technology tools that bridge the gap between traditional and modern IT to enable digital innovation are absolutely critical,” feels Vijay. Tools that enable automating and integrating the provisioning of infrastructure and applications across clouds/hybrid IT while bringing in analytics and cognitive insights into IT management capabilities will play a key role.

“In the end my suggestion for CIOs is to accept hybrid IT as a way of life and not see it as a challenge. The moment you call it a challenge it automatically becomes burdensome,” concludes Vijay.

NOTE: This blog is extracted from the chapter “If Technology is Challenging; You are Half Defeated Already” published in the book  “Accelerating Enterprise Innovations.”

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