The Increasing Role of IT in Manufacturing and Service Industries

By Arup Choudhury, CIO, Eveready Industries India Ltd

IT has been used by various manufacturing and service in­dustries to automate processes, increase productivity, reduce cost, increase profitability and enrich customer experiences. We will discuss each topic in detail as we go along.

Process automation has been a boon for the industry. It has helped reduce deficiencies at each manual intervention level. With the advent of ERP, the en­tire organization started functioning as single oiled machinery. Business became transparent. Information silos were bro­ken down. One big boost to employees came in the process of inter department interactions. This increased information sharing meant that a production guy now knew about the materials function while a sup­ply chain person got to know about frontline sales. This in turn made the organization agile.

After ERP came the eBusiness model. This meant con­necting to the extended enterprises. While ERP helped put the internal house in order, eBusiness tools like cus­tomer and supplier portals, expense management, travel management and many more made the entire organiza­tion productive along with its external stakeholders. Free flow of information throughout the value chain made time to market faster and decision making swifter.

While IT continued to add value to the organizations, it also started to evolve. New tools were introduced to in­crease productivity. Two such tools from top of the mind recall will be the mobile app for shop floor management and sales force automation.

Shop floor automation tool helps the production and shop floor team to run a lean manufacturing setup, thus freeing up working capital through pipeline inventory re­duction.

The sales force automation tool increases the produc­tivity of the front line sales force significantly. The entire process of route planning to selling and promotions is automated. It creates new avenues for revenue generation, since now you can venture into unknown ter­ritory armed with data.

CRM applications have helped serve the customers better. In today’s global market we need to service the customer keeping in mind the specific needs. As per C K Pralhad’s theory of N=1 and R=G, where R stands for resource that should be global and N is the customer experience. 1 means each customer is unique with unique set of needs. Or­ganizations must satisfy this need with global resources if required to make a difference.

Here IT came to the rescue with a host of cloud hosted CRM and service CRM offerings that satisfy the unique needs of customers. This has helped retain customers and increase businesses.

Some would still argue that IT is over hyped. How­ever, we should dig deep into an organizations well-being and ability to sustain under such market dynamics as it ex­ists today in the global scenario. It will be amazing to note that such existence would not have been possible without significant investment in information technology. After all, IT is an integral part of the business, driven by the business and delivering value for the business.

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