Complete supply-value chain is affected due to 3G delay

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Lupin, headquartered in Mumbai, India, is a research

focused company with a state-of-the-art R&D center in Pune, and is a leading

global player in the manufacture of various high-end drugs. Besides, Lupin has

also gained a strong reputation as a provider of international quality

pharmaceuticals at affordable prices. Lupin's mission is to become a

transnational pharmaceutical company through the development and introduction of

a wide portfolio of branded and generic products in the key markets. Bearing

this strongly in mind, Mumbai based S Ramesh, CIO and president, finance and

planning and CFO, Lupin talks about the technological limitations in India, and

subsequent ICT solutions that Lupin is looking to implement in the near future.



Being a global company with constantly emerging technology, what is the

percentage loss of investment due to the delay in 3G?

The fact remains that the delay in 3G will impact business in terms of

speed, since we are a global company. India lags behind in new technology

implementations compared to our concerns abroad, and so this in turn affects the

progress in India.

For the time being, VPN is being used for data transfer; and we are trying to

get into the wireless space to track secondary sales for inventories and

documents. Wireless technology would help us better monitor sales. Thus,

PDA-held data transfer is being considered as an option for our sales team in

order to draw out the utilization plans for inventories.

Thus, the complete supply-value chain gets affected due to the delay in 3G,

which is very critical in the pharmaceutical industry. In terms of working

capital, there is a 23-25% loss due to the 3G delay.


There are lots of other technology solutions like cloud computing and

wireless options that require less bandwidth and provide a better output. Are

you looking at any of these?

For the new technologies, especially cloud computing, we are looking at

specific service providers who can provide better technology which fits into our

existing infrastructure and is cost effective also. We get proposals from time

to time, but will look at the overall value proposition and not only at the

advantages involved.

With increased options come increased risks. How do you cope with the

growing security issues in your organization?

We use a host of solutions that include encryption as well as a host of file

services. There is a strict security protocol followed in our organization,

which is a differentiated security policy across divisions. Thus, depending on

how critical the department's activities are to the company, the higher the

security provision. Basically, there are three kinds of access—broadband,

dial-up (which has been phased out), and Wi-Fi, which is very important for us.


For the pharmaceutical industry, in particular, any forward-looking

technology that you have an eye on?

RFID is definitely one major solution we are looking at, as it is important for
packing e-pedigree. Today people want to be able to identify between real and

counterfeit products, with so many cases of fraud. We have also upgraded SAP in

the last six months, and plan to organize a platform for various embedded

services like satellite programs, end to end supply chain, and a database to

enable analytical work. Typically, we spend one and a half per cent of our total

turnover on IT solutions, a figure which will increase by a few points this


With the existing IT infrastructure, seamless connectivity is always a

nagging concern. How do you cope with this?

Bandwidth should be faster; now there are too many connectivity and speed

issues-3G will thus solve these problems. We have however upgraded our hardware

in the meanwhile, and most of the infrastructure has been outsourced to the IT

help desk or IBM, who manage the connectivity and network issues, thereby

ensuring 24x7 uptime. However, there is a need to improve on this as well.

It has often been said that 'more the merrier'. Can this be applied to

your vendors for IT solutions? Or do you believe that one-on-one is a better


Yes, we are looking to consolidate, as previously we used half a dozen

vendors for infrastructure maintenance in vain. Today we have a single vendor,

which is IBM; and our SAP is implemented by Mahindra (Bristlecone). The

advantage of a single vendor is also making the latest technology available in

terms of speed and cost. A single vendor is also more stringent, more efficient,

provides more uptime availability, is cost effective, and meets the future needs

as well.


How much of your yearly spend is allocated towards improving IT solutions

in Lupin? Can you highlight some of your landmark achievements in this respect

till date?

There have been no major changes in our IT budget in the last year. However,

we have implemented SAP and better satellite services like SEM solutions, which

would help in business intelligence and making solutions more robust. We were

the first to update SAP in the country, and are currently using version 6, with

plans to upgrade to something higher soon.

With mobile CRM becoming a buzzword in the medical industry today, do you

see yourself implementing it?

That is on the anvil. However, we are taking things one step at a time, and

have given ourselves a three-year roadmap for its full implementation.

Do you believe that outsourcing can sweeten the IT pill? Please elaborate.

Yes, outsourcing will sweeten the IT pill as it will provide for more

specialization, which in turn would lead to more customers as well as a better

utilization of capacities and other infrastructures. Services offered will also

be better in terms of specialization and cost, as they would be spread over a

much larger volume.

What are the major challenges that you face as a CIO in your organization?

Give a brief sketch of how these problems have diversified over the years.

Attrition was one of the biggest challenges, though numbers have come down

drastically today. We have to evaluate the pros and cons for new technology

options. In this regard, we are more constrained by the outside environment than

the internal infrastructure, the former of which cannot support our systems,

with the minimal choice available at present. Thus, bandwidth and infrastructure

are the two biggest setbacks that we are facing in IT in our organization today.

Beryl M