ABB, a leader in power and automation technologies, recently
entered the bn-dollar club. In an e-mail interview, Vivek Deshpande, CIO, ABB
India shares new challenges to be tackled by the IT infrastructure and systems
to help ABB grow.
At ABB India you have harnessed IT in a major way to improve
efficiency and productivity. What challenges do you see as a CIO?
ABB India is in an accelerated growth mode and one of the biggest challenges
I see is to ensure that the IT system keeps pace to support and facilitate
business growth. Systems are a key element of the company’s 4-S management
philosophy (systems, speed, spirit and simplicity). Leveraging IT to ensure
scalability and gain competitive advantage is an integral part of our systems
approach. ABB is a technology and innovation driven company with knowledge and
domain expertise being a vital asset supporting our technologies. Therefore, it
becomes important to protect our Intellectual Property, so another focus area
for IT is to support data protection across the organization.
There are, of course, many challenges that come with growth and
many are related to IT systems. Besides reliability and continuity, we also
focus on ensuring that our systems are robust and scaleable.
As ABB enters the bn-dollar Club, what are the key areas of
focus for IT infrastructure?
Delivering functionalities on time and getting it right the first time is
extremely critical when you are serving a billion dollar operation spread across
the country. As our growth momentum accelerated, it became clear that IT needed
to proactively facilitate and support business growth. Further, as part of our
rapid growth, the workforce is also rising. Since our business is extremely
systems driven, it becomes imperative to bring our new employees to understand
our processes and systems speedily, which is another challenge for IS. For ABB,
functionality, openness, integration, portability, multi-language,
multi-currency support, scalability, technology and tools were some of the
How well have you integrated ABB India’s offices nationwide?
Our offices are completely networked. We introduced the backbone of MPLS for
WAN and our LAN is on a 1 GB backbone. We have also recently introduced video
conferencing at all major manufacturing and regional offices. This brings us the
benefits of reduced travel costs and at the same time help us stay connected.
Today, all offices have access to on-line and real time information, enhancing
productivity, decision making and efficiency.
In what way has the ERP implementation helped you integrate?
Our ERP implementation (SAP) has made a significant difference to the
company and played an important role in our growth journey. Prior to
implementing this, we had several legacy systems, many of them home grown. Based
on our requirements we decided to go for a nationwide roll out of SAP, across
locations and functions. An important fact is that we never saw this as a mere
IT project but involved our managers and businesses across the organization.
Our strategic goal for the ERP implementation program was simple-Common
IT platform across the company. Some of the clear benefits came in the form of
advanced MIS systems providing real-time information and enabling speedy
decision making. The implementation of SAP also brought transparency in addition
to better monitoring and control. This also helped us realign and re-organize
the business and the organization.
You have also integrated the Manufacturing Execution System (MES)
with SAP. How will this help you achieve your business goals?
The integration of MES with SAP has helped us in building operational
excellence. The benefits are basically four fold:
Closer monitoring and help improve First Pass Yield (FPY)
Monitoring and control of Cost of Poor Quality (CoPQ)
Facilitating On Time Delivery (OTD)
Monitoring and enhancement of manufacturing throughput time
How do you make your operations scalable and flexible?
Planning ahead is an integral part of our strategic IS approach. When we
plan, we think beyond today and tomorrow, especially as we are in a fast growth
mode. We do not compromise on basics like quality and technology. Our systems
focus and IT strategies are closely aligned to our businesses. We approach our
systems requirements proactively to take care of scalability and flexibility