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An Ultra-New Tech Skyline at Godrej – But Why?

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Pratima Harigunani
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MUMBAI, INDIA: Godrej’s 2020 vision is witnessing a big chapter this year, with the Godrej One Campus. Technology, has been on an equally huge construction elevator for this 1897-born conglomerate and it is not just an ingredient but a fiercely-strong catalyst that is reinventing the Godrej as we know it.

Cloud, Mobility, Application economy, consolidated server and data centre footprint, BPM, ERP overhaul, CMO’s advent and a lot more is beeping loud on Shailesh Joshi’s radar. Perched high enough to have a 30,000 feet view of the big empire changing into a new attire, and yet with feet firmly planted into the ground on practical issues like SLAs, support, security, process re-engineering; as CIO and Head, Corporate IT at Godrej, Joshi offers a very unusual mix of wisdom and aspiration.

In this quick interview, he offers us a view of what is making Godrej, the new-age enterprise he is working relentlessly towards.

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Shailesh Joshi Chief Technology Officer Godrej Group Shailesh Joshi, CTO, Godrej

Godrej 2020 is an interesting goal-board. Where exactly does IT fit in here? Share some recent highlights if you can.

To have ten times growth in a matter of few years is an aspirational goal for us and technology plays a pivotal role here. Fortunately Godrej’s management is very tech savvy so we have been adopting SMAC and mobility at the right pace. Mobility, is in fact, a hygiene factor now. All future apps would be on mobile. Travel management and conference booking areas are already mobile-wired. We are working on apps for both Android and iOs spaces. CRM, SAP areas etc are also being explored in the same mobility direction. Mobility and Cloud have been high on our agenda recently.

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Yes, with Salesforce, HCM, Emails etc, Cloud seems to be a strong wave at Godrej. How has the cloud-experience been and what is the catch beneath all the gloss, if any?

We are extremely gung-ho about Cloud. Salesforce has been rolled out for practically all employees and we are also early adopters of Microsoft 365 (the entire suite is in operation). We have also developed Yammer in-house and are exploring Sharepoint. The flip side, if any, is this – get rid of assumptions. We assumed support to come along. CIOs should be cautious of such confusion. We actually had one or two small outages when we realized that support aspects have to be signed for separately with Microsoft 365. That was a bit of surprise. Apart from that CIOs should be clear on exit options – like what happens with the data etc. We have kept a good focus on SLAs, credentials of service providers and NDA etc with Cloud adoption.

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Security is something that is always a perception. Any level of security is never good enough. Some threat will always be a possibility. We had outsourced data centres and support to other partners, and that was a semblance of cloud early on. In such scenarios having strong SLAs is a must.

Going back to what you were saying about applications, is it easy to be an app-oriented enterprise?

That’s how the world is going to be, as today’s users will be extremely frustrated if that’s not the case. The average age of employees is going down at Godrej, it is at 30 today and these people do everything online. There is no scope for not keeping pace.

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How are BPM and ERP facets moving forward?

We implemented ERP a long time back and BPM is an evolving process. As the group grows or acquires new pieces, we will grow ERP into a new flavor and do many things around that.

Is the Godrej One philosophy trickling down at the IT level also?

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Yes, the Vikhroli campus will consolidate IT too and all IT components like data centres, servers, infrastructure pieces are getting unified. We have embraced Cisco Unified Communication and state-of-the-art technology infrastructure. Technology will play a huge role in making this campus a unique one. In fact, one of my KRAs is how to make this zone a really smart campus in two years.

Is it easy to consolidate diversity, especially for a conglomerate as heterogeneous as this one?

Every business has its ups and downs, so some times some sections like FMCG would spend more and sometimes areas like retail, where margins are wafer thin, may not. We have ensured to take all business CXOs on one plane and made the consolidation view a reality. We have also worked on smart procurement, subsidizing some parts etc. Everyone believes and works towards a unified view and we have some of the best stuff in the industry, whether it is infrastructure, cloud or telephony.

You have written and spoken passionately on CMO and CIO collaboration. Why?

Today, the reality is simple – if anyone is a king, it’s the customer. Both the marketing guy and the IT guy are ultimately trying to make the customer happy. Internal and external customers count and go along with that big aim. So this collaboration is a must.

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