Lay the foundation of IT with agile technology

By Ganesh Iyer, Head- Technology, Fulfillment and Supply Chain, Tesco HSC

As the technology is changing things so fundamentally, the biggest risk is the ‘I’ in the ‘T’. If it is not the business, it is actually an integral part of the business. When organizations say they are transforming themselves from IT to technology, the dropping of the ‘I’ is not very symbolic. But there are many implications when moving from being in a cost center kind of an approach to being there with the business and thinking of demand and supply and what technology can do about it. Thinking like a businessman, operating like a business unit and considering various measures enabling sound economic judgment in any actions taken, are important in the transformation from IT to technology-facing initiatives. A good project manager is someone who brings in a business approach to technology. Product management will flourish when the CEO and CIO are collaborative and understand each other’s functions. 

Benefit customers with IoT
The major IT shift that I am really excited about is the Internet of Things (IoT). It is a combination of Big Data, Analytics, Physics – where intelligent and chief sensors are an integral part of good IoT, where Biology and Technology start meeting. Personally, a big area of interest to me is how IoT brings some of the underlying things like Data, Analytics and pure-bred technology capabilities to the fore. 

As far as easing business complexities go, the way I see it, IoT will probably introduce more complexities before it starts solving them - due to its power as a tool and our limited knowledge in its application.

IoT will become a platform around which people will start building solutions. Retailers will use IoT in a particular way to either benefit their suppliers or customers. Hospitals and healthcare providers will build it in a different way but certain lines will start blurring in terms of data and analytics. 

As it is with any technology, 90% of the benefits in IoT will go to consumers. Since there is a lot IoT can do for business-to-business (B2B) transactions and not just business-to-consumer (B2C), the future of IoT and its impact on each of us in our day to day lives is exciting! 

Agile PLM strategy is a ‘must’
PLM strategy is all about doing something and quickly figuring out whether there is value in doing this – either building on it or saying it is not the right thing to do. 

Agile is a key component of a good PLM strategy. The ability to make quick changes, deploy these, recall, continue altering product offerings – are all part of agile, continuous integration and deployment. Another component is how well the CIOs get integrated with the business and align themselves with business needs. 

Agile ways of working, DevOps, continuous integration are definitely crucial factors behind a successful PLM strategy. The more CEOs understand about these and how powerful these tools are, the better the PLM strategies will emerge. 

Establish a potent Vendor-Enterprise relationship
Talking about Vendor-Enterprise relationship, it is an evolving field. Vendors will continue to play a critical and integral role in any technological success story. The role they play and the way they are involved will change in line with how technology is changing itself to become a business unit. Vendors will have to move from offering outcome-based solutions to output-based solutions; moving from talking about ‘x dollars per license’ or ‘x dollars per person’ to ‘x dollars for this outcome at this service level.’ There are vendors who do this and they have better relations with us.

The shortcoming usually encountered in vendor-enterprise relationships is to look at them as just vendors rather than extended teams - who are an integral part of the business. There is always the question of how much an organization can share about their path and progress with vendors. 

By establishing a symbiotic relationship between vendors and user companies, both stand to gain at a strategic level and many of the shortcomings can be overcome. This is the starting point, then it comes down to how some of these things are received commercially. At a certain level, an enterprise needs to assume that the commercial needs of the vendor are not always in line with their strategic needs and think about how best to align these and make it transparent and thus develop a strong Vendor-Enterprise relationship.

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