“A CIO must act with conviction in getting things rolled out,” says Singh, who took the hard stand of going ahead with the digitization. “People may be used to working on legacy applications and processes, but as part of digitally transforming the organization, an IT leader will have to put in place new processes and solutions that are beneficial for the company and don’t impact it in any negative way.”
To bring everyone on board, Singh leveraged empathy, an important attribute of leadership. “I am a hardcore technologist but as a leader, I also feel the pain and challenges of others,” he says.
In this case, to view the decision from a different perspective, Singh put himself in the shoes of the employees getting impacted by the move. “I allayed their fears of losing their jobs by convincing them that the new solution was an opportunity and not a threat,” he adds. “As the new solution would cut down the time taken from several days to less than one day, I showed them how it could increase their efficiency, enable them to go home early, and make the entire process transparent.”
Similarly, Kapil Pal, CTO at iEnergizer, a global BPO solutions provider, had to take some tough calls while heading IT at United Breweries (UB), one of India’s best known liquor companies. When the company was acquired by international brewer Heineken, UB had to be digitally transformed to bring it on par with the Dutch company.
“This meant that the IT infrastructure of UB had to migrate to the global platform,” says Pal. “For instance, we had to junk our homegrown HR solution to migrate to the global HR solution. This would’ve brought UB on the same page as the other 70 group companies, lending it transparency into HR policies and initiatives. While all this made sense from an overall strategic perspective, it was a tough ask for UB as the transition from the Indian in-house developed solutions to the global ones would have raised our costs six times. This substantial and sudden increase had to be managed.”
To curtail costs, Pal froze new hiring. He also leveraged Heineken’s global contracts. “We leveraged lower cost licensing because of our global contracts,” he adds. “There wasn’t only an overall 25 to 30% reduction in the licensing cost, but an upgrade of licenses to higher levels also,” he says.