Episode 63: “Customer is AI Focus” Saurabh Gupta, CIO, Kent RO

Saurabh Gupta, CIO, Kent RO

Question: Being into the Consumer market space which moves quite fast, the challenge of Kent RO must be accurately and timely sense the customer expectations. How does IT helps in gaining customer expectations and to enhance products and overall experience?

Answer: If you look at what most of the customer expect is for us to be available on all the platforms most of the time. They want support, pre-sale support, post-sale support, they want availability, any information about the product. So I think the current IT challenges are that your platform and all your applications should be available all the time to the customers so that they can access all the relevant information as and when necessary to them.

Question: Current role of CIOs not only includes IT management but also overall ROI and viability of IT spending in an organization. How do you manage your expanding role which has now become more business oriented?

Answer: Currently any of the businesses which are growing or expanding, they deploy technology at the core of it, whether it’s a manufacturing industry, a service business or anything, the technology has to be at the core of it. So, currently if you look at the roles that a CIO plays is not only related to IT infrastructure or developing application but taking the core business decision that will help the business. This is a challenge that every CIO faces nowadays. It’s not only the technology that he needs to manage but also he/she needs to support the business so that the business growth can happen.

Question: Identifying the right technology is only half job done; stakes are larger on identifying a right solution provider and rightly implementing the solution in true business sense. How do you ensure to identify the right technology partner, who gives the right advice, suggests a scalable solution and doesn’t overcharge you?

Answer: I always look for a technology partner and service partner. While evaluating a partner’s service we look at it with two perspectives. One is the legal point of view. The partner which is putting KM for any of the business or the services has the credibility in the market and secondly we take the feedback from their past customers as well as evaluate them on multiple fronts, let it be how do they deliver?, what kind of size do they have?, what kind of commitments they have shown to their existing customers.

Question: How do you perceive the importance of automation in organizations of India? How automation makes life easier for stakeholders including employees in your organization?

Answer: Automation always builds in speed and accuracy for the customers. So, anything which we expect to do manually, automation can do it in a much cheaper value and at a faster pace. An example when you call a Kent customer care, we have automation at our call center levels. So when a customer calls up you don’t have to explain who you are, it’s based on the number which we detect who the person is. Similarly when we us AWS services for identifying the serial number of the product on the warranty card, it helps us in reducing the staff at the call center and this has automated the process for our business partners.

Question: How does automation inside your organization justify the ROI?

Answer: Automation most of the time gives good results, both in terms of saving costs and ROI as well. You may not see it upfront in any initial investment but over a long period of time automation always helps. Using the standard services of any platform let’s say AWS helps automating lot of your processes which can result in cost-saving as well as increasing the business.

Question: Please talk about your initiatives around automation inside your organization?

Answer: We have done lot of automation for our customers. Whenever our customers make a call at our call center, they are automatically recognized i.e. who the customer is and based on that the customer is able to register or track the status of the service. Similarly when you call our sales call center and if you have already registered a request, we are able to identify who is calling and what are the related requirements which actually reduces their time which they invest in the IVR Que or the call center Que.

Question: While organizations across the industries are facing challenges with digital transformation, how are you ensuring to have the upper hand in technology to remain ahead of the competition?

Answer: I think digital transformation is the key to any of the business now. There’s a difference between digitization and digital transformation. Most of the organizations are digitizing their business process. By digitizing I mean they are converting their offline records to online. But when it comes to digital transformation, I think there are very few companies which are able to do it and whosoever are able to do it I am sure they will excel in their existing business. How we look at digital transformation is that we don’t take it as an expense. We always look at it as if it will drive our business. Kent does a lot of investment in digital transformation and the core technology that we use. That was the reason we moved to AWS. We used to have data center at our own office but we tool a conscious call that as we grow we have to grow it at a pace that we cannot be able to manage at our own data center and hence we moved to AWS cloud which has actually helped us on multiple front. It has reduced time for us to go to market, it has reduced our expenses, it has improved our hardware refreshment cycle, it has allowed access to hell lot of services. If we had tried it on our own, it would have taken hell lot of time. That’s how I think digital transformation is helping us.

Question: What are the digital transformation challenges that you face in your organization?

Answer: So, there are technical challenges and there are recourse related challenges. Whenever you do any digital transformation, there is always a resistance from existing workforce because nobody wants to change and that’s one challenge that we always face, the other is the technology culture that is selecting the right partners, selecting the right services and making the right choice as in what you want to do. Also whenever we take any digital transformation services or digital transformation operation or anybody else wants to do it, I think its very critical that we do a thorough evaluation whether the process that we are transforming requires any digital transformation or not. Once you have done that the second step would be to select a right partner which will be able to transform your business. Third is your actual role out with your team members and customers or whosoever is there.

Question: What are the digital transformation initiatives that you taken in your organizations?

Answer: As part of our digital transformation, we are converting a lot of our offline processes to online so that people can get access to information. There is a lot of transparency in the organization. They are able to access records. We are also putting lot of applications on mobile devices so that people on the move can update their sales related data or service related data?

Question: What are the challenges that you faced while implementing the new initiatives?

Answer: Whenever you look at any new initiative that needs to be taken with respect to digital transformation the first step is to identify where the transformation is required. You have to actually thoroughly study the process, study the implication of the process and once you have identified that this is the process that you need to transform digitally, that’s where you need to start working i.e. what are the components, what are the parts of the process that you transform. After that the 2nd part comes as selecting the partner who is going to work with you, who can help you which has all the products or services available in the bucket. He is transparent as well as cost-effective and we have used AWS for some the transformation processes. I think it has worked out well for us. The third step comes is the actual role out when you have to take the people on board that the transformation that you are doing is beneficial for the business as well as for them and once that happens I think digital transformation happens.

Question: Change Management is crucial part of any new initiative. Employees play big role. How do you address the change management in your organizations?

Answer: I think the critical part of any digital transformation is to take everybody along. It cannot be that you do any of the digital transformation in isolation. You have to get the people who are the stakeholders on the table. Everybody has to understand that this digital transformation is important. Unless you do it you are going to perish. Somebody else is going to come and get you out of the market. This has happened with lot of banks, lot of other businesses who were not being able to change and I think once people can come on board, they realize that Yes, this is important. Then, the rest of the things are simple. Doing things in isolation never works.

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