Smart IT Investments: A CIO’s Tips

Manish Choksi, CIO von Indiens größtem Farbhersteller
Manish Choksi, CIO of Asian Paints. Photo: Screenshot

Asian Paints wants to put the customer in the center of its activities. What is your strategy?

Manish Choksi: The greatest challenge in the Indian market is to increase the per capita consumption of paint. Today, paint is becoming a life-style choice. The more options we offer, the more we can sell in the decorative coatings space. We need to broaden our choice and differentiate our product offerings. Product availability and service levels are crucial as customers are not willing to either travel far to pick up paint or wait for the product to be available. And they want to know which paint is the right one, and how it is used. As we deliver our products via partners, we are training them how to use the paint, how to consult consumers, and to deliver additional services.

How do you use IT?

A decade back it was all about financial integration and supply chain management. Now it is about how to satisfy the consumer’s needs. All the IT Investments are now mainly in CRM, mobile, analytics, social, and collaboration to deliver the best solutions for the customer.

We implemented SAP CRM in 2003 across multiple areas. Last year, we decided to re-architect our solution with the customer at the center. Now, we provide an end-to-end service for consumers via our call-center. To be able to collaborate with our partners, we deployed SAP Business One in conjunction with SAP CRM. Asian Paints has also built an innovative social CRM solution that integrates Twitter and Facebook with SAP CRM through SAP NetWeaver Gateway to identify leads, segment them, and engage with the consumers.

Next page: Focus on mobility and analytics

On which other areas do you focus?

Analytics is a focus area. We chose SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW) to be our data warehouse. When SAP HANA was introduced, we saw the value and power of the technology and decided to adopt it as well. We implemented scenarios around SAP BW on SAP HANA and we were satisfied with the performance improvements. We also tried a scenario on the open SAP HANA architecture. The real-time sales reporting scenario has worked well for us. We have deployed SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and are looking into Visual Intelligence.

We are evaluating the possibility of SAP HANA applications like Sales and Operations Planning (SNOP), and Working Capital Management. And mobile will continue to be a focus area. Our sales representatives use mobile apps built on the SAP Mobile Platform for about 70% of their tasks. We will also look at cloud, mainly to provide disaster recovery, or where we need the ability to scale rapidly.

As president of the Indian SAP user group INDUS, what are the IT topics for Indian companies?

India has a lot of small or medium-sized companies. The biggest driver for them is getting the most out of their ERP system, and using analytics. Mobile is more for the bigger companies. But this might change, if SAP provides more robust and easy to consume solutions for the cloud. Most companies look at ways to manage their installations in a cheaper manner, and cloud might be a solution there. But, I think the biggest challenge in India is to breed a culture of peer-to-peer help, as is seen in other global SAP user groups.