adding more fizz to Coca Cola"
be a proactive and service oriented business partner for
influencing change and contributing to increased share
owner value through a dedicated, creative and energetic
team." These words encapsulate the IT vision of Venkatesh
Mahadevan, director, Information Systems, Coca Cola, India.
His primary objective is to make information technology
a planning tool and to work towards providing the management
with the right information at the right time and in the
old Venkatesh Mahadevan hails from Kerala and has spent
a large part of his life in Mumbai, the city he adores.
After acquiring a degree in commerce, he completed an
MBA program and P.G. degree in computers.
of his entry into IT, he says, "My initiation into
IT was pure chance. As a teenager I wanted to join the
aviation industry. But IT happened and today I have no
has a total of 14 years of work experience. He commenced
his professional life with Lintas India Ltd., where he
worked for the media and MIS departments. During his tenure
in Lintas, he designed a media system and later developed
MIS systems for the accounts department and also developed
business systems and the 'Client Recoverables' system.
subsequently joined Procter and Gamble (P&G) and was
instrumental in implementing LANs and desktop standards
in the corporate office at Mumbai. He then moved into
the business applications area and led the warehousing
and inventory control system project, which he implemented
at all the depots across the country. Mahadevan spearheaded
the implementation of data communication links between
the key locations of P&G and to the head office in
Mumbai to access the AS/400. He considers P&G as the
college of his professional life, where he learnt a lot
and added to his skill sets.
he moved to the Dubai headquarters of Schlumberger and
then to India, to set up the infrastructure for its all-India
operations, including recruitment and training of the
IT team, for an independent profit centre.
was in 1994 that Mahadevan joined Coca-Cola India, as
an Information Systems Specialist and has since then held
positions such as Merchandising and Business Applications
Manager and Operations Systems Manager at the Bombay office.
After spending about four years in Mumbai, he moved to
Bangalore in December 1997, to head the IT department
for the bottling operations in the South. He worked for
over two years in Bangalore, before moving to Gurgaon
as director, Information Systems. "In bottling, it
was more of an implementation and operational role, whereas
now it is a bigger role in terms of strategy and planning,"
Cola, a leader in the beverages industry has on its soft
drink menu, brands such as Thumbs Up, Limca, Citra, Gold
Spot and Maaza. The company also manufactures and markets
Kinley soda and mineral water in India. The company has
six regional offices at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai,
Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. The company's bottling network
of over 50 manufacturing locations, including 11 Greenfield
plants, ranks as India's largest soft drink bottling and
India currently has over 200 odd systems across the country
and Mahadevan's mandate is to identify specific business
systems and bring the plethora of systems under a common
roof. He has conceived a cohesive IS strategy that will
leverage the current resources under one umbrella and
over a period of time eliminate duplicate processes. "In
today's scenario, corporates must move from a reactive
to a proactive environment and thereby gain a competitive
advantage in the market-place. An integrated system is
much more than the sum of its parts. I believe in the
philosophy Think Global, Act local,
points out Mahadevan.
we have implemented the ERP package SCALA at a few of
our locations, and have payroll and sales and distribution
systems running at a few plants and depots. These are
however interim solutions and will over the course of
a year, be replaced by larger and standard business systems,"
lieu of this plan, Mahadevan will be spearheading a major
ERP implementation across the country that will integrate
the company's operations in India and will help achieve
a competitive advantage in the marketplace. There will
also be major initiatives in the areas of infrastructure
and telecommunications, which will essentially link up
all the units, thereby leading to high speed and reliable
Recovery Planning (DRP) is Madhavan's favorite area of
interest. "I focus on the importance of a well planned
DRP and its role in ensuring business continuity for an
enterprise. DRP goes a long way in supporting and maintaining
a profitable enterprise, which is essential for a business
to survive in today's competitive world. DRP is the most
critical component of a business and people tend to ignore
it. It is like the insurance. You don't need it until
something goes wrong," he elaborates.
is also in this area that he ranks his best achievements.
While leading IT for the south operations, he spearheaded
the setting up of infrastructure at all the bottling units
and put standards in place to elevate the company to be
on par with the worldwide standards and guidelines. He
put very strict audit controls in place and ensured 100
per cent compliance at all the units in the South.
the area of business systems, he led the ERP implementation
for all the bottling units. Mahadevan conceived a very
structured approach for the business systems implementation
and introduced a project planning methodology workshop
to kick off the ERP implementation at every unit.
general management experience includes strategic infrastructure
planning and marketing communications. Mahadevan sees
IT as a major player in the life of an organization and
strongly believes that a good CIO can effectively contribute
to the business by delivering appropriate IT solutions.
views the period between 2000-2002 as very critical for
Coca-Cola India, from a technology perspective. He explains,
"The company is embarking on a major implementation
strategy, the roadmap for which is being put in place.
To define a solid and pro-active IS strategy and to ensure
that for all our operations, we have a standard system
for business processes and seamless integration."
has a team of 25 personnel working in his department.
He opines that his effective use of delegation to achieve
the desired results has largely contributed to his success.
He appreciates his team members who delivered consistently,
despite various hurdles.
spends a lot of time with his wife and two children and
says his success is chiefly due to the continuous support
extended by his wife. He passionately follows the Formula
1 racing and adores Michael Schumacher. In his spare time
he plays badminton and billiards.
has been a paradigm shift from business based technology
to technology based business. Mahadevan words, "The
brick and mortar companies need not completely transform
in to web companies, but they definitely need to embrace
IT in the right proportion and use it to deliver business
results. IT must be an "Enabler" to the other
functions in an organization. A business systems strategy
should be simple, effective, appropriate, practical and
cost-effective to implement," reflect this change
from business based technology to technology based business.
Murthy can be reached at email@example.com