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Issue of March 2004 
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Creation of superior value

Krishnamoorthy Vaidyanath, Executive Director, ITC Limited views IT as a strategic business tool and believes in creating superior value for the consumer. by Minu Sirsalewala

Krishnamoorthy Vaidyanath, Executive Director, ITC Limited, handles the company's finance function, the investment subsidiary, Agri business, and Corporate Communications as part of his business portfolio. Added to this burgeoning portfolio, Vaidynath, an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur is also a Director on the board of ITC Infotech Limited.

Superior value

Being in varied executive positions in the company for the past 26 years Vaidyanath views IT as a strategic business tool and strongly believes that in the battle to create superior value for the consumer, the ability to effectively and innovatively leverage IT is fast becoming a key differentiator, and often a key success factor. To ensure this Vaidyanath positions the CIO as the CEO's strategy partner and strongly recommends a strong partnership between the two.

Any strategy formulation is an interactive process between the CEO and the CIO, continuously refined by the interplay of technology and business dynamics.

He opines that while the CEO will continue to drive business strategy, the CIO will need to understand the business strategy in totality to deliver efficiently. Based on such comprehension he should closely work with the CEO to tweak strategy to leverage the technology advantage.

ITC has clearly laid out systems, policies, structures and processes for the management of IT as a strategic tool. Competent teams at both divisional and corporate levels carefully study the business case for any IT investment. All major IT investment decisions are finally approved by the Corporate IT Steering Committee which is headed by Vaidyanath. He ensures that he is actively involved in all major IT investment decisions and has the CIO report directly to him.

E-choupal

Citing one of the IT accomplishments at ITC, Vaidyanath talks about the e-Choupal project—which is already the subject matter of a case study at the Harvard Business School—as an outstanding example of integrating IT with the business strategy formulation process.

This initiative is expected to deliver over time an extraordinary rural distribution/sourcing infrastructure. This success has been achieved with the CIO being in line with the corporate requirements and the CEO being able to partner with him efficiently.

Thought leadership

Vaidyanath mentioned that the most important competency variable required of a CIO is 'thought leadership'. This includes the ability to comprehend the business model, particularly to understand how the business is attempting to create superior value for the customer/consumer. There must be insight into how the various business processes combine and synergize to create the superior value business model.

The CIO must have the capability to think through a technology model which can impart cutting edge differentiation to the business model. The CIO must have extraordinary ability to lead high competency teams, synergize their knowledge and efforts, and help them to learn to think in terms of business processes and business modeling.

In short, the CIO has to undergo the same kind of transformation that CFOs have undergone in recent times. Vaidyanath reiterates that both the CIO and the CFO need to position themselves as value strategists partnering the CEO.

Minu Sirsalewala can be reached at minus@networkmagazineindia.com

 
     
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