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
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.
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.
Citing one of the IT accomplishments at ITC, Vaidyanath talks about the e-Choupal
projectwhich is already the subject matter of a case study at the Harvard
Business Schoolas 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.
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
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