CIO Panel Discussion TS 2003
Aligning IT with business objectives
A roundtable discussion on the topic 'Aligning IT with business objectives'
was one of the important events at Technology Senate 2003. It was moderated
by Sunil Chandirmani, partner, Ernst & Young, and the objective was to discuss
the need to align a company's IT objectives with its business objectives.
The objective of the discussion was to throw light on issues like the kind of
strategies the CIO should use to achieve the objective of alignment; getting
the IT budget; the level of knowledge that CIOs should possess about the company's
business in order to achieve its goals.
The CIOs belonged to companies from a mix of diverse industry verticals like
manufacturing and retail, banking, telecom, and airlines.
Enterprise Business Unit, Reliance Infocomm said:
Competition is increasing everyday from regional, national, and international
companies. We need to be very conscious of what our customers expect from us
and be innovative. We must be conscious of issues like cost and quality. So
the CIO has to be an equal contributor to the strategic needs of an organization.
The CIO has to look at the areas where IT drives business value.
Rajendra P. Erande,
Corporate Advisor, IT, Thermax said:
In the past, IT personnel have always been considered 'techies', and there has
been a gap in the way the CEO looked at them. But now, the business has realized
that it is a good idea to involve the IT team, right from the planning stage
for more value in a business project. So it's essential that the CIO aligns
IT strategies with business needs.
S.R. Balasubramanian, VP - IS, Hero Honda Motors said:
In the current enterprise scenario there's no need to justify the cost of purchase
of IT infrastructure, and the CIO does not need to sell the concept of an IT
project to an organization. There is only the need to justify the business value
of IT. So here's where the alignment function comes in.
However, the concept of aligning IT with business is not new, and it's very
important that the CIO goes beyond the conventional role, understands the business,
and takes active part in its development.
C.N. Ram, Head - IT, HDFC Bank said:
I don't think IT is an option anymore. The business heads have reconciled themselves
to the fact that they need to work together with IT. The CEO goes to the CIO,
offers to support the IT budget, and asks for value and growth in business as
a return. So the CIO must go to the business heads and work with them to produce
M.S.V. Rao, Director,
Dept. of IT, Air India said:
Airlines is a highly IT-driven industry and has IT deep-rooted in its business.
This ensures that there aren't any issues with the budget.
We follow the philosophy that expenditure for requirements in the IT infrastructure
like network upgradation or mainframe and systems development comes out of the
IT budget. IT expenditure in areas like user departments, booking offices, and
airports come out of the commercial department's budget.
IT needs a lot of governance, like fuel supplies for an aircraft. The top management
has to look at IT and thus ensure its alignment with business.
Vikram R. SriHari,
Director - Business Systems, Coca Cola India said:
I feel that the world is still somewhat diminished and the CIO fraternity is
responsible for that. We seem to forget the reason we're here. We're actually
here to add profitability to an organization, align ourselves to the business,
and bring magnitudes of differentiation with competition.
CIOs have to understand the business strategy and take the IT initiative forward.
This will make a change, which will push the company to profitability. The CIO
is a trusted custodian to the virtue of the organization.
Head - IT, HDFC Bank
Enterprise Business Unit, Reliance Infocomm
VP - IS, Hero Honda Motors
Rajendra P. Erande,
Corporate Advisor, IT, Thermax
Director, Dept. of IT, Air India
Vikram R. SriHari,
Director - Business Systems, Coca Cola India
Sunil Chandiramani, Partner, Ernst & Young
The roundtable panel agreed that in the current business scenario where a company
is very dependent on IT for operations, it's essential that IT should be aligned
to the company's business strategy.
The CIO should take the initiative to understand the company's business processes
very well. This will help him/her add value to the organization's business goals.