Our goal is to be the best-connected company
been in the hot seat at Johnson and Johnson Limited for close to a decade, Mr.
Narendra Ambwani, Managing Director, Johnson and Johnson Limited, talks
about how IT has made a difference to J&Js business. by Deepali
What are your business goals?
The search for new products and brand building exercises are an ongoing process.
We keep these undercover until the day of release. Our broad objective is to
grow sales and profits in double digits.
How has IT helped J&J and in what way will it contribute
IT has brought efficiency and speed into the system making it transparent. If
there is a product inauguration in the morning, sometimes people can access
its pictures in the afternoon over the J&J Intranet. Tsunami contributions
were also tracked on this system. People could see what the company did, who
contributed and the quantum of funds generated and sent. Forms, leave applications,
room bookings--everything to do with the company is available on the system.
Strategically IT is beneficial because someone would otherwise have to spend
a lot of time performing the tasks that the system performs. If data is not
in a consolidated format, someone has to collate it. Technology is used to consolidate
and present information so that it is easy for the marketing manager or any
other person to access it.
Does that include business reports?
This includes report generation, information analysis and maintaining consumer
contacts. Customers can now call on a toll free number and data regarding their
suggestions and complaints are tracked by the system. We can, as the management,
review these complaints and take corrective action much faster. This leads to
product improvement and consequently improves business.
How often do you use your IT enabled services?
As often as is required. The sales team typically accesses the system more frequently.
At the top level I go through the sales figures daily. We examine several parameters
at different levels on a monthly basis. Line Item Fill Rate for example is a
service measure of the company that tracks how many orders are completed on
time. The use of the technology across the entire company is a cultural change
What have you done to enable this transformation?
IT investment at Johnson & Johnson Limited began in 1996. We were early
movers in using the information available on the Internet for business advantage.
I myself have been a big promoter of IT. Five years ago we put a smart card
solution in place to control entry. We installed SAP two years back. Now all
our conference rooms, my room etc. are [WLAN] enabled so that anyone can log
into the intranet and even surf the Internet from his or her laptop.
Five years ago, we had cyber cafes in all our company offices, so that people
could connect and learn to send e-mail. We also had a policy for employees to
acquire personal PCs, initially at the company's cost, which could be paid off
over a period of five years. So most of our employees have computers at home
because of the low starting cost. Now we are extending this scheme to workers
on the shop floor, because the change has to happen at every level.
Can you cite an IT implementation that redefined business
IT has enabled communication to a level that would have been inconceivable earlier.
People within the company are connected to the database and distributors get
relevant data through the system. Retail points will get connected in the future.
Our worldwide goal is to be the best-connected company.
For example when a distributor has been invoiced or a product has been shipped
or a debit has been made, the distributor receives an SMS.
We also had an initiative where a sales team visited doctors with regard to
our baby products. They filed their reports, on the move, over the Internet.
Do you insist on an ROI assessment of your IT investment?
Over the years I have sanctioned perhaps Rs 50 crores for IT alone. Initially
the senior management asked me this question, but it is extremely difficult
to do such an assessment. Of course we did some of it based on theoretical assumptions
[such as value of efficiency], but come to think of it, there are many secondary
benefits of IT that we cannot incorporate in such an assessment.
What role does the IT Head play in J&J?
He already is a board member who discusses all issues like other business heads.
The relationship we share is that I pose a business challenge and he comes up
with a solution. There is a lot to be learnt from IT Heads.
Deepali Gupta can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org