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Digital transformation at Tata Steel to have EBITDA improvement worth billions, Jayanta Banerjee, Global CIO

The digital program will entail leveraging digital and IT to achieve business KPIs, which will impact the topline and bottomline. The company is following the stated vision of being a pioneer in digital steel making by 2025

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In the beginning of 2018, Tata Steel has undertaken a massive transformation program enabled by digital technologies to create EBIDTA improvement. “We are not talking about millions here but billions. The impact will be in billions,” stresses Jayanta Banerjee, Global CIO, Tata Steel. The program will entail leveraging digital and IT to achieve business KPIs, which will impact the topline and bottomline. The company is following the stated vision of being a pioneer in digital steel making by 2025.

In order to achieve the goal, the business, digital and IT have to work together. A dedicated team with IT skill sets is working hand in hand with the respective business units. “An IT framework has been created, in the absence of which, no digital transformation can be achieved. It’s like driving a Ferrari on a rough road. It’s not going to work. The IT strategy has been divided into four phases and the digital strategy in three phases,” says Banerjee.

IT strategy
The IT strategy has connectivity at its core followed by cloud and cyber security. Connectivity is critical, given the manufacturing plants, mines are located in difficult to operate terrains.

Cloud is being adopted in a big way. The target is to move most of the applications on cloud. It will drive scalability and agility. Cloud enables server provisioning in minutes, which was not the case in the yesteryears. Cyber security will also be a huge focus given the important role of cloud.

There are two more layers which will overlay on this infrastructure platform: The sensor and the applications layer. The machines can talk to each other through sensors and the man machine interface can also be facilitated by sensors. These two are important data acquisition systems.

The next is the data office. “The effectiveness of the analytics, AI, machine learning is a function of the data quality. Unless the applications are integrated, supported by the IT infrastructure, with sensors, man machine interface looped together, you will not get the data right. Inspite of the right and quality data available, an inappropriate data governance, metrics, structure can derail the results desired. We are creating a data office, with all the essential requirements handled to its best to provide a single version of truth,” informs Banerjee.

Digital strategy
Building analytics and advanced analytics and insights using AI and cognitive intelligence is fundamental to the strategy. This enables targeted decision making and converting instincts into insights. “In institutions, decisions are often taken on gut feel and instinct. It’s not bad per se in management. But companies will now have to move towards analytics driven decisions,” he states.
The last is the visualisation layer, which puts forth the data, so that it can be consumed in an efficient way leading to taking right decisions.

The cultural hack
Seeing is believing. The employees should be allowed to work with the technologies for a few months. This will convince them of the usefulness and they will not only adopt but also ask for more. For example, the blast furnace operator has to monitor at all times, the flame, temperature, colour, flame of the furnace and take decisions at times within seconds if not minutes. The statistical and mathematical algorithms will suggest the next action to be taken. In the past they were taking decisions on the basis of experience. Over a period of time, they would realise the advantage of technology over their personal gut feel.

Similarly, now, after high resolution cameras are deployed at the right places, monitoring the blast furnace, and also capturing the important indicators that need to be tracked with multiple angles, it helps the operators to take more informed decisions. It’s also a safe practice compared to before when there was nothing that separated the operator and the blast furnace. Now, there is a wall erected. The employees appreciate this because its significantly enhances the employee security. Tata Steel is also working on an IoT based feature for the contract workforce. It geofences the hazardous areas in a particular location. A beep or alert is generated as soon as the system identifies movement in the geofenced area.

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