Making customers data meaningful through business intelligence: CIO, Micromax
“We have a huge focus on analytics as we have lots of data which can actually be mapped into BI for churning valuable insights,” says Atul Nigam, CIO, Micromax Infomatics Ltd, in an exclusive conversation with Ankush Kumar. The Indian consumer electronics company is planning to implement business strategies based on customer data using business intelligence tools. Atul has over 24 years of extensive experience in IT and was earlier associated with Samsung Electronics in India, where he was responsible for all strategic IT initiatives.
Tell us about your association with Micromax and what was your priority area when you joined the company?
Micromax started its business since 1999 and came into limelight in 2008 when it started getting into the mobile phone category. Micromax is the only Indian brand which went global and succeeded really well. By 2010, it was one of the largest domestic companies making handsets in the low-cost feature phone segment in India. I joined Micromax in February 2014 and my first agenda was to implement SAP ERP because the company grew many folds and we could not do much with the kind of ERP we were using earlier. SAP ERP has helped us to integrate all the individual business process into a single system. This took around a year time and we were able to bring visibility in the channel business.
How are you using various technology tools for business growth?
We have a huge focus on analytics as we have lots of data which can actually be mapped into BI in getting valuable insights about the customers. As this data is huge, therefore we are taking small steps in making it valuable for our business. Once we install the BI app we will be able to see sales transactions on the country map. We already have the service centers tagged, and even the retailers are tagged. We will have the demographic data tagged soon, and hence on the India map we will be able to drive our sales and service strategy. I am also responsible for the data security of the company and therefore I can say that we have systems in place to safeguard it.
How much is the company’s focus on cloud?
We are very heavily present on the cloud with very critical servers already installed; however, the ERP is still on premise. We have approximately 100 plus instances running on the cloud, and it’s a dev/test plus production, so the application that works on the mobile phones falls under our product service division. We are trying to make our salesforce automation which is in the implementation stage, so we are Geo-tagging all the retailers across India.
How are you associated with the Make in India initiative?
After the announcement of Make in India project, we have set up a factory in Telangana and another factory in Bhiwadi-Rajasthan. And our factory at Rudrapur is contributing 60 percent of our overall production. Even our competitors have the same approach and are aggressively working towards Make in India. As a case point, a Noida factory of Samsung where I have spent almost 17 years is producing approximately five million mobile phones a month. As of now we have only the assembly kind of production, but we have plans to manufacture the entire finished product in India.
How do you see the competition in the market?
We are cognizant of the fact that there is a lot of competition in the mobile phone market especially from the Chinese manufacturer. They are pumping in a lot of money in pushing their products in the market. The advantage of being the early movers in the low cost smartphone category is that we know the nuances of those particular strata of customers. Even bigger players like Samsung have come up with a variety of smartphones in the same category so the competition is enormous.
What kind of work you are doing in the enterprise segment?
We are aggressively reaching out to the CIOs and trying to know their exact needs and how we can address it. We aim to have a platform driven approach for the B2B market. We are tying up with a lot of MDM (mobile device management) players. So whenever we are selling to the enterprise, we sell as a bouquet of products. For instance, for a hospital segment we are trying to develop an app that works as an EMR (electronic medical record).
What impact do you think GST will bring to the company’s business?
I think with GST the overall way how we do the business will change. GST may not have a direct impact, but this is an opportunity in changing the way we are accustomed to work. In VAT everybody needed to have warehouses in each state, but now with GST we do not need warehouses in every state and one or two mother warehouses will be sufficient. Technology wise, yes it was a challenge as we were not aware of the changes in the system and how easily it is going to be integrated. I think it may not be easy for most organisations to upload all the invoices on the GSTN.
Where do you see the IT industry is drifting? And what innovation is Micromax planning to do?
Today hardware is dying, as it happens in laptops that you can keep upgrading the processors and rams and there is nothing much one can do about it. We have lots of people who are focused on the software part of the mobile phone; the operating system, the application they are trying to build, etc. These are built with an aim to make the life of the user much easier. We already have lots of innovative products on the Google play. We are trying to build an ecosystem that can provide booking of all kinds of services like taxi, bus, train, etc. on one platform.
How is technology helping in ensuring transparency and efficiency in the business?
We have created a retailer app through which a retailer can immediately report a sell out, so we will have that visibility. Through IT we are trying to reduce the payment cycle for our retailers. Today the cycle is around 30 days, but the idea is to make it a seven day. The data is coming through the sales system so once the sail is made, we can always check whether it was a right sales with respect to our schemes. This is how transparency can be brought in along with a sense of efficiency. In an environment like this which grew so fast, the managers don’t get the time to lay down the processes. My idea is to make the company nimble footed and agile rather than laying too much of processes.