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IT: Havells' leading light:Qimat Rai Gupta

Shantheri Mallaya | Jan. 8, 2014
Qimat Rai Gupta's life is the stuff legends are made of. For, not many can boast of transforming a small electrical trading company--that he set up in New Delhi in 1958--to a Rs 8,000 crore behemoth. In 1971, Gupta bought Havells. In no time, he turned it into an international brand with a slew of big acquisitions that included brands like Crabtree, Sylvania, and Standard. For a chairman of a huge company, Gupta keeps a fairly low profile. But, at 76, he is unlike a man at the helm of an old economy manufacturing company. His strong views on IT and his firm belief in the power of technology make him stand out.

CIO: How do you see your business goals merging with IT in 2014?

Qimat Rai Gupta: In our organization, IT works very closely with business. To put it more appropriately, it works a little ahead of the business so that the business has the necessary technology ready for its use when it requires. We will continue to launch new products, constantly upgrade our facilities, expand our reach, and provide better facilities and ease of operations to our channel partners. IT will play a significant role in facilitating and achieving all this.

Also, today, the responsibilities of CIOs have changed substantially. Technology has transformed almost all business processes and, today, it gives us the ability to create new products and services. Businesses have become more global in nature. The knowledge necessary to manage information, systems, and people has become more complex. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever for CIOs to have international business knowledge to provide insights and vision that meet the demands of a CEO. I believe that a CIO's role must shift from protecting and defending the status quo to embracing and extending new innovative capabilities.

CIO: How has IT helped boost investor confidence?

Qimat Rai Gupta: Havells has, in many ways, pioneered the use of IT in the Indian electrical industry. IT has enabled us in creating a strong base across functions. Taking a big leap in IT, Havells connected its entire operations in the market place including dealers, branches, manufacturing facilities, and management information systems. Our IT investments have clearly helped offer better services and products to customers and better our relations with our partners and suppliers. A case in point is our customer services portal that is also linked to our manufacturing plants so that all complaints and resolutions are recorded. And if there is any change required, it is automatically taken care of during the manufacturing process.

All this has helped improve efficiencies, get better margins, and provide dealer and vendor satisfaction. Our world class plants are a benchmark in the industry. An investor looks at a progressive company where his interest is safe and that too for a longer period of time. Havells has been consistently giving better results and constantly upgrading its product offerings, technology and manufacturing capabilities, thus ensuring

investor confidence.

CIO: How do you view Indian companies that have outsourced IT?

Qimat Rai Gupta: We have a slightly different view in this regard. Usually, people look at IT as a support function and therefore could outsource it to vendors. For us, IT is a strategic function and an intrinsic part of business and thus we have kept it in-house. I have noticed lately that some organizations have reviewed their decision of outsourcing IT to vendors. The role of IT has changed significantly and therefore IT has to be more proactive in offering solutions to various business issues and challenges. In some companies, talent retention could be a major reason for outsourcing the IT department but in our case there is no such issue.


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