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Technology is the chief ingredient behind running a successful retail business: CIO of Tesco HSC

Shubhra Rishi | Feb. 13, 2013
Tesco, the foreign retail giant, may soon set up its shop in India, but its global services arm will complete nine long years in May 2013. We spoke to Vinod Bidarkoppa, who joined Tesco HSC last year as Director (IT) and Chief Information Officer, and discussed the diverse aspects of his role in the retail business.

Tesco, the foreign retail giant, may soon set up its shop in India, but its global services arm will complete nine long years in May 2013. We spoke to Vinod Bidarkoppa, who joined Tesco HSC last year as Director (IT) and Chief Information Officer, and discussed the diverse aspects of his role in the retail business.

How has your journey with Tesco HSC been so far?

I have been in the CIO role for just a little over a year. Tesco Hindustan Service Centre (HSC) is in the 8th year of its journey in India, and it's the only center Tesco has for IT. The company started with, moving some of the work--predominantly from the U.K., and over the years, has built notable domain capabilities and domain competency. At HSC, we have been very self-sufficient as an IT organization. Roughly 70-75 percent of Tesco's global IT operates from India. Initially, we looked at enhancing business processing and financial modeling skills. We were also looking at centralizing and standardizing a lot of things across our various operating countries. We wanted to develop a niche which would give us benefits across multiple attributes such as skills, resources, and cost.

Tesco HSC has two dimensions. One is focused on providing service, as an applications maintenance infrastructure unit, to the 13 operating countries across the globe. The other has the flavor of a product development company. We develop large enterprise multi-deployment platform-level products which are run out of single instance in one place or deployed in multiple locations in multiple countries, which is a typical characteristic of a product development company. We have also developed a common KPI to measure the success of IT in every country that we operate in--and all of that is standardized from HSC. We are able to bring all the data from all the countries to a common charter through standard KPIs.

How do you think the role of technology has evolved in retail?

I have prior experience in the airlines and banking sectors, where technology is an enabler. It can create a huge business opportunity. For instance, in an airline business, all employees have the same view of customer data whether it's accessing a company website or a kiosk, a call center or the travel agency. Everyone knows whether a particular customer has a silver, gold or platinum membership. Therefore, airlines as a business can monetize on that customer information. In the retail business, we are on the same trajectory. It's about employing a multi-channel strategy which can become successful only when technology becomes a key enabler to implement these business processes.

At Tesco, our general merchandizing online business, grocery web business or the seller's platform, each of these by itself, is multi-channel in nature and all are technology-enabled. Our international grocery shopping business is an incubated new business model which we built once and deployed in various countries. The CEOs love it because it has become a revenue model for them. So, the platform, thus, became the business. Technology is a significant component on how we add value for our customers.

 

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