Balancing Priorities

DQI Bureau
New Update

From being considered as a pure technologist in his earlier avatar, the role

of the CIO has evolved and undergone a transformation. In his new avatar, the

CIO is now a business leader; and the change is for the better. The CIOs

transformation has in turn created new opportunities for him to influence

business outcomes and in some instances also take on direct responsibility of a

function. While few CIOs remained loyal to their functional domains within an

industry segment, some believed that moving across industries presented better

learning and opportunities.


My journey as a CIO has taken me across industries and verticals and each new

opportunity has brought a new paradigm, a new domain to learn and contribute to.

Over a period of time, the realization was that mid and back-office functions

typically remained similar irrespective of their industry, while customer

interactions and customer facing applications varied dramatically by industry.

My journey in retail started three years back with Shoppers Stop, HyperCity

and Crossword as the three main business units. The primary activity for all of

them was to sell to a customer, the merchandise and its treatment in the store,

and the back office had significant variations across formats. A fashion store

works very differently as compared to a hypermarket, which is unique when you

look at a bookstore.

Later on I took on an expanded role from being the group CTO for Shoppers

Stop to being the group CIO for K Raheja Corp. This brings along with it

construction, commercial and residential complexes, malls, hospitality and a few

other business operations. All of them at various stages of evolution on the IT

roadmap and usage of technology; the directions were largely aligned with the

needs of the industry and there is an expectation to leapfrog ahead.


While the key considerations for any group CXO would be similar; the terms

may change depending on the context. Some of the critical considerations for a

group CXO is creating a unified framework while recognizing individual

differences between business operations; benchmarking internally across, as well

as with respective industry and at the same time find synergies across the group

on collective buying, resource efficiencies, and costs. Being the team head for

a large group, he is also responsible for providing talent recognition and

growth opportunities across teams laterally. In addition he also ensures that

different business units remain within the defined framework except where

external forces may demand differentiation, and explore the shared service model

where possible for common functions or processes.

All the above apply to IT without exception. The group CIO is mandated to

work within a similar framework towards creating a unified IT and telecom

infrastructure, thereby providing ease of management and providing collective

buying opportunities with standardization, leveraging volume; following a common

set of applications wherever possible, for reducing complexity and license

costs, managing talent across the group recognizing high performers, and

providing opportunities across the group and improving retention. Last but not

the least, to set up a common shared services for base technologies, thereby

reducing operational cost.

At the group level, the expectation is to understand business and provide

technology enabled improvements, as it would in the case of a singular business.

The difference is that a group CIO may have at his/her disposal resources beyond

the ones available within just one company. This makes the task easier and at

the same time complex. Easier, as resource constraints are relatively less, but

complex because now there may be multiple conflicting priorities that need to be


Arun Gupta,

The author is Group CIO, Raheja Group