Building an IT-Savvy Nation

DQI Bureau
New Update

Whatever progress India has been able to make in the services sector, no one

could deny that nation building would not happen without the growth of the core

sector. This includes industries like steel, coal, heavy engineering, aluminum

and other heavy minerals. Unfortunately, this sector has not traditionally shown

high inclination towards IT-the fact that most companies here are large PSUs

might have contributed to this. However, off late, this picture is undergoing a

total makeover-many of the so-called Indian navratnas are today's heaviest

IT users.


In the past, many PSUs have flinched from extensive automation, not only

because of bureaucratic red-tapism, but also because of pressures from the

militant trade unions. This is borne out by the fact that organizations in the

private sector, like Tata Steel, have been enthusiastic users of IT for a long

time. Tata Steel has, in fact, made pioneering strides in IT usage. Here, a

corporate knowledge management solution based on Lotus Notes, generates some

3000 hits per day and has contributed upwards of Rs 15 crore in savings/ value

for the company. It has also won the award for the Most Admired Knowledge

Enterprise in Asia. An operations research-based solution, developed in-house,

for optimizing trimming and slitting operations reduced wastage by 3% and

reduced cycle time for planning from 52 man-days to 3 man-days. It was one of

the first in the world to use data-mining technology to production processes

resulting in improvement in product quality.

NASSCOM-IMRB study indicates that the core sector, along with the 

FMCGs and the new-age Indian banks, were the heaviest users of IT in 2004

Hindalco is a specimen site for Oracle; SAIL and Coal India are cited

examples of reverse auctions through private exchanges. Not only have these

exchanges reduced inventory and planning time, in strict RoI measures, they have

brought in tremendous savings. And even the trade unions have been assuaged, as

automation has not led to extensive job losses. However, this might change as IT

usage increases further-in future, the core sector players have to balance

between IT adoption and retrenchment. In the IMRB study, core sector also scored

high on IT benefits aspects like impact on ROI, productivity and cost reduction.

The current application landscape in any manufacturing company involves

enterprise applications such as ERP, SCM, CRM, SRM, and PDM; plant level

execution systems for shop floor automation; HR functions, quality management

systems, WIP tracking systems, job scheduling applications; plant maintenance;

and plant automation and controls for tracking and monitoring of various

processes and equipment performances. The key to a successful IT strategy in

these core sector organizations is a robust Knowledge Management infrastructure

coupled with Business Intelligence and management philosophy as well as

enterprise wide application integrating across functions. The benefits: a

healthy business process management approach coupled with integration of supply

chain partners across core activities.