Ashok Cherian

Data: Focus on availability and quality

Ashok Cherian, CIO, Page Industries, says that they have brought out their products in line with the mission of “satisfying the human need for comfort”, expanded its trade network and continue to drive the brand Jockey.

How are you keeping up with the ever-increasing demands for transformation?

Yes, the transformational need is ‘ever increasing’ and also increasingly challenging. It is interesting to state that almost all of our strategic business plans and initiatives are depended on digital transformation. We have a great business leadership team with a great vision and the IT work in a close-knit partnership model with the business. Many technologies including cloud and models like ‘SaaS’ is adding fuel to our speed and we keep trying to raise the bar to deliver value to our business partners.

How are you integrating customer experience into IT deliverables? How is it helping in advanced customer experience?

Our brand and all its connects are experiential. We plan out IT systems keeping in mind the customer and the needs and aspirations of the customer. With this delivery model and strategy all our projects get prioritized with customer in mind. Every investment is measured in terms of the customer delight and accordingly prioritized and we strive always to keep our goals linked to customer experience.

How are you managing growing cybersecurity, and data privacy threats?

Our security tagline is “Owned by Employee – Powered by Technology”. Information Security and Cyber Security are areas of strategic importance and is reviewed right at the board level. We have completed a comprehensive security posture assessment and have taken multiple steps to protect our digital and corporate assets. We also believe in the need to spread awareness among our employees and there are very many initiatives to augment that stream as well.

How are CIOs seeing advancing organizational use of data as key to reaching enterprise objectives?

Unlocking value, Monetizing and Synergizing are the key thought strategies we work on in terms of leveraging data. The availability, leverage and use of data is being focused on, along with the focus on quality of data. We are working on a ‘360 degree one view of the customer’ agenda where all the data points are harnessed to get insights to support our customer delight journey. While the agenda and the focus is clear, there are many hurdles like master data quality, integration among platforms and modules etc which we are systematically overcoming.

Many technologies including cloud and models like ‘SaaS’ is adding fuel to our speed and we keep trying to raise the bar to deliver value to our business partners.

How are you maturing the enterprise cloud strategy?

Cloud is clearly the future and we have a clear strategy of application modernization and revamp to make it happen. We have many of our critical workloads now in cloud and the for the new applications cloud is definitely the preferred option. There is also a considerable push given to SaaS agenda and the pay per use cloud model is working quite well for Page. I do not see any issue in getting to a near 100% cloud adoption status in the medium term.

What are the geopolitical impacts on the tech stack? How are you handling that?

With ‘data becoming the new oil’ and ‘digital disruptions impacting governments and countries’ we do keep a track on the emerging factors in this space. Governments across the world are getting more into digital governance and bilateral ties are becoming critical. None of the CIOs would want to face disruptions and the challenge with the disruptions can become difficult to handle as we have very less control over this space. What we do is to assess every product or solution getting onboarded from this angle and we also keep a track on the merging situations impacting the current stack to minimize risks.

How are you managing and powering through the turbulence—brought by Covid-19, inflation, supply chain issues, etc?

Turbulence brings the best out of you. That’s the case for Page. The result talks for itself and it is indeed reassuring. Strong Page DNA, Culture and Values has helped us steer this turbulence and digital capabilities has made it more scalable and sustainable. Supply Chain was impacted like any other player; but our wide range of products and focused attention helped much in minimizing the damage.

The journey will become more enjoyable and fruitful when you have great teams working along, with upright and reliable vendor partners along with engaged business partners, all of them working towards the same goal.

How is the digital adoption and employee training in your company?

Digital appetite is very high which helps adoption. Every change is challenging, and we deploy multiple strategies and partnering models to make the change more palatable and enjoyable. Training is indeed and area of continued focus and this definitely is a cornerstone for awareness and understanding. An informed employee is what we target and there are many formal and informal methods being deployed to achieve this.

How has been the move from CIO 1.0 to CIO 2.0, and beyond?

It has been a long 15 years plus I have had the fortune of being a CIO. For me it’s not just 1.0 to 2.0. I have seen many more twists, turns and transformations in the process. But I believe the single biggest reason for being able to ride this wave have been my own business acumen and focus on partnership with business. IT has moved on from being an ‘order taker’ to becoming a ‘trusted partner’. Today, organizations look up to the CIO to wear multiple hats moving beyond traditional IT domain. The journey will become more enjoyable and fruitful when you have great teams working along, with upright and reliable vendor partners along with engaged business partners, all of them working towards the same goal.

Ashok Cherian

CIO, Page Industries

aanchalg@cybermedia.co.in

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