Over 1,500 retail outlets, spread across 200 cities. Multi-channel retailing
and millions of customers a month. If all these elements are to operate in
isolation, then perhaps CIO can stand up and say All is well.
And this is the mission that the company set flag for back in the year 2006.
Three years and a lot of impediments later, IT finally seems to have hit the
right chord for The MobileStore. Says Vikas Prabhu, CIO and business head,
mobile services, MobileStore, "As of now, our IT infrastructure is mainly on AS
The ERP they are using right now is a mix of JD Edwards and SAP and it is
connected over the Internet. The ERP implementation, though it started back in
2006, has gone through various advancements and has finally now reached a level,
wherein all the stores are connected online.
According to Prabhu, this connectivity for them has resulted in some very
tangible benefits. For one, there has been a definitive increase in
productivity. Also, Prabhu thinks that they have now got a certain edge over
their competitors mostly because their turnover time has reduced substantially.
There has been a rise in sales through
the online shopping cart after we relaunched it
Vikas Prabhu, CIO and business head, mobile services,
But the main benefit of this connectivity and IT implementation lies
elsewhere for Prabhu. "There is now only one version of truth for everybody. So
there is no manipulation and no imaginative figures," he declares.
The biggest challenge for any retail CIO according to Prabhu is the
inventory and supply chain management and that is because you have to constantly
monitor the shrinkage you have in terms of loss of goods, etc. The other thing
that any retail CIO has to consider is that the margins in retail are as it is
very low and you have to constantly work around that.
And Prabhu says that this makes the job of the CIO harder because he has to
convince the business partners of the value proposition. "The basic difference
between manufacturing and retail is that in retail you are dealing directly with
the customer. And a retail CEO understands this difference," notes Prabhu.
Thanks to this understanding, Prabhu has never felt the tug of the slowdown
or the bug of budget cuts.
Having finally reached a desired level of implementation in the ERP domain,
Prabhu is now doing something on the business intelligence (BI) front. But he
thinks that a major challenge there is that India as a market has not understood
BI for what it actually is. "Simply doing data warehousing or generating some
reports is not business intelligence," he adds.
The other thing that Prabhu is looking at very seriously is multi-channel
retailing, which includes integrating all the eight points of contact within
their ecosystem. He is also planning to go for a disaster recovery and business
continuity set-up soon.