When Shobhana Ravi passed out with a post graduate diploma in Systems
Analysis, Data Processing and Database Management from Annamalai University more
than 20 years back, very few universities were offering such specialized
courses. Also an MBA from Loyala Insitute of Business Administration, after
spending 21 years in the industry and over a decade at Tafe (Tractors and Farm
Equipment Limited)-her longest stint after 10 years at COLT Computer Centre-Ravi
has used technology to its hilt to transform business in the tractors major.
Says Ravi, “IT is a strategic enabler of business at Tafe.”
Transition from being a software professional to an enterprise IT person has
been a natural evolution process for Ravi. “You need to take a call on whether
you want to grow in depth or in width.” Ravi chose the former because
“ultimately technology needs to be integrated with business goals”. It was
the sheer joy of converting technology to business benefits that made Ravi make
a conscious transition in to the enterprise in 1995.
(Information Technology & Learning), Tafe
Tafe, as an enterprise, has always been at the forefront of technology. Ravi
spearheaded the deployment of SAP along with her colleague S Ramakrishnan as
early as 1998, which was far ahead of most other companies, especially in the
tradition business space. The implementation was completed within a record time
of seven months. Phase I covered three plants and 14 depots. Phase II was
completed in the next three months.
In 2001, Tafe launched two portals, a B2B and a B2C, to streamline its
offline business. Tafechannel, an extranet portal, enables dealers and vendors
of Tafe to transact most of their business on the net. It allows dealers to
place orders for tractors and spare parts, track orders, handle service claims,
and monitor their outstanding. Vendors can also monitor the movement of raw
materials supplied by them, right from the time the materials enter Tafe’s
manufacturing facility. This portal is very tightly integrated with the existing
SAP implementation. Jfarmindia, an agri-portal for the farming community,
provides advisory services about local crops to farmers in different states of
India, in their local language. What makes Jfarmindia unique is the fact that
the portal was conceived and launched at a time when no company had thought of a
B2C portal dedicated to farmers.
While the role of the CIO has become more strategic in recent times, Ravi
considers herself to be extremely fortunate to be associated with Tafe where she
has played a strategic role right from the beginning. Says Ravi, “At Tafe, I
have always enjoyed being a part of the management team and act as a change
agent for the company.” Today she jointly heads a 60-member strong team
in the company which handles IT support at both Tafe and Tafe Motors and
Tractors Limited (TMTL).
Ravi is a voracious reader and has recently completed The Monk Who Sold His
Ferrari and Conversation With God. However, her all time favorite is The
Alchemist. The reason is the basic spirit of the book-“If you want
something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”, is how
she puts it. Put simply, it is the positive energy that comes out of the message
that motivates Ravi. Now we know where Ravi gets all her drive from!