S.Ramkrishnan : NextGen Digital Leader:United Breweries


Can you give an overview of emerging technologies you have deployed?

We have over the last couple of years leveraged Digital tools and technologies very effectively to digitize various business processes to improve efficiencies and at the same time gain competitive advantages. Some of the digital technologies that we have leveraged are RFID Tag based delivery tracking, Cloud, Rapid Application Development platform (RAD) and Mobility for our various digitization projects, Internet of Things (IoT) for smart energy management at our breweries. We are in the process of implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for automating key business processes in the supply chain area.

Which are the functions/departments in your organization that is starting first with the emerging technologies?

The functions that have been the first to leverage the emerging technologies are Sales, Manufacturing Operations, Procurement & Logistics, and Digital Marketing. 

How will emerging technologies like AI, Machine Learning, IOT, Big Data, Augmented Reality, Analytics etc will change the fabric of IT organizations? 

The role of IT is ever-changing. The things that we manage now are very different from that we managed a decade ago. In present times, we need not build everything. Applications are available off the shelf. A lot of cloud adoption is happening, hence, SaaS will be the norm going forward. Digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IOT, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Robotics, Predictive Analytics are getting into the mainstream.

The challenge for IT would be: In earlier days, though you had multiple systems, all were within your environment and control. If things weren’t working, you could fix it easily as it was in your own Data Center. Today, with many applications deployed in different cloud environments and interfaced through multiple integration layers, when something fails to work as expected, troubleshooting will be difficult as applications are on multiple cloud environments and you do not have the complete access to the environment.

So we will need to build expertise in managing applications and infrastructure in multi-cloud environments. People skills are going to be another serious challenge. With a tremendous amount of change happening in the technology world, there will be challenges in getting the right set of people. With everything getting digital, security is going to be a challenge with different kind of devices interacting with the application and the humungous amount of data that needs to be managed. Today you need to provide access to applications and data from anywhere and from any device and this by design exposes your infrastructure and applications to the outside world. Access is from all over the place and from all kinds of device and hence it might be difficult to trace the point of attack. A lot of time and money will be spent on ensuring that security and governance are in place. 

Emerging tech best practices and deployment strategies 

With a plethora of digital technologies emerging in the enterprise technology landscape, leveraging them effectively to gain competitive advantage and managing that change is going to be the critical success factor. However, if you are able to go with the times and speed with which the organization is moving forward, you’ll be able to manage them better.

As a best practice, before taking up any project, have a detailed conversation with the functional team involved, present the viewpoint and highlight the benefits that will accrue from the project, take their buy-in and then go ahead. Of course, this takes time and has a cycle time of its own: Do a pilot, observe and validate the outcomes and then roll it out across the enterprise.

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