The Information Differentiator



Here
in our offices in the bustling metropolis of the National Capital Region, I
usually  find myself writing the
year’s first editorial on a foggy January morning (with flights delayed or
canceled at Delhi). There’s often clouds, with a hint of sunshine later if
we’re lucky. That’s also the frequent metaphor as we cross the year. From
January 2002’s shadow of war, to 2005, right after Tsunami Sunday.

This
year’s scattered clouds spanned the country, all the way to Bangalore. After a
terrible rape and murder of a young BPO employee at HP, then a horrific shooting
of an IIT Delhi professor at the top-rung IISc, all in India’s most famous
tech city. And then a foiled attack on Hyderabad’s Hitec City IT hub.

There’s
nothing tech-specific about a crime or a terror attack. The larger the services
industries get, and the more critical to the economy, the more they’re likely
to reflect society (from credit card fraud to rape to terrorism) or draw the
attention of all, from politicians looking for causes, to trade unions.

Yet
every cloud has a (silver) learning, and the tech industry learns fast. It can
also be a role model. Security is its expertise area, a good reason why it’s
not easy to carry through an attack on a tech firm. Other industries and even
governments and law-enforcement agencies can learn from our tech companies:
security, access control, and activity audit trails.

But
Bangalore’s BPO rape gives the industry the chance to fix a yawning gap area
that doesn’t help its public image any. That’s transportation, and the
threat posed by the notorious call center taxis, not just to employee security
but to traffic. Too many accidents in the metros now involve these white UVs….crying
out for tougher specs, controls and SLAs with suppliers. And better information
systems, including GPS based trip and event recorders, with drivers being paid
according to recorded system scores based on their driving. From being the
source of terror on the roads, the BPO industry could become a role model for
technology use in traffic management.

Take
the mess airlines are in every winter in Delhi. Chaos, flights delayed,
cancelled, irate passengers assaulting staff. Whatever do they want?
Information. Why don’t they get it? Because the IS is in a mess. The staff has
varying and inconsistent flight status reports, the SMS and IVRS disagree, the
Website packs up. Leaving passengers stranded, or waiting 10 hours-and still
missing the flight. Give clear, consistent, updated, timely information through
all access channels and you can keep customers happier-and build a big
differentiator just with IT. Strategic IT.

Strategic
IT. Information systems as differentiator. That will be the realization, and the
holy grail, for many enterprises in 2006. And for government departments, and
state governments vying for investment. Clear, transparent, quick information.
Accessible anytime, anywhere. A competitive edge.
 

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