It’s easy for traditional companies to get comfortable using old solutions and processes that have worked for decades, but often the tried and tested method doesn’t help move the needle. Jindal Steel & Power Limited, an Indian steel and energy company, is defying that standard by using cloud computing to bring teams together and encourage them to think beyond their normal stream of thought. We spoke with Vipul Anand, Group CIO of Jindal Steel & Power Limited, about how he introduces IT strategies that align with business objectives. Here, Mr. Anand shares the importance of creating a collaborative environment, introducing new solutions starting at the top and partnering with technologies you trust.
Vipul Anand, Group CIO of Jindal Steel & Power Limited
Q: How do you think about technology at Jindal Steel?
Since we have more than 20,000 employees, we need to manage thousands of devices and a complex infrastructure. That requires me to stay connected with many people inside and outside of the company, including drivers, salespeople, customers and employees working at distribution centers, to ensure the technology we use benefits them. As CIO, it’s my job to address the unique mindset, expertise and needs of each person who interacts with us.
Q: Why did you move to the cloud?
My goal is to transform our business through technology solutions, melding teams across locations and saving money with cost-effective IT solutions. The cloud was an ideal solution for creating a collaborative environment that encourages our employees to share information.
With cloud technology, we will be able to achieve our 2016 goals of maintaining profitability, increasing our market share and continuing to put our customers first. In many ways our 64-year-old business operates traditionally, but with cloud technology, we’re taking a modern approach that will lead to innovation and business success.
Q: With teams spread across 10 locations in India, how does G Suite help keep teams connected?
Staying connected was an organizational challenge before we adopted G Suite— we didn’t have a central way to communicate and share information. Now, we have 10,000 Google Apps users. They access files and join meetings using any device, chat with colleagues and work together on documents.
Our employees are exploring new products and features on their own. For example, the chief medical officer, who is responsible for keeping employees healthy, wanted to use Google Hangouts to stay in contact with his team of two dozen doctors who are spread across the country. He tested it with his team and found it improved how they worked together. Now, all of the medical facilities use Hangouts as a primary method of communication.
Q: You mentioned that you’ve saved a lot of time using Google Apps. Are there any specific features that have been timesavers?
Real-time editing in Google Apps saves me a lot of time. When I approved the budget in the past, I received dozens of spreadsheets in different formats as email attachments. Now, I use a template in Google Sheets—we use the same one every quarter — and email everyone asking them to add their information. I can see who’s entered information, and I no longer spend hours compiling data from different documents.
Q: When employees are comfortable and familiar with the technology they currently use, how do you encourage them to use new technologies?
I recently encountered this situation when we opened a new location in Barbil, a small town in Eastern India. The 500 new employees were comfortable using the legacy solution they’d used for many years and weren’t ready to try something new.
I did something simple: I asked the head of that location to stop using his existing applications, including his email, and to start using Google Apps. Then he made it mandatory for his direct reports to use Google Apps.
Within 15 days, 100 percent of the employees in Barbil were using Google Apps. Whenever there’s hesitancy to try new technologies, I always remember that adoption starts from the top.
Mr. Anand’s team
Q: As more people use their own devices and software at work, what are your thoughts on this phenomenon called shadow IT?
Shadow IT has existed among companies for years, but it becomes even more salient in today’s world, where everything is changing so quickly. To that end, our approach to security must evolve quickly to address the latest security threats.
Even if you put a security strategy in place and get employees to sign an agreement, there will always be outliers who adopt their own version of an app or don’t follow the password recommendations. Or, for example, an employee might reuse the data in an ERP in a manner that doesn’t abide by your rules.
One way we’re addressing shadow IT is by using technology we trust. Mobile devices and laptops are secured, and we tell employees to use Google Drive for storage instead of pen drives.
We ask employees to share their information with the company using Google Drive, so we can learn from one another and work together. The solution to shadow IT is building a strong foundation.
Q: What advice would you offer CIOs looking to introduce new technology?
If you keep going to the same doctor and the medicine he prescribes doesn’t help, it’s time to try a new doctor. You’ll only get healthy if you’re not afraid to step outside your comfort zone and find a doctor and medicine that’s the right fit. That’s how I view Google Apps: it’s the right solution for any enterprise.
Mr. Anand believes in introducing forward-looking technologies to solve modern IT challenges
Vipul Anand, Group CIO of Jindal Steel & Power Limited
Google Apps, Innovation, Transformation