With a successful IT journey spanning across both the supply and demand side, Venkat Raman, CIO, MTR Foods opens up on the highlights of his IT journey, the lessons learnt, importance of people management and the support of technology partner CtrlS Datacenters in achieving business value out of deployments.
Please shed some light on your journey in the IT industry. What are some of the key highlights of your career?
What started as a small foray into IT, ended up as a full-fledged career. My journey started as a Systems Administrator and then, basis the opportunities which came my way, I kept on adding skills. The turning point in my career came when I got the opportunity to switch over from IT industry to end-user organization side. While the skills I acquired being a professional in IT industry were useful, this was a paradigm shift from being on the supply side to the demand side. The perspective changed and I had to evaluate the fitment of offerings from software vendors to further the business interests of the organization. As I climbed up the ladder moving across business organizations, the content of my job started evolving into a role which was a mix of technical and resource management. Serving to the needs of the business was prime priority and the focus was on leveraging technology for business.
“Going by the way technology has impacted our lives in general and businesses in particular, it is necessary that we partner with organizations like CtrlS which are at the forefront of the technological revolution.”
Chief Information Officer
There were multiple business initiatives spanning the entire business chain right from the customer facing sales to backend like manufacturing, HR or even IT. Some of the initiatives were across nations wherein cultural balance too played an important role. While techno-functional insights were gained by working in organizations like Marico, Philips and Aditya Birla, the most important take was establishing the ‘emotional -connect’ with your team. Emotional connect is what enables each member in a family to strive and contribute more than 100% selflessly and if a leader can bring this culture into his team: the cohesiveness of a family, my view is team functions at highest possible efficiency.
While it weighs more on the demand side, my career spans both sides of IT and am lucky that my years of learning were spent with some of the finest managers the Industry has. I am a keen observer and initiate any project with a belief that there is much to learn from everyone you work with be it your superior or a team colleague (subordinate is not the right term anymore I feel as we all are colleagues with a shared purpose).
Of all the resources I have learnt through the years, I have come to understand that people are the most important asset. It is well said that ‘a manager is as good as his team’ and everything can be set right if the right people are available. In people, attitude is most important and with the right kind of attitude, skills can be developed but not vice-versa. My exposure to the importance of people management as I moved up the ladder is another important aspect which helped me become a better manager. Another important lesson I learnt is that IT vendors should be considered as partners in our business journey and a sense of mutual appreciation in terms of value-addition should always exists .They are our window to what’s going on beyond the frontiers of our organization and truly serve as an extended arm of the our team.
How has the technology partnership with CtrlS supported you in enabling transformations in your organization/s?
The technology partnership with CtrlS Datacenters started about 10 years back at a time when we were scouting for a partner who could provide us with ‘DR-as-a -service’. DR as a service was a new concept then and rarely had any organizations offer the services. Ctrl-S took up the challenge and offered the service to us despite the fact that the platform we wanted was not available as a service anywhere. There is no looking back since then and we have enjoyed 10 years of excellent service from CtrlS as an able technology partner. They have helped built the confidence in business heads that Cloud and related technologies provided as a service is a valid possibility and have taken away the concern around availability.
Going by the way technology has impacted our lives in general and businesses in particular, it is necessary that we partner with organizations like CtrlS which are at the forefront of the technological revolution. Expectedly they should also have reached a good level of maturity. CtrlS brings the best-in class technology and people competence and hence in my view such organizations provide the extra edge when it comes to leveraging technology.
What are your future expectations from the technology partnership in terms of future projects?
When it comes to harnessing the power of technology there are few desirables. One of those is reducing the time to realization of IT initiatives. With faster IT cycles it becomes necessary that the realization times are reduced drastically. Next is the agility factor so the response to changing requirements is very quick, which again stems from the fact that market dynamics drive requirements and warrant lesser or no lead times. Also right resourcing is key to the success of projects and hence partner skills of high order are a must.
What is your advice to fellow IT leaders on the right approach to successful deployments in today’s technology landscape?
The three key parameters to measure the success of any initiative are quality of deliverable, timelines and budget. While those are the metrics and in that order of priority, it is important to focus also on stakeholder management, right resourcing and creating conducive environment (ensuring support from top management). If these three parameters are taken care of, the outcome will meet the expectations.