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We are improving customer perception of value with mobility and Telematics Apps

26 August, 2015, The Economic Times

With technology becoming an integral part of the DNA as far as manufacturing segment is concerned, Tata Motors is improving customer perception of value with the help of mobility and Telematics Apps that are being integrated with the vehicles today. Jagdish Belwal, Chief Information Officer, Tata Motors speaks with the Economic Times about the organisation’s priorities and how it is embracing the next generation in technology. 

Completely at the helm of implementing next generation-ready information technology implementations at Tata Motors, Jagdish Belwal is playing a critical role, as the company embraces Mobility Solutions and Telematics Apps. 

What are the top priorities for Tata Motors when it comes to technology. How does Tata Motors look at technology led growth for its operations in India? 

From a technology standpoint, the top priorities for Tata Motors are to improve end user experience, speed up business processes through digitization, facilitate employee collaboration and team work, and improve speed of delivery of ICT. We intend to achieve these through cloud, mobility, application modernization and digital workflows. 

What kind of role does technology play towards helping the organization deliver more to its customers while at the same time making lesser efforts? 

In the past, technology was mere enabler of the business processes. It was used to make the processes faster, accurate and scalable. Today, technology has become an integral part of the process through mobile enablement. We seek to improve customer perception of value through mobility and Telematics apps that are integrated with the vehicles. At dealerships, mobile enabled processes make it easier and faster to support customers. Analytics insights and exception reports help us manage the performance, identify exceptions and intervene in time. 

What kind of technologies are helping you better position yourself vis a vis your closest competition? 

In Commercial Vehicles, Telematics capabilities help us understand customer journey cycles, usage patterns and help improve up times. We are also significantly focused on in-car connectivity that can seamlessly merge the drive experience with the user’s lifestyle. We have an integrated CRM with a very capable call center to execute these new servicethese new services for the customers. Underlying all these is analytics which supports decision making with the help of all data collected. 

What are some of the latest technology architectures being implemented within Tata Motors today and what are your future plans to incorporate next generation technologies such as cloud, SDN or virtualization? 

We are implementing end to end mobility delivery architecture to increase mobile enablement. We are moving our computing infrastructure to Intel Linux architecture with virtualization. We are maturing our cloud architectures for both applications and infrastructure. 

We have already moved our collaboration services suite to cloud. We are upgrading all our critical systems to the latest version where they natively support mobility. We adopt new architecture as they mature and are always building future ready architecture in advance. 

How do you see ongoing government of India’s focus on ‘Digital India’ and ‘make in India’ as a business opportunity? What areas are likely to interest you the most in this regard? 

We are excited by the Digital India programme, in particular online identities, online payments and aggressive mobile enablement of various services. We should eventually be able to integrate and leverage these services into our customer engagement processes and services. Though it is difficult to predict how soon these may happen, we do foresee small truck owner-drivers making payments at our dealership using mobile wallet and us undertaking customer KYC and various verifications using Adhaar services enabled by the government. 

How does the company look at the emerging space of Internet of Things or IoT / M2M – towards delivering an end to end connected lifestyle? 

We are already delivering Telematics enabled services to our customers through our connected trucks. We need to scale this up not only to give better customer experience but also to learn about the usage of our vehicles. We are a manufacturing organization having several plants with many machines and equipment. We are exploring IOT in plant maintenance and remote monitoring of assets closely working with our manufacturing leaders. 

How is your ICT delivering efficiency and productivity in your operations to become more agile and embrace a better tomorrow? 

Over the last few years, we have digitized many significant business processes through technology. These include supplier collaboration, demand management, marketing expense management, manufacturing quality and analytics dashboards. We believe these aid fundamental business process efficiencies and process controls. We have implemented comprehensive collaboration tools on cloud including mail, cloud storage, enterprise social network, team sites and text/voice/video chats to improve efficiencies and bring people closer across the organization. 

How is ICT technology helping you as an organization in terms of delivering unique and innovative experience to your customer communities? 

Our ICT-enabled offerings like telematics, analytics and mobility provide a novel experience to customers as well as the end product user. For example: truck drivers get better service with our Telematics enabled trucks. The bus fleets with our Schoolman system provides the parents and schools with up-to-date information throughout the journey of the school kids. Our 24×7 call center runs a rigorous process to ensure faster breakdown assistance. All our customer offerings like AMC, extended warranty, loyalty program, key account program are innovations which have been delivered with a comprehensive technology backbone as well as a responsive call center, serving customers. One of our focus pillars for product development of passenger vehicles is In-Car Connectivity. With Zest and Bolt, we have introduced many segment-first features to deliver best driving experience to our customers, keeping them connected with the world while on the move. 

What kind of business innovation and new revenue streams you think will shape tomorrow’s market opportunities and where will Tata Motors be positioned in this space? 

Our customer facing executives/teams will keep coming up with innovative ideas aimed at customer value and customer intimacy which we will support using our technology portfolio. In my view, the segregation between products and services will blur as we have increasingly connected products. We will be able to innovate much more on the services front with these insights. We are well positioned to serve a service centric market. 

What are the top challenges you are facing today in a market where there is huge surge in digital enablement today? How can IT solve these challenges for Tata Motors? 

In digital, one of the biggest bottlenecks is going to be ‘the backbone’. In India, we are not well equipped to take care of all our people and almost equal number of future devices. High speed broadband and 3G are still limited to cities only. E.g. the mobile apps built by a team in Mumbai will behave very differently in a small town. We will have to wait for the Digital India to improve the connectivity experience beyond cities.

Another challenge will be to take a larger channel along which has thousands of staff. I think that digital can help make an agile ecosystem by making skill enhancements digital. 

What are some of the key investments in technology being planned towards the evolution of Tata Motors in the near future? 

We have always focused on investing in upgrading our key systems and will continue to do so. Transitioning our data centers to Intel Linux is an investment priority. Analytics infrastructure and software is an investment priority as well. We are investing in mobility infrastructure and process capabilities. 

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