Balancing Information and Technology

Dhruwa Rai, CIO, Axalta Coating Systems
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Dhruwa Rai, CIO, Axalta Coating Systems

Technology Challenges in Meeting Enterprise Needs

Working with large ERP providers can be a challenge. Frequently, there’s one solution offered for every problem or enhancement–“upgrade your software.” Many current ERP solution providers are not doing enough to tailor solutions and partner with customers to enable them to work within their current environments or provide nuanced solutions that combine existing resources and upgrades. For example, large ERP solution providers have been talking of cloud based systems for a number of years now.  However, we have yet to see demonstrable progress in   this area.

The other challenge in enterprise technology is in telecom.  Enterprise telecom providers in large measure seem to follow the same trend as the consumer technology providers yet the needs of the two large user groups are quite different.  Telecom providers will find more opportunities to compete for enterprise business if they can focus on true enterprise needs.

Changes I’d Like to See in the Current Existing Model

Based on market volatility and speed of transactions, IT teams are looking for quick and easy access to data, not the software and hardware as such. The information we acquire through good data is the end game.  Yet today, a large portion of enterprise IT remains consumed operating and maintaining the machinery of data acquisition, which is focused on ERP software and hardware. ERP providers can offer more value when they think about the end use of their products. For example, more agile and comprehensive networking capabilities will be welcomed by business clients.  That’s our model at Axalta; everything we do is ultimately about the customer.

Technologies that I would Like to be Implemented on a Greater Scale in Our Industry

Integration of front-end, back-end and manufacturing technology is key.   We have plenty of highly automated solutions for manufacturing process control.  But integration of these with ERP and e-Commerce is still far from perfect. Another opportunity for automation improvement is integration of enterprise systems with customer and supplier systems. 

My Role as a CIO

There are two types of companies with regard to IT, those that focus on the “I”–meaning Information–and the others that focus on the “T”–meaning technology.  The CIO needs to focus more on “I” than “T”. My team and I seek to add value to Axalta by providing “Information”. It’s my job to operate technology seamlessly so that my internal customers can easily obtain the information they need. 

My advice for the Fellow CIOs

Running an IT department is all about industry knowledge. A CIO must understand his or her business. In the manufacturing industry, it’s vital to know how products are manufactured and sold; to understand the marketplace, the competition, industry trends, and of course the customer. You should have professional IT service providers who can take care of IT infrastructure needs thereby freeing in-house IT teams to provide high value-added
information to your business.

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