Getting Back the Momentum

Abraham Kurian, VP of IT, Divisional CIO and Senior Director, Harsco Corporation
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Abraham Kurian, VP of IT, Divisional CIO and Senior Director, Harsco Corporation

Magnifying the Existing

Our industry represents heavy equipment manufacturing which are make–to-order from supply chain perspective and highly customized from engineering and manufacturing perspective. The major challenge I am seeing today, is the unbalanced usage of technology between functions in the industry. There are significant improvements in technology in certain aspect of the business functions, for example anything related to customer facing and back office solutions, we have significant technology leap. Unfortunately, in our industry we couldn’t build that momentum back into the shop floor or related areas. It will be ideal to provide a cost efficient solution to the manufacturing floor where we can maximize the available technologies like NFC, Voice activated solutions etc.

“For any business process, the key is to define the process before we start”

Utilizing Data for 360-Degree View

Even though by the nature of the industry, our customers’ buying decisions are not greatly influenced by the social media but we still need to track the voice of the customers with high priority. Enabling our sales and customer service team with an available technology, which have improved the data capturing method much more efficiently and seamlessly. The key here is that the data needs to be captured fast enough with great easiness. Converting this data into Business Intelligence needs commitment and focus from the organization.

A Competitive Angle

From an equipment perspective, a modular design for equipment along with configurable assemblies will give significant advantage for our customers to operate efficiently and maximize the investment. From technology perspective, maximize the current technology available in the market into the product and various functions of the business will give significant advantages. From business system perspective, a connected solution from the beginning of the process till to the end of it, which constantly communicate to the business on the status and risks.

Challenging Areas

Securing the information and sharing the information is probably the most challenging one. As we started collaborating more with our business partners (customers, suppliers, employees etc.), it has become more challenging and critical for the organization. Balancing of sharing and securing is an art in our business and how we are constantly getting challenged by the outside world 24 x7.

Technologies Transforming Business

We are early adaptors of cloud technologies for our entire business application along with office products. As our organization started to expand globally, the significance of the cloud solution are more relevant due to scalability and supportability reasons.  Currently we are enjoying the benefits as how quickly we can implement an ERP system anywhere in the world.

Mobile technology is very critical for our work force as we are constantly moving around the globe. The critical success factor here is to making relevant information securely available on the mobile and along with an option to capture the data on the fly is very relevant. Making information available at the right time and right place has become critical just like how we manage our inventory (JIT). For our customers, ensuring our product and services are available as they need without the constraint of any human resources is critical. For our suppliers providing the requirement and change in requirement is extremely important for them to plan their business. By enabling technology into both these areas, significantly revolutionized our business partners, how they operate and how easy it is to collaborate.

Redefining IT

IT role is defined by the organization and its functions. From technology and compliance perspective, IT is the gatekeeper for the organization. From the business functions perspective, IT is the enabler of technology and process.  As a leader, my role is to make IT as an advantage for our organization either though technology or business process. Also utilize the departments into its potential by involving the IT into day to day business of the organization. There are numerous examples I can remember, Setting up a business process to deactivate component/part in the system, considering when we carry more than 700 thousand  parts in our system. This process needed significant involvement from engineering, procurement and sales. Also IT was the enabler for developing a process how we manage our excess inventory though out the organization by various disposition methods. For any business process, the key is to define the process before we start.  By doing that we are engaging the business users to think the process though and take ownership of that process.

Changing Role of CIOs

There are several organizations where CIOs play the role of CSO as well. It all depends on the organization, how committed they are on the security. Communicating and educating our counter partners in the business play a significant part in the process. As a technology leader, we are excited to enable the latest technology as quick as we can, making sure that our internal and external business partners are willing to ride along with us on this journey.

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