K.D. Saha, Deputy General Manager (BIS), GAIL (India) Limited

Information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure has become critical for organisations in the government and utilities sector to achieve operational efficiencies. While technologies like enterprise resource management (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) are central to the ICT strategies of these organisations, there is now a growing interest in leveraging solutions like cloud technology and internet of things (IoT) to optimise operations. Senior IT officials in the government and utilities space talk about the current level of technology adoption in their organisations, emerging technology trends, the challenges faced in implementing technologies and the plans for upgrading their ICT infrastructure….

What are the key telecom and IT solutions deployed by your organisation?

Currently, GAIL uses the SAP platform for various enterprise applications, which has various modules such as financial information and control (FICO), material management (MM), production planning, sales and distribution (SD), supplier relationship management (SRM), CRM, project systems, quality management, Trader’s and Scheduler’s Workbench (TSW), human resources, payroll, etc. We procure materials and services through electronic tendering and reverse auction procedure through the SRM platform. In addition, we implemented the Gas Mana­gement System (GMS) on the SAP platform in 2010, which is Asia’s first implementation. This system is linked with the SD, TSW, MM and FICO modules. Gas is being transported to various customers, and different mechanisms are used for allocation. The GMS is used for the nomination, allo­cation, confirmation and in­voicing needs of the gas business. We also have e-recruitment system, wh­­­­­­­­­i­­­­­ch helps us in recruiting new employees.

What are some of the challenges faced by your organisation with respect to managing IT and telecom infrastructure? 

IT manpower is limited in the organisation. We addressed this issue by adopting a business process outsourcing model in 2005, wherein we engaged IT organisations for providing 24×7 on-premises facility management  support services. We have also outsourced the software development services.

What is the current level of adoption of CRM, ERP, enterprise mobility and cloud solutions in your organisation?

We adopted the ERP platform in 2005. The CRM and SRM platforms were adopted in 2007 on the SAP platform. Conside­ring business benefits like inc­reased efficiency, flexibility, inbuilt disaster recovery, and decreased cooling, power and rack space requirements as well as lower capital expenditure, GAIL adopted cloud technology in on-premises private cloud in 2011. As data sovereignty is a major concern in the public cloud, we have not yet adopted the same. GAIL has leveraged this private cloud for faster and more efficient implementation of business applications.

What are your views regarding the digital tran­s­­formation of organisations?

In my opinion, digital transformation means adopting digital technology in maximum business processes for improving the experience of customers and other stake­holders significantly.  For this, we need to collaborate with various partners  for improving digital ecosystems.

At GAIL, we have digitally transformed our banking-related operations. Accounts payable and receivable data is transmitted automatically to/from core applications by using various application programming interfaces. Apart from this, our products are sold by our partners through the digital platform.  In addition, we have taken up  IT/operational technology (OT) integration, wherein data of OT  and ERP systems will be automatically brought to the analytics platform for carrying out business analysis before presenting it in dashboards.   Besides, we are considering a number of new initiatives in the IT/OT domain.

What are the key upcoming technology trends?

Going forward, the issue of advanced cyber threats needs to be taken care of in order to make IT systems more robust and secure. Fur­ther, there is a lot of scope for digital transformation, cloud technologies and IoT. GAIL is also working towards adopting IoT solutions. The company is also giving priority to cybersecurity initiatives.

“The issue of advanced cyber threats needs to be taken care of in order to make IT systems more robust and secure.” K.D. Saha