CIO and CDO role should be merged, says Hero MotoCorp IT Chief, Vijay Sethi

In the second part of the Interview, Sangram Aglave from BW CIO World caught up with Vijay Sethi, CIO, Hero MotoCorp to discuss contemporary Enterprise IT topics like the role of the CDO and his views on acquiring latest Enterprise IT technology from Silicon Valley startups.

Vijay Sethi, CIO, Hero MotoCorp

In the second part of the Interview, Sangram Aglave from BWCIO World caught up with Vijay Sethi, CIO, Hero MotoCorp  to discuss contemporary Enterprise IT topics like the role of the CDO and his views on acquiring latest Enterprise IT technology from Silicon Valley startups.

BW: Can you describe your IT organization?

Vijay Sethi: We have two models, one is on-roll and other is partner or third-party resources. The overall IT team size is around 400 people. We support around 17 to 18 thousand users across more than 2,000 locations. Our MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) spans across more than 1,000 locations.

BW: What plans do you have to upgrade/enhance the competency of your technology team over the next one year?

Vijay Sethi: Experimentation in new areas, competency upgrade, and innovation are focus areas at Hero MotoCorp. There are many initiatives beyond sending people to premier global institutes, seminars and having sessions with experts. For example, I run an internal program called HTPL – Hero Technology Premier League, where we encourage people to work on innovative ideas beyond regular projects; top ideas are rewarded. We also have business simulation games in IT and have annual technology week. We have setup a CoE (Centre of Excellence) activities around Blockchain, Machine Learning, IoT -- to work on emerging technologies.

We are big users of 3D Printing, simulation, and IoT beyond new technologies like social, mobile, cloud, analytics.

BW: There are conversations about the CDO role in all big Enterprises. How does this role compliment the CIO and what is the ideal career path for the CDO?

Vijay Sethi: There are an equal number of conversations to drop the CDO role as there are to introduce that role in the organization. The CDO cannot work in isolation, and no CIO can ignore digital. To my mind, whatever you call it, CIO or CDO, both should be merged into a single role. I don’t look at them as two separate roles.

BW: India comes after Singapore, China, and other South Asian countries in the expansion plans of successful Enterprise IT startups in the Valley. The result of this is that it takes anywhere between 3-5 years for the latest Enterprise IT product innovations to reach India. How can we change that?

Vijay Sethi: Ironically, a lot of Enterprise IT Silicon Valley startups have Indians in leadership positions. I think it’s a mindset among the Indian IT community to choose stable technologies versus exploring modern technologies. The perception among many CIOs is that modern technologies may not work; projects could fail and we should wait till many people have deployed those. Having said that, I think the community is now open to exploration and things are changing.

At Hero, we are willing to explore new technologies and also believe that if new technology does not work then we, at the bare minimum, should learn from our experiments. We started on our cloud journey about 10 years ago. We are heavy users of 3D printing technologies and we work with many start-ups. Many experiments fail, but one has to fail fast and fail cheap.

BW: Have you come across any high potential Enterprise IT startups in India? Has Hero MotoCorp acquired any products & services from startups? Do fixed budgetary allocations make sense?

Vijay Sethi: (smiling) I call it experimentation budget. And there is a significant allocation for that. I encourage start-ups to come up with a good business case and we can work on projects. Some of them have done a fantastic job for Hero MotoCorp.

BW: According to you, what is the ideal split of the IT budget between Run, Transform & Grow?

Vijay Sethi: A lot of companies are at 70:20:10. My target is to keep Run below 50 per cent (today Hero is in the range of 40-45 percent). Transform and Grow should share the remaining 50 percent, depending on the stage in the digital journey of the organisation.

BW: What percentage of your time do you devote to CSR activities at Hero MotoCorp?

Vijay Sethi: It's close to 50 percent.

BW: Any plans to bring the Road Safety Educational tool “Meet Graham” to India for the Road safety campaigns/CSR initiatives at Hero MotoCorp?

Vijay Sethi: Hero has already looked at Road Safety Education very seriously and there are continuous efforts to educate people about Safety. We have pan India Road Safety initiatives, and we recently rolled out the “Hero Buddy” series of Road Safety initiatives. It is an interesting campaign and we will use that as an education tool. We also run a lot of programs in schools and colleges.

The first part of the interview can be found by here.

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vijay sethi hero motor corp hero motocorp ltd


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