Bajaj Electricals: Setting the Stage for Digital Transformation

Pratap Gharge

Pratap Gharge is one of those veteran CIOs in India who boast of long working stints in single organizations: his current run at Bajaj Electricals is 33 years and counting. This certainly gives him a more in-depth knowledge and oversight of the different business units within the company.

Primarily, there are three segments of business in which Bajaj Electricals operates: consumer products (home appliances, fans and lighting), luminaires (commercial light sources, LEDs, solar lighting, etc.) and EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction segment, in which it undertakes turnkey illumination, high-mast lighting, transmission towers, etc.)

There is a common IT setup to serve the needs of both B2C and B2B businesses, says Gharge. The company has co-located its servers at the Reliance data center in Navi Mumbai. Bajaj Electricals is more or less standardized on Oracle, having implemented various solutions such as Oracle eBusiness Suite, Siebel CRM, ODI (Oracle Data Integrator), Demantra (for demand management, sales & operations planning) and Oracle Advanced Supply Chain Planning (ASCP).

Of these, says Gharge, Demantra and ASCP are no longer in use as the company is moving away from a demand-forecasting system to a replenishment-based one. The idea is to reduce inventory at the dealer end as much as possible. For this, Bajaj Electricals has set out to adopt what is called the Theory of Constraints (TOC). An overall management philosophy developed by Israeli-physicist-turned-management-guru Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, TOC is usually applied to running and improving an organization.

Gharge is one of the co-project managers for TOC, which is being implemented at all business units of Bajaj Electricals. “It is a big business transformational project,” he agrees, which takes up a significant amount of his time.

Another big initiative at Bajaj Electricals is digital transformation.

“We were doing some pieces in digital here and there through the traditional IT,” says Gharge. This included social listening and mobile apps development, among others. Four mobile apps were developed: for sales team, after-sales team, for distributors and one for end customers.

However, given that Bajaj Electricals is a traditional bricks-and-mortar company, it is taking a steady, measured approach to digital. For e-commerce, it has tied up with Amazon and Flipkart and also sells through its own portal. “The sales at the moment are a tiny proportion of our overall revenue but we are quite optimistic of the e-com potential,” says Gharge.

Gharge believes that digital disruption may not have yet happened in the electrical goods segment but it can happen anytime in the next couple of years—and if an existing player such as Bajaj were to disrupt the market, then why not? Having said that, the price equilibrium of the current and very vast distributor network will need to be maintained alongside the development of the digital channel.

The idea is to give all the options to the customers, as the customer segment and profile is also changing.

Talking about emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, Gharge says that the company is working toward partnering with other vendors for IoT-based smart lighting for the upcoming smart cities projects. For the B2C businesses, some pilots are being done to see how IoT could be useful in product innovation that can also be received well in the Indian market.

On the SMAC front for its customer-facing processes, Bajaj Electricals has got a consulting partner on board to work out a digital vision and strategy. Once this is chalked out, the projects will be undertaken after prioritizing them for different business units. The company is also open to considering a few outsourcing partners to implement those projects.

In spite of being an old, traditional company, says Gharge, the top management is quite keen on digital transformation and is all gung-ho on the same.

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