Madras Cements isn't your typical manufacturing company.It took to IT in 1984 at a time when even contemporary enterprises weren't tech-savvy. Its current CEO, Dharmakrishnan A.V., is a self-confessed tech enthusiast. And that makes him stand out among CEOs of old-economy companies.
Today, with over 30 years in the company, Dharmakrishnan hasn't changed much. His undying faith in IT has ensured that he has the ability to monitor everything from his iPad--in real-time--from productivity in his manufacturing facilities to sales of finished products.
CIO: You joined Madras Cements 30 years ago. What has changed since then?
Dharmakrishnan A.V.:When I joined Madras Cements in 1982, it was a very small company with a turnaround of Rs 50 crore. We were a regional player with a capacity of around 5 lakh tonnes, catering to four districts each in Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.
Now, we are at 14 million tonnes. Even though we are yet to be an all-India player, we are the second largest player in South India and among the top ten in India.
We have plans of reaching 20 million tonnes in four to five years.
Madras Cements also holds the distinction of being among the first few companies to implement IT systems way back in 1984. We deployed computerized invoicing and accounting with COBOL and Focus systems. From the very start, we wanted everything to be automated. We also had the urge to be pioneers in the adoption of technology. Which is why, we keep assessing the relevance of the latest developments in IT for our business. We try and make the best use of systems not only to enhance our processes, but also in every sphere of running the enterprise--from limestone quarrying to dispatches.
Madras Cements is considered one of the most well-managed companies as far as cost is concerned because we have IT systems in place. We always act on information and there is no need to rely on anyone's gut feeling. And even if it is a decision based on gut feel, it has to be backed by information because numbers don't lie.
CIO: Your thrust on IT is unlike other manufacturing companies. How has IT helped Madras Cements?
Dharmakrishnan A.V.: Madras Cements has always held its IT department in high regard and has made huge investments in IT. At any point of time, we have 20 to 30 IT projects that extend to every part of the company.
We started with report generation and are now at a level where our analysis is also aided with technology from Google. At any given point in time, I know the quantity of cement sold in any particular street. I can see who my competitors are in an area and analyze the potential of a particular location.
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