Qimat Rai Gupta's life is the stuff legends are made of. For, not many can boast of transforming a small electrical trading company — that he set up in New Delhi in 1958 — to a Rs 8,000 crore behemoth. In 1971, Gupta bought Havells. In no time, he turned it into an international brand with a slew of big acquisitions that included brands like Crabtree, Sylvania, and Standard. For a chairman of a huge company, Gupta keeps a fairly low profile. But, at 76, he is unlike a man at the helm of an old economy manufacturing company. His strong views on IT and his firm belief in the power of technology make him stand out.
CIO: Today, Havells India is one of the most successful home-grown brands. How did you get there?
Qimat Rai Gupta: From humble beginnings in the 1970's to becoming one of India's leading — and the most — diversified companies in the electrical business, the journey does give a sense of satisfaction but I feel there's a lot more to achieve. The task at hand is to offer consumers with better and innovative products, thus enhancing their lives and lifestyles. Today, we are spread across 17 business verticals and that gives us the edge in offering the widest range of electrical products for consumers. It also helps us occupy significant market share in each vertical. While we've grown organically from strength to strength and product to product, regular breakthroughs have come through major acquisitions like Sylvania, Standard, and Crabtree.
CIO: With such a global footprint, the demands of ramping up IT might have been tremendous.
Qimat Rai Gupta: We have always been an early adopter of technology; be it in our core IT or for our manufacturing processes. Our investments in technology started way back in 1982 when we first bought computers to develop our in-house accounts package. We then continued to upgrade our systems and processes annually. In 1999, we implemented ERP from Baan (a Netherlands-based ERP company that now belongs to Infor Global Solutions) and WAN network. Over the years, we enhanced our capabilities both in IT and manufacturing and created platforms for interaction with customers, dealers, distributors, electricians, and suppliers. We created a self-help portal for employees which won many awards. The idea behind investments in IT is to ensure delight for all our stakeholders and to help our organization stay ahead. With better technology we are able to provide consistent product quality and reliability.
CIO: Where does IT figure in your business plan?
Qimat Rai Gupta: Like I said earlier, we are early adopters of IT and made investments when our turnover was a mere Rs 1 crore. For me, IT is as critical as finance, sales or marketing. We have seen clear benefits from our investments in technology over the years, and therefore, for us IT has been a big enabler of growth and will continue to contribute in the futur
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