Friday, August 25, 2006

Companies and technology

India today is synonymous with IT outsourcing and IT enabled services. As I read The Innovators Dilemma, I figured that for someone who wanted to start an IT services division, it must have been so damn difficult to put this together as a marketing plan.

Indeed, to see the history of how companies approached IT, take a look at any manufacturing or service industry and see how they are organized. They created a separate IT department as they did for anything important! Why IT, many companies had a telex department - now its all email (I hope). And many companies had many human telephone operators and their own small exchange.

Even today most companies have a systems department. Today, their functions are quite different and revolves around maintenance of systems used company wide, but when they started out, they were the department which had computers, so to say. No other department had or used computers. They would give their data to the IT department, who had data entry operators would feed the data into the computers and then they would give an output back to these departments. One of my earlier employers banks would routinely say "The LC is with systems. They will take a printout and give us. They can take upto two days for that". Each of these requests would be passed on via inter office memos signed and countersigned by multiple people. From then on to a computer on most desks, industry has come way, especially in India, but companies still do not harness technology to the maximum extent possible.

The paperless office is almost here, but there are others who lag. Even today, with the presence of the best systems, there are still companies which maintain an attendance register at the gate (and they are not factories or old companies) or companies which insist that a leave application has to be a paper application or some form has to be on paper signed by 3 different people. Many others though have gone ahead and automated so many of the approval workflow processes and I can readily think of the IT companies as well as some manufacturing companies. And then again, the bureaucrats are still lagging behind hiding behind files, notings, scribblings and red tape.

1 comment:

Paddy said...

Interesting you still have old PSU banks that advertise "FULLY COMPUTERISED BRANCH". I saw that in Kerala and I saw that in our good old mumbai. Wonder why these "phrase" exists !!