Ignore e-comm & miss out on customers, say experts
Our Mumbai Bureau
2 November
THE ‘CEO Summit’ at Computer Society of India’s (CSI) 34th annual convention here today focused on the importance and urgency of full-fledged e-commerce systems in the country. The general consensus among the participants was that the country must and adopt the e-commerce regime at the earliest in order to be globally competitive.
Lalit Sawhney, chief information officer of Hindustsan Lever Ltd (HLL), said the organisations that ignore e-commerce will be missing out on opportunities to provide better customer services.
Addressing the participants, Ranjit Limaye, managing director, IBM India, said, “since India is part of the global economy, and we all live in a globally competitive world, our enterprises cannot divorce themselves from the rest of the world.”
However, according to Harish Mehta, MD, Onward Group, who is the convenor of the summit, “The question is not whether or not we want e-commerce, the question is how soon and how urgent is the need.”
S Ramdorai, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services outlined the implication of e-commerce in the country in his keynote address. Mr Ramdorai stressed the need for effective legislation and government intervention to enable e-commerce to take off in the country. “It will have social, commercial, political and economical consequences and will change the relationship between the citizens and the state,” he said.
In his opinion, the country needs a good, secure backbone for data transmission. Digital cash must be treated as physical cash and digital documents should be considered legal tenders, he said. Digital signatures are not as yet valid as they are not defined in the Indian Contract Act, Mr Ramdorai said. For this, the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Evidence Act and the Banking Regulation Act need to be amended, he said. The restriction of voice over IP is hindering true convergence, he felt, and added that it is not technically stoppable.
IBM’s Limaye said it is important to re-allocate an organisation’s resources for a smooth shift to e-business. “Changing your business to e-business is all about reallocating your resources,” he said, adding that the ultimate challenge before today’s CEO is about reorganising resources. “Resources have limitations and the ability to exploit resources to the maximum is the number one challenge for the CEO,” he said.
Marketing will play an important role in enabling organisational change, and if organisations do not look at their resources as a function of time, they are bound to lose out, he said.
Planning for five years is not possible in the digital age, planning should be done for months, or even days, said Mr Limaye. He outlined four main requisites—re-allocation of resources, effective leadership, implementing of quick decisions and the involvement of people who are closest to the customer—to effectively run an organisation in the e-conomy.
Ashank Desai, CMD, Mastek, who took a rather guarded approach to e-commerce in the country, outlined the ‘five Is’ for the success of e-business. According to him, we need new ideas, innovation, investment and integration of all the people involved in e-commerce. We also have to be instantaneous and flexible in changing our business models, rules and regulations to make e-com work, he said.
Many participants in the discussion felt the need for identifying and working out a new e-com model for the country.
“We should not merely ape the West, instead we should try and implement area-specific models that will take into account our inherent limitations,” said Ganesh Natarajan, MD, Aptech. Instead of overhyping e-commerce, we should focus on internal integration and building robust internal applications, he added.
Source :The Economic Times. November 3, 1999.