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ITC trade partners to get handheld devices
Business Standard - 10 Aug 2007

ITC Ltd is moving towards expanding the reach of its field force using handheld devices.

The new initiative would connect the field force of around 3,000 through sales force automation tools and handheld devices, V V R Babu, chief information officer of ITC Limited, confirmed.

“We are trying to understand what drives the FMCG and retail businesses and so we would give handheld devices to wholesale dealers and retailers though they are not our direct employees, so that they can give us immediate market feedback. We would also update on their devices any new initiatives or data that we come up with,” Babu added.

In parallel, ITC Infotech, ITC’s wholly owned subsidiary and IT and ITeS arm, is exploring strategic alliances and partnerships to strengthen its presence in the US market.

It is evaluating opportunities for inorganic growth in the US.

ITC Infotech registered a total income of Rs 205.18 crore and a profit after tax of Rs 20.67 crore last fiscal.

In keeping with expansion plans for this business, it is in talks with 4-5 global clients for outsourcing deals.

In its existing verticals, ITC Infotech has 15 large clients.

For example, it is well placed to offer solutions for the airlines industry like e-ticketing and loyalty plans.

At present, ITC Infotech has three leading airlines using its customer relationship management solutions.

The company is reportedly working on tailormade infrastructure solutions for new verticals like airline, media and entertainment verticals, but this could not be confirmed from the company.

At present, ITC Infotech offers solutions for verticals like banking and financial services, consumer and packaged goods, retail, manufacturing, travel, hospitality and transportation.

As for ITC Ltd, the company is now in the midst of an integrated IT technological reconstruction encompassing wide area networks, in-house information security management and realignment of the enterprise computing infrastructure to meet information needs of the 10 businesses of the organisation.

ITC has implemented ERPs in most of its 10 businesses and set up customer facing web applications to streamline operations, so much so that every shipment from warehouses failed if the ERP system was down.

The computing infrastructure of ITC has expanded 500 times to keep pace with its business growth but each business division set up its own hardware across the operating locations, implemented business-specific ERPs and used unique MIS to ensure support to users.

This duplication of resources across ITC is now being replaced by a single architecture and management plan comprising a virtual private network, two data centres at Bengaluru and Kolkata and in-house security and centralized management.

“IT infrastructure was a utility service to business users but flexible and scalable to meet requirements for the next five to six years,” Babu added.

The SAP solution first implemented in the ITC FMCG business is now being extended through the company and to the field force through sales force automation tools and handheld devices.

The Rs 100 crore investment in this upgradation has reduced lead time, improved availability and brought down stockouts, Babu said. The IT network of ITC today covered 550 locations in urban, semi-urban and remote rural locations, enterprise mail messaging for more than 8,000 users, six different ERP systems, linked 25 warehouses and 14 processing plants in a year and is capable of setting up operational IT facilities in a rural hypermart in three days, said Babu.