CIO Interview Series: Arun Gupta, CTO - Shoppers Stop
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Arun Gupta is Customer Care Associate & Group Chief Technology Officer since 2007 for Shoppers Stop. His career spanning over 27 years include senior positions at Philips, Pfizer, Hughes Telecom, DHL Worldwide Express, and DSP Merrill Lynch
Arun has won many accolades including “The Global CIO 50: IT Leaders Changing the Business World”, InformationWeek in June 2009. He was inducted to CIO Hall of Fame in August 2011 and is winner of 5 CIO 100 awards. Under his leadership, Shoppers Stop has won the NASSCOM CNBC IT User Award 2010, CIO Infrastructure Award 2010, CIO Innovation Award 2009, CIO Storage Award 2008.
Arun chairs the Technology Committee of Retailers Association of India and is President of TDWI India. Earlier he was on the Advisory Board of CIO Magazine, from 2005-2009. He is an active blogger under the pseudonym “CIO Inverted”.
In conversation with developerWorks, Arun shares his tryst with IT and how each experience has taught him only more.
What are the major business challenges your organization faces?
We are currently working on scalability of processes as we grow the business across all formats. These include the supply chain, logistics, merchandising and IT systems. With the imminent opening of the market to new foreign players as well as interest by domestic industrial giants, retailing is at the inflection point. We strive to retain our leadership position as the preferred destination for customers.
How does IT in your company act as a business enabler?
IT empowers and enables every aspect of the business across the entire value chain. Suppliers collaborate with us using technology solutions, while customers can now shop online on our portals across geographies. We started investing in IT from inception and have never paused since then. The philosophy to seek the best solutions has laid a foundation on which we continue to build. So with over 2 million First Citizens (loyalty customers) and 43 department stores (Shoppers Stop), 11 hypermarkets (HyperCity), and more than 80 bookstores (Crossword Bookstores), across 20+ cities, we run the business on a common stack of technology. This has helped us leverage synergies and efficiencies for each business unit.
What to you, are the new focus areas over the next decade? Where is your company vis a vis these?
Over the next decade if I have to hazard a guess, I would go by unified multi-channel shopping experience for the customer. This means that the customer of the future would decide how to engage with the retailer at her own terms using a channel of her choice and do business using mostly digital cash. Balancing this with the need of the older customers who may have different behaviors, retailers will have to devise business models and technology solutions that can leverage this. Thus the stores, supply chain, customer service, billing, loyalty, everything will have to work in complete orchestration.
We are exploring many such options step by step, in some we have been ahead of
the demand, while in some we are lagging. Overall I believe we are ahead of the
market in India.
In a borderless world, the challenges could be different though.
Which would you consider is one of your most significant investment/s in
2010 and its benefits?
In 2010 the most significant and continued investment was on analytics. The
benefit of this has been across the functions with our ability to create a few
actionable insights from the mass of data that we generate and capture everyday.
The end result is better operations which lead to higher customer satisfaction.
Can you elaborate on your personal journey to where you are today?