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I discovered my passion for technology in my first job: Murali Raj, CIO – HIL Limited

I had moved to different roles and took additional responsibilities, to help me learn and lead the deliveries in technology

This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Content Writer & Editor at CIO News about the professional journey of Murali Raj G. R., Chief Information Officer (CIO) at HIL Limited.

When asked about his role and key business priorities as a CIO at HIL Limited, Murali Raj G. R., CIO at Hil Limited, in an exclusive interview with CIO News, said, as a CIO at HIL, I am accountable for the overall IT function and report to CEO and MD. The key priority is to drive digitalization for the whole organization across business units and functions. It involves building your IT strategy and the Digitalization Roadmap based on the business plans and their growth strategy.

Speaking about how he planned his career path to be a CIO in the construction industry, he said, “I discovered my passion for technology in my first job”. I was fortunate to be recruited as a management trainee at GEC ALSTHOM. As part of this program, I had to work in all the functions (R&D, Design, Production, Maintenance, Field Service, etc.) and also have to do a project in each function. Invariably, all my projects were based on technology and the business benefits derived from it. I then got to build my career step by step, around this passion. “I had moved to different roles and took additional responsibilities, to help me learn and lead the deliveries in technology”. As you already know, technology keeps advancing and it brings additional challenges for learning and adoption by organizations. As I had kept doing various roles in managing deliveries and leading transformations, each role and new challenge molded me to take up the CIO role with ease. This blended with your passion to keep yourself updated on newer technologies and their intricacies keep your satisfaction at high levels. During this career growth, I had opportunities to move to business roles but I had always stuck to my passion.

Murali spoke about the challenges faced while implementing digital technologies in the construction industry by saying, surprisingly, these challenges are always similar. I had seen almost three decades of technology changes. The technologies that I had started my career with are no longer there in the ecosystem.

The challenges are threefold –

(1) identifying the right technology or new trend, which suits your business needs
(2) driving business case benefits and its initial adoption
(3) building organization capabilities to sustain the new implementation. These vary depending on the industry you operate in and the maturity level of your organization.

The next wave of digitalization is catching up on the construction industry. Industry 4.0 and Predictive Analytics using AI/ML are showing industry disruptive tendencies. This is something similar to what e-Commerce did to retail chains, he added.

When asked about advice he would like to give to other CIOs for their successful professional journey, he said, “I will talk about what worked for me, 3Ps – Passion, Perseverance, and Patience”. You need to have a passion for technology – learning continuously, experimenting, and how to use these technologies for business growth. You need to have the perseverance to drive business transformation, sometimes it would mean to fail fast and pivot further quickly, sometimes to keep working on the problem from different solution perspectives, sometimes you need to continuously find ways for educating the business leadership on newer technologies, etc. Last but not least is patience, as new technology adoption needs to be built brick by brick so that the change is palatable.

He suggested some best practices/industry trends for fellow CIOs by saying, as CIOs, we need to be constantly on the lookout for newer technologies and trends.

  • IOT
  • Machine Learning
  • Virtual Reality
  • One-Touch Commerce
  • Automation

Additionally, the following need to be kept on the radar too

  • Zero trust becomes the norm in cyber-security
  • Edge Computing along with Cloud computing
  • General-purpose modern programming languages
  • Digital Twins to represent real-world modelling
  • Agile IT Organization to expedite business improvements
  •  

Murali added that technology is becoming more integral to business to the extent that one of the competencies or skills for every role in the organization across any function or department would expect to have a technology or digital capability. The new generation workforce will be more digitally savvy and the new age customer will be more as well. Slowly and steadily, we see the trend in the board room discussions are also on technology-related issues. These bring new challenges and exciting opportunities for technology professionals.

Also read:DigiYatra: A paperless journey experience for domestic air travellers

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