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Cloud on Wheels

by Vivek on March 25, 2015

How Tata Motors test drove the Cloud to success

Jagdish Belwal began his career as a Construction Equipment Service Engineer. He shifted to IT in 2002, leading Customer Relations Management at Tata Motors and has been CIO since 2009.

Tata Motors is more than just an automotive manufacturing company. It is a trendsetter, creating entirely new product categories while redefining existing ones. Innovation is the single most important element that has catapulted Tata Motors to the forefront of automotive manufacturing. The company firmly believes in staying relevant and building an environment that fosters progress. It’s no wonder that Tata Motors has successfully adopted cloud computing. Belwal shares his insights and experiences on the implementation and the journey so far.

Igniting the cloud
Cloud computing addresses an increasingly important need in the business world – enabling real-time collaboration over secure networks and across multiple devices and geographies. “We foresaw three main requirements –

  • The scale of our business would increase exponentially in the long term.
  • Our relationship with partners, employees, and customers would need to become stronger.
  • The speed of our operations would need to increase manifold,” says Belwal.

Redefining collaboration, speed, and agility
Tata Motors has operations in seven plants across India, manufacturing a variety of vehicles from small cars, SUVs, Small Commercial Vehicles (SCVs) to Heavy CVs, Army 4x4s, and multi-axle buses.. Globally, Tata Motors has operations in the UK, South Korea, Thailand, South Africa, and Indonesia. Naturally, seamless connectivity among the various locations is vital.

“With cloud, collaboration woes can be forgotten altogether. Everybody became available to everybody,” says Belwal, adding, “It flattens the whole organization and equips Tata Motors with speed and agility that are critical to any organization.”

In pursuing a strategy to foster greater collaboration, Tata Motors has promoted Office 365 as a means to achieve a great end-user experience.

Productivity speedometer

Cloud enables Tata Motors’ employees to smoothly carry out daily activities such as emailing, attending and scheduling meetings, and documentation.

  • Office 365 provides many powerful tools for increased productivity. Employees have access to the latest version of Office, allowing them to work from anywhere, with any device.
  • Exchange and Outlook keep staff accessible with mobile device support and a huge mailbox of up to 50GB. This ensures secure mail access and hassle-free data backup.
  • Lync, which easily integrates with the Microsoft productivity platform, enables instant messaging, AV conferences, and real-time desktop sharing while providing presence information. Users are no longer dependent on multiple systems to set up conferences or share PPTs in advance for meetings.
  • One Drive for Business provides each employee unlimited storage for documents such as design collateral, marketing files, and spreadsheets with the convenience of accessibility from anywhere.
  • SharePoint allows users to host their own microsites, e.g. a team site for initiatives which can bring cross-functional teams together on one platform, allowing them to generate and maintain different departmental knowledge bases. For Individual departments, employees are able to store, share, and host various documents and collaborate easily using the ‘co-authoring’ feature.
  • Yammer, the Enterprise Social Networking platform, is breaking
    down conventional collaboration barriers, providing Tata Motors
    with an excellent space for ideation. It has built a strong sense of community by allowing users to create groups for work purposes and hobbies.“We looked at it from an employee’s point of view. In today’s world, one doesn’t just work within the confines of an office; one doesn’t work only on a laptop or desktop. The multitude of devices and locations made it necessary for us to provide a connected environment,” says Belwal.

Charting the journey

Employee accounts in seven main plants and 100+ offices of Tata Motors have undergone the migration to cloud, guided by an implementation plan spanning three to six months. This includes adequate provision to absorb the impact of adoption and change of management . “As execution went along, the organization celebrated success stories of user adoption across teams comprising IT, HR, and Corporate Communications,” says Belwal.

Media such as videos, flash mobs, and e-learning courses have been used to fuel change. These are being supported by over 70 Microsoft-certified internal trainers who assist employees. “When it came to infrastructure, we only had to worry about creating a robust network with Wi-Fi provisions to ensure easy internet access,” recollects Belwal, adding, “Adoption was mostly a culture change, revolutionizing the way people work.”

Implementation pit stop

“After bonding with the best in cloud architecture, we only had to take care of the implementation process,” recalls Belwal while elaborating the various initiatives that enabled the Office 365 rollout.

  • Assessing that network patterns would move to the internet from the internal MPLS, internet links were upgraded and additional gateways were set up before the rollout.
  • A firewall upgrade was planned. The same is under execution to accommodate diverse and relatively sophisticated internet traffic.
  • A secure Wi-Fi needed to be implemented across plants and offices to enable access on mobile devices. It is currently under execution.
  • A good mobile device management platform was identified to enable access on mobile devices.

He also talks of how vendor and third-party support have played a key role. “Without them, migration to cloud would have been difficult,” emphasizes Belwal.

 Accelerating the digital transformation vision for Tata Motors

The initial deployment of 500 users has quickly grown to 20,000 users on the platform. This overwhelming response is largely due to a planned approach. “Tata Motors organized one-on-one calls to assist users shift to the new platform, creating a positive environment for migration,” says Belwal.

Today, the speed of business change is staggering and Tata Motors is well-equipped to keep up with the pace.

“Instead of asking ‘why Cloud’, we now ask ourselves ‘why not Cloud’ ”
 – Jagdish Belwal

Tata Motors has big plans to fully leverage this speedy and agile platform, allowing for easy collaboration and quick decisions. This would involve communication and change management programs which are underway. In the current business environment which is improving, cloud computing is poised to power Tata Motors to drive faster.

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