Girish Chouhan - Motivate Publishing

Saturday, 02 April 2011 20:59
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After graduation from business school where he studied commerce, marketing and digital strategies Girish got several IT certifications and started his career in 1994 as an instructor at a computer education institute. Soon after, he moved to central India where he joined the IT department of Kalani Group. Girish climbed up the ranks steadily until he was named IT Manager. During the dot com boom Kalani Industries started its own web venture and Girish was named as General Manager for Technology and later on VP Corporate Technology.  A few years later Mr Chouhan joined the Singapore based Dodsal Group which operates in many sectors including engineering and construction, mining as well as infrastructure development and management. The move coincided with the deployment of SAP at Dodsal and after the successful completion of the project in 2004 Girish joined Motivate Publishing in Dubai where he heads information technology today.


The Interview

CIO2CIO: For much of your career you worked for conglomerates, multi industry business groups but now you are working for Motivate Publishing which is a pure play publishing business. As a CIO how do you compare the challenges of working for a single industry company to those of working for a multi industry group?
Girish: Well each and every industry is interesting in its own right and learning makes the CIOs job very exciting. When I joined Motivate Publishing it is was my first experience with the publishing industry, I enjoyed learning about the industry and developing an IT strategy that specifically supports publishing. And yes working with Kalani and Dodsal, supporting a multitude of industries is quite challenging, what is more challenging is how you develop an IT strategy that supports a multi industry conglomerate, how you do consolidation and how you do not compromise any one particular business for the sake of a unified group IT strategy. That is not easy at all.

CIO2CIO: What are the biggest challenges facing today's CIOs? Perhaps it is finding the right people, retaining top talent, dealing with the technology change or is it securing the budget?
Girish: I think finding the right talent in this part of the world is really a big issue and that is especially true in the publishing industry, if you are looking for IT people with some publishing industry experience. And then of course retaining talent is something you have to pay attention to, but we have not had much difficulty securing our IT budgets over the years. Once management develops the trust in IT, it becomes easier and easier to get the right IT budget. That of course means that IT has to promise and deliver consistently.




CIO2CIO: Today’s business executives know more about IT and its buzzwords, do you sometimes find it a challenges to explain why you are adopting or not adopting some particular technologies to your fellow managers?
Girish: Yes this makes CIO's life difficult, senior executive often learn about new technologies and hear of new buzzwords. They ask why we don’t have this, and then I have to explain how this technology work and how it will fit or not fit with our overall strategy and direction. We also pay a lot of attention to the publishing community around the world and monitor their technology directions and adoption plans. We do not have to adopt each and every new technology just because it is in fashion or because executives hear about it from their friends or read about it on the web.


CIO2CIO: Given the speed at which the IT industry is consolidating into fewer and fewer vendors, do you feel your choices are becoming more limited and that your negotiation power is eroding since there is fewer competitors?
Girish: It does bother me in fact from a commercial perspective but at the same time it makes our life somewhat easier form and evaluation and selection perspective. Additionally we benefit from the improved levels of integration between these products as they become acquired and consolidated.

CIO2CIO: As big vendors make more acquisitions and accumulate broader offerings, they end up assigning multiple account managers to deal with you.  How do you see that approach?
Girish: We are not happy with that, too many account managers, they all want to sell and they give you just a small part of the story. We have made it clear to our major vendors that we want them to work closer with us by assigning an overall account manager who understands our business, our priorities and our pains then offer us solutions, not bits and pieces of products, offer us an integrated view not one angle at a time.

CIO2CIO: What would you advice new CIOs to focus on?
Girish: Young CIOs need to take IT perhaps more seriously from a business perspective. They need to thoroughly understand the key business processes before they start looking at technology, they need to get closer to the department heads and the business champions. Then armed with a good understanding of the business they will be able to make better technology choices and have higher chances of success with their projects.


Motivate Publishing IT profile

CRM: Maximizer
Database: MS SQL Server
Servers: HP
PCs: HP and Apple
Telephony: Panasonic

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