“There is a global deficit in the supply chain, which is a challenge for us”
Finance leaders are pivotal in the success of any company. In a conversation with Hoshie Ghaswalla, CEO, Businessworld, Prabhakar Iyer, CFO, Ingram Micro Private Limited, speaks about the role of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the changing nature of their work and plans henceforth.
What are the challenges and opportunities you see in the consumer products business? What is your role as a CFO in this scenario?
Pandemic has been a game-changer in many perspectives. Ingram is one of the largest distribution houses in the country. We are a technology distribution space. It was challenging in terms of managing the supply chain, apart from that it was not an issue. Ingram is a company that has a large bouquet of consumers and enterprise. Speaking in terms of consumer business, there was a surge in demand for PCs, laptops, notebooks, which grew significantly. There is a global deficit in supply chain, which has also been a challenge for us. Inventory management was an important thing, and from the finance perspective, working capital was also a challenge. We figured out various working capital programs with the brands to support the customer and we could manage the demands very well.
How have your company’s plans and operations changed over the past year?
We had to change our entire strategy and focus. We were a company that had a distribution of technology products at its core. But now we have a lot of attention and resources being diverted towards advanced solutions in the enterprise and project space. We have to give support to the entire channel up to the consumer. Proper investment in technology had to be made so that everyone has enough analytics to work with. We have also diverted a significant amount of financing and working capital to the consumer.
Do you see consumer product businesses undergoing radical transformation after these two years?
Transformation is going to come across all businesses including technology. Consumers have become well informed, they want urbanisation and automation of processes given to them. They are ready to pay for the services, but they want an experience. Quality and experience is going to be the future.
Where would you rate your organisation on a scale of one to ten in terms of technology?
We are a global company and have been working from home since day one. While we had Microsoft Teams installed since a year back, we realised its necessity only during the pandemic. Our workforce has been tech-savvy from the very beginning. Having said that, I would rate my company an 8 out of 10 in the technology department as we still have a lot left to do. We are building an experience platform for customers and other players. Web tools and apps are being developed to make all serviced tech-driven.
What will take it to ten on ten, what gaps are to be filled?
Our vision is to make all services of the company available on every laptop and every pc globally. A lot of manual labour is being spent on invoices. Switching to robotic and optical fiber technology will rapidly increase productivity. As we achieve these goals, some new technology will come and we will have to aspire for them.
As a finance leader what are your key priorities in taking your business forward across next two years?
The experience we provide to our customers, the experience we provide to our suppliers, and anyone who interacts with the organisation can happen only with web platforms and technology. The second aspect is investing significantly in the digital business, which is the future, and the only way organisations can get ahead. Investing in data analytics and business analytics is an important part of it, even if it is to tackle competition