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The Story Of Talent, Team & Artificial Intelligence In Bussiness

Tools & Technology In Business | HCCB

Leveraging some of the most advanced IT tools and technologies, this large team in Business Shared Services (BSS) of HCCB in Bengaluru, is the wind beneath its sails.

“The purpose is to go beyond transactional automation and add value to the organisation with speed and agility,” says Tanmay Agarwal, Vice President and Head of Business Shared Services.The leader of the 600-member team based at the HCCB headquarters in Bellary Road, North Bengaluru, knows his job.

This Global Inhouse Centre (GIC) or Global Capability Centre (GCC) called Business Shared Services in HCCB is helping drive revenues, reduce cost, streamline daily processes and analyse millions of data points every day to keep the engines running. HCCB being a very large FMCG set-up, relies heavily on this team for efficiency, diligence and delivery of routine and repeated transactions.

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Tanmay Agarwal, Vice President and Head of Business Shared Services

Understandably BSS bets big on digital. While there is no single tool that can effectively work in all domains, it has still found a way of leveraging most of the available technology. The focus is on defining and specifying the value-stream from raw material to finished products and from order to delivery.

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In its quest for delivering value, the BSS team has some fellow (digital) brethren to their aid. Shared Services has deployed 17 bots as part of the Robotics Process Automation to drive further efficiencies. There will be 50 of these in the next two years. One such bot- a chatbot called Leena AI is now assisting with the daily mapping of the health of HCCB employees amidst the corona virus outbreak. This HR bot is also advising employees on the appropriate course, including guiding them to doctors and medical practitioners.

Bots are extensively used to automate processes which are repetitive and transactional in nature. Whether it’s about converting purchase requests into purchase orders and purchase orders into sales orders or automating entire cash application process or bank reconciliations. Whether processing invoices for payments or generating hourly delivery status reports for sales staff or closing books, these bots have dramatically transformed the way the BSS adds value to the organisation. Needless to mention, these automated processes are not only fast and efficient but accurate as well.

The biggest advantage of deploying bots is that they work round the clock. As Tanmay explains, “In the current scenario of pandemic, where we are all forced to work from home, it is so easy to work with bots. We can deploy more bots when the volume of transaction increases and make the bots work lesser if the volume of work goes down without worrying about holidays and other human constraints.”

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Data Analytics is another pillar of the BSS function that provides a huge competitive advantage to the organisation. Beginning its journey 4 years ago, the Analytics function in the first phase established the standardisation and centralisation of data and reports thus providing a consistent view of the business across the company. Moving forward, the function today with the help of data scientists uses sophisticated Machine Learning, Advanced Analytics, Statistical Modelling and Predictive Modelling tools to provide data in granular details driving efficiencies for different functions from procurement to planning to production to dispatch to sales.

Big Data helps provide information such as which pack of which brand in which zone has gained or lost by how much. Churning millions of data point, the Analytics division also provides insights as to which pack in which brand should sell in what kind of outlets in which geographies.

The BSS is now in the process of implementing an AI (Artificial Intelligence) based tool in HR to automate the entire talent acquisition process. Equipped with requisite models and algorithms, the HR tool will read, process and stack hundreds of job requisitions, match them with the best profile and present top 10 resumes in a jiffy. “Among other things, the digital process eliminates the possibility of human biases, if any”, Tanmay assures. For sure, the metric for the recruitment process will thus change from turnaround time to quality of hire.

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Striking a synergy

From a larger organisational standpoint, there are no processes that can close the loop without touching BSS. As Tanmay describes, “Various technological tools and applications that run in the company are either leveraged or run by us as an integral part of shared services processes.” He further explains, “When our people in factories use Maxpro to automate the entire production process, the procurement team at BSS uses the same system to ensure that the right raw material is made available at the right time in the right quantity at the right price.

Similarly, we use the Transport Management System to ensure that payments are made to the transporters on time. Likewise, the BSS uses the Distributor Management System to determine secondary sales, pass on the credits to the distributors and settle their claims.”

Setting new benchmarks

Betting big on IT tools and technologies, the BSS function is constantly working towards bridging the gap between what’s happening and what’s possible. The improvements have been immense ever since the company set off in the direction of digital transformation. The sales through high-value retailers have grown three-fold, while the time taken to place coolers has been reduced by one seventh. The forecast accuracy and process around it has slowly improved and moved to the third quartile; the number of SKUs per bill for the premium segment has gone up by more than 30 per cent and the fill rate is in the high nineties. The list continues.

Delivering new experience

The impact of digital transformation is equally dramatic on employee experience. The new paradigm of working in a digital environment has eliminated a lot of unnecessary steps, needless follow-ups, unwarranted reminders and inefficient tasks. “Can you believe, we closed the account for the first quarter during pandemic without anyone coming to office even for a day,” Tanmay says. It is a huge endorsement of contributing to revitalising a culture where people are freed up from boring routine activities to focus on value-added strategic assignments.

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The company’s chat bot, Amber diligently assesses the mood of the employees periodically, and doesn’t stop at that, it also ensures a feedback mechanism to bring the issue to closure. Leena AI is another tool that is adding a new dimension to the overall employees’ experience. People get introduced to the chatbot even before they join the organisation. The entire onboarding process for a prospective employee is now online. The candidate can now access all relevant company policies and information about their colleagues remotely from their smartphone. The chat bot also enables every employee to apply and approve application for leaves on the go. Besides, the chat bot also provides all relevant information about sales, stocks and schemes to the sales team working in the field on a real time basis.

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Building a talent factory

The BSS function has designed several customised training programmes to familiarise the company employees across all levels with the available digital solutions. Besides, there are specific programmes that aim to upskill their competencies to stay ahead of the learning curve. The function recently launched a unique Digital Quotient Certification programme with a focus on building capability in Robotic Process Automation and Power BI, the inhouse centralised dashboard that provides the real time data on various performance parameters in a visual format.

The programme has a clear roadmap for the employees to sequentially move from basic awareness level to the expert level. “The idea is to prepare and enable our associates to apply and practice these digital tools as they move into more and more techno-functional roles”, Tanmay explains.

Leading the change

“BSS sets the pace for the rest of the organisation,” says Kamlesh Sharma, Chief Communications Officer and Supervisor for Shared Services. Adoption of the IT tools and technologies will therefore be the key to achieve breakaway growth. “The essential step is to create a culture where everyone appreciates speed of change and contributes to a future ready workforce,” Kamlesh concludes.

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Kamlesh Sharma, Chief Communications Officer and Supervisor for Shared Services


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