Importance of Business Process Modeling & Optimization for Indian SMBs in Retail

Importance of Business Process Modeling & Optimization for Indian SMBs in Retail

Thoughts of Gulshan Bakhtiani

Today, SMBs have realized the importance of robust business processes and strategic business enablers. As a first generation entrepreneur, my journey began in the pursuit of profits and livelihood; once the business stabilized then began in the race to be better than the competition, to be the bellwether. In early nineties, I witnessed the power of technology in transforming small businesses. People talk about cutting-edge technology, but it’s more about “customer-edge of technology” – any technology that helps you get closer to your customers. The right technology, people who can implement that technology and a work culture where people trust technology are three corner stones of a successful, technology-driven company. 

Retailing is the second-oldest profession in the world and therefore it has its own legacies. India is a country of small retailers who got into the business purely as a means of survival and pass it on as a family business. When I started out, it was the age of CRT monitors and unreliable, dial-in networks. As a company, we’ve come a long way since then –DOS, Windows, ERPs, Cloud, Mobility, Analytics and so on. The technology landscape continues to change faster than we can catch up. The constant endeavor is not only to adopt new technologies but also to adopt the right ones. Are you a technology company in retail or a retail company powered by technology? This distinction needs to be clearly established.

As business leaders, our job is to foresee tomorrow’s challenges.Subsequently, well-defined business processes need to be put in place and for them to be effective and scalable, they have to be enforced using technology. Process automation is another key component; the real challenge is to identify what to automate and to what extent. Another important tenet of the growth roadmap is optimization. Businesses constantly need to optimize their business processes and automate manual ones. Herein lies another challenge – process optimization has a limit, post which you hit a ceiling. I’ve formulated an adage – Redesign to Redefine and we apply it to everything we do. Every time a process maxes out, we redesign it to redefine its capabilities and maximize its efficiency. For instance, consider a simple retail supply chain – manufacturer, distributor, retailer and consumer – and account for the 2 percent operational error at every handshake; at the end of the chain, what you unsurprisingly achieve is an aggregation of errors. Our constant endeavor is to minimize the error component by following our twin paradigm for distribution and retail – ZEDC (Zero Error Distribution Center and Zero Error Dispensing Chemist). Needless to say, technology is at the forefront of enabling this optimization.

Over time, I’ve concluded that business owners may be good at running enterprises but technological enablement of business should be driven by young technocrats. I believe that technologically whatever we achieve is by virtue of our CIOs who help us select and implement apt & scalable technologies. Hence, I feel that it’ll be more appropriate that the remainder of this technology narrative be continued by the young man I trust, our CIO – Tabish Sangrar.

Views by Tabish Sangrar

During my stint at Infosys and Cognizant, I was part of enterprise BPM projects. I worked on market-leading BPM tools, designed business process models and enabled business process automation for billion dollar organizations. In my startup stint, BPM was something that I incorporated every step of the way which helped our small team stay focused and always in sight of the bigger picture. In my new stint as CIO at Wellness Forever, I’m handling legacy IT solutions& enterprise networks on the one hand, and building disruptive technologies, formulating digital strategy (including social media platforms), and enabling enterprise mobility on the other; Bimodal IT is what makes all the difference. Indian SMBs in particular need to start looking at bimodal IT as the way forward with BPM as the North Star. Having successfully implemented bimodal IT at Wellness Forever, I can confidently saythat this demands clear demarcation between the robust, business-as-usual operations and the supremely agile disruption units. To bring order to the disruption and keep the bimodal juggernaut rolling, technologically-wired BPM has served us well. In light of the Indian E-comm explosion, the way forward for traditional Indian retail SMBs is Omni-channel retail. Websites, online marketplaces, mobile apps, aggregator apps, social media platforms, messaging platforms, telephony and offline stores, all of these will coalesce under one broad category – Channel of Sales. Each channel will be replete with its challenges, opportunities and threats, thus further highlighting the need of effective BPM for retail businesses in the near-future, a future that’s very much omnipresent in our now.