Piramal Group sharpens focus on AI, ML, analytics for digital efficiency

Tech News


BENGALURU : Piramal Group, which began its digital transformation journey about seven years ago, is sharpening its focus on the use of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), automation, and advanced data analytics to improve business processes and customer experiences.

According to Viral Gandhi, president and group chief information officer of Piramal Group, the conglomerate aims to streamline core business functions such as sales, manufacturing, and logistics using digital technologies, and also use these technologies to address uncertainty in the operations of its three businesses: Piramal Enterprises Ltd (financial services), Piramal Pharma Ltd, and Piramal Realty.

“We looked at the strategic objectives of each business and then arrived at various themes like customer experience, digital enterprise, smart manufacturing, and supply chain. Within each of them, we identified and executed a few initiatives contributing to the theme,” Gandhi said in an interview.

For instance, the group started a Robotic Process Automation centre of excellence in October 2018, which works with all business units and has “implemented more than 75 bots (till date), saving about 50 person-years of effort every year”, according to Gandhi. Robotic Process Automation solutions have helped “automate key financial processes including bank reconciliation, daily exchange rates and bank statement auto-updates and monitor the status of debtors’ accounts receivables”, Gandhi said. They have also resulted in “significant cost savings in day-to-day financial operations and improved data accuracy and compliance”.

Piramal Enterprises, for instance, is using AI, ML, decision sciences, and automated business intelligence (BI) tools to improve customer experience and detect fraud and delinquency. Further, the company has migrated its technology platform to the cloud.

“As part of our DHFL’s (Dewan Housing Finance Ltd) integration with us in 2021, we inherited on-premise technology platforms, which we have either retired or migrated to the cloud,” Gandhi said. The group has also integrated its cloud platform with a telephony cloud platform that “has resulted in increased productivity, enhanced customer experience, fewer sales cancellations, superior brand value and strong regulatory compliance”, Gandhi added.

Piramal Pharma has implemented a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) at one of its sites to digitally control, monitor, and document the manufacturing process in real time. The company also uses a chatbot for employee queries and data analytics to identify high-growth areas and set ML-enabled credit limits for distributors.

Other conglomerates are also adopting technologies such as AI and ML to improve their operations. Mahindra Group, for instance, has been working on bringing its products and services under one digital roof. Reliance Retail initiated a revamp of its My Jio app in August 2021 to convert it into a super app by integrating various consumer offerings. Tata Sons launched its super app, TataNeu, in April 2022 to cover all its units— fashion to finance, gadgets to groceries, hotels to health, and tech to travel.

Adani group, too, has set up Adani Digital Labs to build its super app. Harsh Goenka-run RPG Enterprises is implementing three metaverse projects besides developing agritech, medtech, blockchain and artificial intelligence-powered platforms as part of its digital journey.

Piramal Group, however, does not see any need for a super app. “If we expect technology to really transform the business, technology leaders cannot just be experts in technology–they have to be experts in business too. Hence, each business has a head of business technology, and we call them business CIOs/CTO. This results in the CIO becoming a co-owner of the business outcome of technology transformation,” Gandhi said.

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