A Complete Business Engine
Improved end-to-end visibility has also allowed Maruti Suzuki to take online sales to a new level. The company’s evolving e-commerce capabilities now allow customers to do everything from choosing a vehicle to obtaining financing and insurance, all with the click of a mouse. When a customer who has decided on a particular vehicle logs on to Maruti Suzuki’s Web site to contact a dealer, options for financing and insurance are presented. If the customer expresses interest, the system collects the pertinent information and automatically routes it to the nearest dealership, which can arrange financing options with a local bank or work with the company’s in-house financing unit before contacting the customer directly to continue the process.
Underlying these IT improvements is a fundamental comfort with Oracle technology, and that would not have been achieved without assistance from Oracle Consulting during Maruti Suzuki’s 2002 Oracle E-Business Suite deployment, says Uppal. Oracle consultants brought with them a combination of deep knowledge of the technology and best practices to draw upon in mapping each module to the company’s business processes. They not only assisted Maruti Suzuki’s IT team with the installation but also helped them develop user manuals, designed a program for training trainers, and provided additional training for superusers. In fact, Uppal credits Oracle’s team with helping to overcome resistance among employees who weren’t sure they wanted to embrace new technologies.
As users have grown increasingly comfortable with Oracle software, Uppal reports that there are fewer errors, translating to more-reliable data throughout the company’s wide-ranging application portfolio. “Standardization with one vendor and one partner has driven knowledge skill sets,” says Subhomoy Sengupta, senior director of applications for Oracle India Pvt Ltd.
What’s more, as an end-to-end Oracle stack customer, Maruti Suzuki is availing itself of Oracle’s wide-ranging resources, working closely with Oracle Support to resolve issues. It has also been teaming up with Oracle’s development organization, not only to help identify requirements for planned applications—including a recently released demand forecasting application—but also to make sure that Maruti Suzuki is identifying the right applications to add to its stack.
“Oracle’s technology team helps us to define the parameters, and then we say, ‘OK, if we put in a technology over there, what kind of improvement does that yield?’” says Uppal. “We keep finding opportunities for process improvement, and thankfully, Oracle has a huge application and technology stack that supports it.”
Gartner’s Rubin says that maintaining ties to an established partner for technology upgrades should pay huge dividends for Maruti Suzuki, whereas using niche solutions for specific processes would only lead to headaches. “The cross-vendor approach is deadly,” he says. “By working with Oracle, Maruti Suzuki is working with one of the true powers in the industry. If they follow the rules and match the Oracle blueprint to their processes, they will have a lot of power and a lot of leverage.”
Oracle executives consider Maruti Suzuki to be a bellwether customer in its use of Oracle’s standards-based and custom technologies. “Other customers should look at the way Maruti Suzuki has balanced the two aspects—the unique parts of the solutions and the standard parts of the solutions,” says Sengupta. “Reliance on the entire Oracle stack has had a huge impact on the company’s operations and customers and has enabled it to cut down on IT costs and increase operating efficiencies.”
For his part, Uppal intends to keep Maruti Suzuki tuned up by adopting Oracle applications wherever they match the needs of his business. He knows that doing so will enable the company to scale its IT operations to match its market growth, seamlessly absorb technology upgrades without breaking the bank, and keep its place in the fast lane ahead of the competition.
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is a business/technology writer in Silicon Valley who has contributed to InformationWeek, Investor’s Business Daily, CIO Insight
, and Network World.