An elaboration. The bigger corporates in the Indian textile industry have adopted digitization to a great extent. However, since MSME makes up almost 90 % of the textile industry today, barring of course spinning, it is an absolutely accurate assessment of the ground realities.
To give a clearer picture of the level of digitisation in our industry compared to the developed textile industries of the world, the Indian textile industry would rank at about 3 on a scale of 10.
I personally have been a vociferous advocate of the need to digitize processes not only in manufacturing, but across the total spectrum from material movement to customer relationship management – CRMs. digital data capture and analysis, etc.
I have to admit, that we have been a dismal failure in making much of a difference in this aspect.
The reasons? Here is my assessment.
Fear: The fear of failure of implementation. Being that in MSME, these type of decisions and implementations are under direct command of the owner executor, the failure becomes very personal. Now when they look around and hear stories of failed implementation, the tendency to avoid being labelled one too, overtakes the need to act as per his responsibility of growing the business. The bigger factor here is the said or unsaid ridicule or comments likely from immediate and extended family members working in the same business, albeit looking at other divisions.
Lack of understanding the mechanism of digitization: ERP is one of the most misunderstood, if not abused word, I have heard in the textile industry. Ninety-five percent of the owners I have spoken to did not understand its real meaning. Another 4% were lying. Just 1% actually grasped what it is. Now compound it with self-taught expertise from Google and yes men all just looking to secure their salary cheques or contracts, and you have a recipe for disaster. It’s only a matter of time before implementation is abandoned with the grandiose proclamation : “Its impossible in India”.
Teaching the experts: I have set or been involved in many a discussion wherein the just-fresh-from-MBA-school entrepreneur has tried to convince me how some of the world’s most popular softwares being used by probably billions, have flaws; and he is looking to get the perfect one tailor-made for himself.
I have now stopped trying to reason with them and just stay bemused as he sits the local software graduate down and explains to him, how and why the software should be written. Then negotiate with him how many hours of code writing, which language blah blah. The saying finally coming home to roost few months later. Garbage In Garbage out.
Ego: The I. I know it all. I don’t need an expert or to pay someone. I can get it implemented all by myself and don’t have to put in place an IT person. I don’t need to first define my internal processes and be disciplined in them. I am right and most qualified, even if I never handled any software implementation project any time in my life.
The solution: Is successful digitization possible and beneficial? A resounding Yes!! How? Now that is a very elaborate subject and deserves a total column of its own. Maybe the next one that follows?