siliconindia logo
CIO City >>  Expert  >>  

Guruprasad Murty

"What IT leaders can learn from Bollywood? "

Guruprasad Murty
Vice President - IT & IS
Guruprasad Murty is VP - IT&IS, Microland. He has more than 25 years of experience in IT industry with last 10+ years in senior management positions in Business Development, Solution Delivery and Internal IT and IS. Last 3 years, he is the CIO at Microland, managing the complete IT infrastructure and application portfolio. He has managed global development centers with 1500+ people for fortune 100 companies along with managing their relationship and business growth. He has worked in large organization like Godrej, Wipro, HP and iGATE in multiple roles across multiple geographies.

India is a major movie producer in the world and whoever thinks about movies, first thing comes into mind is Bollywood. In spite of producing so many movies, why only a few movies are major hits or money grosser? Cut to Indias other big, booming sector - IT. Does not IT follow a similar trend so many projects get launched but only a few become successful while remaining projects neither get completed nor even get started. So, is there something we as IT leaders can learn from these hit movies or flops?

Story and Audience, every movie is supposedly made keeping in the mind the type of audience who will come and watch the movie. The success or the failure of a movie is decided by the audience. If the movie is made without keeping in mind the audience, then it is a sure shot recipe for failure. These are similar to the customers / users who the IT team needs to keep in mind while developing or procuring any application software or system. There are many instances, which show this was not really the case. End users or customers are not even consulted. Has this been the practice in your IT department? Once the audience and their needs are identified, then the next step is to get approval to go ahead and required budget. How well you prepare your ROI and cost benefit analysis statements and present it to the governing body for approval is akin to story.

Now, let us look at the other important constituents of a successful project, whether it is a movie or an IT project:

Team - Everyone is important while making a movie, from the producer, the director, actors, the music director to the extras and the bell boys. Their combined passion, commitment and hunger for success with a common objective in mind are the key factors for the success of a movie. Similarly, every member of the project team, whether direct or indirect, is very critical for the project. Be it the sponsor of the project, board, CEO or the Program / project managers, leads and team members, everyone is important and has a role to play. IT Leaders have an important balancing role to play which is similar to the role of director. They not only have to manage the team but also have to ensure that everyone is well informed on the schedule, budget, risks, effort, etc.

Budget - Despite you having a great story and a star cast of actors and other team members, unless you have budget, you cant start the shooting the film. Someone has to bear the cost of producing the movie. In most of the cases it will be a financier or a producer. The director and others have to abide to the rules of the financier and he / she can also make or break the career of individuals or withdraw the budget which eventually leads to cancellation of the movie itself. Have not you faced this situation in your career? First getting the right budget is a Herculean task (specifically in the current market conditions) and then ensuring that you get to spend the amount till the project completion. This is another huge challenge as at every stage IT manager has to justify the spent. We need to learn the way film industry manages the people, budget and the production to ensure that a movie is released as per the schedule. They have so many parameters to manage and in spite of that, we have hardly heard movies not releasing as per the plan as any delay means not getting the right slot later similar to flight getting delayed and then difficulty in getting the landing slot.

Communication - Once the story, team, budget, etc. are available, and the publicity machinery starts working the potential viewer is continuously being updated on the progress of the movie via various channels of communication. These updates could be in terms of promos, trailer, event, etc. Communication is very important for film industry. There are many instances, when in spite of having a great story, good ensemble of actors, beautiful locations, melodious songs, etc. the movie still goes unnoticed and vanishes from the mind of people. The main reason is lack or no publicity at all. The project execution is not only about managing the scope, people, effort, etc., but how well do you communicate the status of the project to the stake-holders and keep them up-to-date on progress including any issues, risks, delays, etc. It does not stop here. You need to educate and train employees on the application, software or system. This has to be continuous and on-going process.

Technology - Technology is very critical in movie making and in IT too. From simple black and white to colour movies and now 3D movies, movie making has undergone a major change. There is a drastic change from silent movies to latest in sound technology. Movie industry has been quick in experimenting and adapting latest technologies and they have reaped a huge benefit from this. To certain extent IT department does adopt to latest technologies but there has been always initial reluctance or lack of support to new technology unless there is an external pressure (read threat from end user) or driven by market conditions. IT has been slow in rolling out new technologies due to fear of change, disturbances, cost implications, etc. Unless and until we make an effort in reviewing new technologies and their relevance to our business, we wont be able to move the organization to the next level and make them agile.

I hope we have learned something from Bollywood. At the same time, there are many things which differ between Bollywood and IT. There are common issues and challenges faced in these industries. May be sometime we will have discussion on these issues, challenges and differences.