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Metro Brands’ Rajgopal Nayak on the evolving role of a CTO, cybersecurity and more

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Technology has emerged as a game changer for companies, big and small. With the pandemic driving remote work, contactless deliveries, it has become necessary for companies to focus more on the technological aspect. 

During these tough times, the IT professionals have taken the lead to deal with the unprecedented challenges. Surprisingly, this stays true for both the giants and the SMBs of the sector as even the biggest companies were seen struggling to survive. 

As part of our Tech Gurus Series, we talked to Rajgopal Nayak, Chief Technology Officer at Metro Brands Limited about the evolving role of a technology head, increasing security threats, and more.

Nayak, is a seasoned and accomplished IT Professional with over 20 years of diverse experience in strategic planning, business solutions, digital adoption, and customer relationship management across retail, FMCG, paint and heavy engineering industries. He has successfully delivered transformation projects at Metro Brands Ltd, Asian Paints Ltd, Marico Limited and Larsen & Toubro. 

“Technology has saved the day for organizations during COVID.”

Evolution of the role of a CTO

The uncertain time of COVID has forced organizations to be more process oriented and reduce the people’s dependencies. Hence any technology that drives efficiency through automation has been welcomed by the organisations and the employees because of the improvement in process continuity and work life balance that the same brings about. 

Nayak joined the organisation at the beginning of the pandemic so ensuring that remote work was implemented effectively was one of the top priorities for him. His team made sure that all the employees were comfortable leveraging Office365 collaboration features for their day to day operations.

“The larger the adversity, the larger is the opportunity. It depends on one’s point of view,” he shared, reflecting his optimistic attitude.

Noticeably,  the role of a CTO has been reinforced during recent times. Sharing his learnings about the same, he talked about the technologies that he is focussed on to get the brand ready for times ahead.

The tech professional is working on further improvement of customer centricity, and expanding their ecommerce and omnichannel operations. He is also working on improving their employee efficiency for better results.

Talking further about the pandemic, he shared  that the company will keep working on cybersecurity and public cloud adoptions.

Cybersecurity is critical

For Nayak, ensuring that the cybersecurity posture of the organisation is maintained is critical, especially now that everyone is working from home. As access to the physical retail stores became constrained, the focus of the company shifted to expanding their ecommerce footprint. IT played a very important role here hand-in-hand with the Ecommerce team to ensure that the Ecommerce Tech Footprint scaled and stabilised. 

“We focused on ensuring application patching, operating systems updates and antivirus compliance % improved significantly. We also upgraded our firewall during the period. Thirdly, we shifted our server infrastructure out of our Head Office into a co-located data center and shifted to Software As A Service where possible thereby  ensuring better business continuity.”

Focus on long term goals 

“As a Technology Leader, how one demonstrates the business benefits and ROI for a given technology will determine if funding will be provided  for newer technologies. Gone are the days when funding would be provided on the basis of  promises for a better future,” Nayak shared.

Therefore, he believes that an IT professional must maintain a practice of continuous improvement and harvesting of the existing technology stack. This includes constantly reducing the cost of ownership of the existing tech stack. When refreshing the tech stack one should always go for disruption as against incremental changes from a way-of-working or business benefit point of view. Doing both of the above leads to a tech budget, which has a right mix of funds for existing and new technologies.

Talking further about it, he said that while implementing newer technologies, one must keep in mind that it is relevant to the existing business scenario or future needs of the company. It is important to keep highlighting the emerging scenarios much in advance so that relevant people are aware of the same and have had time to share their perspectives and wisdom back to you.

“This way there is an automatic acceptance to fund a particular technology as the conversation builds up for the same within the organisation to ensure alignment of business function in the journey.”