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Our approach to technology is proactive and strategic: Rajgopal Nayak, Metro Brands

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Shiv Joshi
Shiv Joshi
An editor with over 20 years of experience across industry verticals and content formats from tabloids to magazines, he is the Deputy Group Managing Editor at Images Group.

Rajgopal Nayak, Chief Technology Officer, Metro Brands Ltd. on the footwear major’s approach to technology, focus areas and tech interventions…

Metro Brands Ltd.’s chief Technology Officer Rajgopal Nayak’s tech Mantra is: Innovate with purpose and execute with precision. An accomplished IT professional with over 20 years of experience in business analysis, strategic planning, IT governance, and system development, Nayak joined Metro Brands Ltd. (MBL) in May 2020—in the middle of the pandemic.

He was tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the development and dissemination of technology to help improve and increase the company’s business.

Nayak’s vision for the organization is to make MBL a technology-driven company. Under his leadership, his team is extremely motivated to adopt and drive change by adopting new strategies. He is extremely enthusiastic about driving change with a clear vision of what to achieve.

In an exclusive interview with IndiaRetailing Nayak speaks about the footwear major’s approach to technology, focus areas and tech interventions. Edited excerpts…

What is the scope and complexity of your role as CTO?
I manage a multifaceted role that extends across various domains, reflecting the expansive nature of my responsibilities in steering the technological landscape of the company.

My purview encompasses a comprehensive oversight of all technological facets within Metro Brands, spanning digital innovation, cybersecurity, cloud infrastructure, software development, and data management.

A pivotal dimension of my role lies in the formulation and execution of the company’s technology strategy, a task that demands a keen understanding of business objectives to ensure seamless alignment. Collaboration with other departments is intrinsic to my responsibilities as I actively engage in identifying opportunities for growth and efficiency improvements through technology-driven initiatives.

Moreover, I manage a diverse team of IT professionals, vendors, and partners, orchestrating their efforts to deliver tailored technology solutions that precisely meet the evolving needs of the company.

When making technology decisions, do you rely on tech or gut?
Our decision-making process is a nuanced blend of data-driven insights and expert judgment. We recognize the value of intuition, considering gut feelings within the context of available data and industry best practices. This approach ensures a balanced and informed decision-making process, where both quantitative analysis and qualitative expertise contribute to strategic choices.

As the Chief Technology Officer, my role revolves around maintaining equilibrium among innovation, risk management, and operational efficiency. This delicate balance is essential to position Metro Brands at the vanguard of technology in the retail industry.

By navigating the intersection of these elements, I aim to drive the company forward, fostering a dynamic technological landscape that not only embraces innovation but also strategically manages risks and optimizes operational processes for sustained success.

What role has technology played in enabling the company’s growth?
Technology has been instrumental in Metro Brands’ growth, driving the expansion of its online presence, streamlining supply chain operations, and enhancing digital customer engagement.

The strategic use of technology has expedited the company’s evolution in e-commerce, optimized supply chain efficiency, and fostered dynamic customer interactions.

This tech-driven approach has not only increased accessibility and operational efficiency but has also positioned MBL as a forward-thinking and adaptable player in the digital retail landscape, contributing significantly to its ongoing success.

What is the company’s approach towards technology?
At MBL, our approach to technology is proactive and strategic. We recognize technology as a key driver of innovation and efficiency, prioritizing investments that promise a competitive advantage. This perspective helps us in leveraging technological advancements to propel our business forward, ensuring that our use of technology aligns with our broader goals and fosters a sustainable edge in the market.

Can you identify a few areas in which Metro is using technology to change the game?
We are committed to elevating the customer shopping experience through strategic technological applications, primarily focusing on e-commerce platforms and loyalty programs. In our pursuit of continuous improvement, we recognize the potential of RFID technology for inventory management and supply chain optimization, considering it a pivotal area for exploration and harnessing.

Moreover, we see significant promise in the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and Large Language models within our existing systems. This transformative approach has the potential to reshape our operational landscape, serving as a strategic differentiator.

Key areas of transformation include personalized product recommendations, enhancing demand forecasting accuracy, and fortifying fraud detection measures.

According to a recent study, 40% of those reporting AI adoption in their businesses in India say their companies expect to invest more in AI overall, thanks to generative AI, and 28% say generative AI use is already on their board’s agenda.

The integration of Large Language models, specifically, holds immense potential for natural language processing tasks. This includes deploying chatbots for streamlined customer support and generating content across various domains, including products, campaigns, talent acquisition, and evaluation.

By strategically employing these technologies, MBL aims to not only enhance operational efficiency but also stay at the forefront of innovation, delivering a more personalized and efficient experience for our customers.

Is Metro exploring deploying in-store technologies?
Yes, Metro Brands invests in enhancing the in-store experience. We believe that technologies that enhance interactive customer engagement and allow for seamless in-store experience and operations hold a lot of promise. We continuously scan the startup ecosystem landscape for innovative solutions around these themes.

Tell us about using technology for internal customers i.e. employees.
We harness technology to empower our employees with essential tools for collaboration, productivity, and professional development. This includes the strategic deployment of intranets, communication platforms, and data analytics tools.

These technologies are instrumental in fostering seamless collaboration, enhancing productivity, and providing avenues for continuous professional growth among our team members.

By leveraging these tools, we aim to create a dynamic and supportive work environment that maximizes the potential of our workforce.

Three technology challenges you face as a CTO…
I face three pivotal challenges: Ensuring data security and compliance amid evolving regulations; attracting and retaining top tech talent in a competitive market and scaling IT Cloud infrastructure for a growing business.

Meeting these challenges involves proactive approaches to data protection, fostering an enticing work environment for talent, and strategic investments to keep our IT infrastructure agile and scalable.

Navigating these complexities requires a multifaceted approach, combining strategic foresight, talent management, and technological acumen to ensure our sustained success in a dynamic tech landscape.

Which technologies are you investing in for the future?
We maintain a continuous vigilance over the tech and startup ecosystem, actively seeking out emerging technologies and solutions. Our objective is to identify innovations that can infuse agility into our organization, fundamentally transforming the way we work and conduct business.

By staying abreast of the latest developments in the tech landscape, we position ourselves to adopt cutting-edge solutions that enhance efficiency and contribute to the overall advancement of our operations.

This proactive approach reflects our commitment to remaining at the forefront of technological evolution and leveraging innovations for sustained organizational success.

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