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IBM India: IBM & Mother Dairy: Bonding in the time of Covid-19 – Latest News

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Partnerships are tested in difficult times. And this is a story of a partnership that grew stronger during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s about Mother Dairy, which was an absolutely crucial source of supply of milk and fruits & vegetables for Delhi during the lockdown. And it’s about IBM, which runs most of Mother Dairy’s IT systems and on whom fell the responsibility to ensure that Mother Dairy’s operations ran like clockwork during this time.

Milk and fruits & vegetables are perishables. That makes Mother Dairy’s operations even more complex. Its 110 tankers have to leave early in the morning, must reach the right destinations at the right time, and be back to be cleaned so that they can be ready again to do the next trip – so that Delhi’s milk supply does not dry up.

All of these operations, and the 28 or so quality tests done on milk though the manufacturing and supply chain processes, are run by an SAP system. Mother Dairy also has distributed billing systems and other retail applications across its over 1,000 milk booths and Safal outlets, all critical to smooth functioning.

And despite the enormous challenges on account of the pandemic and lockdown, “we had no downtime at all, not once,” says Annie Mathew, chief information officer at Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable.

Monitoring people, their physical health and mental motivation, managing transport, food, ensuring all systems are up, it was all very challenging

Lingraju G Sawkar, GM, GTS, IBM India

Mathew says the IBM team stepped up like none else. “We had other partners who, even though we gave them letters (authorisation letters to operate in the lockdown, given that Mother Dairy’s was an essential service), the people were too scared to step out, not willing to take the risk,” she says. Some of these other partners were also major IT companies.

Lingraju Sawkar, GM in the global technology services (GTS) business at IBM India, says at the core of the partnership were the people who understood the criticality of the Mother Dairy business. “We expect our people to understand the customer’s business very closely, and the implications of the work they do on the customer’s business. The remote operator in Bengaluru who is handling the Mother Dairy operation in Delhi, even if he hasn’t seen the operation, we take the effort to tell him and connect him to Annie’s staff. These really helped,” he says.

Whenever we say, prepare for the worst, we don’t take it so seriously. That attitude will now change. It’s also true that there is nothing you can’t cope with

Annie Mathew, CIO, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable

IBM arranged secure connectivity for all Mother Dairy employees working from home. Mother Dairy’s data centre is in Noida. IBM took state permissions to move a lot of critical spares to the data centre that are otherwise kept in a logistics centre so that any issues could be promptly addressed without worrying about the risks of transport and commute. Some systems needed periodic restarts, without which they slowed down. Those were remotely done.

Governance meetings were done using collaboration tools to solve issues proactively, look at health reports, and ensure teams have sufficient backup.

Teams, Sawkar says, went beyond the call of duty. “Also, technology enabled people to work remotely, and still ensure availability and uptime of infrastructure.” So this is also a story about the value of digitisation.



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