Executive Interview - Sudipta Bhattacharya, President & CEO Invensys Operations Management (IOM)

Executive Interview - Sudipta Bhattacharya, President & CEO Invensys Operations Management (IOM)

 
By Bill Lydon - Editor
 
I had the opportunity to have a one on one discussion with Sudipta Bhattacharya, President & CEO of Invensys Operations Management during OpsManage 09 to discuss the new organizational structure and his management philosophies. Bhattacharya is an engaging and personable man that clearly expresses the organization’s mission while acknowledging that he continues to seek better answers. Bhattacharya has an interesting combination of experience and knowledge that encompasses process controls, enterprise systems, and supply chain.
 
The IOM strategy is built around the premise that manufacturing needs an Enterprise Control System to integrate business systems and manufacturing in real-time. The concept of the Enterprise Control System encompasses everything from sensors and people in manufacturing to the ERP system. He emphasized IOM is developing solutions, noting that the automation industry focuses too much on products.
 
Sudipta Bhattacharya Background
Sudipta Bhattacharya joined Invensys in August 2007 as chief software solutions officer.  He came from SAP AG, where he was senior vice president of solutions management for SAP’s supply chain, manufacturing and product lifecycle management applications. Before joining SAP in January 2002, Bhattacharya worked at i2 Technologies Inc. in its strategic services group. He held a consulting role that involved advising company executives on supply chain strategy. Prior to i2 Technologies, he worked for at the Tata Group, a business conglomerate based in India, where he held various operational positions and built a strong background in core manufacturing and supply chain operations.
 
Bhattacharya is a chemical engineer by profession and spent the first eight years of his career working as a process engineer in chemical plants. He noted that moving to Invensys is, “like coming back home,” referring to his comfort-level with talking to process engineers and his knowledge of applications in the automation industry.
 
People
In questioning Bhattacharya about finding the right people, he responded they are proactively hiring people with domain expertise but acknowledged the shortage of technical people worldwide.
 
Bhattacharya mentioned that about 6 months ago he was talking to the CEO of the largest refining company in India. This executive related that the retiring workforce in India is a problem explaining good experienced chemical engineers are hard to find.   Kids graduating in India are not going into chemical engineering since there are so many other avenues that have opened up and engineering is not a profession they want to pursue. Bhattacharya noted, “Even in a place where you have population booming and you have a lot of young kids the same problem is manifesting itself.” 
 
IOM is finding people with domain expertise from around the world and using these people as part of their distributed domain expert workforce. 
 
Taking Care of Customers
I asked Bhattacharya how the new structure that brings together some very traditional organizations with Wonderware can remain responsive all customers. He explained, “We are very cognizant of that whole issue…we are designing our processes and monitoring how we are progressing so we don’t destroy something that we have built up.”
 
The sales organization is structured with a regional president for each geographical region around the world. These presidents have a head of direct sales and indirect sales that are at an equal level to provide balance to be sure all customers are served.
  
On the “product portfolio” side, he described how they have people that insure products are “channel ready” for customer sales. In addition “Innovation Alley” is an innovation initiative focused on the integration points between all the different products.
 
I asked if customer demands for more consulting are being satisfied at the partner level or by IOM. Bhattacharya indicated that it will happen at both levels, “Internally we do realize we need a stronger consulting organization.” IOM has a VP of Value Added Services and Consulting in every region who “owns” value added services and consulting to insure quality.   He also views partners as very important noting clients will have varying needs and there is plenty of work.
 
Open Management Style
Bhattacharya is very open, anyone in the company can sign up to talk with him for 30 minutes and he does 16 of these sessions a month. He noted that the people who sign up to talk to him either have an opinion or are proactive. He also tasked his leadership team to listen to their people. He described that the biggest challenge is for everyone to understand the goal. In order to achieve their goals he believes, “If I have enough good people on our side we will figure it out. If I want an open architecture, I need an open organization...”
 
Ecosystem
I observed that a number of IOM partners have products that overlap Invensys products and could very well compete against parts of the company. Bhattacharya responded, “This is why we are the only company that has a group called the Ecosystem Group…the reason we have this group is to exactly oversee that.” “But again we have to be mature, there is always going to be some gray area, and good companies are going to be able to manage this gray area with a lot of maturity.”
 
“We really see a large part of innovation, maybe 50% of our innovation, coming from our Ecosystem. On the one hand, I see what some of our partners have done and think why can’t we have done that? They did it, a 20, 30, 100 person shop and they did it so quickly.” His viewpoint is to work effectively with the partners. An example is the Wondeware Enterprise Integration solution; two of their system integration partners worked independently at two customers and created the solution. “We saw this and said why would we not take it from them and productize it and I am happy to pay them a royalty.”
 
Bhattacharya views the partner Ecosystem as, “an absolute pillar of our differentiation in the market.” 
 
Innovation
Bhattacharya described using multiple teams around the world to specify a problem solution. Then another team typically from another part of the world reviews it. They have a different point of view and provide constructive critique and other ideas. 
 
Bhattacharya explained that he learned this concept from a group in San Diego, Afterburners (www.afterburner.com). They are fighter pilots who run a seminar called Flawless Execution. In flawless execution, you are trained on their methods used for combat missions where there is no room for failure. Two fundamental things taught are debriefing and prefight planning.   In a debriefing session after a mission, they all take off their badges for a rankless discussion about what mistakes were made and how the team can do better. Preflight planning is done with two teams, the blue team that plans the mission and a red team whose job it is to tear apart that mission.
 
Bhattacharya has also kicked off a talent management program where they call in their best talent from different parts of the world to interact, trust each other and challenge each other. He understands getting people together in this fashion both in meetings and socially builds powerful teams.
 
 “That is the hard process we have been going through, how do we drive innovation, how do we get better ideas, how do we find ideas, how to have fast learning cycles, and how does it apply to our business.” IOM teams around the world meet using WEB meetings and face to face meetings.
 
Bhattacharya believes diversity is a key ingredient and his management team, by design, is from around the world, “a diverse organization will always out-innovate the competition.”
 
My Thoughts…
At the Invensys North American Client Conference on September 20-24, 2009, the employees I talked with were energized and now I understand why - Sudipta Bhattacharya is a straight forward technical and business leader with a vision. 
 
Bhattacharya and I discussed his view of innovation and creativity. Bhattacharya has an expansive view of creativity and innovation - understanding it can come from any level in the company plus from their partners. He has a very open view of letting people try new things recognizing a number of attempts will not produce results but are doorways to new productive ideas. He knows that these will commercially payoff by delivering more value to customers.
 
At first pass, the Partner Ecosystem may look like another third party program, but IOM is embracing partners in a way not seen before in this industry. They are cleverly leveraging the knowledge, innovation and talent of partners in a tight relationship. It will be interesting to see if this strategy is over time.
 
When I asked how far they are through this change process, Bhattacharya answered realistically, “We are not 100% through the process but the most important part of the process was to be able to have a common vision, common strategy that people can buy into...that will make us a leader.” He described how they are taking the message worldwide, “It is important for people to understand what we stand for as a company right from the grass root level.”
 
After many changes in management over the last years it sure looks to me like Invensys now has a leader. Bhattacharya highlighted the organizations major task, “The big question is how do we grow the pie and be the first to the market.”
 
In the words of Bob Marley, “Time alone - oh, time will tell.”