Indian Oil Corporation Limited is a behemoth in the PSU sector. Its size of operations can be understood by few of the mind boggling figures such as its vast network more than 4000 LPG plants and terminals of 9500 km of pipelines. IOCL serves 200 million consumers through a countrywide network of dealers and bulk users that are in excess of 50000 each.
Gargantuan task at hand
The enormous scale of IOCL operations is designed to support several functions that encompass project management, materials management, site work, production, sales, and engineering operations, just to name a few. IOCL must support a huge network of dealers to deliver petroleum products across the length and breadth of country to keep the wheels of progress running seamlessly.
Automation has been implemented to make sure that everything runs as planned. IOCL has built forty thousand touch points to guarantee automated fuel supply across rural regions. Adoption of automation has helped IOCL make sure that 8.5 crore families are able to cook food by using LPG cylinders. Add to this more than six thousand Kisan Seva Kendras that cater exclusively to rural consumers.
Need to adopt cutting edge technology
Unless you go all out in implementation of advance technologies, it would be impossible to bring transparency to government sponsored schemes such as PAHL or DBTL. Similarly high technology solutions reduce complexities, errors, and accelerate tasks on a massive scale. Needless to mention, government can achieve significant reduction in number of employees with help of automated systems.
These technologies have helped direct transfer of subsidies to bank accounts of end users and improved their confidence in the government machinery to a great extent. Since the largest share of IOCL products is commanded by cylinders of Liquefied Petroleum Gas for domestic consumption, it was essential to remove dual pricing which was rampant in the past.
DBTL- a unique initiative
Direct Benefits Transfer for LPG is an enormously successful government initiative of Indian government that was conceptualized with an aim to empower the consumer of LPG gas. The scheme reaches out to more than 10 crore end users of LPG who are serviced by oil companies including IOCL.
In order to get the benefit of gas subsidy, a consumer pays for a cylinder according to the current market price. The subsidy amount is then transferred to his or her bank account directly. The move to offer cylinder at the existing market price instead of a subsidized price was to curb the practice of black marketing and diversion of cylinders to elements other than domestic consumers.
IT- playing role of the enabler
Enabling such a scheme that would eventually benefit every Indian household requires support of Information Technology. The solution was developed to simplify the intricacies of processes to deliver benefits to a huge consumer base by adopting state of the art technologies, according to Alok Khanna, ED- Information Systems at IOCL.
Recent partnership of IOCL with a digital platform FreeCharge has facilitated LPG consumers to perform cashless transactions while purchasing LPG cylinders. The IT arm of the PSU is responsible for development of ERP systems on Cloud, application development, software development and implementation of all important IT functions of the organization.
Indane brand of LPG cylinders move through a myriad of steps and checkpoints before reaching the ultimate destination of consumer’s doorstep. The in-house software application developed by IOCL’s IT department has helped digitization of every transaction that is performed at the dealer’s end. This has enhanced transparency of operations and ensured real time visibility into a plethora of operations such as supply-chain, plant operations, and so forth.
The software for performing complex operations that must culminate in successful transfer of subsidy amount to the beneficiary account was developed in-house. The software application is also capable of maintaining a common code base for real time as well as batch wise processing. In addition to DBTL, the in-house platform is also enabling other schemes including Ujjwala and Give-it-Up.
The vast distributor network operates by maintaining seamless transparency. In order to streamline the distributor operations the architecture of platform is synchronized with exchange data as well as central server in real-time so the customers can always access updated data center from a public domain.
Development of a large number of analytical reports is backed by deployment of business critical intelligence applications to deliver information in intuitive formats such as graphics and other formats for visualization of data.
No wonder, transfer of funds to as many as 160 million families under the largest scheme of government has earned IOCL a coveted place in none other than Guinness Book.
IOCL is undoubtedly the largest commercial organization of India and it is not resting on the laurels. It is working on acquiring a COTS Dealer Management System that will help every individual Strategic Business Unit work on a unified platform. According to Alok Khanna, when completed, the CRM system will be the largest dealer management system that has ever been developed in the petroleum sector.
This will also require adoption of cloud hosting services and implementation of emerging technologies. IOCL has already hosted a large number of applications in the cloud. However, more and more emerging technologies including IoT, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence will have to be leveraged not only for enhancing efficiency of operations but also to support a plethora of processes.
IOCL envisages implementation of the proposed CRM system throughout the entire gamut of its Strategic Business Units. The Customer Management System will slowly replace number of special applications by a singular platform. There will be a large number of CRM functions, which will be brought under the umbrella of a unified platform. These functions include Sales Force Automation, Social Media Integration, Complaint Management System, Loyalty Management, and more.
The proposed system will be hosted on a private cloud due to its huge scope and will help IOCL build a direct connect with the large customer base that is spread across the vast geographical expanse of India. IOCL management will also gain enhanced visibility in terms of buying behavior of its customers.