HO’s digital transformation journey began in February 2017 when Corporate IT first presented a Digital Roadmap for F&A processes to Mr. R. Shankar Raman, Whole-time Director & Chief Financial Officer, L&T. A strong proponent of digitalization, Mr. Raman believed that it will lead to better quality and consistency of work, improved productivity & turnaround time, increased transparency and governance, and better data analytics.
The function held detailed discussions with all HO departments to understand their key pain areas and zeroed in on places where digital technologies could be employed. It instituted a Center of Excellence (CoE) team focusing on digital technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics Process Automation, and Chatbots. In the months that followed Corporate IT implemented the above technologies at several key HO departments to enhance business processes, deliver insights and enable data-driven decision making.
Travel Expenditure Analytics through AI & ML
L&T’s Shared Services Center (SSC) processes more than 2.5 lakh claims per annum. Previously it did so by analyzing each claim manually. A tedious and challenging exercise, Corporate IT studied SSC’s processes thoroughly to see if it could apply new generation Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning technologies to automate the same. Corporate IT worked with Corporate Travel and SSC to perform analytics on travel claims. Microsoft technologies were used to analyze claims to identify potential outliers for further scrutiny. In this proof of concept, which analyzed the travel claim data, it looked at 300,000 past claims. Done manually, it would have taken months to process such a volume but the system completed the activity in just a few days. More importantly, the system could generate unique insights by using machine learning to identify correlations and patterns.
This has already reached 70% accuracy based on past claims. Corporate IT anticipates it to hit 95% accuracy soon and plans on integrating the same with the TEMS systems in Q1 FY 18-19. Once integrated, the analytics engine will speed up processing time for employee travel claims thereby leading to better performance for SSC.
Reducing Working Capital through Analytics
Analytics enables the organization by giving insights, hidden patterns, and proactive alerts which allows for timely decision making. When Corporate Treasury requested Corporate IT for insights into the flow of funds from Company’s Bank Accounts – currently roughly Rs. 1 lakh crore flow through L&T’s bank accounts – the latter used Microsoft PowerBI to develop analytical dashboards to provide Corporate Treasury real-time fund flow information, insights, exception reporting and proactive alerts thereby reducing risks (650+ dormant account closed) and pooling dormant cash lying across these accounts. The project resulted in significant lowering of idle cash sitting in bank accounts. Access to this dashboard has been provided to all F&A heads for their respective businesses to take informed decisions. Further enhancements have been implemented in Q1 FY 18-19 by use of AI for auto-classifying sweep transactions which will allow for focused exceptions in active bank accounts. This will lead to arresting further potential leakages. As a next step, efforts are on to include international bank accounts.
Arresting Profit Leakages via RPA
Corporate IT recognizes the advantages of automation and how it enables improved business operations. To this end, it has invested in resources to skill up on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to be able to deliver business benefits. RPA allows for automation of repetitive time-consuming work, thus reducing drudgery of work.
Corporate IT worked with Corporate Indirect Taxation to automate reading mails for airline invoices containing GST information. This has allowed the function to trawl through 8000 mails per month and derive intelligence and send relevant data to the businesses allowing them to claim GST credits faster. The system has already helped recover Rs.70 lakh in Q4 FY 17-18. In Q1 FY 18-19, the system helped recover another Rs.75 lakh. Enhancements to the system have been made to cross check tickets booked using Travelscape, with missing invoices. This has allowed to arrest all leakages and the department is able to claim all GST credit possible.
Chatbot for SSC
SSC provides back office support to all Company employees and does so through channels including phone, e-mail, chat etc. An extremely challenging and resource intensive task, supporting a vast, spread out workforce keeps SSC team under constant pressure. Given its limitations SSC often has had to contend with complaints of insufficient support and unsatisfactory experience from its users. To address the issue Corporate IT conceptualized and developed a chatbot solution along with SSC team.
In the first phase, this solution was rolled out to HO users in Q4 FY 17-18. This has now been rolled out to all businesses across L&T. The chatbot provides answers to various queries on employee claims. In Q1 FY 18-19, the chatbot handled a total of 6500 + queries from 3000+ users. This has helped solve most of the basic repetitive queries on a 24x7 basis.
Corporate IT is uniquely positioned to facilitate HO’s digital transformation. It has the required visibility and partnerships across the enterprise and it possess the desired expertise in emerging technology best practices. With a “seat at the table” across all HO Departments, it can anticipate business needs and quickly create solutions that enable an agile, digitally-empowered business.