Harsh Goenka-run RPG Enterprises is in the process of implementing three metaverse projects besides developing agritech, medtech, blockchain and artificial intelligence-powered platforms as part of its digital journey.
These projects, according to chairman Harsh Goenka, are aimed at helping the group build new communities, drive better engagement for its employees and clients and elevate the brand experience.
While the three metaverse projects are in their early stages, the first project involves building a virtual RPG Campus that the group hopes will become the “first platform where B-schools will come together for a purpose such as working on a live project”, according to group vice-president and Head–Digital and Innovation, Samip Mutha.
The group has christened its second metaverse as KEC City. KEC International is the flagship company of the RPG Group and is a leading Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) company. The third project, CEAT Shopping, heralds the tyre manufacturer’s metaverse foray. “We have finalized the land plots for these metaverses (companies including Decentraland and Sandbox sell these virtual land plots) but are yet to close the commercials for the same,” said Mutha.
“Digital at RPG transcends factories and the shop floor,” according to Goenka. The digital transformation at RPG Enterprises, which spends ₹70-75 crore on this exercise annually, “has fuelled several changes, resulting in an uptick in organizational agility, enhanced productivity and customer experience”. For instance, the group’s “entire HR (human resources) process has been digitalized — right from onboarding talent to enabling a true hybrid working model across our global workforce of 30,000 employees'', Goenka asserted.
Moreover, while the group is continuing to focus on the “transformation of existing businesses”, it is simultaneously focusing on “building platforms” and creating “new businesses”.
For instance, the group’s smart manufacturing initiatives use technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality (AR-VR), the internet of things (IoT), cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI-ML), and blockchain “to build factories of the future that are phygital (combination of physical and digital)”, according to Mutha.
The group’s Smart Tyre project called iTyre, for instance, connects with multiple systems to collect real-time data of tyres in use by vehicles. This data then fed to the AI-ML model that combines data like the tyre Load (on each tyre), pressure, humidity, temperature, axle angle and other parameters (such as GPS, road conditions coupled with driver behaviour data like sudden breaking, rash driving, etc) to help fleet service providers take corrective action to extend the life of the tyre and reduce their cost per km (CPKM).
The group is also investing in building smart metres and platforms like iPro (Intelligent Procurement), RPGServ (RPG Service) and Click (can be likened to internet social media site for employees). RPG spends a little over Rs.4000 crore on buying different commodities like steel, rubber, aluminium, and copper. The iPro platform, built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), helps the procurement team with key insights using AI-ML on “when to buy, how much to buy, whom to buy from (multiple importing partners and countries)”, Mutha explained.
RPGServ, on its part, is targeted at the pharma industry to help doctors and medical representatives connect virtually. “We developed this platform in 4 months and today there are about 60,000 doctors using it”, Mutha claimed. RPG hopes to soon extend the platform to patients too. Click, according to Mutha, can be likened to “an internal Netflix for our employees”. “It’s a one-year-old internal crowdsourcing platform that helps us do innovation at scale,” he added.
The group is “also using a number of agritech solutions to better measure the quality of tea at Harrisons Malayalam,” according to Goenka. The agritech solution is aimed at helping small tea and rubber growers by using satellite-based image analytics to predict the right time for trimming of tea leaves that can help in getting better prices. Drones are being used to spray nutrients and pesticides.
That said, to build a digital talent pool, RPG Enterprises is implementing in-house programmes like “the Digital Academy and Digital Premier League (DPL)”, according to Mutha. “We recently also launched a blockchain club called KryptoKnights for blockchain capability development,” he pointed out.