Ujwal Chejerla has been right at the heart of moving PPG fast, forward and accelerating top-line growth using end-to-end digital solutions. What he is about to share with us shows the exciting future that is already at our fingertips.
Excited and Responsible As We Head Forward
Ujwal joined us just ten months ago as head of our then-brand-new Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI ML) Center of Excellence, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.
The center’s primary objective is to generate projects that can translate across the whole company. They do this by supporting key business processes (those focused on organic growth and operational excellence) with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
I enjoy team building, generating value and learning from our stakeholders on a daily basis.
Ujwal explains that the AI ML, product management, user experience (UX) and technology Centres of Excellence, along with functional/business teams, are all working together to build solutions that support growth acceleration for PPG.
We are feeling excited and responsible at the same time with enormous support granted by our leadership.
The team has chosen an “agile” way of working, which means they can quickly test ideas before committing to them. Instead of waiting for everything to be finished, they can deliver smaller chunks in an iterative way. This way, new solutions can be stably integrated with our existing processes and applications.
In future, we are aiming to see personalized customer experiences, optimized inventory, efficient manufacturing quality and less time required to take our formulations to market.
The team is primarily focused on five end-to-end digital lighthouse initiatives, and are also working on the key aspects of our selling machine.
Lighting Our Way with Lighthouse Initiatives
One of the key lighthouse initiatives that Ujwal is leading is Customer Color Matching. As Ujwal explains, currently a significant amount of PPG’s research and development work is spent on color matching, and the process by which customers request colors is time consuming and costly.
This initiative will give our customers and employees access to a seamless digital tool that will make the process of requesting colors simpler, and of matching colors more efficient, accurate and consistent.
It will help us reduce costs and accelerate our response time to customers, creating a new competitive advantage for PPG.
Other exciting and pioneering lighthouse initiatives Ujwal is leading include: Batch Quality AI (which will help predict quality test results), Formulation AI (which will help predict formula output characteristics), Inventory Optimization AI (which will predict demand, optimize production time, and help us appropriately adjust inventory levels), and the Customer Digital Platform (which will offer customers a seamless, personalized omnichannel experience across all strategic business units).
‘Now Is the Right Time’
Ujwal has become a part of PPG on March 17th 2020, the very day the first lockdown was imposed in the US.
Starting a new job at the beginning of lockdown was a challenge, but my PPG colleagues welcomed me straightaway… albeit in virtual format!
The pandemic has shown how essential it is for our company to embrace new agile technologies that make remote working, omnichannel experiences, and more efficient delivery a core focus as we move forward.
PPG has managed amazingly during the pandemic. It felt like I was part of a family that cares and operates on very high values.
It’s exciting to hear about all the initiatives that Ujwal and his team are working on. While change can be daunting, Ujwal reminds us that 'now' is certainly the right time to be implementing tools and processes that will not just help us deliver our products and values in a better and more efficient way. They will also help drive top-line growth as a company.
Ujwal’s one last bit of advice to share with us comes direct from the helm of the turbulent digital transformation at PPG:
Dream big, start small and deliver often.