Software major SAP is making inroads into the government sector in India. It is committed to help improve process efficiencies, thereby ensuring speedy and timely delivery of citizen services using technology tools. Team Inclusion reports
We have products that are localised in Mandarin, in Korean, in Japanese and in Thai, but the level of involvement with India is extremely intense because apart from Hindi there are several local languages. This makes our job not only challenging but even more involved.” Adaire Fox-Martin, senior VP, Industry Business Solutions, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan
There are many factors that exemplify corporate commitment to a country where it operates from. SAP, the Germany based enterprise software major, is aiming to localise to strengthen its presence in India. It is partnering India’s growth and is collaborating intensely with governments both at the centre and state level helping provide thrust to e-governance initiatives. “We have products that are localised in Mandarin, in Korean, in Japanese and in Thai. We are looking at localising our offerings in Hindi to serve our customers better. This makes our job even more involved,” says Adaire Fox-Martin, senior VP, Industry Business Solutions, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan.
India is the fastest growing region for SAP globally and continues to remain strong, despite global uncertainties. SAP is aiming to make investments in India to add local relevance to its products and software. India is one of the largest public sector markets for SAP in the region after Australia and Singapore. Globally, public sector work for SAP is about 20 per cent of its revenues. India is picking up momentum. In recognition of picking up public service business, SAP is prepared to invest over and above the revenues it might be chasing.
It recently launched a Hindi version of its software. It plans to add more native Indian languages to the list. The company is also making changes in its enterprise software, keeping in mind the long and complex procurement processes followed by government agencies in India. It feels the changes are required, as the government has started making huge investments in information technology (IT) procurement. “The increase in IT spending by the government is a huge opportunity for us. The processes across the country are getting automated and streamlined for delivery of citizen services at remote corners of the country,” says Adaire. “Indian government is committed and so are we,” she added.
SAP recently launched File Lifecycle Management solution to improve file management processes for the public sector Available in Hindi and English, the solution helps public sector customers achieve transparency and agility across the organisation. It digitises files encompassing all stages of the conventional file management process including the filing system, workflow management, document uploads, correspondence, alerts and analytics. This will help a PSU create and manage a file across its lifecycle.
SAP has identified nearly a dozen processes that world over all governments do, from financial accounting to payroll, etc. Using technology these can be done better, comments Adaire. The benefits can be seen in streamlining processes related to accounts payable, accounts receivables, general ledger system and HR system. Some of SAPs key areas of government projects in India include: public security, investigative management, business intelligence for public security agencies and e-governance. “We have divided it in sub sectors – central and state governments, defence, health and education. We continue to add resources to these to help specialists in each of these areas address the segment better,” says Mathew Thomas, Vice President, SAP India.
Innovation is at the heart of SAP’s offerings. It has put several proof of concept in various segments. “We believe in testing all of our products in real-life environments before taking it forward,” insists Thomas. For instance, it has developed a tree-centric application. Today, municipal corporations have been assigned the primary responsibility to protect city trees. “This is how it works using a mobile device, a geo-tied picture of the tree is taken. This is monitored at specific intervals and is matched with the database to ensure that tree still exists,” explains Thomas. SAP Labs in Bangalore (largest outside Germany) are working 24×7 to develop and innovate citizen centric applications. Some of the public sector customers include Maharashtra State Power Generation Co Ltd; Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board; Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM); Kalyan Dombivli Municipal (KDMC); Steel Authority of India; Bharat Earth Movers; Airports Authority of India (AAI); and, West Bengal R-APDRP implementation.
SAP has identified nearly a dozen processes that world over all governments do, from financial accounting to payroll, etc. Using technology these can be done better. The benefits can be seen in streamlining processes related to accounts payable, accounts receivables, general ledgers & HR system
From an overall efficiency viewpoint there are a few things that can and do change – people, processes and technology. This impacts overall efficiency in terms of productivity, which is the driver for cost savings and allocation of available funds as per priorities. Process re-engineering does not necessarily mean re-inventing the wheel. It is about retaining the best while adopting good practices that already exist elsewhere. “At SAP, we spend a lot of time taking inputs from various customers from across geographies in terms of what could be called good practice,” informs Vivek Puthucode, Vice President, Public Services, SAP Asia. “And such experiences get clubbed in our technology solutions. So benchmarking oneself against other agencies in a similar situation could help improve processes and provide enormous return on investment.”
Governments worldwide rely on financial accounting offerings from SAP. Australia, for instance, tried to develop its own application that did not work before switching to SAP. It chose a partner who was willing to co-develop a solution or co-innovate and then come up with a good practice that fits today’s requirements with complete flexibility to adapt to change. Singapore government also took an identical approach and invested in a flexible and scalable platform.
In India, SAP is also looking at offering public sector cloud solutions. Currently, the government’s infrastructure for e-governance initiatives, like that State Data Centres (SDCs), is not optimally utilised. This will enable the government to be more functionally centric than technology centric. SDCs are an excellent infrastructure resource that can be upgraded to provide various horizontal applications on a private cloud to all the departments in a state government.
Adaire is bullish on Indian public sector and says that the SAP is here for a long haul. “All of our customers are big names and they have shown trust in us,” she adds. Yet there are a few challenges, procurement being one. “It takes a toll on the customer – both public or private sector. Delay in implementation upsets the entire calculation on RoI for an enterprise and vice-versa,” says Thomas. But it is changing. “During the last four years, we have closely worked with the public sector in India and are heartened to see that as a result of handholding there is an element of acceptability and change.”
During the last four years, we have closely worked with the public sector in India and is heartened to see that as a result of handholding there is an element of acceptability and change
Inclusion is the first magazine dedicated to exploring issues at the intersection of development agendas and digital, financial and social inclusion. The magazine makes complex policy analyses accessible for a diverse audience of policymakers, administrators, civil society and academicians. Grassroots-focused, outcome-oriented analysis is the cornerstone of the work done at Inclusion.