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If you would like to leverage data visualization tools to improve efficiencies , drop us a mail to contact@ramco.com

This article is reproduced from Hindu Businessline dated August 9, 2013 ( by ASHWINI PHADNIS)


Using maps to mine data effectively the Ramco way

Are you among those who are fed up about having to provide the same data over and over again to get simple things done? If you are, then help might be on the way. Working on the principle that beauty lies in the simplification that end users experience, Ramco Systems has come up with Ramco hcm (human capital management) on cloud. In an interview with Business Line, Virender Aggarwal, CEO of Ramco Systems, explains the new product. Excerpts from the interview.

What is the new product?

Traditional ERP did the back office work. Now the battle is for the front office and empowering your workforce. Because of the consumerisation of IT, people are used to simple apps on iPhones and others. So they expect their corporate applications to be simple, too.

Why do I have to key in my employee code every time? You log on to Facebook, you do not enter the log-in details every time on the phone. Try and give relevant information when the transaction is taking place so that it is contextual, it is mobile and it has a Facebook-like user interface. With GPS we also know where we are: Location aware. So you do not have to ask questions like mark your attendance if you have come to office.

How would you know?

As long as mobiles are there you use a person’s location. Suppose you are head of State Bank of India and have 20,000 bank branches and your branches start at 10 a.m. You want to know at how many branches the percentage of staff that reaches at 10 a.m., the number of staff that reaches at 10.05 a.m. and so on. If any branch has less than 75 per cent of staff even after 11 a.m., you may want to call it critical. You will see everything on a map visually, this is data visualisation.

How is this different?

No one is doing it. That is the reason why Google while talking to Wall Street Journal ranked us among the top three or four companies globally in terms of the way we use Google maps.

Please explain.

Google Maps is integrated into our ERP. So if you want to see customers – or suppliers – you can see them on a map. If you want to see your staff, you can not only see them on a map but also see where they are right now. Google says the most innovative way of using Google Maps is done by three companies in Asia --- ANA Airline of Japan, Posco and Madras Cements which is using Ramco’s software and is our parent as well.

How does this help increase productivity?

First, is that everyone is doing data entry. Second, location awareness is a great thing. If you are aware of where your staff is, it makes tremendous sense. Just imagine, you are NCERT and you want to know if teachers have reported on time. How many are missing and whether you can take any action.

All the phone calls and paper work will go because it will keep monitoring and give you an alert only if things are critical. If 85 per cent of the teachers have showed up in a school, it will keep silent. You can decide. 85 per cent is fine or 75 per cent is fine. Less than 50 per cent it will give you an alert. So you manage through the business of alerts.

If someone can carry someone else’s phone then you can fool the system, I agree. But the fact is that carrying someone else’s phone is a more extreme step than signing on someone else’s behalf.

What prompted this development on Ramco’s part?

Madras Cements has 15,000 dealers, 160 stocking locations, 12 factories. They have been pushing us to optimise this for a long time. First, we gave them Nokia phones, an SMS-based system which means that 20 tonnes of cement has come from this mobile which means this dealer is ordering so you build up an order system based on SMSes. They recently gave 300 Android phone tablets to their sales staff. They kept saying solve this problem and then we ordered Google Maps for them.

Google one day asked us what we were doing with the maps. We showed it to them and they were stunned. They sent a four-member team from Singapore to study the application. The team spent five days creating a video of what we were doing in Madras Cements with Google Maps.

What were you doing which was different from what everyone else is doing?

No one else is doing this. You can see all 15,000 dealers on Google Maps. Based on colour coding you can figure out which dealer is above and below target. Not only has Madras Cements done that it can also see the competition’s dealers.

The uses are enormous. Say you are a bank, you want to see your non-performing loans; you can figure that out and take a view. There is no better impact than seeing it visual.

The hottest growing field is data visualisation in the world. You visualise the returns instead of seeing them on spread sheets.

Where is the technology for this coming from?

The data is coming from a cloud in Singapore.

What kind of cost benefit analysis across sectors have you done?

Madras Cements produces the maximum amount of profit per tonne of cement. We have gained 8 per cent market share over competition since the launch of this product.

What is the kind of investment which companies will have to make across sectors?

We have not sold to anyone else.

But if say an airline or food chain was to invest in this what kind of investment would it need to make?

If their staff have smart phones, then the investment is very negligible. Investment on software will depend on what complexity of problem they want to solve. If they want to only visually know and take their own decisions, then the investment is very little. For Madras Cements, we have 63 constraints now. It wants the computer to decide everything.

That level of planning constraints etc. is a huge task that will cost money. The solution can start at as little at a quarter million dollars.

A one-time payment?

Yes. As the cost of intellectual property to us. If you have phones, then there is zero infrastructure. The cloud is there, the phone is there and you need nothing else. But if you want us to integrate, then the cost will keep increasing. But typically if you do not want as complex an operation as Madras Cements then it will be a few million dollars. Most companies should be able to do it in about half a million dollars.

Is this proprietary?

No. It is integrated with Google.

How many people are looking after the cloud in Singapore?

No one from our side. We have sub-contracted to Amazon which is the biggest cloud provider globally.

What is your investment?

We have 125 people in core research and development and another 500 in application R&D. All based in Chennai.

If you would like to leverage data visualization tools to improve efficiencies , drop us a mail to contact@ramco.com

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