SAP sees rise in demand for citizen-centric solutions

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Dec 9 2013, 10:36am hrs
The sleepy post office in your neighbourhood is set for an image makeover. The government-operated postal system is leveraging advanced technology from the German software giant SAP to transform its business across more than 155,000 post officesfrom improving efficiency in back-office and core processes to creating new lines of operations within its existing infrastructure. Today, the 150 year-old department of posts, which employs nearly 474,000 employees, delivers more than six billion articles every year through its elaborate network of offices. However, its services are often seen as inefficient and unreliable and its customer dealing has not kept up with the changing demands of its customers.

Armed with a transformation charter that includes a complete overhaul of operations under an IT modernisation project, the postal department is deploying new-age citizen centric technologies to deliver better services. These include SAP ERP, customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM) solutions to help increase process efficiencies and meet its business, social and financial inclusion goals. It will also implement SAP solutions for streamlining internal processes in the areas of human resources, payroll processing and finance and accounts.

SAP software will help the department improve automation of core processes including postal counter automation, track and trace, logistics post, e-commerce and customer interaction channel, says Mathew Thomas, vice presidentStrategic Industries, SAP India. The project is being implemented by a dedicated team from one of our strategic partners in India, TCS.

The re-engineering of business process using SAP solutions will enable the postal department to increase its engagement with the Indian population through more customer interaction channels. The Central government intends to utilise the postal departments vast network for its direct cash transfer function, which aims to reduce leakages, cut down corruption, eliminate middlemen, target beneficiaries better and speed up transfer of benefits to eligible individuals. Workers across India, will be able to reap the gains from the direct benefits transfer (DBT) leveraging their existing savings accounts in post offices, informs Thomas.

There is an increased interest among the state-owned establishments in upgrading their IT infrastructure. It is being driven by a need to improve customer services, says Thomas. Technology companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Microsoft, are seeing increased demand for citizen centric technologies, but SAP seems to have a distinct advantage. SAP today, is to be seen as a catalyst in the transformation of innovative ideas into reality. Our approach is based on the four principlesthat of focusing on core competencies, driving thought-leadership, building the ecosystem & alliances and maintaining a committed & enabled sales force, he says.

Innovation is a key ingredient in our go-to-market strategy. It is focused both on the growth vectors of the companyin-memory, analytics and mobility as well as our countrys governance priorities of financial and social inclusion, education, health, fiscal discipline, agriculture, rural development and public security, says SAP India vice-president.

SAP works closely with leading government organisations to address growing urbanisation, demands for accountability, rising citizen service requirements, and safety expectations across various sectors including transport infrastructure, urban city planning agencies, oil & gas, steel and mines and defence. State-owned enterprises have been trying to upgrade for some time but now we are seeing new impetus, he says.

Be it the implementation at Mumbai Municipal Corporation which helps more than 1 crore 25 lakh citizens with 200 citizen services or the Airports Authority of India (AAI) which manages 125 airports, providing air navigation services over 2.8 million square nautical miles of air space, SAP solutions have facilitated a technologically enriched experience.

Recent public sector organisations that have joined this trend and opted for SAP technology to transact and analyse data in real time include Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation, Andhra Pradesh governments finance department, Maharashtra State Power Generation Company and Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board.

Indian Navy, one of the largest navies in the world has adapted SAP solutions to manage the navy-wide financial information system (FIS). With SAP solutions, the Indian Navy is able to better manage budget, enhance transparency to top management and enhance data integrity and consistency for better decision making. The FIS supported by SAP ERP Central Component, SAP Force Deployment for Defence & Security package and SAP BusinessObjects Access Control application assists in providing across-board visibility and probity in the areas of budgeting, financial planning and accounting to the organisation.

Another recent customer of SAP, the Andhra Pradesh government has been a pioneer in leveraging technology solutions for the betterment of the citizen services. The implementation of SAP solutions would provide a meaningful interface with both internal stakeholders and external stakeholders leading to efficient exchange of information. The SAP human resources management (HRMS) system will improve employee processes with increased transparency, enhanced investment in capacity development and quality towards public services.

The forward-looking state believes that agility in governance is the need of the hour, and with the adoption of SAP technology, they have taken a big leap in taking e-governance to the next level in the country. They are of the firm belief that their investments will empower their internal and external stakeholders with efficient HR solutions to manage public funds and budget, says Thomas.

State governments are relying on technology to help them streamline their existing processes and increase efficiencies to deliver quality services to citizens and employees in a transparent manner, says Thomas. Themes such as urbanisation, fiscal deficit, growth, inclusion, efficiency, transparency and public security are keeping the government awake and on their toes. Faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth, the cornerstones of the Twelfth Five Year Plan 2012-17, resonate very well with our approach to this market. And, thats what keeps us invested and excited, he adds.

India is reminiscent of the changing face of service deliveryRight to Information, Right to Education, Right to timely delivery of Goods & Services and the Food Security Bill will drive investments in ICT intervention in these areas, the SAP India VP informs.

Path ahead: Thomas says that the government will be looking beyond transactional systems to those who provide real-time insight and analytics into big data. Budget pressures and service level demands will move some of the shared services to the cloud and there will be more private play in projects of transformational value.

The Mobile Tree Census built for the Pune Municipal Corporation is a fine example where mobility, sustainability and innovation have come together in delivering better citizen outcomes. SAP has developed a mobile platform which captures the key information about the development of trees in Pune. It has helped Pune Municipal Corporation to analyse the number of trees in the city.

Public health will be a critical priority, says Thomas. Social and financial inclusion is forming a major component of budgetary outlays. The need for fiscal discipline is driving the need for transformation and investments in public budgeting. Also, evolving maturity in real-time data platforms will drive investments in emergency and disaster management and crime analytics at the Union and state levels.

Customer experience is really on the move!