Theres a huge opportunity in government sector

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Aug 25 2014, 07:58am hrs
There are a lot of processes that are still there in the government which are over 100 years old, says Ravi Chauhan, managing director, SAP India. The new government has a stated mission about minimum government and maximum governance. He tells Sudhir Chowdhary that as a nation, we need to think forward and adopt a mind-set where technology can help give a much higher quality of life to citizens. Excerpts:

Government seems to be in overdrive to leverage technology...

The government has a stated mission about minimum government and maximum governance. That really resonates with the public. Today administrators and government officials have to make decisions on matter of great importance and to be able to do that correctly they need to access information. They need reliable data which has to be data driven in order to make correct decisions quickly. There is no other way but to depend on technology to give one that information on the basis of which one can make these correct decisions.

It is imperative that the only way you can live up to this promise or philosophy of minimum government and maximum governance is to leverage technology. A lot of concepts that we are talking about such as utilising the cloud, social media and mobility to deliver maximum governance are not new. It is just utilising some fairly well understood technology and platforms.

It is important for the message to be driven down from the leadership in government to tell the people to become the agents of change. There are a lot of processes that are still there in the government which are over 100 years old. They were probably very appropriate at that point of time but today patently they are inappropriate. So its just not use of technology but use technology to really change, become a change agent is what is the ask of this time.

Lets talk about the opportunities.

The opportunities are really immense. If you look across the whole area of governance its an area which is ripe to use technology for transformation. We have worked with few of the private companies on transformational projects. These transformational projects have very quantified objective basis which it is measured whether the transformational projects were successful or not. The same degree of rigour and quantitative analysis needs to be also done for government. So we think theres a huge opportunity.

What will be your strategy and efforts to reinforce SAPs position in the public sector

The problems in the government sector are more complex than the private sector. The other axis which is important is scale. The problems of the government sector have much higher scale than in the private sector. So if you look at SAP as a company, the kind of products and technology that we have built, SAP fits right here.

If you look at the way people voted after 30 years, government into a clear mandate, it means that the governments messages really resonated with the population. And what were the messages actually The two messages that were given very clearly to the population in this election was firstly to bring back effective governance and secondly transparency in public spending. The only solution is e-governance, to really use technology to make governance more effective, more time bound and to ensure transparency. So, theres a great opportunity for us in the government and public sector space.

As a nation, we need to think forward and adopt a mind-set where technology can help give a much higher quality of life to citizens.

Talking about smart cities, does SAP have solutions for them

Absolutely, we have a lot of solutions for smart cities. We have done many deployments globally. In India, Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) has implemented solutions from SAP to automate and centralise public service offerings. Available in Hindi, the solutions will help BMC manage and streamline day-to-day functions, including issuing marriage certificates, birth and death registrations, city infrastructure development and open space management, including roads, parking, traffic signals, community halls and schools. The solutions will also streamline permits, health services, water supply, lake conservation and tax collection, among other services. Bhopals project is a milestone for the SAP Urban Matters programme.

Government is also talking about promoting the SME sector in a big manner. Is this an industry segment SAP is also focusing upon

The next big frontier which SAP is looking at is the SME sector. If you look at the large companies almost all of them already have an SAP system, but the biggest white space that we see is the people who can benefit from the technology is SME.

What is the big story coming out of SAP India

The big story at SAP is our focus on cloud. Thats the next big frontier for us. India has a very large small and medium population of businesses which are ready and competent enough to adopt the tools and technologies that SAP has to offer them. We think with the advent of the cloud model of making this technology available for consumption to this segment, there will be huge explosion of usage.