In this interview recorded live at BI and HANA 2014, Ashoo Tuli and Kumar Srivastava of ITC Infotech discuss their work with SAP HANA.
Topics covered in this discussion include:
- An overview of ITC Infotech
- What customers are asking about SAP HANA
- How SAP HANA can drive mobile BI
- The current state and future outlook for predictive analytics
Ken: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and I am reporting live from SAPinsider’s BI and HANA 2014 event. I’m pleased to be joined by Ashoo Tuli and Kumar Abhishek of ITC Infotech. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.
Ashoo and Abhishek: You’re welcome.
Ken: So I was hoping we could start out gentlemen if you could just describe a little bit about the company and your area of expertise?
Ashoo: So ITC Infotech is part of a big group back in India called ITC, which is diversified into various industry verticals, starting from consumer products to retail to manufacturing to fashion to hospitality, and last but not the least is the IT services, which was started back in 2000, and ITC Infotech is a 100% subsidiary of the group company, for about 14 years in business with three major service lines, starting from infrastructure to ERP to PLM, and we are part of the SAP services practice.
Ken: Ok great, and Abhishek?
Abhishek: Yeah so I work as a, I’m the lead for business analytics, which includes HANA and BI for the North American region for ITC Infotech. I was earlier part of the business consulting group with ITC Infotech back in Bangalore, and we’ll talk about the business consulting group, which is an important component of our offerings. And we develop solutions which are tool agnostic, and then we bring them onto applications like HANA BI and BusinessObjects. So that’s my area of work.
Ken: So if you could just tell me a little bit more about what your company’s doing with SAP HANA, what you’re hearing from your customers in that area?
Abhishek: Absolutely. So we have invested a lot in HANA, we have been investing for the last two and a half years on our HANA offerings, we have invested in infrastructure back in Bangalore, so we have a large set of for HANA, wherein we use that to do a lot of proof of concept for clients, so that they can actually see and feel HANA before they invest into it. So this PoC involves actually modeling the scenarios they want to do, including their own data and then they get access to it, they play around with you know, BusinessObjects and even BW on HANA, and then once they feel they are, you know, it’s relevant and beneficial for them, then they start investing. So that’s where we start from.
Apart from that we have been investing a lot into training of you know, our consultants on HANA, so we have a group of 20 consultants back in India who have been certified by SAP on HANA and they are involved in a lot of PoCs and projects. And then we have a center of excellence here in the US, which also looks into—which looks into HANA. In terms of the adoption, I think it’s low as of now but the main questions that the clients are asking are, you know, there are two areas. One has to do with licenses, they want to know, you know, how does the licensing work. So if you buy a HANA box for you know, to use it for BW on HANA, can you also use it as a sidecar? Or can you also do modeling on native HANA?
So these are some of the questions, and in addition, you know, it’s really about building a good business case. If you’re only talking about speed, and you, you know, implement HANA, and you know, there may be times wherein you don’t see a very large improvement in performance because you know, other benefits of HANA which will help you in future, for you know, to create some real life scenarios. So these are some of the things which the clients are asking, and we are helping them by doing PoCs, by developing models that they’ll use in the future, and, you know, building a business case around that.
Ken: Yeah, so are a lot of clients surprised then by you know, what HANA—the benefits it can deliver in addition to speed?
Abhishek: Absolutely. Almost all of them have been surprised by what they see on HANA. So, you know, definitely performance of BW has improved, and we have been you know, listening to some other customers during this event, and it’s not only about the increase in speed, but also about, you know, what you were not able to do earlier, you are able to do on HANA now, and you are able to get information to your business faster.
Ken: Right, so another thing we’re hearing a lot at this event is questions about mobility in the BI space, and if you could maybe explain, you know, HANA’s role there?
Abhishek: Absolutely, so again, mobility is an area wherein it’s very important to have real-time data. One example is field services. So you have personnel in the field for, say, a manufacturing company, a heavy equipment manufacturing company, and when they go into the field, they want to have information about that machine which they are visiting at a real-time level. They also want to learn about similar machines across the territory, and they want to be directed to the right equipment on a real-time basis. So having real-time information is very important from a mobility aspect, so HANA plays an important role in providing that data. And we have a large mobility practice as a part of business consulting group and we, you know, it’s a part of our RFID group. So what happens is, we have been working on RFID for a long time, we have been leaders on RFID, and we have started working on mobility to be, you know, in terms of making available mobile devices and these applications available for you know, field services personnel, or even within a warehouse to actually use, the execution process, the executioners, who can benefit from that.
Ashoo: Certainly. I want to quickly add to that, that yes, there are a lot of customers that are looking for mobile HANA integration and we’re getting a lot of requests for customers to at least kind of, from customers, to show us how the roadmap should look like and you know, what should be the right approach, and that’s where we come into play.
Ken: Ok, great, and another topic that’s been surfacing a lot in the last few days is predictive analytics, and I’m just curious if you could talk to me about what ITC is doing in that area, what you’re hearing from your customers?
Abhishek: Absolutely. So predictive analytics is, I would say, the present and the future, so far as analytics is concerned, because til now everyone has been talking about you know, lagging indicators, looking at what has happened in the past, but you know, as someone was mentioning, you can’t drive your car looking at the rearview mirror, you have to look at your windshield, you know what’s coming ahead, so predictive analytics has to be built in, in every application that is coming in, you know, things like Lumira, which is talking about predictive analytics, things like BusinessObjects predictive analytics too, and a lot of information, you know, a lot of things on HANA are open-integration, which will bring a lot of non-structured data, social media data, and combined with your data from within the organization, which is much more structured, you can create a view of the future, what it’s going to be, what’s your cost going to be, if there is an increase in fuel prices, or if there is any change in raw material prices, so what’s your future going to be in terms of cost, even in demand. So those are some of the things that we’re working on, and we really consider that that’s the future on which every organization will you know, start working on and you know, definitely have competitive advantage.
Ken: Great. Well Ashoo and Abhishek, I appreciate your time, thanks for joining us.
Ashoo: You’re welcome, thank you.
Abhishek: Thank you.
Ken: Again this is Ken Murphy, with SAPinsider, reporting live from SAPinsider’s BI and HANA 2014 event.