TECH TALK: As India Develops: ICT (Part 5)

Two complementary elements can help take business process management (BPM) to the million small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across India: a standardised software platform (lets call this Visual Biz-ic) and an organisation which combines solution aggregation and provisioning, with consulting (exactly what the IBM-PwC combo does for the large enterprises of the world).

Think of Visual Biz-ic as a Visual Basic for business processes. Through the past decade, Microsofts Visual Basic has helped simplify software development through its integrated development environment and pre-packaged components via software libraries. Similarly, Visual Biz-ic offers a visual development environment for business processes, along with standardised components and models for different industries.

So, an auto components manufacturer should be able to put together a complete set of software applications for its business processes by leveraging the existing process models that would exist. There may be a need to customise a few processes based on the unique characteristics of the organisation. In that event, these modifications are updated back into the central library and available for others to use.

For SMEs, this would be a dramatic improvement from todays non-consumption scenario. Most SMEs in India use a mix of home-grown applications for some of their needs. Worse still, there are many who dont use anything, still relying on either spreadsheets or manual processes. What Visual Biz-ic offers is a leapfrog approach to automate their business.

To make Visual Biz-ic a reality, it is necessary to create process models for various industries in India. This is not as gargantuan a task as it seems. If we take about 12-15 key industries and then take 10-12 types of businesses in each industry, what we need is about 150-200 process models to cover almost all of Indian industry.

This brings us to the second element: an IBM-like organisation to assimilate and deploy solutions for the SMEs. IBM has, over the years, built a formidable organisation which can take a mix of hardware, software and communications technologies and deploy them for large enterprises globally. Recently, it added consulting capabilities to its portfolio through its acquisition of Price Waterhouse-Coopers (PwC). SMEs need something similar to help bridge the gap that exists between their need for whole solutions and the disparate technology vendors.

Such an organisation would offer four key services for SMEs: understanding the needs and defining the technology requirements (consulting), integrating and deploying the appropriate mix of technology to create the right digital platform within the enterprise (systems integration), doing the necessary customisations on platforms like Visual Biz-ic as the SMEs may want (software services), and finally provide the necessary support and training to leverage the technology for business growth (facilities management and beyond).

This IBM-for-SMEs becomes a partner in their growth. This is the missing link that can make ICT part of the fabric of the manufacturing sector, making the million businesses the myriad points of light as part of Indias shining future.

Next Week: As India Develops (continued)

TECH TALK As India Develops+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.