by February 16, 2011 0 comments



At a gala gathering in Mumbai, the Tata group chairman, Ratan Tata formally launched iON, an integrated, pay-per-use, cloud based solution for Indian SMBs. According to TCS, iON is a first of its kind, pre-configured solution that covers the entire spectrum of business processes for SMBs. The service is available pan-Indian through 85 cloud service partners.

According to TCS’s global SMB head Swamy, the effort started around two and half years ago, and was the brainchild of TCS MD and CEO, N. Chandrasekharan. The company conducted an elaborate study of the Indian SMB market to understand their IT requirements, pain points, etc. It was discovered that Indian SMBs were always under capex constraint and found it difficult to juggle multiple IT vendors for networking, hardware, software, communication, etc. Moreover, finding and retaining inhouse talent to manage their IT setup added fuel to the fire. These put a severe constraint on the SMBs for their future growth.

Taking all this feedback into account, TCS started building a cloud based solution for Indian SMBs. About a year ago, the company launched the service as a pilot to gauge its response. According to Swamy, the response was extremely encouraging. ‘We already have more than 135 customers in the TCS cloud, and continue to get lots of requests from SMBs across the country, wanting to use our cloud.’, said Swamy. Some of TCS’s existing customer videos were showcased during the launch to demonstrate the benefits they’ve gained from the solution.

Speaking at the launch, Chandrasekharan said that there are around 35 million SMBs in the country, constituting 45% of the country’s GDP and forming the second largest employer of India. These companies run with a ‘never die’ entrepreneurial spirit, overcoming all obstacles, and are constantly fighting it out in the market amidst fierce competition. The main challenge that prevents them from reaching out to the sky is that they’re often strapped for resources. ‘with iON, SMBs can build their business advantage and compete on the global stage’, said Chandra.

A Glimpse of iON

What’s so special about iON, which is not offered by other vendors? According to Swamy, this is the most comprehensive end-to-end cloud based service available in India. It’s not just providing IaaS or SaaS, but the company also provides hardware and networking equipment like printers, desktops, laptops, and so on. It all depends upon the solution required by the SMB, and the partners are available to cater to the requirement.

Currently, iON caters to five key SMB industry verticals-manufacturing, retail, wellness, education, and professional services. The company had setup demo areas at the launch that demonstrated iON in action in each of these verticals. The solutions cater to the specific demands of each industry vertical, and have standardized most business processes for each. A retail SMB for instance, would find all processes, right from managing the PoS terminals, to running customer loyalty programs, handling inventory, warehouse management, and all back-office operations that are done at the HO.

Support

The company has partnered with 85 cloud service partners for providing this service. Apart from this, the company has a 24×7 helpdesk operational so that customers can directly contact TCS should they need to.

Benefits offered

There are several benefits offered by this service. For one, SMBs don’t need any capital expenditure. Everything works on a pay as you use basis, i.e. it’s all operational expenses. Moreover, the cost is quite suitable for Indian SMBs. Swamy gave the example of cloud services for an educational institute, where the cost would be as low as Rs. 70 per student per month.

Another benefit offered by the TCS cloud service is compliance, which is something most Indian SMBs find extremely challenging to adher to. With cloud based services in the cloud, a company would get a standard IT infrastructure with automated business processes, helping it comply to various norms and remain on the right side of the law.

The solution can integrate all applications required by the SMB. So the company doesn’t have to go to separates vendor for accounting, HRM, CRM, and create an integration nightmare later on. Everything’s available from TCS in the cloud. All solutions have been built by TCS and remain its own IPR. They’re being leased out to the SMB on a pay-per-use basis.

(This was a glimpse of iON. To know more about it, please catch the March 2011 issue of PCQuest)

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