by January 4, 2011 0 comments

Identifying your business requirements and thendeploying the right applications that meet thoserequirements isn’t sufficient for the deployment tobe successful. Another critical piece to the successpuzzle is the end-user, who has to use that application.If that user is not kept in the loop from the beginning,and his problems are ignored later, you can be rest as-sured that your application deployment won’t succeed.

You could deploy the best ERP application in the world, but unless your users are trained to use it, the deployment will be worthless. A recent example we came across was that of a manufacturing company whose ERP deployment failed because most of theusers of this application weren’t conversant with the English language. As a result, they were not able to use the application.

So the bottomline is that, you can’t ignore your userswhen deploying any enterprise application.

At a recent event organized by PCQuest and Com-puWare in Bangalore, we brought together CIOs of dif-ferent industries to understand what end-us erexperience really meant to them.

Importance of end-user experiencefor a Bank

For a bank that thrives on activities like intense sales& trading in global capital markets, enabling transac-tions across global financial markets, it is impossible tooperate without a world class IT.

“For example, a large global bank would have typi-cally more than 97% of the fund transfers conducted asstraight through transactions. The daily funds ex-changed would run into billions, if not trillions of dollars”, said Prashant Choudhary, VP and Head,Corporate Risk Function at Deutsche Bank Group.

The remaining 3% of the transactions that are don’tmake it as straight through will sometimes need hun-dreds of people for manual intervention.

Given the volumes and value of transactions in-volved; banking industry is moving away from com-plexity. There is no way a global bank can managefunds transfer without standardization, automation and simplification.

In a global competitive banking environment, thecost per trade has become a important parameter to de-termine who will succeed. So, a bank is as good as the strength and cost effectiveness of its IT platforms.

At the end of day, it all boils down to the applicationsthat are enabling the banking processes.

“There’s so much money riding on these applica-tions, that we can’t afford down time of even a day”, said Prashant.

Another example is bond trading. Here again, thedaily volumes can run into hundreds of billions of dollars.At any point of time, the banks have a huge position inthe market. If the applications are not able to move orclear its pipelines, the banks get exposed to the market.Moreover, no matter how robust the application actuallyare, the banks still needs to keep money in reserve tocope up with contingencies whenever they occur.

Prashant gave another example of algo-trading,which is different from regular trading where the traderwould sit in front of a terminal and buy or sell based onhis view of the market.

Now the experts have created fantastic mathemat-ical algorithms, which automatically take tradingcalls, while you have a cup of coffee. This is againabout heavy investments in complex applications; and profits come from the volumes you pump in andthe speed at which you can do that. It’s sometimesdone to an extent where the algo-trading servers arekept in physical proximity of the exchange, so thatthose milliseconds of latency can be saved.

There’s so much of IT involved that providing asmooth end-user experience becomes critical. “Some-times my industry peers debate if they work for a bankor an IT company !”, said Prashant.

Finally, the last and most critical point Prashantmade about end-user experience is uptime. In a finan-cial institute, even a debate over application downtimeis prohibited. But the unfortunate point is that down-times do happen, but then with so much of automationand transaction specific applications, gone are the dayswhen you had application downtime, and you had to fail-over to manual processes of cheque cutting, etc.

That’s where you need to ensure business continu-ity..and it’s many times very difficult.

Lastly, Prashant concluded by saying that “An apphas to be cost effective, reduce your cost per transac-tion, must not go down, but handle all the surge thathappens in the market.”

End-User experience for an ITeScompany

There no surprises in the fact that the ITeS industry de-pends heavily on IT, but at the same time, since it’s aservices business, there are a lot of people involved.That’s why, “IT is not about technology, but about peo-ple, and the end-user experience it offers”, said AjayBakshi, the global head for process automation and im-provement at the Hinduja Global Group. For him, enduser experience is extremely critical, and it should besuch that the users don’t forget it, he said, by taking ex-amples of movies like Dabang and Taare Zameen Par.“We all remember these movies because of the end-user experience they offered”, he said. But how manywebsites do you actually remember, out of the millionsthat are out there? “Probably, not more than 20, if youreally try hard”, he added.

To illustrate the importance of end-user experience, Bakshi took the example of the company he works for,which is 15,000 employees strong, with offices in the US, Phillipines, and India. “We have 27 offices”, he said. Being from an operational background, he considers ITas a tool that would give his employees what they want to do, how they want to do. If he has a customer in theUS, who’s given the group his CRM business, they can’twait even a single day to release the improvements inthe CRM, because the importance of his agent’s calling script, and the discussion he will have with his cus-tomer are critical. If the agent doesn’t have a place totype, capture data, or the workflow is not sufficient, his business is doomed completely.

“So I not only have my employee as my end user ex-perience, but even my customers as my end user expe-rience. I even have my customers’ customers as an userexperience.”, said Bakshi.

Cultural fit is important: Another thing that’s critical toend-user experience is employee culture. The HindujaGroup created a CRM, and other apps to be India cen-tric, and later acquired organizations in the Philipinesand the US. As an enhancement and standardization ex-ercise, they took these apps to those countries. Unfor-tunately their IT doesn’t satisfy those clients, as therewas no cultural fit. It didn’t help the way those agents inother countries wanted to work. And if the agents don’twork in an ITeS company, the business is doomed.

It’s important for CIOs to realize these things andkeep the end user as their focal point. That’s the onlyway they’ll be able to bridge the gap between their ap-plications and the end user.

End-User Experience in a Manufac-turing Setup

While MTR Group’s objective is to provide food forthe kitchen, but in our conference, their VP Financeand IT, Ganesh Shenoy, gave some food for thought.

“When it comes to end user experience from a man-ufacturing company, we don’t just look at internal users.We also look at the stockists, retailers, and the end cus-tomers.”, said Shenoy. The business effect comes fromthe happiness we provide to the end consumers. That’s our end user experience. It has to percolate down rightdown to the retailers.

Keeping the stockists happy: Take the case of a FMCGcompany like ours, for instance. Generally you have afactory, from where stocks are moved to a warehouse,from there to a stockist, the retailer, and finally to theend customer. We take advances from our stockists.Earlier, advanced DD were collected by our sales people, and deposited at the CNFA, who would then depositit in a bank. This whole process would take 7 days, mak-ing the stockist unhappy, because his money is locked up, because you’re doing to service this advance only af-ter 7 days. This would wreck the business. Even thesales person is unhappy because he’s spending more time collecting, depositing, etc instead of selling. These problems become more pronounced when the business grows. “Here, the solution lies outside and not within.”,Shenoy added. We scanned the universe, our most im-portant partner was the stockist, and the other was thebank. We found technological developments have giventhe banking industry a whole range of new services.Citibank has virtual accounts for instance, which al-lowed MTR to have a parent account, and many sub-ac-counts for the stockists. Any payment above 1 Lakh hadto go through RTGS, and 70% of MTR’s collections wererouted through it. The Benefits-stockist sends remit-tance within a day, I’m able to verify the collection andservice him within 24 hours. All clerical work has been completely eliminated. What has also happened, is thatthe collections can even be remitted on a Saturday orSunday, because some stockists are closed on Wed. It’sa win win situation for everybody. “Whenever we had DD and collections, we had a cash management chargethat was paid to the bank. RTGS is literally free.”, said Shenoy. Even the salesmen became happier, and arenow concentrating on selling and marketing. MTRmade this ramp up happen from 0 to 70% in just 7months.

End-user experience is about keeping customers happy: As a consumer, when you pick up food from acounter, you first see its expiry date. MTR says that theywon’t mind having stock shortage, but will never becaught on the wrong foot as far as the expiry date is con-cerned. “You’ll be surprised to know our entire supplychain across the country is 7 days.”, said GaneshShenoy. What it does to the manufacturing system is,that you will be able to run your entire thing based onsales forecast only. Your working capital will be verythin. Processed foods have back end requirement ofagri-commodities, which means sourcing only duringthe agri-season and then consuming it right through theyear. “Despite that, our working capital is 1.8% of NSV,which is a group record.”, said Shenoy.

Make officers, not clerks: Third, from an employee per-spective, it’s a cultural change that IT has to drive.“There’s no clerical role. Everyone’s an officer in ourcompany”, said Shenoy. This motivates everyone to per-form, as they would like to contribute for business andprofitability of the company. The group has been run-ning SAP for the last 7 years, but now it’s proving to beunequal, and purely a transactional system. Now, theemployees are demanding that the group moves up thevalue chain, and looks at other analytical tools, so thatthey can contribute to the business. This is the power ofproviding good end-user experience, that even the em-ployees are suggesting what more to do to deliver agood end-user experience.

Lastly, Shenoy added that “End user experience isnot something you deploy and walk away. It’s never adestination, but a continuous process. Tech changes atthe speed of thought. How is it relevant for the businessis something we have to keep on asking our self.”

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