by March 3, 2011 0 comments

The IT services giant TCS is the latest entrant to the burgeoning cloud computing market. It entered the market with a big bang at a gala gathering in Mumbai last month. The launch itself was inaugurated by none other than the Tata group chairman, Ratan Tata. The service, known as iON is an integrated, pay-per-use, cloud-based solution primarily targeted toward 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-India through 85 cloud service partners.

According to TCS’s global SMB head Venguswamy Ramaswamy, the effort to build iON started around two and half years ago. It was the brainchild of TCS MD and CEO, N. Chandrasekharan. The company conducted an elaborate study of Indian SMBs 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, communications, etc. Moreover, finding and retaining inhouse talent to manage their IT setup added fuel to the fire. These put severe constraints on SMBs to scale up their business.

TCS used this feedback as the building block to create iON. It was launched as a pilot about a year ago, and received very encouraging response from SMBs. ‘We have more than 135 customers who’ve signed up for iON, and are continuing to get lots of requests from other SMBs across the country.’, said Swamy.

Speaking at the launch, Chandrasekharan said that there are around 35 million SMBs in the country, constituting 45% of the country’s GDP. They’re also 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 growing is that they’re often strapped for resources. “With iON, SMBs can build their business advantage and compete on the global stage”, said Chandra.

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 adhere to. With cloud-based services, 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 separate 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 SMBs on a pay-per-use basis.

iONized companies

Some SMBs that’ve used TCS iON cloud services, and benefits gained

What’s so special about iON, which sets it apart from other cloud service providers? 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 meet the requirement. Currently, iON addresses five types of SMB industries-manufacturing, retail, wellness, education, and professional services. Presented here are quick snapshots of three companies that have used and benefited from TCS’s iON.

Ozone Pharma

The drug making company (known for its product Nomarks), was facing difficulty integrating its distribution centers, leading to buffer stocks not being consumed despite market demand. The sales reporting system was manual and let to errors. Their existing IT system was a bunch of non-integrated apps, and kept the company’s distributors out. Ozone cleaned up its internal controls and consumed manufacturing and finance and accounting modules from TCS’s iON. These enabled the company’s CFO to find out which site was holding most capital, either in inventory or as un-utilized overhead. Manufacturing modules gave insights into the production process and bridged operational gaps, resulting in better production planning.

Kaya Skin Clinic

With 100+ clinics across India, Bangladesh, and Middle-East, and growing, Kaya’s existing IT system and manual processes were hampering its growth. Managing in-house inventory was a nightmare, because it was all handled offline. The IT system in use was decentralized, with no connection between administrative system and appointments. The company used TCS iON’s Wellness management system, CRM, and workforce mgmt system. It centralized client servicing, including clinic staff training and common apparatus sharing. The requisition system was also centralized to enable clinics to log their requirements and manage inventory more efficiently. With this, Kaya was able to focus on better client servicing, share new schemes and programs with them.

Ryan International School

Ryan has 110 schools, making it one of India’s largest education institutes. But it has big plans of growing into 1000 campuses, both physical and virtual. Plus, it wants to keep busy parents in tune with their wards’ learning progress, and ensure the students’ well being. More campuses of course mean more administration backlog, which its existing IT systems just can’t handle.

On top of that, all student supervision was done manually with registers and report cards. The group used iON’s campus management system, document mgmt system, professional virtual community module, CRM, finance and accounting systems. They centralized administration of all campuses, which helped quickly roll out new academic and fees collection schedules, track absenteeism and late fees issues. The system also helped maintain books of accounts. The system even allowed parents to get a 360 degree view of their wards’ performance.

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