Interview

From e-Business to e-Government : R. Ramki, Director, SAP Asia Pvt. Ltd.

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SAP is a recognised leader in providing collaborative business solutions for all type of industries and for every major market. SAP has increased efficiency, improved accountability and enabled responsive constituent services in more than 1,050 public sector organisations worldwide.

eGov team talked with R. Ramki, Director, SAP Asia Pvt. Ltd., to discuss key e-Government initiatives of SAP in India.

What are the initiatives taken by SAP in the domain of e-Government in India?
In the area of providing solutions for the government we talk about four segments – Core government, healthcare, education and defence/security. We have been providing solutions for various government institutions and organisations for a pretty long time. These solutions are mainly ERP or GRP based solutions, solutions for citizen service interface, solutions for tax payment, social welfare, managing public grievances and public cases. For the last one-year this sector has been a focus for SAP in India. Today we are working with different governments and government agencies for providing either backend ERP based solutions and also solutions providing constituent service.

What is your agenda in the e-Government arena in India for the next two to three years?
In the near future we are planning to set up a Centre-of-Excellence in India where we will be showcasing e-Government products and solutions for states, centre and also for various other government agencies.

Can you kindly elaborate on the objectives of setting up your e-Government Centre-of-Excellence?
Main objectives of setting up the Centre-of-Excellence is to showcase the e-Government solutions that we have with us, highlighting their phenomenal scalability and emphasising the standards that are built-in with respect to their interoperability, security and such allied issues. We would try to showcase enterprise class solutions for the government in terms of running governments own internal processes and also for providing citizens and businesses with various services. This initiative would be a joint effort between SAP and some select partners.

Which are those countries outside India where you have such Centres-of Excellence?
We are having centres in US, Germany, Japan and Latin America. These centres are primarily used as platform to interact and exchange ideas with various government policy makers, consultants, academicians in order to design more efficient and effective solutions for the government Sector. We have also worked with government agencies in various countries for evolving standards for their applications

What kind of partners are you looking at for setting up such Centre-of-Excellence?
In this regard we are looking at various options from the private organisations as well as government bodies. SAP in India works very closely with our 15 odd partners who range from global giants like IBM, Siemens to local giants like TCS, Wipro, Satyam. In terms of government agencies we have a tie up with NICSI.

Are you looking at collaborating with research and academic institutes of India in the area of R&D for e-Government solutions?
We have already tied up with a number of premier academic institutions of India. At present, we have tied up with institutes like IIT-Kanpur IIM-Bangalore, IIM-Calcutta, S P Jain Institute of Management, which also have our packages as part of their academic curriculum. As far as R&D is concerned our development centres work with various academic institutions around the world.

According to you, what are the challenges that we are facing in India in the way of making e-Governance to be put into action?
We have to understand that in e-Governance, ‘e’ is a small part and ‘governance’ is a bigger part. We also have other challenges in terms of capacity building within the government itself. While the Civil Servants are capable of managing very large and complex projects in the areas like infrastructure, public services, very few of them have the detailed knowledge to manage mission critical IT / ICT projects. Changing the mindset of people in any organisation is another very big challenge and there is no magic wand which can make this happen in a hurry.

While the government has come up with comprehensive NeGP, there are multitudes of similar plans, most of them small or even tiny deployments, which are happening at various local levels. Managing these when the larger deployments happen would be an additional challenge

Where do you see India in relation to other Asia-Pacific countries?
Compared to countries like Singapore, and Korea, we have a long way to go. Right now the focus is more on planning and there are not enough actual deployments. Although the directions are right and a genuine willingness is there, a lot need to be done to remove huge areas of govern-ment inefficiencies, which would come in the way of ground implementation.

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