Interview

Providing End-to-end e-Government Solutions/Services : Prakash Rane, Managing Director, ABM Knowledgeware Ltd.

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Prakash Rane pioneered several trend setting concepts/projects in e-Governance in  India with products and solutions developed by ABM. These concepts are mainly in  the area of IT enabling citizen/ consumer services.

What is the e-Governance vision and goals of ABM Knowledgeware?

ABM envisions e-Government to be all about time-bound service delivery to the citizens. It should be achieved by IT, enabling citizens services with simultaneous introduction of administrative reforms. We believe that e-Government is a basic delivery infrastructure to the country as roads, ports or airports etc. The only difference is that it is the most intangible basic infrastructure required for the economic progress of the country. I believe, the impact of the meaningful implementation of RTI Act and e-Government mandate, can only be compared with the independence’ achieved by India on 15th August, 1947. ABM has a goal to  be one of the leaders in providing endto- end e-Government solutions/services at cutting edge  areas of citizens/consumer interfaces like urban local bodies and utilities (water and  electricity), in addition to IT enabling generic citizens/consumer services by leveraging  ABM’s own solutions, domain expertise and the best of the class ERP solutions.

According to you, what is the level of progress made
by India in the past few years in carrying forward e-Government initiatives? What are the present challenges India is facing against fast-forwarding e-Government implementation?

e-Government initiatives can indeed be stated to be successful, only when the most important  stakeholders i.e., the citizens or consumers, realise it’s benefi ts. These benefi ts are in terms of  simplifi ed and more effective interaction with government. Strictly in this sense, India has  not made very signifi cant progress in terms of implementation of e-Government.

Last 5 years have defi nitely seen a strong sensitisation at different levels of government-  central and the state leveltowards launching e-Government. This is visible in the form of  budget allocations, launch of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under any NeGP, e-Governance  being made a mandatory component under various GOI funding schemes like Jawaharlal  Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) etc. Other policy initiatives are also  indirectly facilitating e-Government. These include liberalisation of telecom, which can play  a vital role in perpetuating deeper roll-out of e-Government. Similarly subjecting PSUs to competitive market scenario demands improvement in effi ciency which leads to the adoption  of ICT as one of the tools.

India faces its own challenges, in terms of fast forwarding e-Government implementation.  Indian software industry is  forced to look up to e-Government as a choice of compulsion, due to  various factors in contrast to the international business clientele. It includes rigid  procurement processes with less regard to the quality; cost and time over-runs due to changing vision and below average project management from government customer end;  steep challenges of institutionalisation of IT in government organisations by addressing the  changing paradigm etc. The average realisation per mammoth in e-Government, effectively  turns out to be much lower than the international customers.

The world experience emphasises on the removal of existing intermediaries and replacing  them by providing on-line/webbased e-Government framework. The citizens are encouraged to transact with the government online, to minimise foot-falls in the government offi ces. But  contrary to this, India has a peculiar challenge, since majority of her population does not have  access to computers. As a result, e-Government necessitates India’s specifi c strategy,  rather than relying on the world experience. Lack of tested and proven products and solution,  specifi cally meant for Indian e-Government customer, also is causing bottlenecks in faster  e-Government roll-out in addition to the factors mentioned above.

ABM’s core businesses are solutions for e-Governance. What are some of your    products and solutions for the government, especially, municipal corporations, defence, treasury ect.

ABM has various solutions of its own. Some are listed below:

  • ABM CFC: IT enabling citizen/customer/consumer services: This solution can be deployed at the cutting edge of any organisation, which seeks to improve delivery of services
  • ABM CARE: Complaints Management and Redressal
  • ABM MOIS 2000: Document Tracking in Government Offi ces
  • ABM AQUA: Water Billing and Online Collection
  • ABM MAINet: Municipal Administration Information Network

Apart from these, ABM also provides SAP based solutions to those government clients whose  requirements are not completely addresses by our suite of solutions. ABM has developed and  exhibited expertise in institutionalisation of all these solutions in government offi ces by  deploying its ‘change management’ strategies.

What edge does your products / solutions have over other
market players in this fi eld?

Some of the key USPs of our solutions are as under:

  • These solutions are proven after use in large client base after undergoing multiple iterations and sustenance for several years.
  • These solutions are a bundle of ‘best practices’ in respective domains. This has been achieved since all these solutions have been evolved after very close interaction with actual users, citizens and top bureaucrats.
  • Most of the solutions have been evaluated by progressive state governments and have been chosen for state wide roll out thereafter.
  • These solutions have also undergone scrutiny of IT industry, state governments, central government or international bodies and have won awards at each of these levels.


What are your companies’ strengths in terms of in-house
technological skills, for instance, in operating systems, databases, front-ends and networking?

ABM operates in the cutting edge technologies like J2EE, .net, Linux, Windows, Oracle 10G,  DB2 with its solutions deployed over large WANs with satisfactory response time. ABM is one  of the earliest companies to deploy devnagari fonts in Unicode for making its solutions  available with bilingual interface. Our solutions also have integrations capabilities with  e-Payments, PDAs, mobile phones etc. ABM has been awarded ‘Best e-Governance Technical  Organisation’ by the Computer Society of India and Nihilent Technologies.

How does ABM ensures sustainability of its projects
along with its return on investment (RoI) for the organisations?

ABM has also been conferred the prestigious award from Wisitex Foundation viz. ‘Wisitex India’ Urban Development Lead Organisation of the Year- (Information Technology) in Dec 2007.

ABM has been in the e-Governance business for over 9 years now. During this period we have  undergone different experiences of success and failures. Each experience has been a learning  for us. Based on this varied experience, we have fi ne-tuned our strategies to address  challenges of change management during implementation of the e-Government leading to  better sustenance and RoI .

What is your agenda in the e-Government arena in India for the next two to three years? What are your plans to expand your market further in India?

ABM has plans in place to grow to INR 1000 million exclusively in e-Government space by  2010. In addition to the various marketing initiatives that ABM has undertaken, it is in the  process scaling its operations to address the growing business. Currently, ABM is focusing on  the North and Western Regions of India and has established strategic partnerships with  companies in these regions to leverage the relationships of these local partners with potential  customers. This is expected to reduce the time taken to generate business. ABM has expended  considerable resources in the various marketing initiatives undertaken by it in the last few years. This is evidenced by the high recall value for ABM in it’s niche.

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