Companies like SAP, IBM, HP and Oracle have been ruling the enterprise software business worldwide. But India is sending them back to school to learn how to do business in a country where they tail wags the dog -- where the opportunity lies with thousands of small and medium businesses (SMBs), rather than with a handful of big-name marquee clients. The late management guru, C.K. Prahlad called it 'the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid' -- and at least one software biggie -- SAP-- has had to adjust its India strategy, to come up with models where small businesses can work through its channel of partners rather than with the German parent.
These partners, relate better to local needs (and smaller budgets!). They encourage clients to 'do it yourself': mix-in-match in-house computers with cloud based services.
If you are an SMB, you can buy compute power as you go along. If business shrinks and you need to reduce your IT resources, you can pay less from the following month. Earlier, companies sold you take-it-or-leave-it solutions and you paid for services you might never use. Now, the same companies are creating products exclusively for your sort of business -- at dramatically lower costs.
At its annual summit, Delhi, last week, SAP announced that its Indian partners will now build their own desi applications on SAP's cloud platform. It is these partners who are closest to smaller customers. By empowering such partners, SAP is ensuring that clusters of similar business can share the same cloud.
This can be seen, if you go to a place like Tirupur in Tamil Nadu. The town's garment manufacturing hub has dozens of small companies that serve many big supermarket brands in the West. No single factory can afford SAP's services. But SAP partners help to build a bespoke solution for clusters of factories, at affordable cost, helping them unleash the power of the cloud computing.
Says Avinash Kumar Purwar, Vice President, Global Partner Operations, SAP Indian Subcontinent, said, "Over 83% of our Indian customers are small and medium enterprises, and we believe our partners can go to the grassroots and understand their unique business needs. Our cloud computing platform -- SAP HANA -- can be customized to their needs so that they access world-class technology at affordable prices."
As SAP has learnt, savvy Indian businesses may have their head (and their data) in the clouds. But they have their feet firmly on the ground. But then "We are like that only!"