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Hybrid technologies to improve ROI

Tanmoy Chakrabarty
Vice-President & Head
Government Industry Solution Unit
Tata Consultancy Services

You have been advocating the use of ‘hybrid technologies’. Can you elaborate on what you mean by this and its specific use in public sector?

Hybrid technologies are used to solve business problems, facilitate and automate business processes, help in improving stakeholder communication and satisfaction. All these can only be achieved using multiple technologies in an integrated manner.

Integrated usage of multiple technologies facilitates the end-to-end process efficiently in the public sector and improve return on investment (ROI).

Take the example of tsunami early warning system where TCS utilised technologies like geospatial technology, RDBMS and data warehousing, sensors and communication to provide end-to-end solution. TCS has also executed large integrated GIS implementations in water, power distribution and telecom industry.

Selling a geospatial technologybased project to a public sector organisation requires lot of educating and enabling various government departments take unified stance. What is your experience in this aspect? What are the challenges you face? How different are governments across the world vis-à-vis India?

With its size, India presents in itself a huge potential market for geospatial services. The government is keen to reap the rewards of e-governance, for the benefit of larger section of the society. Slowly and steadily, most of the public sector organisations globally have understood the importance and benefits of geospatial technology based solutions and I see no reason why it will not happen in India.

One key challenge is to educate the public sector officials about the right implementation road map. Many organisations invest in procuring GIS software products and create digital maps but that path does not provide expected outcome. It is important for organisations to understand the value of integrated business solutions rather than GIS products and data.

Delivering ROI on technology is a task in public sector. What can be done to enable this?

TCS has vast experience of delivering projects in public private partnership (PPP) mode in the government IT space. Most of the inhibitions, that government departments have to procure IT, come from the fact that they are experts in their domain and not in technology and hence buying something that they do not understand is treading a danger zone.

TCS offers outcome oriented projects, where we invest in cutting edge technologies and ensure that the clients pay only when they get the outcome they desired. This takes away all the latent and perceived risks from the project. TCS has been creating examples of large IT initiatives in the country where results are clearly visible to all the stakeholders. The key vision and objectives of the government is establishing a rich e-government ecosystem aiming direct citizen participation and transparent processes. The biggest promise that GIS holds in future is to enable a large cross-section of world population to have first-hand experience of a technology that goes to improve the quality of life.

Developing technology per se happens naturally. What should be done to sustain the use of it?

Right implementation is the key for success. Other key point specifically for geospatial implementation is to keep the information updated. Unless effective processes are established and followed to keep the information updated, technology will not give expected outcome.

If technology actually solves business problems of the stakeholders, there will not be any external impetus required to sustain it. Ideally, managing technology and its obsolescence should be the job of IT partner using Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) and other such models.

Geospatial technologies no longer seem to be working alone. What do you foresee happening in this arena in the next five years, especially at enterprise level and in public sector?

Geospatial technology will become a necessary component in all IT implementations across organisations. Public sectors, with their important role in delivering citizen services across the geographies, need to have spatially enabled information to take right and faster decisions.

As GIS technology gets more affordable, more reliable and more widely used, new applications of GIS technology would target specific user needs and all this is likely to attract the public sector also.

How do geospatial technologies help in optimising business processes to ensure maximum efficiency? What can an organisation do to optimise these? What other benefits an organisation gain by implementing these solutions?

Public sectors deal with lots of spatial data in their daily business activities. If we want to achieve automation of their business processes, the solution should be well integrated with geospatial technologies. It is important for an organisation to review its vision, goals and objectives and re-design the business processes to achieve operational efficiency and meet end objectives.

IT/GIS implementation should be visualised and planned in holistic manner to gain real benefits. In addition to this, GIS can be seen more as a powerful analytical tool to gain informed decision making in both societal and business environments.

A trend of horizontalisation in the utilisation of geospatial technologies seems to be catching up apart from using it for specific verticals. Can you comment on this? What do you foresee in the next five years?

Wider Wi-Fi coverage and larger Internet user-base will propel the pervasiveness of GIS. Emerging re-centralising trend in computing infrastructure will add a thrust to this spread. The core strength of the technology can always be utilised for multiple applications in multiple sectors. Spatial data and tools are common elements across multiple verticals. Future technology needs of different verticals can be common but as business needs and processes vary, right implementation is the key to success.