Podcasts > Use Cases > Ep. 010b: Digitalizing Business Operations - An Interview with GENPACT's Sukant Acharya
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Ep. 010b: Digitalizing Business Operations
An Interview with GENPACT's Sukant Acharya
Thursday, December 07, 2017

Digitalization is a key buzzword in business circles these days and undoubtedly has far-reaching implications for all types of businesses. In the second installment of this two-part series, Sukant Acharya, VP of global sales and business head of IoT for GENPACT discusses in greater detail about the asset tracking and management use case and its applicability to companies in various industries. 


Erik: Hello, I'm Erik Walenza, founder of IoT One and this is the Industrial IoT Spotlight. Every episode I interview one expert about a project that is impacting businesses today. Visit us at Iotone.com to learn more, or email me to start a discussion.

Welcome back to the industrial IoT podcast. I'm joined today by Sukant Acharya. Sukant is vice president and the business head of IoT for GenPACT. A quick intro to GenPACT. GenPACT was previously a division of General Electric. It's been spun off as an independent company and now employs over 77,000 people across 20 countries supporting with lean digital solutions, so helping companies to digitalize their operations, their products.

We're going to divide our conversation today into three sections. The first section is going to look at GenPACT, the company, how it's evolved to provide services to industrial IoT solution providers and to traditional industries that are integrating IIoT solutions into their operations. The second part of our conversation is going to look at a particular solution, smart asset management. And then the third is going to look at the concept of testbeds specifically Industrial Internet consortium testbeds and why a company such as GenPACT has the capability to bring a solution to market more or less independently, finds a value in getting involved in testbeds.

Sukant, give me a quick background into your history with Jetpack, your role in the organization and then we'll dive more into the solutions you're providing how you address your market and how you look at the industrial IoT market.

Sukant: So, GenPACT as a company is a global professional services that is focused on delivering digital transformation for our clients. We work with many Fortune 500 companies. And we actually drive business impact for them in two ways. One, through digital layer domain enabled solutions that drives innovation for the client; and second, through intelligent operations enabled by digital that design transform and run client operations.

So, we are driving at the forefront conceptualizing and designing the solution and driving innovation. At the same time, we have the ability to transform and run the intelligent operations for our clients. It started as a GE company long back and then in 2005 became an independent company. And over the years, this company has grown into really mastering the art of managing business operations.

And when we talk about business operations, from a wide variety of the back office, the middle office or even the front office and working in the core domain of the areas today which is getting transformed through IoT, for example, the aftermarket services, manufacturing supply chain and so on, so forth. And today just by going by the number, we have over 22,000+ consultants working in the domain that is getting transformed with Industrial Internet of Things.

And coupled to that adding on to the strength, the proprietary lean digital approach are proprietary, what we call as machine to P&L impact driven by Industrial Internet of Things initiatives and massive team of analytics professionals. Today, probably we are arguably one of the world's largest analytics shop with over 7,000+ data scientists and analysts working for GENPACT. So all of this combined gives us the strength and the position to be a front runner initiatives, the transformation wave that is going on in the industry today.

I have been with GENPACT for last three years. And I come from a background from multiple streams while doing management consulting worked in the core industry in the largest set of manufacturing industry, so to say an automotive, aerospace descript, manufacturing and so on so forth. Then moved on to services domain, providing solution to the same industry that I came from or had been as an executive leading business operations and the business units across multiple companies that I worked for.

So, in essence, I actually bring a 360 degree view to the industry having loved in the industry, being in the management, consulting, and then providing solutions to this industry for their digital transformation. I have been closely associated with this way for a long time now. I have the global IoT business for GENPACT based here in US, and as a global business, it includes all the facts studying the competency building the operation, the sales, marketing, alliances, partnership, and so on and so forth.

Erik: So the IoT market it's very broad in scope, it's almost synonymous to the internet market? If you talk about the internet, really you're talking about every industry vertical, every function finding some value in this new tool. And so it's very difficult to talk about the internet as a market because people use this tool in such a vast array of ways. Where do you see the bulk of the market being today that you're serving in terms of use cases? Are we talking about the bulk in predictive maintenance solutions? Are there a handful of use cases where you would say these are mature enough today that we're actually seeing high volume of adoption? And then I'm sure there's a lot of other use cases that people are trialing pilots with or are more in the conceptual phase. But in terms of where you're seeing high volume implementations today, what are those use cases?

Sukant: So I'll start with that nobody buys an IoT project or IoT solution, and similarly, nobody should be selling IoT for the sake of IoT. IoT is an enabler for multiple different things that was not possible as of today. And this new technology is bringing an art of the possibility of what can be done. And it is actually an enabler for unprecedented set of transformation which will change the business model. And I'll give an example.

Probably all of us know about the connected car which has been a big buzz in the industry for a few years now. And the initial focus was enabling the model that you carry is now connected, so what services you can offer to the customer and what data you can gather to link it to your services dealerships and so on so forth.

Very limited thought was put on the fundamental aspects of business operations, how it was changing. And just to give an example. Now that the car is connected, the way we use to markets our sales services is going to go for a fundamental shift. There will be no more reliance on foot traffic at the dealerships and no more reliance on selling the coupons and commercial advertisements in the mailing address of the email and so on and so forth.

Now you have unprecedented access to the product and the customer [inaudible 10:00] binding the product and the people, the way you cannot do the promotions to be marketing and the advertisements and product offerings and upsell cross, everything goes for a fundamental change. And that change gets translated into the change back in the wheels pockets where this wave is going to be really prominent.

One, for the aftermarket services area where large and really important critical assets are in operations, we're talking about aircraft engines, you're talking about locomotives, you're talking about heavy earthmoving machines like mining equipment, you're talking about the other assets like wind turbines, gas turbines in operation. We call that as the really important or large or critical assets in operations.

The second area where it will have a tremendous impact is the overall supply chain and manufacturing operations. And the way it will impact is so you have the machine [inaudible 11:22] flexible model, multi-tendency for the manufacturing operations can change the way you use to manage supply so we'll go for a change. Now, you can combine the supply and the plant operations, the machines, the maintenance shop, improves quality operations and even going back to the research and development and [inaudible 11:52] to the design shop.

So these are the two categories, the aftermarket services and then manufacturing. Obviously, below that, if you peel the onion, there are several use cases that can work. The way we approach is combining this back to one level down [inaudible 12:17] set solutions around those elements, there will be certain solutions which will be actually crossing between the two, the aftermarket operations as well as the supply chain on the other side. But essentially, that's the structure. And if you look at the solutions, so hopefully, you can go to GENPACT Industrial Internet webpage, the solution that we put our structure around these two big pillars, and then obviously there are peripherals that got access these two pillars.

Erik: Talk to me now about what does it look like a customer engagement? Are you primarily engaging with the IT departments? Or are you talking directly to who would be the end using functions? And if so, who are you talking to, who are the decision makers for an industrial IoT solution? Are we in mid management? Are we at the department head? Are we at the C suite level?

Sukant: It actually varies to the context of the industry, a particular company and what they're trying to do. Coming to business versus IT, we have seen so far that is actually both business and it have a role in this and being a very disruptive solution, and also a solution that cuts across dysfunctional boundaries. It needs a lot many stakeholders than the traditional solution set where you have either IT taking a decision or a business stakeholder taking a decision and then they go for it.

When the scale is small in a controlled experiment of IoT solution, it may be possible to actually deal with very few stakeholders, either IT or business and start something as a conference from pilot or an experiment or a small MVP to start with. But the real benefit of IoT is when implement it at a much more pervasive way cutting across the functional silos. And this is very important point that I wanted to highlight, that if an IoT solution, let's say in global services stakeholder wants to implement an IoT solution to improve services operations, the outcome will be very limited because of the scope boundary within the functional area.

However, if we expand, now services connecting with supply chain and particularly services giving feedback to the design and R&D, the outcome that you can expect will be multi-fold. So, therefore, the leading companies who realize this, they actually look at the IoT initiative like a top down coming from CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, CIO suite and actually percolating down because every IoT initiative in its true spirit is likely to have pervasive nature cutting across different functions. So therefore, we need to talk to and we do to different stakeholders, depending on the context and the scope of the work.

The second and very important element that all of us need to remember and which we have not seen in the industry much yet is IoT is not about what you have today in your business operation, and then put an IoT technology to improve it, like continuous improvement in a city by 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%. It is actually a technology enablement which is unfolding an array of the art of the possibilities.

So the ability to reimagine the outcome, what possibly could be the outcome is the big question. And therefore, we'll start from there, you need business involvement. And obviously, with the technology angle coming in with IoT, you need IT involvement. So, both of them need to come hand in hand. It is about reimagining, okay, today I have, for example, my critical spare parts inventory at X level, can I reduce it by 40%? Can I reduce my outlays by 30%? We are talking about drastic improvements. So it's reimagining the outcome as if you are recreating a new business process, which will be all digital enabled with IoT and a completely different way of looking at things. So that actually brings convergence both business and technology together to make the solution really impactful for the client.

Erik: But is this how your clients see it as well? Or is this an educational process? Because obviously, if you're approaching it from this standpoint as using this new suite of technologies in a more revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary way, from the client’s perspective, the outcome certainly is more attractive but also the barriers to achieving that outcome in terms of revising business models, operational processes, updating your talent pool, you're often going to need to then change the makeup of your workforce, potentially changing the leverage between organizations where some aspects of the organization will gain relatively more leverage in a transaction, or relatively less, depending on how the business process is updated.

Do you find that when companies are coming to you and looking for solutions, they're coming with the expectation of accepting these organizational challenges and looking at it as a holistic new approach to a business process? Or do they generally come to you saying, I want to get energy consumption for this particular plant down, I think I can save $10 million here, how can you help me do this?

Sukant: So, it’s mix of both. We actually did a greenfield shots on the state of IoT market and what clients and the key stakeholders are doing that covered several C suite executives, it was focused across the industry. And we did this research jointly with GE as well as IIC. The finding was why IoT, almost everybody was aware of? So they believe it's an imperative, if they don't do it today, there is the business.

When it came to what to do and how to do, literally 5% felt that they have some strategy in place, they know what to attack and how to attack, but it was not very clear and the rest were clueless. At the same time, the same research found that the reason for why people are not able to leapfrog in this direction were all spread out, there was no clear winner, there was technology that has reskilling internal people, there was barrier in understanding, there was a barrier in business and IT coming together and data security and so on and so forth. There was no clear winner. Out of the 20 different parameters, almost six, seven came like almost equally important.

And our GENPACT Research Institute came out with those inferences and analysis of the data that is not about a single issue for a single client and one silver bullet will solve everybody's issue. So, everybody has a different set of challenges depending on the organization culture and the context and traditionally how actually they adopted new technology in their organization. So it will be different and the approach for us as we go to the market has to be different.

So therefore, if you go back to the first lessons that that I put almost 25% believe they have nearly to some extent, and they need some help, are the people who are leaders who have gone to the extent where they can come back and say, hey, I have this equipment set, I know a few things that we are gathering but I want to reduce my field services cost by 20%. I believe this will be way. I have a mental model, can you help me? So they're very limited set of people.

The other vast majority is still going through that education. Because usually, they come with saying, I have created an IoT organization within my IT team I want to experiment getting some data and creating some reports to see what's the trend. Now the trend doesn't give you the ultimate benefit: it's probably a technical experimentation. But it is not linked to the outcome. So how we deal with them is actually going through that an education session and rounds of interventions to show them the outcome centric approach and why it is important.

And we should actually learn from similar situation that had happened over the last 10 years in this industry. When cloud became something which is like a buzzword for everybody, almost all companies had a cloud strategy and so the why part, why cloud, I think people felt, okay, it's an imperative we have to do it. But many approached it wrong. Many of them felt cloud is only to reduce my cost of data center. What they missed it, because of cloud, now you have a whole set of new capabilities that you can leverage for business.

For example, now you don't need to plan for having the hardware in place for two months, three months to start your development work, you potentially can start in 24 hours, you potentially can experiment many things which earlier used to be very cost-prone and therefore you are not able to prioritize your initiatives to experiment. Now, with cloud, you can do it at a fraction of cost. Therefore, you can have more experiments. You can afford to fail many more times and therefore you can build capability for the business in a totally different way.

IoT is very similar. So we can probably learn from and I just gave example of cloud, but similar examples in social, similar example in mobility and so on so forth. We can learn from that. It is actually creating new capabilities for the business and that's the way people didn't look at. And therefore, it has to link to the outcome.

Erik: I want to look into one of these specific use case cases and talk about how we would envision an implementation that would be looking more at a 20-30% improvement in this situation, not at an incremental improvement. Before we move to this use case, which is the smart asset management, give me a quick overview, how can people contact you or how can people get in touch with GENPACT to learn more about your solutions and then we'll make a transition over to this specific use case?

Sukant: So, very easy way to reach out to us is obviously going to our website and the IoT link, probably we can provide in this main webpage, so you have an IoT link and just click on that and we will get to know who to contact you back. And you can also put some questions in there. And provide some context and then we can help you out there as well and contextualize your message as you connect.

The other ways, obviously, there is a published list of email IDs in there, if one-on-one you want to engage, that is also possible. And I would say that is a known brand, obviously, many of you are into the marketing channel as well in every website as you know and can click on that, again, putting that we are interested in IoT. If you don't want to go through all the navigation and stuff that is much more easier. And I believe at the end of this podcast, we'll provide a few email IDs to reach out to if that makes sense.

Erik: Thanks for tuning in to another edition of the Industrial IoT Spotlight. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter at IoTONEHQ and to check out our database of case studies on IoT one.com. We help to accelerate digital transformation by advising business leaders on how to integrate IoT technologies into their operations and products. We appreciate your thoughts, suggestions, and of course, your reviews. And if you have an interesting project, we would love to feature you on a future edition. Write me at erik.walenza@IoTone.com.

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