In Conversation with Ramesh Sivasubramanian, the head of technology and innovation at Ramco Systems

Ramesh Sivasubramanian, the head of technology and innovation at Ramco Systems Featured in   IT/ITeS 100 - In Partnership with IDA Ireland

Despite the pandemic, being nimble in adopting and delivering innovative technologies, and focusing on specific sectors such aviation and payroll management has helped Ramco Systems remain cash positive and debt free

 

While it may seem like the ITeS industry wasn’t majorly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, reality is that several pockets of the IT sector were deeply impacted. With major markets like the U.S, U.K and Europe experiencing a slowdown, Indian IT companies, which earn a majority of revenues from these markets, experienced a 5 to 10% decline in growth in FY21. 

The story of Ramco Systems, the global enterprise software provider, was no different. In its recent Q2 2021 report, the 29 year old company recorded a net loss of Rs. 171.92 million for the quarter ending September 30, 2021 compared to Rs. 83.52 million in net profits during the same quarter last year. And, its total income fell from Rs. 854.66 million in the same quarter previous year to Rs. 776.64 million this year. 

Despite this, the company displayed a silver lining. It remained cash positive and debt free. This was achievable because of several reasons; the company remained nimble in adopting innovative technologies and riding the digital wave, and it focused on sectors like aviation, aerospace and defence, and global payroll to continue to grow despite the slowdown. 

Today, Ramco Systems’ suite of offerings include payroll & HR, ERP, aviation and logistics software on the product side, and payroll managed services and digital transformation on the service side. With 2000+ employees on board, and offices in India, Asia-Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, USA, Europe and the Middle East and Africa, the company generated USD 84.92 million in revenues (FY20-21) of which India accounts for USD 20.18 million. 

In this interview with Smart CEO, Ramesh Sivasubramanian, the head of technology and innovation at Ramco, takes us through the various steps the company adopted to ride the pandemic, and its adoption of AI in driving digital transformation internally and externally. 

IT/ ITeS is one of the few sectors which has witnessed increased hiring activity even during the pandemic. Please share your views. 

This growth can be associated with an increasing number of companies adjusting their approach to change management and making permanent changes to their organizational strategy. 

That being said, there are challenges as well;

  • Companies in this sector are finding it difficult to retain their existing employees and hire new employees (because they have multiple other offers in hand)
  • There are negative movements from one job to another and more infant attritions
  • Owing to the pandemic, traumatic stress has hijacked the corporate strategy of companies in this sector. Employees are losing their personal connections with one another
  • Lastly, cybersecurity issues are arising from employees working from home

Keeping these in mind, as a part of our hiring strategy, one of the things we are doing is working with the Government in certain regions to identify, cross-train and upskill the right talent to help us as well as the economies.

AI, though a buzzword, is not seeing widespread adoption yet. What are your thoughts on this, and how do you see your customers adopting AI to streamline their processes? 

AI is like melted butter on a bread slice. We won’t be able to see it with our naked eyes, but we can taste it.

AI is getting slowly pervasive through various means like;

  • A personalized user experience based on the user’s usual behaviour. For example, the system auto-fills contextual information and asks for confirmation from the user before submission
  • Anomalies identified and reported along with insights based on the usual pattern, for cases like payroll processing and supplier invoice processing
  • Automation of mundane activities based on historical workflow data rather than writing customized business rules (RPA), which are time-consuming and costly. This can be achieved with mature OCR / ICR / image recognition models
  • Conversational platforms such as chatbots for the cross-generation workforce to work simultaneously based on their preferences
  • A voice AI that empowers users to be able to leverage and adopt enterprise software solutions better than earlier through means like voice BOTs and voice UI
  • Touchless attendance solutions such as facial recognition/ voice profile-based time & attendance solutions without compromising on privacy concerns

What steps has Ramco Systems taken towards digital transformation, and how is it impacting your business and customers? 

We eat our own dog food. We try all our technologies internally before taking it to our customers. We follow certain laws of intelligent digital enterprise when we help our customers adopt digital transformation in their business. For example, the law of intelligent systems ensures that all events and transactions are captured digitally at source without human intervention. Similarly, the law of CEO as a change-maker ensures that the transformation is relentlessly driven from the top, failing which it will fizzle out as another failed initiative.

What steps are you taking to upskill your employees (hard skills & soft skills) in an increasingly digital environment? 

We work in an environment where technology is constantly changing for the better. And, getting people skilled on those technologies may not always be possible by following proper training schedules. At Ramco, we primarily focus on three things;

  • OJT (on-the-job training sessions) where our employees are given problem statements to solve in a very short period. Their solutions are evaluated both from a tech and business standpoint, following which we consider taking them to the customer
  • Offering learning initiatives and programs through Ramco Academy. The academy has innovative learning features and a mobile app for on-the-go learning. In fact, the programs are designed for L1 and L2 certifications, and some are designed for mid to senior-level employees to enhance their leadership development qualities
  • Conducting week-long learning carnivals named Learning @ Work Week, where technical skills and people-oriented sessions are conducted by internal and external speakers, with over 3,000 hours of learning. 

Two big questions in hiring interviews

  1. Tell me about a time you set a challenging goal for yourself. How did you accomplish it?
  2. Describe the work environment that will help you contribute most effectively.
Ramco ITeS 100

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