Mr. Sudheer Nair, CEO, Eresource Infotech Pvt Ltd.
Interviewed By: Sandeep Kshatriya, Facilitator, The CEO Insights
The CEO Insights:From doing odd jobs to starting your company “Eresource Infotech Pvt Ltd”, would you mind share your journey?
Sudheer Nair: I was born in a middle class family with no business background. I lost my father when I was schooling. Life ahead was difficult for us. Responsibility of supporting my family fell on my shoulder at an early age. Although my mother has helped me and my two sisters to complete schooling and pursue further studies, I could not complete my graduation due to financial conditions. I have started looking for jobs. And after doing many odd jobs, I landed working with a computer consultant, typing Software Programs. Gradually I started generating software codes independently for my company. Thereafter, understanding the user’s requirement started designing their software requirements. Creating tables and databases, coding, compiling the codes, testing the application, training and implementation all have become my routine job. It was then that I developed bunch of software applications, including accounting package called “Quick Accounts” and some others.
My second major job was with Afternoon Despatch and Courier, then a leading evening daily in Mumbai, edited by late Mr. Behram Contractor popularly known as Busybee. It was a tabloid publication. I was the only programmer and when I joined the company had only one computer, an IBM PC AT XT. As non-air-conditioned area was considered to be unavoidable for computers and the only air-conditioned place in the whole office was CEO Mrs. Farzana Contractor’s cabin, I was forced to use a corner of her cabin as my work place.
The company had all manual working system, Advertisement scheduler used to schedule advertisement in a manual register. After the ad was released, billing department used to create manual handwritten bill, bill was submitted to the accounts, accounts was maintaining more than 20 different registers, chief accountant used to make manual entries in the respective ledgers of the invoices, expenses. Generating Balance sheet, Balance sheet and P&L used to take at least 30 days.
Circulation billing was done manually. Since nobody there knew programming concept, I had the full freedom to start from wherever I wish to. I started with Advertisement Scheduling System. It took about 3 months for me to complete. The Advertisement scheduler was trained and since then the scheduling was computerized. Immediately upon completion of Scheduling System, I took Billing department project. Within a month I have completed Billing and went live. I think, among all the publications then, ADC was the first one to come up with computerized billing. Billing was integrated with Advertisement schedule. Third project was the Circulation department and integrated Circulation with Billing Module.
My fourth mission was to code on Accounts department, I knew accounting because I was a main programmer while developing Quick Accounts accounting software for the Computer Consultant (my first IT job). Accounting was integrated with Billing module. After completion of Accounts Department project, the only department left out was HR and Payroll, I created an attendance system. Attendance system was placed in the reception area and all employees would capture the LOG-IN time and LOG-OUT time. Then, I created a Payroll system, integrated attendance with Payroll and payroll with Accounts.
The appreciation that got from the Afternoon management also helped me a lot in my further endeavour. I have realized that just developing a program is not going to help. The program must be networked.
My third job was with Liyod Finance Ltd, a public listed company. There I have developed a completely integrated system on Oracle. It has also given me ample opportunity to learn a lot within a limited period.
Planet Optical Disc FZCO in Dubai was my last job, in the term of an outside company I have worked with. It was a 400-million-dollar company. I was working there as an Enterprise Manager. My job profile included looking overall implementation of ERP. Working on Enterprise solution, you learn a lot. Yes, I did.
The urge to do things on my own was getting on my head and that feeling has forced me to quit the job and returned to India. As ERP concept was getting its ground in India and I thought of diverting my drive on that path. With the little money that I could save from my Dubai stint helped me to start a small set up called Eresource Infotech, a software firm that developed ERP software for mid Sized Companies. It was just a beginning.
The CEO Insights: Please tell us about your first encounter with entrepreneurship and how this has changed your life
Sudheer Nair: I was not born with silver spoon, I am just an ordinary person who progressed to CEO. I will say it is more appropriate to call me as COO, Chief Operating Officer, rather than a CEO. Still all business operations in my organizations go through my table. I have a look at every single activity before that are being executed. It is the team work that has brought us into today’s position. Vivek Jingade, my friend and also my Partner today has been my great support right from the inception. Vivek heads Sales and Marketing operations in eresource. In the beginning we used to approach companies that are known to us or some of my friends who are working there. Establishing a product is not that easy unless you have big resources. Eresource was a genuine product and I know with the little resource I have in my hand there is only one option ahead that is sheer hard work. I just followed it. Hard work pays handsomely. That’s what life has taught me.
The CEO Insights: How do you feel being awarded "SE 3B" rating from well-known business reporting agency by NSIC-CRISIL? Also Udyog Rattan Award along with Business Excellence Award, 2008 followed by the Business Leadership Award conferred by Institute of Industrial Development, New Delhi?
Sudheer Nair: Ratings and awards are true recognitions and we understand its value and really happy to receive them. Apart from these awards what makes us more confident and inspirational is the feedback we get from our customers. Therefore awards make us more responsible towards our customers and commitment towards the product’s success.
The CEO Insights: How do your failures influence you? Why are they important?
Sudheer Nair: What I believe is life is not a path of roses. As I said earlier, from the childhood I had to face many challenges. It is my urge to achieve what I want or what I aim that has helped me to reach where I am now. I know there is a long way ahead before I can rest. There may be failures but I give importance to the successes that come in way rather than the failures that I had to face. When success brings happiness failure teaches you a lesson. Therefore it is always in a balanced mode. No regrets.
The CEO Insights: Given that understanding clients need is overwhelmingly important, you recently introduced special ERP training section?
Sudheer Nair: When it comes to ERP system, there must be a thorough knowledge of what it meant or how it is going to help a company. We tell our clients that ERP is not a magic wand. ERP must be used in an appropriate manner to get the desired result. For that not only the users of the system but also the decision makers, executives and everyone in the organization must know how an ERP system must be used successfully after the implementation. It is a misconception that once ERP is implemented it will take care of everything. We have realized that a proper ERP training is necessary to overcome any shortcomings in this area. Eresource Academy was the result of this thinking, where anyone can get a proper ERP training in a very professional manner.
The CEO Insights: How did you created a strong space as an exclusive web-based ERP solution company for Indian complex market?
Sudheer Nair: Quality product, intelligent marketing, dedicated employees and sheer hard work - all these elements contributed equally to the success of eresource ERP. You know there are many other ERP products in the market and directly competing with the large players in the market won’t be sensible. We have identified our area in the SMB sector that have deprived of this marvelous technology due to the cost factor. Making a huge investment for an ERP deployment was simply out of their reach. As a web-based hosted solution, eresource ERP significantly reduces your overhead expenses. There is no software to install, no hardware to purchase and maintain, and no up-gradation requiring complex re-implementation over time. Our team of IT professionals manages your maintenance, support, and up-gradation at our world-class data center. As a result, companies can focus on running their business, while our web-based ERP solution takes care of their business plans with the backend software. This method has turned out to be a huge relief for Small and Medium sized businesses in India and eresource ERP has been accepted by most of the companies in this sector as a ideal solution for their business operations.
The CEO Insights: Isn't this also a good time to invest in technologies that bring companies closer to their customers?
Sudheer Nair: In this changing world of IT era anytime is a better time investment in IT infrastructure. Having said that what I would like to remind our potential ERP customers are that business competitions are increasing day by day and any delay in the deployment of a technology that could boost your business can only brings setbacks in your business strategies. Therefore, do it today what you are planning to do tomorrow.
The CEO Insights: Where is SaaS relevant in the Indian context? Where is it not?
Sudheer Nair: The cloud-based eresource SaaS ERP solution is completely a modular-based system. With Software-as-a-Service (Saas) model, companies will able to work on a highly efficient ERP system, without the huge investment. The SaaS model gives lot of advantages. No extra hardware requirement, no maintenance hassles, no investment and no need of an IT team to run the system. Over and above, this model allows the companies to choose the only modules they required with per user payment option. Being a subscription module another advantage with eresource SaaS model is it is also scalable.
The CEO Insights: ERP has taken time to take off in Indian market, was that a major challenge to your business?
Sudheer Nair: Comparatively Indian IT market is a slow-paced one. However what is significant about Indian market is, it is a very firm market. A successfully established product can find an easy way though provided the product maintains its quality and reliability. Success of eresource is attributed to this fact. In any business, challenges are normal affairs and we don’t underestimate any challenges and counter them all in an effective manner with our own way of functioning and marketing.
The CEO Insights: What portion of your sales comes from new products?
Sudheer Nair: Eresource is an ERP software application and not a commodity product. Therefore the tag of new products doesn’t arise. We are concentrating on upgrading the ERP system as per the customer requirement and market demands. Our research and development department is updated with every hour development on technology front and constantly on the action to develop the system with latest requirement in the market.
The CEO Insights: As an enterprise that uses IT internally, can you talk about some best practices and processes you use?
Sudheer Nair: As an ERP vendor and development firm that deployed an ERP system of its own for our internal use that has been named as e-Parivartan, we have deep-rooted understanding of the best practice method followed in every major industrial verticals and that has been fully adhered while developing our system to help our customers.
The goal of e-parivartan is to increase efficiency by making the project development cycle more transparent for all those who are involved in a project. Each member of a team is typically provided with their own personal view, allowing them to track the specific tasks they are working on, and team members may be given access to other members' assigned task lists, so they can have a better understanding of how far into the development process the project has progressed. By creating a more transparent flow of information between project managers and team members, project management software aims to keep people on task and up-to-date on a project's progress.
As you may be aware that one of the definitions of ERP is "the amalgamation of world-class (best) practices together". It is said that, if ERP is implemented successfully, the company automatically becomes world class in terms of its practices. This statement is absolutely true when it comes to eresource ERP.
Right from the industrial revolution and even further, we can see the efforts put in to improve existing practices. Typically, the classical industrial engineering principle says: there is always a better method available than the existing. Here the 'better' ultimately means improved efficiency, effectiveness and economics. In fact, this principle clearly supports the view that nothing is the best forever.
In this context, let us see what the best practice in ERP environment is. ERP assumes the fundamental set-ups as "Pillars of ERP". The best practice in ERP then can be defined as the utilization of these set-ups to the maximum possible to produce the desired performance in terms of customer focus, zero waste of all the resources, and value creation. Tangibly, it leads to increase in quality and service, and reduction of cost and response time.
The CEO Insights: How has the use of IT in BFSI changed in India, and what have driven these changes?
Sudheer Nair: I think answer to this question is known to everyone because the Banking, Financial and Insurance sector has been witnessing rapid changes in its working method due to the influence information technology.
Information technology is one of the most important facilitators for the transformation of the Indian banking industry in terms of its transactions processing as well as for various other internal systems and processes. The various technological platforms used by banks for the conduct of their day to day operations, their manner of reporting and the way in which interbank transactions and clearing is affected has evolved substantially over the years.
The CEO Insights: Talking about segmentation, how do you target different market segment?
Sudheer Nair: We have a largely enough marketing department that takes care of each segment separately under the intelligent leadership of Mr. Vivek Jingade. He is well-versed with the pulse of ERP market. Therefore an efficient team under his shoulder can handle this issue very well. This is also one of the prime reasons of our success.
The CEO Insights: As your business grows exponentially, how do you deal with scalability issues?
Sudheer Nair: Eresource is a process driven company, we have great process, we have great people. We innovate our process every other day. It is a great product and a fast growing company. The process system in eresource is scalable and can adapt business dynamics easily. The goal is to plan and keep building it with the potential of reaching a massive market that would allow eresource the growth and expansion.
The CEO Insights: What do you consider to be your motto?
Sudheer Nair: I am convinced that the only thing that keeps me going is the great work that we at eresource is doing. We have a good product and we love great products. Our motto is to make more great products that we would be proud of selling and implementing and our customers would be proud of referring to their customers and their vendor partners.
The CEO Insights: What are your views on outsourcing technology? How do you view Indian companies that are turning to outsourcing IT to create greater efficiency?
Sudheer Nair: The way to look at outsourcing is to consider the theories of Ronald H. Coase, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. Coase said that when the cost of a transaction in the marketplace becomes lower than the cost of the transaction in-house, then, like it or not, you have to outsource. Otherwise you won't be able to compete. This is a good algorithm to determine what should be outsourced.
In my opinion, Outsourcing saves money & increases efficiency. Aside from saving money, outsourcing, in the long-run can provide benefits such as control in capital costs, increase in efficiency, reduce labor costs, starting new projects quickly, and reduce risk. Outsourcing has been an accepted practice in India. Business people are starting to look for ways where they can make a positive impact on the people and the environment that surrounds them.
The CEO Insights: Can you tell us your CEO perspective on how you keep people engaged and motivated?
Sudheer Nair: I still consider as a team leader more than a CEO. In my view a CEO should be a good team leader who leads from the front. Like I said earlier, I get involved in almost all the activities of the company including the development part. Though I never interfere in their work, I get involved with them and help them to find finer solutions whenever necessary. Rather than a strict employer-employee relation I would like to maintain a friendly relationship with my employee that ultimately becomes a confidence building measure from the management part.
The CEO Insights: You have been very actively blogging, what's your take on the rise of social media?
Sudheer Nair: I would like to write a more the same way I would like to read. But most of the time I am left with no time to concentrate on my writing activities. Therefore my blogs intervals are getting little longer that I wanted to minimize now. With the advent of social media everyone gets a platform to express their views and the scope is infinite. That’s a good thing.
The CEO Insights: What are your favorite book, movie, and/or play?
Sudheer Nair: I love to read; I find technology and gadgets completely irresistible, I have always been a reader as long as I can remember. Reading is an almost magical thing and to be honest, I find it quite enjoyable as well as relaxing. Currently I am reading “Out of the Box Thinking”. By Mr. A R K Sharma, a Gold medalist in Science and Electronics and Telecom Engineering, When I am not working or reading; I love to spend time with my family watching movies are making an outing.
The CEO Insights: What gets you excited about waking up each morning & put your best?
Sudheer Nair: Every day is a new day for me. Prays to the God to give me enough strength to put my best foot forward on every decision plus guide me to lead my business on the right path in a successful manner. Once I step out of my home only business is in my mind.
The CEO Insights: How did it help being supported by Vivek Jingade from day one?
Sudheer Nair: Vivek is with eresource since the inception of the company. We keep a brotherly relationship that makes the bond more stronger. Without him we could not have achieved what we are today.
The CEO Insights: What advice do you have for today's managers?
Sudheer Nair: Be honest, hardworking and think intelligently with your brains not with your laptops. Success will follow.
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