The industry has changed a lot with time and technology. Technology has taken over the traditional way of business processing with a resulted boost in productivity. In all these years the only constant thing is SAP. SAP-based applications are making business processes smooth since long.
Innoval Digital Solutions Pvt. Ltd is a leading name in the SAP solutions landscape. Innoval Digital Solutions Pvt. Ltd is empowering businesses with their cutting edge and comprehensive technology offerings.
In an interview with Mr. Sunil Gupta, CEO, and Director of the company let’s discover their journey since inception and more about their quality offerings
• Tell us about your journey.
It has been an interesting journey for me with respect to starting-up, selling, and re-acquiring – IVL.
I was working with Siemens and was involved in several key technology initiatives of IT strategy, standardization of technology, applications, and infrastructure across various factories, businesses, and offices of the company. SAP was also one of my major activities.
Way back in 1995, some of the Germans approached me to start up an offshore company focused on SAP for serving the European market. This was the beginning and I took the risk.
TechnoPark based in Trivandrum was selected to be the location for setting up the company. Even though language, culture, and familiarity of Kerala were a challenge, I was extremely impressed with the world-class infrastructure, talent availability, costs of operations, and quality of life.
Within, a short span of time, we were able to recruit, train, expand, and started delivering cutting edge solutions to the customers in Germany.
The business from Germany was constant and didn’t grow; hence I started looking for other geographies. India was a logical choice, and SAP ERP was being implemented in a few large companies in 1997. Being already present, we worked on several SAP implementations in India. This also gave us a good understanding of the functionality gap that was existing in SAP for Indian customers, especially in the areas of statutory compliance, taxation, and international trade areas. I always wanted to develop products and saw the opportunity to develop Add-on for SAP for this functional gap, to address the pain points of India enterprises.
The product was named OptiSuite, certified by SAP, and became a huge success and implemented in a large number of companies in India.
Around 1998, SAP India was formed and we participated in developing the India version for SAP. We also worked on extensive consulting opportunities with SAP labs and other implementation partners across the globe. Fast forward in 2008, I sold the company to US-based company Collabera – which was later called Brillio.
As they say, the world is round, in July 2018, I got the opportunity to buy-back the company from Brillio. During the same time, I also acquired two other company’s businesses called Saturn Systems and HBS. All the three were merged into what we called now as Innoval Digital Solutions (IVL 2.0)
The mandate and plan for this new avatar are to help companies in large scale digital transformation solutions, building intelligent enterprises using SAP and digital technologies.
IVL is an SAP partner since the last 25+ years; developing SAP-based certified add-on products and providing various application management services.
IVL is an SAP partner since the last 25+ years; developing SAP-based certified add-on products and providing various application management services. Over several years of participation in more than 2800+ SAP projects, acquired extensive experience in providing solutions, services, and support of SAP customers of leading corporates in the majority of industry verticals.
IVL has helped more than 350+ companies in India in providing Certified SAP Add-on products for statutory compliance and documentation. These products are part of OptiSuite 10, which has received its 14th year of certification and the latest version was launched in SAP TechED 2018 at Bangalore.
IVL has built large competency in Cloud technologies, building Fiori apps, HANA database application that can help various organizations for migration, extension, and building solutions using SAP Cloud Platform (SCP-ABAP), Advance compliance reporting platform (ACR), SAP ECC, S/4HANA or S/4HANA cloud version.
We are also one of the first companies in the world that participated in the global Early adopter program of SAP Cloud platform using ABAP stack and has built a large scale product on the SAP Cloud Platform. These cloud-based products will help all the organizations to keep the digital core system running SAP ECC or on-prem undisturbed while allowing the organization to continuously innovate and digitally transform their process using SAP cloud technologies. This approach also helps in the fast deployment of new technologies like AI/ML/NLP and IOT and seamlessly integrating/extending their core ERP processes.
• What inspired you to start the company?
I come from a professionally qualified family, which was primarily in services. But I belong to the business community, the business is in blood and I always wanted to start some business.
The trigger point of jumping into entrepreneurial bandwagon was that urge to do different and also quick saturation in the corporate world and underlying politics
• What were the initial challenges and struggles?
The initial challenges and struggles are a long list. From the competency angle, I had no prior experience in running a business. I was a young technocrat, buzzing with the latest technologies knowledge only but quickly started learning nuances of functions of sales, finance, admin, HR, and so on…
Had a tough time to navigate various government permissions, licenses, data communication link, and bureaucratic hurdles. The capital was also scarce and retaining talent with trained SAP knowledge was the most difficult part, but over time, we became the preferred company to work for!
• What are the products and services of the company? Can you tell us about some of your key products?
We have developed digital products primarily on SAP platforms and technologies. These products address the key areas of statutory compliance, taxation, and international trade areas.
Some of the flagship products are OptiGST, OptiEway bill, OptiE-invoice, OptiEXIM & OptiSign
• How do you focus on making data processing easier?
Our focus is on building a simple, integrated solutions/products for customers to seamlessly work through their normal business process and compliance process. These are simpler to operate using the same user interface and the customer doesn’t need much training to use our products. The other salient feature is that the data resides in your own landscape, secured, and communicates with the external system of Govt portals.
• What are the advantages of SAP over its competitors?
Today, SAP is an undisputed leader in the business application and platform market. World’s more than 70% of the business transactions flow through the SAP system. SAP has very large installed based on more than 450,000 customers worldwide and available for large industry verticals.
• Why would you prefer SAP over others?
SAP has been the visionary in the business application domain for more than 40 years and has built various best business practices in the product. The product is robust, high quality, and customizable to the majority of the industries. Most important is that SAP provides platforms and technologies to further build, enhance, and extend core processes not existing in the standard version. This gives opportunities to the company likes us to provide innovative solutions on the top of SAP platform
In India itself, SAP has been implemented in more than 10,000 customers and still growing.
• How do you think the industry is evolving?
The industry has evolved over the years from transactional-based automation to open systems, collaborative, a network of networks using intelligent and cloud technologies. The current applications need to be open, scalable and should be able to integrate seamlessly with other systems using services and API based architecture
• With technology taking strides, what do you think are the new challenges?
The new challenges are to provide industry solutions that leverage old investment but also allow the company to innovate faster and the ability to differentiate with the competitors and quick adaptation with the new and changing business model.
Our model of the building team is primarily – ground-up approach.
• How do you propose to build a strong team? What makes it unique?
This has always been our strength and a key pillar of success. Our model of the building team is primarily – ground-up approach. We recruit the best and brightest young talent and train in-house groom them to our various technologies, products, and domains of business. This is unique as it fits 100% needs of our company and the team needs not to unlearn and then learn new things!
• Can you please brief us about your professional experience?
By education, I am an electronics engineer with management qualifications from Symbiosis and IIM. I started my career with TELCO (now called TATA Motors) in 1993. Initial years, I worked in designing, development, and building microprocessor-based industrial automation products. Later on, I got a chance to switch over the systems departments. There I got exposure in building Burroughs, VAX mainframe-based applications for planning, manufacturing for machine tool division.
In 1989, I got an opportunity to work at Siemens – Organisation & Information processing department. Here I had set up data centers, implemented large scale information systems, part of the global standardization team of IT.
I was visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management – IIM Kozhikode from 1999-2010. I conceptualized, designed, and taught various subjects to the students.
I was a key advisory member of the Kerala Govt IT task force and help state in various IT initiatives and bringing outside investors.
During the last 6-7 years, I have invested, mentored a large number of start-ups
• Are you looking at the glass half empty or half full? Please share your views on how far the industry has come and what more is to come.
I am looking at the industry as half empty and thereby give us still huge opportunities in the sector. I feel that company that provides digital products that can be quickly adaptable to changing business model; facilitating innovation and business insights will have good potential
• What are the key achievements of your entrepreneurial journey?
- Started an entrepreneurial journey at an early age.
- Build a software products company.
- Created brand and monopoly in the market.
- Quickly changed, de-risked business model.
- Thought leadership in some of the domains.
- Skilling, training and building competent teams.
- Great place to work