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Cloudifying business

Venkatesh Ganesh | Updated on March 10, 2018

The Icertic team believes that cloud based solutions are gaining popularity and enabling users to improve both internal and external customer experiences.







Good things happen when creativity and free thought are allowed to flourish. In Seattle, Washington, where innovation is not taboo, Icertis was able to materialize from a shared dream. Samir Bodas, Monish Darda and Unmesh Bhathija believed the delightfully disruptive cloud could be used to improve business processes, and they were right. Icertis, was born in 2009 and has since blossomed into a successful Cloud Software Vendor (CSV). Icertis caused a stir and broke “tradition” when it developed products in the “ERP Surround” space by leveraging the cloud; fortunately it also broke the shackles of tedious, tiresome and obscenely priced enterprise software. The company provides software to manage contracts (for banks, retailers, insurance, manufacturing etc.) and transportation management software for companies in the logistics sector.

Samir Bodas, CEO and co-founder of Icertis, holds an MBA from Wharton School of Business. Monish Darda, CTO and co-founder has a BE in Mechanical Engineering and obtained a Master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and Unmesh Bhathija, COO is also a Chartered Financial Analyst and co-founded Websym Technologies.

The beginning

Commenting on the origins of Icertis, Darda said, “Enterprise software has traditionally been difficult to build, hard to deploy and expensive to maintain and painful to adopt; think of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software implementation, for instance. The cloud was opening up opportunities for a new breed of enterprise apps, ones that are easy to develop, deploy, manage, integrate, and which don’t break the enterprise’s bank.” He added, “The fertile Seattle environment helped, especially since two of the world’s top public cloud providers, Microsoft and Amazon, are headquartered there.” The Seattle connection continues as the company has roped in Rob Strickland who was formerly the Senior Vice President (SVP) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for T-Mobile as its strategic advisor.

According to research firm Gartner, companies like Icertis, 8kmiles, Box and others are eyeing a market that was estimated to be around $109 billion in 2012. CSVs are seeing an increased demand for their services, since businesses are evolving much faster than before. Progressive business models, customer relations strategies and HR practices are being adopted by the more sensible lot, and outdated technologies with all their trappings are frustrating for quality oriented, time sensitive business owners. Grandpa’s killjoy tech unnecessarily troubles employees as well when it restricts productivity and robs them of their valuable time.

Darda pointed this out, saying, “Older technologies and deployment models just don’t cut it and business owners have little patience for software that takes years to deploy and consistently runs over budget because of exorbitant customization costs. The expectations from enterprise software to provide the same flexibility and ubiquitous access to their business data and business processes are very high and growing daily. Business models like box.com and Salesforce are a great case in point.”

Cloud growth

Now that cloud based solutions are gaining popularity, they’re changing the game. They’re cheaper, efficient and enable users to improve both internal and external customer experiences, thus increasing profits. For example, Icertis Contract Management enables a large sized company to easily manage thousands of contracts and connect with customers, partners, and vendors to collaborate when negotiating contracts. Icertis’ software is improving public transport management by using cloud technology to optimise resources, become economically sustainable, and ensure faster, better and safer bus travel. Icertis counts companies like JNNURM as a customer using is transport management software.

According to Bodas, products need to be built from the ground up for the cloud ecosystem. Old development and architectures are unfit for the cloud, and innovative thinking is required to determine how a common platform built for the Cloud can support a suite of applications.

Initial challenges

It should have been an easy sell for Icertis, after all, what’s not to love? Sadly, logic does not always prevail and in every sector one can still find hidebound codgers raging against progress and modern technology; hence the product was initially met with suspicion and resistance, even by so-called “IT departments.”

Bodas elaborated on the issue, “The biggest challenge we faced initially, and continue to face today was that of disbelief. It was hard for prospective customers to come to terms with the fact that an enterprise application could be potentially deployed in weeks instead of months, considering what they had to suffer in their past experiences. The second was resistance by IT departments to technology they did not fully understand and the reluctance to go to the cloud for enterprise applications. Business users were blown away by the ease of use and the flexibility of Icertis products, so in many cases, we had (and have) our business users champion and sell our value proposition to their internal IT departments, or even bypass them completely.”

The company is hedging its bet by being a part of the Microsoft ecosystem (it is a Windows Azure partner). As competition intensifies from other ecosystems like Amazon, SAP, Oracle and IBM, the company has its work cut out.

venkatesh.ganesh@thehindu.co.in



Published on May 02, 2013

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