“Skill shortage is not the biggest obstacle to analytics, lack of skilled-products or technologies are the biggest obstacle to analytics”

In an exclusive interview with the Executive Editor of Thinking Aloud Nilotpal Chakravarti, Mr. Deivasigamani, Vice President – HR  of Kaar Technologies talks about the SAP hiring trends in India and why SAP professionals are in demand.

Why is there a sudden demand for SAP consultants in India?

1) Success with SAP: In today’s challenging business environment, best-run companies have clarity across all aspects of their business, which allows them to act quickly with increased insight, efficiency, and flexibility. This is particularly true if businesses include SAP.

2) Success of SAP: SAP is the world’s largest business software company and the third-largest independent software provider in terms of revenues. Recent statistics show that even though the competition is fierce with a lot of new entrants in the marketplace from large and small vendors over this time, SAP is the current leader in cloud enterprise, compared to other ERP & cloud companies.

3) Success for SAP Consultants:

i.) SAP solutions are scalable, customizable to evolving business requirements of an enterprise & can be easily integrated with future applications giving users a significant competitive advantage in the market. SAP solutions have become integral to the foundation of international businesses, as almost half of the world’s Fortune1000 companies have implemented ERP solutions from SAP.

ii.) SAP has been mainly focusing on enterprise applications for the last 30+ years, the area where they hold the market leader spot today across the globe. While the other large ERP software vendors, tend to have multiple business focuses – like, databases as an example.

iii.) SAP architecture is extremely strong with a process-centric focus and a foundation that operates in real time communication with enterprise wide business processes that is highly flexible.

iv.) SAP continues to focus its ERP applications on maximizing resources, reducing costs and optimizing performance that is customized for businesses and industries. SAP provides a comprehensive range of business software and enterprise applications, especially with their strategic acquisitions – designed for global operations and supported with globalization services – to empower every aspect of business.

v.) Lastly, with the experience of the last 30+ years SAP has afforded their enterprise applications to be extremely industry and business specific. They have already built and refined these industry specific solutions with real customers and real implementations carrying the knowledge base and enhancing their technology and application offerings each year for the last three decades – S/4 HANA is the latest.

As there are more solutions available on the marketplace to choose from, and even given the increasing competitive landscape, SAP has kept their market dominance. Hence there is a continuous demand for SAP consultants in India & from India.

What are companies doing to match this demand? How are you ramping up in Kaar?

While there are many companies at war for talent to match this demand, this is how Kaar Technologies will be aggressively ramping up.

1. Recruitment Process will ‘GO DIGITAL’: On cloud via mobile and online, embracing the tenets of PCMM Level 3 maturity and with robust recruitment & selection process workflows. This will enable to have a healthy & better ‘Recruiter : Requirements Ratio’.

2. Hire Tough & Manage Easy: Multiple competency based interviews which will qualify the feedback on candidates with comments & quantify with scores for consolidated relative ranking (CRR) of potential candidates.

3. Culture Interviews: ‘Culture’ eats ‘Strategy’ for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Potential candidates will go through ‘Culture Interviews’ apart from the normal ‘HR Interviews’, so that we will have technical rockstars with the right values & culture aligned to that of Kaar Technologies, mentioned below.

i) Values at Kaar Technologies:

Passion: Energy. Drive. Involved. Connected. Love the Job.

Honesty: Not Lying. Accept Mistakes. Sincere. True to Self.

Courage: Dare. Assertive. Face the Truth. Smart Risks.

Perseverance: Never Give Up. Committed. Result Driven. Keep coming back.

Excellence: Best of what you do. Benchmarking.

Responsibility: Ownership. Dependability. Trust Worthy. Completion.

Wisdom: Read. Debate. Have an Opinion. Informed. Articulate.

Objective: Not Biased. Look for purpose. Balanced.

Creative: Innovative. Out of the Box. Solution Driven.

ii) Culture at Kaar Technologies: Profitable Growth. Decide & Stay Accountable. Best In Class. Walk the last mile. Obsession to Standard. Challenge the status Quo. Leave as a Legend. Thought Leadership. Plan the work & Work the plan.

4. Top Talent Attraction: We have hired energetic MBAs from premier B-Schools like IIM, BIM, Great Lakes, LIBA & PSG. Lateral talent from top-notch companies get attracted to Kaar Technologies owing to our exponential business growth  and our ability to provide career progression.

5. Talent Acquisition will ‘GO LOCAL’: For this financial year as we enlarge our business vision, beyond the Middle East, we will expand our geographical horizons with greater potential & unlimited value, into Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland & UK, by hiring local nationals of the land into our global offices around the globe.

6. Disruptive Recruitment Interventions: We will have a lot of disruptive recruitment interventions as crazy as an intervention called – ‘Recruitment on Wheels’.

7. Talent Acquisition ‘Goes Social’: “56% of companies now have a social media policy. Of those 87% use LinkedIn for recruiting.” – PayScale Inc. Study, 2013. Talent acquisition through Social Networking, as a trend, has caught up at Kaar Technologies.

Compared to last two quarters, how is the hiring scenario for SAP professionals in India currently?

“GEN-Y-FI (Young Focused Individuals) look for clarity in career progression” – Aon Hewitt, 2012.

“Gen Y is switching jobs 4to 6 times before they hit their mid-30s, in an approximately 10-year span.” – Aon Hewitt, 2012.

“Millennials (those born after 1980) are especially quick to change jobs if they feel bored, unappreciated or disconnected.” – Gallup Study, 2012.

While there is a continuous struggle between demand versus supply of SAP-talent, the aggressive recruitment strategy at Kaar Technologies has seamlessly managed to hire 90+ GEN-Y-FI (Young Focused Individuals) in the last two quarters by providing them appreciation, career progression & interesting job roles.

Are companies investing heavily to retrain the existing workforce to meet this demand?

“Top 3 HR Challenges – Hiring skilled talent, Training & development, Engaging people.” – Deloitte Study, 2012.

“Top 3 Attrition Challenges – Better Pay Elsewhere, Personal Reasons, Better utilization of current skills.” – Deloitte, 2012.

“Top 3 HR Challenges – Hiring skilled talent, Training & development, Engaging people.” – Deloitte Study, 2012.

“Top 3 Cost Optimization Measures – Outsourcing of certain services, Setting up shared services centers, Reduction in training programmes.”- Deloitte, 2012.

Starting from the ‘Global Economic Unrest’ that began around 2012 until date the top 3 HR challenges, attrition challenges & cost optimization measures has not changed drastically; Training & better utilization of current skills, are repetitive challenges.

At Kaar Technologies, an organization wide intervention has already started to re-skill, up-skill & cross-skill employees. We are making huge investments this financial year around training, learning & development.

How or what mechanism has Kaar put in place to retain professionals given the fact that there is a great demand for talents?

“Replacing an employee can cost a company 3 times the employee’s annual salary, affecting the overall economy by more than $350 billion dollars per year.” – Gallup Study, 2012. Kaar Technologies is proud in having a lower attrition rate year-on-year compared to the industry average attrition rate. This is how we achieved it.

1. EE = H3: Employee Engagement = Heads + Hearts + Hands at Work; This is the bloodline of all our employee engagement intervention at Kaar technologies, because we believe that, “Truly engaged employees are ATTRACTED to, and INSPIRED by their work (“I want to do this”), COMMITTED (“I am dedicated to the Success of what I am doing”), and FASCINATED (“I love what I am doing”).” – “Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty”, Tim Rutledge.

Our ‘Great Place to Work’ score in FY14 was 71 & in FY15 it was 72. We are aiming at a score of 80 in FY16, through robust – ‘Engagement Interventions’ to put out ‘Disengagement Fires’.

2. Kaar Technologies ‘GOES AGILE’: “The new realities & the demands require a reversal of policies, that have worked well for the last century, and even more, a change in mindset of organizations as well as individuals” – Peter F. Drucker.

We have taken a daring step to embrace Agile / Scrum methodologies not just in our SDLC but also for executing programs & projects in support functions such as HR, Finance, etc.

3. Lazer-focused Leadership: “Management works in the system; Leadership works on the system.”- Stephen R. Covey

I see the current leadership team with a lot of lazer-focus, renewed energy & leading by example.

Is skill shortage the biggest obstacle to analytics? If yes, how are you or how do you address this concern?

Skill shortage is not the biggest obstacle to analytics, lack of skilled-products or technologies are the biggest obstacle to analytics, while there is a paradigm shift in the business world from ‘Business Astrology’ to ‘Business Sciences’.

Analytics is not new to SAP as an ERP. S/4HANA (or short: S/4) is the next-generation Business Suite — a new product and not a legal successor of the SAP Business Suite 7. SAP HANA as the underlying platform with increased speed, merge of analytical and transactional data (OLTP & OLAP merge) and in-memory compression to reduce data footprint.

According to Forrester, enterprises opting to implement SAP HANA can expect to see their software costs fall by more than 70%, their hardware costs by 15%, and their administration and development costs by 20%.

The big data and analytics market will reach $125 billion worldwide in 2015, according to IDC.

It is no surprise that today, according to SAP, HANA has more than 5,800 customers and more than 1,850 customers running Business Suite on HANA, making it the fastest-growing product in SAP history.

At Kaar Technologies analytics has always been in our solutions-DNA, with we embracing S/4HANA our value has grown multi-fold.

What is your employee strength overall, and how many are SAP certified? What are your plans going forward in terms of hiring?

At Kaar, overall we have 600+ employees. At an aggregate, 80 percent of the total strength is 100 percent are SAP certified professionals, the rest belong to non-delivery teams.

For this financial year as we enlarge our business vision, beyond the Middle East, we will expand our geographical horizons with greater potential & unlimited value, into Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland & UK, by hiring local nationals of the land into our global offices around the globe & Indian talent for our technology-offices in India.

What will be your advice to a young professional who are looking for a job in the IT sector, especially in niche areas like analytics, BI etc?

My advice to young professionals, who are looking for a job in the IT sector, especially in niche areas like Analytics, Business Intelligence etc., will be to thoroughly understand the industry trends around analytics, read voraciously on analytics, cultivate a passion towards analytics, become a part of different ‘Analytics Groups’ on social networking platforms, invest in courses & in getting certifications around analytics, look out for jobs in technology companies that give importance to analytics & business intelligence.

If you are already a ‘Analytics Wizard’, ‘Predictive Analytics’ is something you might want to focus on for a progressive career.

There is a sense that the India growth story will take a hit due to skills shortage in the IT sector? Do you conform to the view?

No, I do not see India taking a hit due to skills shortage. Contrary to popular belief, there is still a talent war going on.

Skill shortage is not the problem of individual IT professionals. It is the responsibility of IT companies. Are they future ready? Kaar is future ready.

The biggest advantage of Kaar Technologies is the scale and size that we are in now. This scale & size does not give an opportunity to be short on skills. On the other hand it gives a plethora of opportunity for Kaar-ians to up-skill, re-skill or cross-skill themselves.

So you think there are adequate skills training centers or our courses are adequate to meet the growing demand of the industry? What can be done to address this?

There are many training centers that are updating their courses; If training centers have a better connect with IT companies, their courses could yield unlimited value to the learning community.

Many companies have knowledge centers which impart skills within the company & in colleges/universities. We have internal trainings that help facilitate & fast track the career progression of employees.

Kaar bears the exam fee of consultants who successfully complete SAP certification programs.

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