ICICI-Infotech's North American Strategy for Success Part One: Company Background and Market Focus

  • Written By: Joseph J. Strub
  • Published: November 22 2004


ICICI-Infotech has developed a well-earned and respected reputation in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region of the world. Now it has set its sights squarely on the North American market. To reach this target, ICICI-Infotech has developed an intriguing strategy to attract new customers. This research note explores this strategy to assist you in determining whether ICICI-Infotech and its enterprise resource planning (ERP) offering, ORION, makes sense for your company, deserving a closer inspection and careful consideration.

After providing some background information on the company, the strategy is examined from the viewpoint of its market focus, customer focus, and innovative pricing. You'll see how pricing, both for software and professional services, is critical to making this strategy work and is the underlying foundation for the other two components. The research note concludes by discussing the challenges facing ICICI-Infotech and presenting user recommendations.

This is Part One of a three-part note.

Part Two discusses the company's strategy in terms of customer focus and innovative pricing.

Part Three analyzes the challenges facing the company and presents user recommendations.

Company Background

ICICI-Infotech is a wholly owned subsidiary of ICICI-Bank, the second largest bank in India with assets of $27.8 billion (USD) and over 470 branch offices. In operation since 1989, ICICI-Infotech has consolidated its position as a global developer and provider of enterprise business solutions aimed at regional and international companies.

The company presents customized solutions utilizing in-house expertise and experience gained from working in diverse markets and across a broad range of industry segments. These include distribution, retail, construction, automobile industry, insurance, process manufacturing, and energy. ICICI-Infotech has over 1,300 employees in thirty countries. In 2004 ICICI-Infotech has experienced a 40 percent growth in comparison to last year and projects a higher rate of growth in the coming years. Currently, ICICI-Infotech services over 1,000 customers including Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), Panasonic, GlaxoSmithKline, Philips, Standard Chartered Bank, and Deutsche Bank. In 2003 the company joined an elite list of organizations having the distinction of achieving the highest and most prestigious optimized level of Software Engineering Institute Capability Maturity Model (SEI CMM) Level 5 certification for its offshore development centers.

In March 2003 ICICI-Infotech established a base of operations in the United States for its ORION software product. The new office is located in Edison, New Jersey, less than an hour's drive from New York City. In a short period of time, ICICI-Infotech has signed over ten North American customers. Seven of these customers are in the process manufacturing industry.

ORION, which is ICICI-Infotech's flagship enterprise software offering, is based on the ERP II model that includes full-featured ERP functionality, complemented by customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM) features. Client/server-based ORION integrates business processes across vendors, partners, and customers in order to foster a more effective and efficient organization to achieve and sustain growth. ORION also has web-enabled components to support remote data entry services and queries. Depending on a company's size, ORION comes in several flavors—Enterprise, Advantage, and Lite—to facilitate implementation and realization of expected benefits.

As an Oracle Certified Advantage Partner, ORION utilizes the capabilities of the Oracle database, forms, and developer platform and tools.

While this article focuses on ICICI-Infotech's enterprise solution, the company also offers information technology services for outsourcing, infrastructure management, security consultancy, and business process re-engineering and management. Some of the industries to which ICICI-Infotech caters include banking, retail, insurance, manufacturing, energy, government, and fashion.

Market Focus

As you have just read, ICICI-Infotech has prospered in many and varied markets. However, in North America the company has initially decided to narrow its focus on two significant market aspects in order to develop a critical mass.

First, ICICI-Infotech's ORION business practice is concentrating solely on the process manufacturing industry. Process manufacturing focuses on formulas, not bill of material (BOM); ingredients, not parts; bulk manufacturing, not pieces; and pack recipes, not packages. If you want a refresher course in processing manufacturing, read this author's previously published TEC articles, Processing Manufacturing Software: A Primer and Process Manufacturing: Industry Specific Requirements. ICICI-Infotech has already made considerable inroads into process manufacturing by securing several North America clients in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries.

While these may be new customer markets in North America, the company's software is functionally robust in these industries. Additionally, ICICI-Infotech's professional services cadre has developed hands-on and in-depth experience in these areas. The software provides extensive formulation management and scalability. As you would expect from a company competing in the food and beverage arena, the quality control functionality permits compliance with external regulations and tracking at sublot and lot levels.

The software supports two features critical in the chemical industry, but particularly in specialty chemicals, where a new order is likely to be a variation of an old one. First, the ability exists to facilitate the creation a new chemical product based on ingredient substitution in an existing formula. Secondly, you can quickly convert estimates into firm orders and establish immediate visibility within production scheduling.

As you would expect, the software supports a catch weight feature for meats and poultry; a flexible pricing engine for consumer goods; extensive warehouse management attributes to support order fulfillment and distribution; and other functionality required in process manufacturing.

The second aspect of market concentration is software migration. ICICI-Infotech is looking for companies that have outgrown their existing legacy systems and require new capabilities to effectively compete in their respective markets. With its rather extensive and easy-to-use data conversion toolkit, a client's legacy data can be mapped and ported into ORION with little or no manual massaging or manipulation.

Additionally, ICICI-Infotech expects to leverage its approach toward enhancements, thereby making them less of a burden in the short-term and long-term life cycle of the software product. Be assured that ICICI-Infotech expects the best practices inherent in the ORION software to win out over the need of an enhancement. However, when absolutely necessary, ORION-constituted enhancements can be viewed more as subroutines, which are kept distinct and separate from the mainstream and standard code. Under the subroutine concept parameters are passed to an enhancement and results are returned, saved in a repository reserved for this purpose. The software leverages the processing speeds of the servers to counteract some of the negativity associated with enhancements. While some modification of an enhancement may be required with a new release of the ORION software, under the company's approach the upgrade workload and impact can be kept to an absolute minimum.

As will be discussed later in this research note, pricing of enhancements can make retrofitting a company's long established practices within ORION cost-effective, when compared to the competition, and doable in a reasonable period of time.

This concludes Part One of a three-part note.

Part Two discusses the company's strategy in terms of customer focus and innovative pricing.

Part Three analyzes the challenges facing the company and presents user recommendations.

About the Author

Joseph J. Strub has extensive experience as a manager and senior consultant in planning and executing ERP projects for manufacturing and distribution systems for large to medium-size companies in the retail, food and beverage, chemical, and CPG process industries. Additionally, Mr. Strub was a consultant and Information Systems Auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers and an applications development and support manager for Fortune 100 companies.

He can be reached at JoeStrub@writecompanyplus.com.

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