Ganesan Sankaran is an IT industry
veteran with 32+ yrs. of experience who worked for Ramco Systems, Hexaware, Satyam
Computers, HP Global Soft and is now heading IT for a major health insurance
company in India. He has seen the evolution of computers, computer education
and IT industry in India.
AIDOOS team spoke him to understand
his career journey, his key achievements and his forecast about how technology
will shape up the “Future of work”. Given below are the excerpts of the
Tell us about your education, awareness
of computers, computer education and technology in those days.
Ours was the first regular MCA batch from
Regional Engineering College, Trichy and in fact the first batch in whole
India. At that time, there were only two colleges in India that started
offering MCA from that year (1984) and REC Trichy was one of those two.
Rarely anybody knew what a computer
was and I myself saw the computer first time in my life after joining the college. The computers in those days were dumb
terminals with no intelligence built in only with monitor and keyboard. The
whole intelligence and processing were done by back-end server which was kept
in a server room.
We used BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL and
PASCAL as programming languages. DBASE, FOXBASE were just picking up. There
were no debugging tools available. We had to write a program, feed in the
program, compile and get the error list and go back to work to fix them.
Compiling and getting one bug free program was an incredible process.
What factors played the role while choosing computer education
as your option?
Prior to joining MCA, I did B.Sc.
Mathematics as my interests were into Mathematics, Logic etc. I wanted to do
M.Sc., MPhil, PhD and get into R&D. It was a sheer coincidence that MCA was
announced that year which was also into creativity, problem solving, logic so I
seemed to be a professional course with great prospects in the coming years
which also played a key role in choosing the path.
What was your first job and how easy or
difficult was to get a job or even information about job openings in those
Trichy had great faculty members and there was a separate placement department
headed by a head of department to handle campus selections. This department was
working with few companies to come in and select people.
participated in few campus interviews and without much struggle got selected
into a company called Aurelec Data Processing Systems for software development
for small organizations. This company was mainly into manufacturing computers
in the client-server technology based on Novell Netware and Microsoft operating
system. This was the time computers were moving away from dumb terminals mode
into having intelligence built into each of the computers.
was no separation of hardware and software in those days, all computer
manufacturing companies had a software division. The belief was that
manufacturer of computers was better knowledgeable of their computers and equipped
to write software. This was the reason, some of the current Indian IT giants
started their IT business with hardware sales and services. There were only few
specialized software services companies in those days.
joined as Software Engineer for application software development. Though the
company was into selling hardware, I was into building software in that
company. I worked as software engineer developing file-based application
software systems for specific customers. This was based on COBOL, Data Flex and
Information sharing in those days was a real
challenge. The only source of information was newspapers. Having a landline
phone was a luxury. If someone was looking out for a job, it was a great
challenge to know about job openings and people mainly relied on newspapers ads
and known contacts.
Can you brief us about your career highlights,
learnings and your proud moment in the career?
spending around 5 years with couple of companies, I joined Ramco Systems where
I got product development. RAMCO was developing an ERP for International market
and was probably the first Indian company to develop an ERP. This product was
going to compete with Oracle and other existing ERPs in the market.
spent around 10 years in RAMCO and that was a great experience. Building a
product from the scratch was a real challenge and interesting. Though it was
challenging, I enjoyed this phase as it offered great learnings. The product
was built on Microsoft technologies such Visual C++ and SQL Server with GUI.
year 2000, I wanted to move into Java, so I joined Hexaware with which I was
back into services. For next 15 years, I worked for Hexaware, Satyam Computers and
HP Global soft serving different customers across geographies but mostly for
I am heading IT for the health insurance company which is a completely
different experience from previous stints. Having worked on the consulting side
of table for many years serving customers, now I am sitting on the opposite
side of the table. My experience in consulting is a great advantage as I know what
kind of services vendors offer and I can rightly negotiate and choose the right
my overall career, RAMCO was the most fulfilling experience. In projects mode,
you are in transactional mode. You complete one project and move on to the
next. But with products, you go deep and have an opportunity to bring lot of
innovation, build generic solutions for all customers and serve different use
cases. In addition to product development, I was also heading reusable
components for the Ramco ERP Product which were conceptualized and built under
If the current technologies were available to
you in the early years of your career, what would you have done differently?
was real challenging in those days. Information and internet were not
available. Programmers had to solve the problems on their own. Building user
experience was a great challenge. We had to write code to capture every key
stroke and yet at the same time we had to minimize the screen touch points, so
customers gain productivity. We did not have GUI or drag/drop capabilities in
developed lot of user interfacing components which were used across the
application. Lack of these ready-made components makes one to be creative
however if the current capabilities and information were available, we could
have spent more time on solving real business problems with technology
How is technology helping your organization, what
are your plans as a CIO to leverage technology for your organization?
are pioneers in the private healthcare industry and are always ahead of the competition.
We are investing a lot in digital transformation and automation focusing
heavily on customer experience. We are migrating our application footprint to
cloud and investing in AI/ML technologies to improvise our processes.
Work habits are changing, and people
increasingly are working from home. What’s your forecast about the “Future of
today’s technology advancements and connectivity options, majority of the work
can be done from anywhere and not coming to office. Teams are distributed
across geographies which means an employee may be working with the team members
located in different countries and different time zones. It makes more sense
for that employee to work from home and save time on commute.
are increasingly encouraging employees to connect from home as it saves time
and increases productivity. This is going to continue and will move to next
level. It helps organizations to save on administrative and office supplies
costs. It also helps in work life balance for the employees.
in the past, it is now easier to measure the productivity and deliverables. The
tasks are clearly defined and assigned. Collaboration tools are helping team
members to connect remotely yet work closely with colleagues.
There are lot of startups disrupting every
industry, lot of smaller but niche players are emerging. Do you foresee such
disruption to IT service industry?
is already in progress in IT services. There are already lot of smaller and
niche players eating the market share. We also have already started working
with these small and niche players. These people are small in size, focused,
eager to get business hence provide faster and quality turnaround to customers.
The big players on the other hand do not provide such emphasis and importance
as they have to deal with hundreds of customers. More and more customers are
increasingly moving in that direction.
At AIDOOS, we believe that the right job to be
done by the right expert and expertise can come from anywhere. If AIDOOS
enables bringing expertise and takes care of the orchestration of connecting
the niche players and delivering the outcome, would customers be interested in
is a good concept and this on-demand service platforms are changing the way an
industry operates. The examples of such disruptions are out there – Uber,
Airbnb, Swiggy etc.
ATM’s were a disruption to traditional banking, mobile platforms and payment
apps are disrupting entire banking industry. Now, I rarely visit ATMs as I do
not need cash for most of the transactions. I had a car and a driver earlier
and with the advent of Uber, I had sold my car. With one third of the cost, I
am able to travel as much or more now. So on-demand services are disrupting the
industries, and this will only grow.
to IT service needs in my company, we are already working with niche players
and we take care of the orchestration. This is mainly to do with IP and data
sensitivity which cannot be outsourced.
is a great concept as it removes the need of finding the right expert and
provides a “Pay as you go” service. This was available only for IT infra till
now and if AIDOOS can provide the same for expertise, customers will be interested. However, you need to find the use cases that
fit into this platform, the use cases that do not risk the share of IP or data.
Conceptually it is good, it needs to be matured into a solution.
Majority of the IT budgets are spent on “Keeping
the Lights On”. A platform bringing in right expertise and providing “Pay as
you go” service will save IT maintenance costs. What is your opinion around
is a great use case and if it can be made practically viable, it will
tremendously help organizations. Today, in many organizations, they have some
legacy systems where they are struggling to keep it up and running. People who
are experienced on this have left the organization and new entrants are still
a typical support organization, only 10% are real subject matter experts with
the rest of the team trying to catch up. Industry has this problem of getting the
expertise to keep up the legacy and business critical systems.
provides a mechanism where these use cases are isolated without comprising IP
and security and be able to assign on the platform, there are plenty of such
use cases existing with lot of customers in the industry.
is a shortage of expertise for the problems and if I can get expertise on an
on-demand basis and at the right time, it will be a great solution, and this
will bridge the gap between demand for expertise and supply.