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Automated on auto growth path

Sathya Mithra Ashok | October 06, 2004

Sunil Savara, CEO of Automated Workflow, believes in being conservative and leading his company one step at a time.

Yet the organisation, one of the Indian companies in the business process management and enterprise content management space, is on a growth plan, which is carrying it fast forward of its own volition.

The company launched seven years ago and till three years back had a presence only in APAC. It has now signed up partnerships in the US and is looking for tie-ups in Europe for further global expansion.

Business Process Management or BPM refers to various automation efforts, including workflow systems, XML Business Process languages and packaged ERP systems within an enterprise to increase functional efficiency.

Enterprise Content Management or ECM involves the effective control, tracking and use of all content produced by an enterprise from its website to its internal documentation.

"We recently signed up with Silicon Plains Technologies to address the US market. By the partnership teams, the company buys $12 million worth of products and $2,00,000 worth of services from us. Their CEO has also been instituted into our board of directors," said Savara. He adds that the US entry will involve co-branding of the company's products.

For the small company, this was a huge step forward. Formed by a group from IBM's imaging business, with an initial capital of a mere Rs 200,000, Automated Workflow followed the product route seriously and focused on the document management and imaging solutions area. .Sphere was created and the company latched onto IBM to partner and sell its products.

"When we looked at the space we found there are in fact not many vendors who can offer the kind of quality, expertise and reach that IBM facilitates. So we felt it was sensible to go with them," says Savara.

Now, with a headcount of 65 and a little less than Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) of annual revenues and a claimed equity valuation of Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million), the company is in the process of spreading its wings, initially only with other IBM partners.

"These people know us and our products. They have worked with our software. So we don't have to start from scratch," he explains.

The organisation has five versions of .Sphere, fashioned for different verticals, including insurance and BPO, which is their latest.

"We are currently working on an advanced version of the .Sphere itself. In this, we are building in more process templates -- from 70 to 800 by next March. This means that the customer, instead of going for a vertical .Sphere product, can take the generic one and choose from the process templates whichever additions he needs," says Savara.

The company is also in the process of building Bank.Sphere, which will address the BPM needs of the banking industry.

Automated Workflow is simultaneously increasing its sales team in the country to push BPO.Sphere in a more concentrated manner. It already has four direct sales personnel in Asia and will appoint one more in the US soon. Its clients include Om Kotak Insurance in India and Prudential Malaysia.

The company spends a large 16 per cent of its annual revenues in R&D. This gives it the confidence to grow the topline from Rs 10 crore plus this year "to Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) next fiscal. I want to get the company to Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) in the next three years," says Savara.

The aim is to simultaneously bring down the proportion of revenue from services from the present 60 per cent to 50 per cent next year.

Simultaneously, the product proportion will be increased to 80 per cent by the time turnover reaches Rs 50 crore. The company claims a 40 per cent margin on gross profits and a little above 20 per cent on net profits.

Savara foresees that "some years from now, BPM is going to become more of a service and more integrated with transactional management. That will mean the big players like Infosys will come into my space. I consider that the biggest future challenge: how a small player like us will combat these biggies." The only way to do that "will be to develop and establish ourselves such that big players cannot touch us".


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