Riding High On Technology

Riding High On Technology

With its India-wide reach and ever-increasing business, it was getting increasingly difficult for Hero Honda staffers on the field to get their hands on meaningful information on time. Till a unique SMS implementation came to their rescue.

The year 2001 saw the world's largest manufacturer of two-wheeled motorized vehicles create history. It sold 1.3 million bikes in a single year. That's a number most companies would be proud of. But if Hero Honda wanted history to repeat itself, pride would not be enough.

Not when you are a company with a nationwide network. A company that has held the top spot for five consecutive years, a company that has formed a habit of making and breaking records.

Definitely not, when you are Hero Honda.

Started as a joint venture in 1984, between the Hero group of India and Honda of Japan, today the organization caters to a customer base that's over 20 million and counting.

Speed Breaker Ahead

With such a large customer base spread across all geographies, it was becoming almost impossible for Hero Honda to afford real time availability of important information. If a customer had to lodge a complaint of a defective part for his bike, he would have to walk into a Hero Honda office. His complaint would then be entered into a SAP system; personnel from the office would call the relevant distributor or service engineer and tell them about the defect.

It doesn't end there. The distributor or engineer will then check his stock, and revert to the office. The office will check for replacement stock, and then go back to the distributor or customer over the phone.

And finally the desired part was sent. The whole process used to take a few days. Hero Honda had to look for a solution to fix this kind of delay. "We wanted information to be available to decision makers when they needed it. Since everyone carries a phone these days, you can push that information with a critical alert, to the right person. The objective was to equip people with information even when they are not in office or where they are not able to access the Internet," says Vijay Sethi, CIO of Hero Honda.

Till a little while ago, most marketing personnel who visited other offices found it hard to obtain real-time sales and distributor data from their office. Critical information like that can affect business decisions and Hero Honda's market credibility to a large extent. Something had to be done. And fast.

Creating a Short Cut

The solution, as Sethi and his team discovered, lay in an SMS-SAP implementation that would ensure that the requested information is available in real-time and the speed breakers were eliminated.

The SMS-based solution allows a Hero Honda staffer to share information with the company's servers irrespective of his location. This information is flashed to key personnel's mobile phones nationwide, removing the need of their logging onto the website.

This ensured that communication needs were resolved quickly. Says Sethi, "Now, the moment the complaint is entered in SAP from anywhere in India, an SMS gets sent directly to the dealer. All the intermediary people have been removed. We have done away with all the time spent waiting for access or calling up somebody who can help provide the customer with a solution."

Termed a SMS PUSH-PULL service, the solution uses three main core application elements -- a SAP Handler, a SMS Handler and a DB Handler.

"Basically all the transactions happen on SAP R3, whether it is related to production, sales or anything else. Technically, there is a remote function service, which goes to SAP, picks up the data from SAP, pushes it onto the SMS server and using the SMS gateway, we push it to the individual on his or her mobile phone. We are doing both the push and the pull part," explains Sethi.

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