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SAP S/4HANA: partner and get your own roadmap – Interview from Manish Choksi, CIO Asian Paints

I had the immense pleasure to spend some time with Manish Choksi, the CIO of Asian Paints, member of SUGEN Core Leadership Team, at the SUGEN Meeting in Sankt Leon Rot, and ask him as few questions about himself, his company and SAP S/4HANA. I’d like to share his thoughts with you in this blog.

Yannick: thanks a lot for spending a bit of your precious time with us, Manish. Can you please introduce yourself and your company?

Manish Choksi: I am President – Home Improvement, Supply Chain & IT at Asian Paints. Asian Paints is India’s largest paint company and Asia’s third largest paint company, with a turnover of Rs 127.15 billion. Today the Asian Paints group operates in 19 countries across the world and is the largest paint company in eleven countries. Our company is in the midst of a transformation phase from coating to home improvement, and SAP is a key enabler for us.

Yannick: you already have an impressive SAP HANA journey behind you. Can you please mention a few milestone and the benefits your company was able to realize?

Manish Choksi: our journey on HANA started with BW on HANA. We moved all our SAP BW applications on SAP HANA and had significant gain in speed and scalability and in the quantum of data that we could analyze at one time. As an example: tracking the order fill rates across the country with a drill down by territories and products is information that is absolutely key to us. Why is this important? We have a pretty unique business model: we work with 40.000 retailers directly in 125 markets within India.. We service products twice a day in most metro locations. So we needed an application that would allow us to analyze sales and stock availability for 1600 to 2000 sku in real time. This is made possible with SAP BW on HANA.

Yannick: what was the next milestone on your SAP HANA roadmap?

Manish Choksi: we looked at the SAP HANA capabilities around SAP CRM. We are transforming ourselves from a “Product Company” to “Product and Service Company”, and needed to rethink and redesign the customer experiences. Understading the customers and making the right offers to them at the right point in their engaegement is crucial.

Yannick: how did this newly deployed ERP on HANA and CRM on HANA help your business concretely?

Manish Choksi: this is extremely important to the business. We run a centralized call center for taking orders from our 40,000 dealers and we have around 120Mio phone calls per year. 70% of the calls are with dealers, the rest with consumers. Leveraging CRM on HANA, allowed us to improve the productivity of the call center agents as they could not only get a 360 degree view of the customer transactions at a click of a button but also serve them better with an offer that is unique to them. To achieve this, we needed real time offer management capabilities, and only SAP HANA can support that. In the past this offer management process was happening offline via different service providers. Now Asian Paints is moving to real time offers , which is a game changer. Since our customer management system is built on SAP HANA, we have many success stories from customers on how offers were pitched.

Yannick: can you say a few words about the initial business case?

Manish Choksi: Our key enterprise systems run on the SAP landscape and it was crucial to make this entire landscape resilient. Our SAP landscape is tightly
integrated with underlying factory automation and warehouse control systems. Any downtime or data loss would be a huge risk. We were looking at options that would allow us to set up a disaster management plan with a zero data loss. HANA’s native replication technology looked very promising. We further explored the possibilities and realized that instead of looking at other ways of replicating our data to a DR site, using native replication within the HANA engine would be the most optimum and seamless. This helped us justify the business case for ERP on HANA.

Yannick: what was the financial impact of those investments?

Manish Choksi: While the initial business case was based on improving IT resiliency, we went beyond and looked at scenarios within business that till now could not be taken up due to limitations in the quantum of data the underlying systems could handle in near-real-time. As part of our vision to create the next
generation supply chain decision and execution systems that would transform the way we service our 40000 dealers, we conceptualized a Distribution Workbench thatwould have the capability to “answer”, “analyze”, “anticipate” and “act”.

We then also created the nextbusiness case with the finance team. With expansion into home improvement business and a proliferation of product range in our coating business, we wanted to better track profitability across different product/lines of business. We are in the process of rolling out Simple Finance.

Yannick: how did you design the “ideal application on HANA” for Asian Paints?

Manish Choksi: We have adopted the design thinking methodology with help from SAP. This has helped us understand the user requirements much more deeply. Not everything we needed was standard in SAP Fiori. So we learned from SAP standards, and build our own UX with SAP’s UI5 technology.

Yannick: are you evaluating the capabilities of SAP S/4HANA specifically for Logistics?

Manish Choksi: yes, SAP S/4HANA Simple Logistics is in evaluation. We want to understand what is going to be delivered to all departments and need to get the roadmap from SAP. And the most important to us: we are proposing a partnership to SAP, to agree upon a roadmap and to take the innovations as there a relevantto Asian Paints.

Yannick: finally, what would you recommend to other SAP customers?

Manish Choksi: my recommendation is the following: get your own roadmap. Understand how your business is transforming itself, understand what SAP S/4HANA will deliver in which time frame and manner. This is about transformation of the internal business. As well, customers need understand the investment in license and people: go to your users and partner with them. Internal IT and business users and the SAP team need to partner. In addition, we hope to get more partners ramped up on S/4HANA. Lastly: Learning! The up-skilling of your own team is essential to leverage the SAP S/4HANA solution. Internal skills and domain of expertise all need to be leveraged, otherwise the pace of innovation will be slower.

Yannick: thank you so much for your time Manish. I am sure our readers will highly appreciate your insights and recommendations.

More information about Asian Paints:

Follow Manish Choksi @choksimm

Listen to Manish Choksi’s conversation with Bernd Leukert during the keynote at SAPPHIRENOW 2015.

Interested about the current SAP S/4HANA Roadmap? Check the > Product & Solution > Cross Topics > SAP S/4HANA Roadmap.

* SLT stands for SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server. SLT is the ideal solution for all HANA customers who need real-time and non-realtime data replication sourcing from SAP ERP or non-SAP systems into HANA.

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  • Interesting to see an Indian company being in the league of early adopters of latest solution. Also the business case for HANA being that it can replicate to DR system by itself which looks technical is another unique aspect.

    • Thanks for the feedback Ramesh. We are very pleased to have early adopters in this region, and Asian Paints transforming from B2B to B2C is a true example of how SAP S/4HANA enables the digital transformation of that industry. Yannick