Saturday, October 24, 2020

Interview-Kalyan Vaidyanathan (Nadhi Information)

We are associated with leading developers and EPC contractors


Nadhi Information Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is a company that is incubated out of the IIT Madras research park. KALYAN VAIDYANATHAN, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, NADHI INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES PVT LTD has nearly 20 years of combined experience in managing construction projects and enterprise software development. He responded to queries from CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES on the role played by his firm in the urban development space.


Tell us about your product offerings for developing smart and efficient urban landspaces in India?
Construction and infrastructure projects such as urban infrastructure development projects are plagued by delays and waste, arising largely from the fact that many different people and organizations have to come together in a collaborative way for smooth project execution, and such collaboration is difficult in today’s technology landscape. The technologies are as fragmented as the people and organisations are in this industry. Technology providers have always developed solutions to one stakeholder or the other (i.e. scheduling systems for planning, document management systems for design/consultants etc) and not for the project as a whole. The solutions from Nadhi have been developed as a complement to the existing technology solutions to integrate them and move data across. nPulse™ connects all the stakeholders into a seamless whole, and eliminates data entry duplication and information latency and makes the project 'flow' better. The result is more 'smartly' run projects and less waste of time and materials, resulting directly in economic and environmental benefits.


What is your assessment of the acceptance, adaptability and utilisation of smart technical solutions by Indian contractors and builders in creating smart infrastructure?
Our experience is that today both builders and contractors are very accepting and to a certain extent even expecting of technical solutions. Technology infrastructure is starting to be viewed as a basic pre-requisite for any project, at all levels including physical connectivity of job sites to data networks, and virtual connectivity of information across the project organization. The industry’s hunger for technology goes beyond ERP systems which are perceived as not useful enough for decision making on projects because all of the data required for decision making is not available in the ERP. They are expecting mobile solutions, collaboration capabilities, and intuitive user experiences. But there is wariness about broad “big bang” adoption and how to effectively achieve the ROI from a friction free information flow. Nevertheless, clients are now starting to put clauses in their contracts with their vendors/contractors/consultants etc. that the stakeholders will be required to use technology solutions (such as nPulse™) identified by the client for effective information management. There is also increasing awareness of practices such as lean construction which is motivating clients to climb the technology adoption curve.


Citing a few case studies tell us about the benefits accrued to your customers in terms of savings in time and cost involvement for labour, construction and installation and maintenance activities?
One of the recent engagements that we are working on is a 2 million sq ft commercial tower. Herein, the owner, the general contractor, the PMC, and principal consultants are all collaborating on nPulse™ issues, documents, schedule progress, and BOQ progress. Per the owner, there is atleast a 20 per cent improvement in construction management productivity improvement overall. In another instance, one of the leading developers in Bengaluru, did a before and an after comparison of using the issues module of nPulse™. They realised that the average time to close issues and action points reduced by about 75 per cent, tremendously improving the flow of information seamlessly to all stakeholders.  In a third instance, a leading infrastructure contractor was able to synchronise physical progress with their scheduling system and financial progress with their ERP system without data entry duplication giving them near real time revenue projection report that is reflective of the site conditions. The solution turned out to be invaluable in providing better financial planning for the contractor.


Name few of your clients from the infrastructure/construction and realty domains? Also tell us about the key demand driving sectors for your business operations in India?
We are working or have worked with a number of leading developers and EPC contractors in India. Lodha Developers Ltd., TRIL Infopark Ltd, a part of Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd, Livia Spaces Ltd, Allied Developers and Housing Ltd, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, URC Construction Ltd, Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, EDAC Engineering Ltd, is a partial list of our customers that are currently using our solutions. In addition to the Indian market, nPulse™ is now being used in UAE as well for project management. We just started working with a few more prominent names. Compared to last year, this year we are seeing more interest from the infrastructure sector like roads, power, port etc. Real estate industry is muted, but forward thinking developers are realizing that a downtime is a good time to invest in technology solutions that can increase operational efficiency and hence are investing in technology solutions and process improvement like lean construction. We also have some early leads from large subcontractors in this industry like façade manufacturers, interior decorators etc.   


Give us an understanding of the technical and demand trends witnessed in the Indian infrastructure and construction space? How compatible are your products and solutions in incorporating the IT and ICT enabled services to customers?
On the technical side, we are not seeing much of an uptake on cloud based solutions. These are early days, but our clients prefer to 'trial' the solution on one project on the cloud, but prefer an on-premise model for an enterprise rollout. Mobility and analytics with dashboard style reporting are definitely expectations. Clients are also asking for superior user experience and a near zero implementation timeline. Our solutions are well received on all these fronts. In fact, more than once our clients have mentioned that our solutions are easier to use and more user friendly than other domestic and market leading international products on comparable features. Our solution was also built with plug-n-play architecture and that makes integration to other existing applications feasible. The fact that our solutions complement existing applications and that they do not have to replace them, but rather can get more value out of them is a definite USP of our solution.


As a technical solutions provider, what are the critical challenges faced while marketing or introducing any new products in India? What are you doing to enhance operational prospects?
One of our main challenges is scale. Our solution is now mature and robust enough that ideally it can be widely sold to all the mid to large developers and EPC contractors in India. Somewhat related to this is also the fact that in-person face to face meetings are still preferred in this industry as compared to web demos and conference calls. This makes the sales process a bit travel intensive and logistics dependent, and therefore sub-optimal. Another point to note is that like any enterprise software system, the solution deployment requires some process consulting and technology implementation. To scale the sales as well as the implementation processes, we are tying up with partners both in India and abroad. Finding these partners has been a challenge for us but we are working on it.


Looking ahead how do you expect the technical solutions to drive India’s ‘Smart Infrastructure’ development agenda? Tell us about the company’s plans for 2016?
We are bullish and optimistic about the trends in India. We think technical solutions like ours will have wide adoption in the market. In fact, we also see BIM as a rising trend as a part of the Smart Infrastructure agenda. But expectations from BIM are very high and we think people will try it and possibly get disillusioned when expectations are not met. Our own plan is to treat BIM as another data source and see if the BIM systems can also be kept in sync with scheduling systems and ERP systems. We feel that this will not only increase the adoption of BIM but also that the value proposition stated by technology solutions will be realised multifold. With the base platform for information collection in place, 2016 will be a year to focus on the value added elements such as better and more mobility and analytics/visualisation options, and for a deeper integration with BIM systems.

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