Rockwell is not well-known in the local IT circles despite selling enterprise applications. Can you explain why?
Historically we have been focusing on a couple of verticals more like automobiles and food and beverages. This does not mean that we are not present in other business verticals. Maybe we have not been effective in communicating our offerings and strengths in the market but we are working on this.
|Kevin Roach President, Rockwell Automation
Can you give some backgrounder about Rockwell Automation?
Rockwell Automation is a $5.6 billion company with 23,000 employees, of which 450 are into sales and support. In APAC we have our presence in India, China, Japan, Australia and regions of South East Asia.
We started our Indian operations in 1985 and currently have 11 sales and support offices with 350 employees and 100 channel partners. We have a manufacturing execution systems (MES), competency center in Bangalore that caters to the local and the global market.
How big is your channel network in India?
Rockwell has 36,300 partners globally and over 100 in India. Most of these partners are non-traditional IT players catering more to verticals like automation, food and beverages. You can say that 70 percent of our channel belongs to this category.
The rest are the traditional IT channel that is involved in selling IT products and services. We are looking at inducting more members into this community, especially with the launch of FactoryTalk, our latest application for the manufacturing segment. We have already tied up with TCS and are now seeking tier-two solution providers.
Are there any India-specific plans for the channel?
We are looking at adding more traditional IT partners to our fold. So far we were interfacing with over 100 partners directly, including distributors and partners. Now we want to work closely with systems integrators as well.
We launched a program called FactoryTalk Information Solution Provider to help manufacturers build successful plant-wide information applications and manufacturing execution systems. There are three levels of certification in this channel program.
One facet of the program is that it works closely with its partners for the latter's first project implementation. This is to ensure that our partners give exactly what the client requires. If we are able to do this, then we have gained the customer for life.
Partners are also coached into giving the first level of support. Besides this, we have a post-sales service division with 100 employees, which offer field and telephonic support.
What percentage of your business is done direct?
We do direct business with some select customers, though this is only two percent of the overall business. Also, our target verticals are automobiles, food and beverage that bring in almost 70 percent of the business.
What are the prospects in the manufacturing segment?
While India's GDP growing by eight percent, the manufacturing segment is growing by nine percent. The Indian manufacturing sector has continued on the growth path despite worries of a slowdown due to lower index of industrial production figures for October, 2006. With almost
60 percent of the sectors recording production growth of over 10 percent, the momentum attained by the country's local manufacturing industry has been maintained.
How many of these manufacturing units are considering going for business automation software?
With increased demands on manufacturers to improve quality, reduce cost, increase productivity and meet regulatory compliance, the integration of the factory floor with information systems is no longer a luxury - it's a strategic imperative. There is a need for better visibility in the manufacturing business, especially in terms of integrating disparate technology components on a single platform.
An average manufacturing unit with a turnover of $1 billion has over 500 different software applications. There are several legacy interfaces everywhere with no upgrades and thousands of point solutions from hundred of vendors. It is a CIO's nightmare to integrate these together into one seamless platform. It is precisely to ease this problem that we have introduced the FactoryTalk application.
But most manufacturing units already have ERP in place. Why would they need an application like FactoryTalk?
A 2006 AMR survey titled 'Managing Automation Survey' reveals that CIOs are spending more money on manufacturing software over ERP. Manufacturing software grew by 31 percent while ERP grew by 21 percent last fiscal. This shows that though most manufacturing clients might have ERP, they see better advantages in adopting manufacturing software.
What is FactoryTalk's USPs and why would manufacturers adopt it?
FactoryTalk brings together existing solutions for control, visualization, information management and MES. It also provides a foundation for developing and acquiring additional highly scalable, standards-based applications that give customers insight into manufacturing operations and help them execute business strategies that optimize production. Its applications run on our patented services oriented architecture (SOA), which is a common set of software services including security, diagnostics, auditing, data model, licensing, realtime date, historical data, configuration, alarms and events.
But was FactoryTalk earlier available under a different name?
Until recently, the term FactoryTalk defined only the SOA that linked Rockwell Software applications, including the RS Bizware suite and applications that support RA integrated architecture. The FactoryTalk name has been elevated to the umbrella brand, which now encompasses the entire family of SOA-based Rockwell Software applications.