Product management is a critical, strategic role in a technology company. Soma Somasundaram might be the top R&D executive at the $2.7-billion, New York-based enterprise software maker Infor, but he truly knows the voice of the customer. “People want vanilla software that fits their purpose. They don’t want to customise. Also, user experience has to be great,” he says. As the company’s executive vice-president, product strategy and R&D, Somasundaram defines Infor’s technology strategy and manages the design and rollout of the company’s full suite of business applications. He also makes sure that Infor’s technology platform creates the seamless connections between all applications that give customers flexibility. Somasundaram has 30 years of experience in enterprise resource planning, supply chain, and financial applications. He has been with Infor from the start and has continually applied his comprehensive understanding of the IT industry to play an integral role in the growth and development of Infor, which also owns Baan ERP software. In an interview with Sudhir Chowdhary, he gives an overall perspective on the company’s business strategy and focus areas. Excerpts:
A grim economy means a slow rate of technology spending. Don’t you feel technology can solve some business problems and make employees efficient?
Absolutely. Just with any other industry, technology industry is not immune to the economic conditions as well. Having said that, I think sometimes when you have a crisis, technology is an enabler to actually solve some issues, automating processes or getting better information for faster decision making, making information available for workers on the go, on mobile devices. In some ways, I think for certain parts of technology business this could be an opportune time to actually double down and grow.
Do you expect India’s IT services sector to continue to show the strong growth it has shown in last decade?
Over the last 15-20 years, there is a pool of the IT industry that has matured in India. That creates what I would call a ‘moat’, it is hard to break that and somebody else to take a leap frog and go ahead of the skill set and maturity of the market that has been built in years. So I think IT services will continue to grow here.
You have been with Infor since its inception. Tell us something about the company.
Brand name recognition is our single biggest problem. Infor started in 2002 and I came through the very first acquisition that started