A federal way to manage
Kuoni Travel in India has three business divisions and a
fully owned subsidiary, each performing its internal affairs and businesses.
It has created four independent networks to support the federal style of business.
by Soutiman Das Gupta
Kuoni Travel India Private Limited (KTIPL) has three
business divisions: outbound travel, inbound travel, business travel, and a
fully owned subsidiary Visa Facilitation Services (VFS). With nationwide presence
in over 50 locations and more than 900 users, the company relies heavily on
IT systemsto carry out its operations.
The four business areas function like a federal system
with each unit making its own business decisions and carrying out the related
Satish Pendse, Head - Information Technnology,
And to support operations at these units, the company
has created four separate IT infrastructures to facilitate the federal way of
The scope of business
To understand the scope of each network, let us look
at the scope of business at each division.
KTIPL is a subsidy of the Zurich-based Kuoni Travel
Ltd. In India, the outbound division caters to the travel arrangements for Indians
travelling abroad. The company has acquired the SOTC brand in India,
and uses the brand for the outbound business.
The inbound division caters to travel arrangements
for foreign tourists visiting India. It has acquired the Sita brand
in India to help with the inbound travel business.
The business travel division caters to the corporate
travel needs of different companies.
The VFS operates as a subsidiary organization. The
consulates of UK and UAE have outsourced their Visa processing operations to
And the consulate of USA has outsourced its India western
region Visa processing operations to the company.
Western Union, the financial services company, has
appointed KTIPL as its Indian distributor. KTIPL manages business from 600-odd
nationwide agents to handle transfer of large amounts of money.
The company owns other brands like Kuoni Indian Trails
and Tour Club. And also operates an educational academy for travel industry-related
The IT infrastructure
"We believe in empowering the business at the
lowest possible level. The different business divisions are empowered to work
like individual profit centers. Since the business structure is federal, we
felt that the IT infrastructure should also be federal. And since IT must be
closely aligned to the business, the four divisions have different network infrastructures,"
explained Satish Pendse, HeadInformation Technology, KTIPL.
The networks however can talk to each other and are
administered by separate IT Heads. These Heads functionally report to Pendse.
This arrangement facilitates deployment of common policies,
procedures, standards and best practices.
The four divisions have different transaction-processing
systems that suit the related areas of business.
The reach of IT
"We use IT for improvement in productivity and
market differentiation," said Pendse.
And going by this resolution, Pendse wants to extend
the reach and benefits of IT across the value chain, all the way to the user/customer
and supplier level.
Transaction processing systems
The outbound travel division uses a transaction processing
system called FRAME and has MS-SQL Server as a database.
It operates out of a data center in Mumbai and connects
to the Head Office and 14 nationwide locations through 64 Kbps leased lines.
The lines are backed up with VPN/ISDN links.
The inbound travel division uses a transaction processing
system called Atoms and operates out of a data center in Malcha Marg, New Delhi.
It uses Unix and Oracle platforms for business transactions
and is linked with other infrastructure in the data center.
A mix of VPN links from Satyam and leased lines are
used for connectivity.
The business travel division is in the process of implementing
a transaction processing system called BTSoft.
It uses leased lines and also shares the connectivity
infrastructure of Amadeus for ticketing and reservation. It operates out of
a data center in New Delhi.
The VFS division uses V-assist for transaction processing.
The Head Office in Mumbai shares e-mail and information between the nationwide
Visa offices of UK, USA, and UAE.
Corporate financial accoun-ting data is collated from
the various divisions for central consolidation.
The best of four
Creating four independent networks that talk to each
other has offered the company a number of benefits. Some of them are:
- De-centralized management - This makes technology-related
decisions easier to make and faster to implement.
- Simpler network management - Since the number of
network components are lesser in each division, the task of managing each
network is simpler.
- Business continuity - Even if the network of one
division is down, the business in other divisions can carry on without hindrance.
In an integrated network, the performance of other
networks may suffer.
- Ability to talk to each other - Even though the
networks are separate, they still allow information to be shared.
This allows vital financial data and other relevant
information to be collated at the center.
"The biggest challenge was to convince the personnel
to change their way of working and operations workflow, so that real value of
IT can be derived. Simply automating existing processes does not offer the desired
benefit," explained Pendse.
Before automation the personnel had certain processes,
checks, and balances in place. Since each business transaction would happen
thousands of miles away, there would be chances of error, discrepancy, and even
With computerization, the processes are faster, easier,
and more efficient.
"So a person has to be convinced to change the
way he/she works. There's no point putting in money just to automate systems.
You need radical improvement enabled by IT," added Pendse.
In future the company plans to deploy a rugged ERP
backend, which will interface with all four systems.
It also wants to fulfill its resolution of extending
the reach and benefits of IT across the value chain, to the customer.
And KTIPKL will continue to explore IT for radical
productivity improvements as well as for competitive advantage.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
| Satish Pendse says, "I'm surprised that no
ERP manufacturer provides travel-related solutions. Even the big players
who boast more than 20 industry vertical solutions have no offerings in
the travel vertical space. However, an ERP vendor should offer solutions
in the travel industry vertical space only if it has sufficient domain
| The company
Kuoni Travel India Private Limited (KTIPL)
has four business divisions with nationwide presence in over 50 locations
and more than 600 users. The divisions function like independent business
The company needed to build network systems
to support business processes at the various divisions.
Since the company followed a federal style
of business by allowing each unit to perform independently, it decided
to build four separate networks.
The federal style of having separate networks
provides benefits like de-centralized management, simpler network management,
business continuity, and the ability to talk among each other.