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[image]JOHN KEELLS IT - A new paradigm for the digital age [In Ramesh Shanmuganathan,]

JOHN KEELLS IT – A new paradigm for the digital age

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What is Digital Transformation (DT)?

A: Digital transformation is defined as being a part of a larger technological process; it is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society. DT is the mature phase of digital adaption, where one would acquire
the necessary knowledge/competence on digital technologies; start applying these technologies to solve real-world problems; and start using the same for its transformative potential in creating new products/services, markets, eco-systems, etc.

What drives the DT?

A: Now more than ever, businesses are faced with threats and opportunities that never existed previously or were not significant enough to be focused upon. The NET economy is fueled by growing penetration of mobile devices, ever-multiplying social
platforms catering to different aspirations/interests, cloud platforms that have removed strictures around capital investment on technology, Internet of Things (IoT), enabling businesses to connect the dots in terms of creating a data lake, and big
data and associated AI-based predictive modelling and capability, creating better engagement with all stakeholders

Why is DT critical for businesses today?

A: DT helps businesses achieve the following three
key things:

  • Acceleration of change – The pace of digital change is rising exponentially, making it difficult to maintain industry
    leadership and requiring acceleration of new digital solutions brought to market


  • competition – Companies are under increasing pressure to compete digitally, and long established business
    models are being disrupted by “born digital” startups


  • Customer expectations –Customers expect a good experience across all touchpoints and businesses must ensure
    their interactions are seamless and exceptional

What’s John Keells IT’s DT play?

A: Today, humans are on the cusp of augmenting their lives in extraordinary ways with Artificial Intelligence (AI). The world envisions developing next-generation systems that work side-by-side with humans, accelerating our ability to create, learn and make decisions. This will help us architect the future with the most-advanced AI platforms, to say the least – whether exploring new technical
capabilities, collaborating on ethical practices or applying technology to solve complex, business and/or social problems.
Furthermore, organisations have to take a two-pronged approach in being able to manage the transactional system of records and experiential systems of engagement. At John Keells IT, we believe everything around us must be challenged. We must never let the status quo prevail. In doing so, we make every endeavour to make that journey rewarding for both parties by marrying
our experience, expertise and knowledge with that of our customers, and collaborating, co-innovating and co-creating their future by thinking of the unthinkable and combining the best-in-class technology advancements to deliver the same.

You have organised John Keells IT’s approach to help digital transformations into five areas. Can you explain the strategy
behind this approach?

A: Any transformation needs to take a fresh perspective of the business. This is why we felt we needed to take a more consultative approach, with a clear understanding of business priorities, challenges and context, and explore possibilities that could bring better value and alignment through the deployment of solutions that will transform customer experiences, operational processes and
business models.


Our approach takes into account the above and primarily focuses on the right strategy being in place by marrying our years of expertise and experience through a consultative approach. Second, we help

“Digital transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of
human society”

you reassess your digital quotient and leverage digital to impact outcomes to all stakeholders; third, to rejuvenate your
technology stack to integrate the digital world readily to be able create a seamless experience, as well as the necessary data lake to create engagement with stakeholders; and last but not least, to operationalise all of the above so you can focus
on your core business and leave the rest to us as your strategic partner.

Are you seeing mainstream adoption of trends like social media, mobile, analytics, cloud, IoT and AI in Sri Lanka? And why?

A: Sri Lanka is at a nascent stage in this lifecycle. Reasons for this include a lack of understanding at C-level about digital and its potential for businesses; a lack of appreciation for data-driven organisations where digital is the foundation; sticking to the comfort zone of brickand-mortar; a lack of digital leadership in organisations that are able to drive a transformation; a lack of skills and
knowledge in the subject matter; and customers happy just being transactional instead of demanding better engagement.


However, mobile and cloud adoption is on the rise due to higher smartphone penetration, and the cost of Internet
usage becoming more affordable. With the passage of time, and physical boundaries blurring due to digitalisation, I believe most will be compelled to embrace it to stay relevant.

Sri Lankan businesses are in a particular state of development, and digital technology isn’t widely applied. Is this a
challenge? Do businesses have an opportunity to leapfrog?

It’s both a challenge and an opportunity. It’s a challenge as we don’t have the critical mass for digital to become mainstream
and impact the grand scheme of things from various stakeholder’s points of view, and run the risk of being left behind. It is also an opportunity, in that it has huge potential for Sri Lanka to be on the world map by becoming a key hub in the digital highway by accelerating the digital adoption with a clear vision to impact its economic imperatives.


However, mobile and cloud adoption is on the rise due to higher smartphone penetration, and the cost of Internet usage becoming more affordable. With the passage of time, and physical boundaries blurring due to digitalisation, I believe most will be compelled to
embrace it to stay relevant.

Basic systems like ERP are a necessity for any organisation to embrace the digital wave, and many organisations have implemented expensive ERP systems. Does John Keells IT have a solution for this?

A: For an organisation to begin its digital journey, it’s imperative to have its basic systems of records, or ERP, in place.
Digital is about extending the boundaries to your organisation’s external stakeholders and creating an experiential journey,
which creates better engagement and a feel good factor. In that context, we partner with SAP, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM
and partner eco-systems to offer a personalised, end-to-end value proposition to customers, both on capex and opex

Dickwella Resort & Spa now onboard with JKCS’ Zhara Hospitality Suite

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Colombo, Sri Lanka | 1st February 2017. Dickwella Resort and Spa, a member of LOLC’s Leisure arm, recently joined the Zhara HS client portfolio. This sought-after property on the Southern Coast is taking its operations to the Cloud thanks to Zhara HS.


LOLC is a fast-growing resort management company with over 600 rooms spread across the Island. Dickwella, which is located in a tranquil peninsula, is one of the larger properties in the hotel chain and offers over 70 rooms and leisure facilities to discerning holiday makers.


Dickwella is the third property of the group to come onboard with the Zhara suite alongside The Paradise and The Calms resorts. The complete Zhara Central Reservation System and Property Management System is soon to be implemented at Dickwella to capture the growing inbound tourists in 2017 and beyond.


Expressing his views on the sign up, Xenos Wahid (Head of Sales – Hospitality at JKCS) said “We are honored to be the chosen IT partner for LOLC for its third installation at Dickwella and it has been great working with the team in powering their operations end-to-end. We are thrilled at being able to further provide the Cloud advantage to the local hoteliers who are now adapting to technology very fast and is actively looking for effective IT solutions. The Zhara team is looking forward to working with LOLC in optimizing their operations and maximizing their revenue”


Operations from reservations to property management and inventory will be handled through Zhara, ensuring seamless processes. Most importantly the hotel enjoys the freedom to pay only for usage of Zhara on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Zhara’s minimal implementation costs are a great plus for Dickwella as it runs with simply a PC and an internet connection owing to its Cloud based infrastructure.


About Dickwella Resort

slidernw3Located along Sri Lanka’s southern coastline, Dickwella is known for its immaculate beaches and the coral reef which is found beneath exquisite turquoise waters. Amidst such picturesque beauty, Dickwella Resort and Spa, a 3-star hotel, is tucked away on the peninsula bordered on either side by the Indian Ocean. The Resort, a landmark of the area, is a tropical paradise for those who are weary of the bustling city and wish only to enjoy the tranquility of a seaside setting.


About JKCS

In 1998 JKCS was incorporated as the software subsidiary of Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate – John Keells Group. During the past decade the company has specialized in providing services to the aviation industry. JKCS has earned its wings by engineering core systems for some of the world’s biggest airlines including leading 5-Star Carriers, Low Cost Carriers and numerous airports worldwide. The systems offered by JKCS cover several aviation domains such as commercial, flight operations, ground handling, crew management, engineering and safety. The hospitality industry is our new frontier as we keep re-defining our market space in the form of “Zhara Hospitality Suite”. Here we leverage on the expertise and synergies we have acquired over the years. Our experience runs deep in key functional areas of the Aviation industry and we believe the hospitality industry service model complements our core business focus. JKCS operates offices in Sri Lanka and UAE and over the past 15 years, JKCS and its subsidiaries have served customers across 40 countries in 6 continents.

Contact JKCS – +94 11 230 0770, or


About John Keells Holdings (JKH)


JKH is Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate on the Colombo Stock Exchange. From the largest inventory of hotel rooms in Sri Lanka, owning a large private-sector-owned transportation business in the country and providing port and marine fuel services to IT solutions, manufacturing of food and beverages, running a chain of supermarkets, tea broking, stock broking, banking and real estate, JKH has made its presence felt in virtually every major sphere of the economy. (


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Zhara hotel system partners with global travel technology leader RateGain

Colombo, Sri Lanka | November 15th 2016. JKCS’ award-winning hotel software Zhara HS, recently entered into a strategic alliance with RateGain – a leader in Hospitality and Travel Technology Solutions worldwide.  Together, they have created the ultimate “one-stop-shop” masterpiece software for a hotel. It covers all activities of a hotel from receiving a booking to the time the guest checks out, while creating multiple channels to generate more revenue.

JKCS Zhara team and RateGain announced the partnership on the 15th of November at a joint press conference held at Ozo Colombo. Many of Zhara’s Sri Lankan hotel customers were present at the event. Mr. Kunwardeep Singh, (Manager, Customer Success) and Ankur Yadav (Manager Sales – Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, China, Taiwan) represented RateGain while the Zhara team was headed by Changa Gunawardane (CFO of IT Group at JKH), Uthpala Kumara (AVP, Head of Products at JKCS) and Xenos Wahid (Head of Sales Hospitality Solutions at JKCS).

Expressing his views at the occasion, Mr. Tanmaya Das, (CFO, RateGain) Said “We are very pleased to announce this partnership. RateGain and John Keells Computer Services are joining hands to bring forward the right strategic partnership to revolutionize the hospitality industry. Both partners together will bring the complete hotel management system in a single box and offer unmatched value to hotels.”

Uthpala from JKCS added “it is a great step for Zhara and we are thrilled to be able to provide our clients with a 360 degree solution as a result of this partnership. We strongly believe that now is the time the industry must radically transform. The focus must be on digitization and monitizing every service opportunity. In order to do this, it is vital for them to be equipped with the right intel and tools to take care of operations and revenue optimization. This is exactly what our alliance is all about – easier operations and better cash flow”.

Zhara’s hotel process automation prowess coupled with RatGain’s expertise in hotel revenue management will now deliver the full spectrum of accomodation service providers in reducing cost, enhancing revenue and ensuring smooth and efficient operations. Better yet, with up-to-date business intelligence and reporting, this platform will be the utlimate game changer for hotels trying to capture the growing tourist arrivals regionwide.

Many leading local hospitality brands are in the pipeline for subscription to the new offering by JKCS and RateGain starting this November.


About RateGain

Founded in 2004, RateGain is a leading provider of cloud-based product and service around the function of Rate Intelligence, Price Optimization, Seamless Electronic Distribution and Brand Engagement to the world’s leading Hotels and Online Travel Agents. With continued innovation and excellence in customer focus, we are proud to serve over 12,000 clients and numerous industry partners. Our customers are global and so are we, with offices in 10 countries across all major continents, supported by over 500 passionate professionals and seasoned industry experts. Through world-class solutions, RateGain helps its industry leading customers beat their competition and make more revenue every day.


post4-image-minPHOTO 01 – from Left to Right

Ankur Yadav (RateGain’s Manager Sales – Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, China, Taiwan)

Kunwardeep Singh, (RateGain’s Manager, Customer Success)

Changa Gunawardane (CFO of IT Sector at JKH),

Uthpala Kumara (AVP, Head of Products at JKCS)

Xenos Wahid (Head of Sales Hospitality Solutions at JKCS).


post4-1-minPHOTO 02 – from Left to Right

RateGain’s Manager Sales, Ankur Yadav (L) and CFO of IT Sector at JKH, Changa Gunawardane (R) exchange agreements of partnership


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The Zhara team at JKCS launched the revolutionary “Zhara Gateway” yesterday at JKCS premises led by the senior management of JKCS and representatives from 12 leading hotels in the country. Built around the basic principles of cost saving and hassle-free operations for the local hotel operators “Zhara Gateway” is the latest chapter of NBQSA 2012’s overall gold winner: Zhara HS. As a comprehensive yet easy-to-use Internet Booking Engine integrated to a hotel’s website the “Zhara Gateway” is equipped with a payment gateway as well which eliminates the hassle of handling payments for hotel operators.


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Zhara HS by JKCS secured the overall gold award and category award for Tourism and Hospitality software at the National Best quality Software awards ceremony held on the 19th of October at Hotel Galadari. The event was organized by BCS (British Computer Society) Sri Lanka, bringing to limelight true Sri Lankan IT talent by JKCS yet again. Preceded by many outstanding accomplishments in the field of ICT in Sri Lanka, JKCS left a benchmark at the recent 14th National Best Quality Software Awards with its achievement. The company was selected from a competitive pool of applicants bringing forward the product Suite as the Overall Winner for the evening. Zhara Hospitality Suite bagged the No 1 spot from among 43 companies in 19 categories proving yet again JKCS’ potential in delivering world class software solutions.

Who we are

We are Zhara HS, A team dedicated to transforming your hotel management experience from “hassle” to “happy”. Offering a fully web based end-to-end hotel management software suite we are passionate about four ground rules and this is what we are all about:

  • A. Keeping your cost low and revenue high,

    Zhara HS is fully web based and comes with a pay-as-you-earn fee scheme. So there is minimal need for infrastructure and you pay only for room nights booked. We also have a state of the art booking engine and online payment gateway tailored just for you to make big bucks online!

  • B. Ensuring Smooth operations, its “easy breezy” with Zhara

    he products are super easy to implement and third party integrations are all fully supported. You can even use each module as standalone integrations to your current systems. What’s more, you need minimal training for your staff with our easy interfaces. You won’t feel it gelling in!

  • C. We got your back 24/7/365

    Our support team is a favorite with our clients right now, simply because we are on the ball 24/7 to offer you support in running your hotel operation. It’s just to ensure that you got as less hiccups as possible managing your hotel.

  • D. Ensuring you get accurate business intel on time

    Our systems come with a comprehensive reporting module, it’s all about giving you the right business intel in a click wherever you are at whatever time you need. After all your spot decisions are critical in beating the competition!


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The award winning hotel software suite by John Keells Computer Services was showcased to the local hotel industry yet again at this year’s sixth edition of Sancharaka Udawa, which was held from 27 to 29 May at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Hall.

Zhara’s enhanced ‘’ portal – which generates large volumes of bookings for local hotels – was unveiled there.

The Zhara team at JKCS has continually created innovations in hotel technology for the past six years. They are renowned for successfully marrying cloud technology with hotel management. The team was back this year introducing a comprehensive hotel booking portal titled ‘’ ( along with their improved Zhara hotel software suite ( is an interesting hotel hub, portraying the many facets of holidaying in Sri Lanka through various accommodation spots and experiences from beach to hill country. The palette spans from homestays to star class luxury abodes and boutique properties at competitive rates catering to all types of visitors both local and foreign.

Any hotel or accommodation service provider can sign up with Zhara to have their property listed and promoted on the site. For the online travel shopper it is truly a haven where they can book accommodation in a click and make the payment securely on the spot, guaranteeing hassle free holidaying at any desired location in the island.

Similar to the many innovations introduced by Zhara, is also backed with a robust development roadmap, ensuring that online holiday shoppers are well supported.

To date Zhara HS remains the one local hotel software solution which covers the entire spectrum of hotel operations from booking to check-out and even building guest loyalty thereafter.

Committed to bringing in more innovative means of empowering the industry, the Zhara team is constantly on the lookout for new ventures like, which enable local hotel properties to take advantage of the online revolution.