Mumbai: Lanner Electronics India Ltd (2002-03 turnover Rs 10 crore) has chalked out a strategy of exclusively India-centric operations. Since its inception in August 2000, the company has focused on providing strong pre- and after-sales support to customers through its extensively trained team of professional engineers.
The company's vision is to facilitate enhanced automation in India. Lanner India has committed itself to bringing world-class hardware technology to its customers in India, says P K Jain, Lanner's managing director.
Jain began his career with Multitech International, part of the Rs 1200 crore diversified Dalmia Group, which has interest in areas ranging from industrial chemicals, textiles to IT enabled services, from 1980 to 1988. After a seven-year tenure, he realised that IT was an emerging sector with a bright future and, accordingly, decided to shift to Mumbai, where he joined Ruma Electronics, manufacturers of computer keyboards, monitors and PC assemblers, as sales manager.
"Although it was a small company, it gave me a break in the IT industry. Within two years, Zenith Computers offered to take me as the sales manager where I started with channel sales in 1989-90. I left Zennith in July 2000 as senior vice-president, sales, supervising business worth Rs 100 crore," he recalls.
Excerpts from an interview:
Lanner started only in 2000. How did you achieve a remarkable growth in such a short span of time?
IPC was not very affordable at the time when we started. Hence we made it affordable. We are the only company in our segment that has a direct presence in the country. This was welcomed by the users as they now had an alternative. Traditional users had a new option with our entry in the market.
We managed substantial growth with our consistent customer focus and sustainable efforts in expanding the market by working on select segments as well as select verticals. Earlier, customers didn't have a choice and the common perception was one of unaffordablity vis-à-vis IPC. We did the groundwork of creating awareness and expanding the market. We diversified application areas and supported the development of those application areas. With this process we carved out some niche segments like telecom, automation in infrastructure projects, railways and others.
What are the challenges in facilitating enhanced automation in the Indian context?
Automation needs complete domain knowledge. Within large organisations in India the entire process of moving on to an automated environment is very slow due to long gestation periods. Our challenge is to provide a faster project development cycle while keeping in check the cost-sensitiveness of the Indian economy.
We see a great opportunity in infrastructure projects, public transport automation, defence, telecom and the retail industry. Automation in India is gaining rapid momentum.
How do you ensure world-class hardware technology to your customers in India, at a time when the sector is becoming highly?
We have a very strong R&D base in Taiwan where a constant upgrading and innovation of new technologies takes place. Our products are developed on the quality feedback from more evolved markets like the US, Europe and China. Due to this we are able to advance world-class products to Indian customers in real time.
Can you describe the network security platform that you had launched recently.
We have introduced 15 network security products. These are single boxes which can be scaled up according to the needs of corporates. For instance, if the device has just a firewall installed in it today, it can be scaled up to offer anti-virus solutions, intrusion detection systems and content filtering solutions in almost no time. Additionally, customer will get more choice in deciding the type of security solution he wants integrated on the platform.
Lanner India has introduced a range of hardware platforms which appropriate support for security solution providers to integrate their various security modules into a single box device without affecting the performance of the appliance. These platforms are low power consuming based on low-end Celeron processors to high-end P3 processors.
The range also offers high-performing P4s to Dual Xeon CPU based appliances. Lanner India also offers 100 per cent RISC processor-based appliances which support normal 10/100 Mbps to 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN ports and various other features. On the VPN side the company offers kernels, cryptographic tools and libraries with RISC-based boards.
The industrial PC market may be good, but it hasn't yet become a high-growth one. How is Lanner planning to tap this sector?
We are constantly doing ground work like creating opportunities to tap its full potential where we are making the products more and more affordable and by introducing world-class technology products. Also, we are trying to reach out to the end user just like the PC market.
As we manage to narrow cost differentials between a PC and an IPC we are sure to generate an exponential growth in the near future. We have already achieved a certain measure of success in bridging this gap. In another two years, as the volumes increase, we will go for manufacturing motherboards in India which will effectively bridge the gap between a PC and an IPC substantially. Simultaneously, we are creating more verticals by enhancing the respective domain acquaintance.
How do you manage to sell the integrated box for a price that is 40 per cent less than the integrated hardware security of devices sold by companies like Cisco?
Our integrated box is extremely price-competitive in terms of its total cost of ownership (TCO). As we have a single box solution which is scalable while other products do not provide that flexibility, the TCO goes down by up to 40 per cent. In any case, as we work with local solution developers the cost goes down considerably as compared to any MNC's product.
We are the only company in India which provides flexible hardware platforms to local solution developers. This flexibility to scale as many security modules allows the solution provider to provide to the end user with a dedicated single box security solution. Lanner India's 'Made for India' network security products portfolio comes as a:
S - Specified product
S - Single appliance
S - Simple selection
How well-placed is your logistics department? How do you ensure prompt and smooth pre- and after-sale services?
We have a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Goa. This is further supported by a strong logistics department handled by a competent team of experts. Standard industry practices are followed here. We have a wide network of offices in all the important cities and a host of trained engineers, business partners and resellers to manage our pre- and post-sales activities. In addition to this we extend support from our experts based in Taiwan.
What is the technical know-know Lanner Electronics Inc, USA, the joint venture partner, offer to its Indian subsidiary?
Our JV partner provides us with product knowledge, positioning, technology, implementation support and access to road map of new products under development. Also, in case of specific design issues the advantage of technical know-how from evolved markets is also extended to us.
What are your expansion plans?
We have ambitious plans to create opportunities for greater volumes. Also, we are looking forward to start indigenous manufacturing in the near future. We are doubling our revenues in the current financial year and aim to become the number one hardware platform provider within our respective product portfolios.
Is the company looking at partnering with distributors that have a strong presence in the SOHO segment? What is your reseller strength?
We are in the process of increasing our distributor and reseller base. While we started with eight in the beginning of this year, we will close at 20.