Excerpts from an interview with Mr Vinay Rajadhyaksha(VR) General Manager Marketing (Europe and Japan ). Also present was Mr Satish Dongre(SD), Country Manager, Software products.
Q: LTITL started out on its own pretty late as an IT company. How do you find yourself in the market?
VR: In a way we find ourselves trying to catch up with the leaders of Indian IT like TCS, Infosys or Tata Infotech. But infotech is an area that is not governed by size or financial strength. Being a technology area it is the nimble and quick among the companies that manage to be successful. New companies like Satyam and Pentafour have gathered strength and figure at the very top.
In this context LTITL is looking to grow beyond the organic growth rates, at rates faster than the others or the industry to gain momentum. (LTITL has been in the news for its export awards as well as its moves in the market with alliances and acquisitions with companies. Its recent tie-ups with CCG and Advent Computer Services-report - are an indication of these moves. )
(in the context of the above-mentioned alliances) For us acquiring new markets is as important as acquiring new skills and competencies.
Q: What are the major activities of LTITL in the Indian market?
SD: On the software front, we have an alliance with Seagate for their business intelligence software that includes datamining tools, OLAP (online analytical processing) tools and reporting tools. We are now distributing it free to organisations (story LTITL moves ahead). We have an alliance with Lotus for services, deployment and application development on Lotus notes platform. Our alliance with Datafocus is for software that helps in migration from Unix to Win NT platform.
We also have offshore development centres (ODC) for software services management wherein clients are provided infrastructure for their offshore development in India. We have one such centre for Hitachi in Chennai.
Q: LTITL has a major part of its business coming from exports and has a considerable presence in Europe. Will that be an advantage in acquiring Euro project businesses. Is LTITL ready and tuned towards that? How are the Indian companies placed with respect to this opportunity?
VR: Euro is a business solution project that requires functional knowledge more than technical skills (IT business opportunity that emerges as the European Union moves into a single unified currency, which will require the finance, banking and monetary institutions in the member countries to rework their systems from their existing currency systems). Indians can count on their skills but cross-functional expertise has not been our advantage. That way not many Indian companies enjoy the advantages that they did with Y2K solutions. LTITL is gearing itself to be a major solutions provider. Internally it has been re-aligned on functional SBUs that will help create functional expertise.
With Y2K it was a technical problem, for which methods and toolsets were easy to create, the solutions fit easy to identify and only technical expertise was required. This made it possible for the Indians to exploit this business opportunity. Anyway, as a market Euro will emerge only by 2002 since the 3 year window period is now operational between 1999 and 2002, to allow multiple currencies to operate before the final changeover to Euro.
Q: What are the quality initiatives that are on at LTITL and in what way do they help business growth?
VR: LTITL has achieved ISO 9000 rating for its quality rating. Besides, it has got SEI-CMM level 3 rating now and is planning for level 4 rating. Obviously that (level 4) would mean a still higher level of quality. Such quality rating ingrains in us the best practices that we carry forward with our software engineering process group to ensure high quality standards. Besides, quality surveillance is carried out every year. For the customer this means better and assured quality from LTITL and for us it means more business.
Q: What are the strengths of the Indian IT players at the world level?
VR: The biggest strength is quality. If you are surprised, at the world level more than half of the ISO 9000 or SEI-CMM level-3 (software engineering institute- capability maturity model, rating given by Carnegie Mellon University) companies are Indian companies. Indian companies have project execution capabilities across different IT terrain, in terms of skills and experience. Technical know-how is a visible and comparable commodity and value addition happens through that. Price strength is not a real strength in the its absence.
Of course, the vast, trained and English speaking manpower should count as another major plus while the key strength lies in fixed cost- fixed time projects at lower costs. This represents a low risk affair for customers, which is the reason for the popularity of the Indian industry.
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