Ahead of the curve

C P Gurnani, CEO and Managing Director, Tech Mahindra shares his thoughts on the promise held by the GCC market and the company’s differentiation. Mayank Singh reports

Your website states, ‘Tech Mahindra represents the connected world, offering innovative and customer-centric information technology experiences, enabling enterprises, associates and the society to rise.’ How does this vision translate on ground?

If you look at the genesis of Tech Mahindra, we started as Mahindra British Telecom, so telecom is a part of our DNA. Telecom and communications in effect means connected, since we work in 90 countries around the world and with the advent of technological solutions like Internet of Things (IoT), networks of future it’s a by-line which reflects connected services and solutions.

To me it genuinely reflects that we not only serve the domestic market, whether the domestic market is in Oman or any of the 90 countries that we operate in. We also represent the aspiration of our customers, some of them are already global or some of them will become global companies. Tech Mahindra is a company, which truly belongs to the digital future which has no boundaries, is connected and hence will give you open, innovative technology experiences whether you are an enterprise or an individual or whether you are government because ultimately the world around us is more digital than we would like to believe.

Tech Mahindra’s has a turnover of $4.9bn with operations in 90 countries. Please give us a break-up of your major markets and their contribution to your turnover?

Almost 48 per cent of our revenues comes from the USA, 30 per cent from Europe about five per cent from the Middle East and the rest from a region that we call ROW (Rest of the world).

Can you give us an insight into the products and services that the company offers?

The company is focused on first, IT and within IT what we call ‘data centres’ and infrastructure services, second, application development and third, digital which effectively means blockchain, artificial intelligence, data sciences et al. Right now we have put all our operations under three buckets – run, change and grow. ‘Run’ the operations. is a steady part of our business, but more important is the digital part of our business and ‘grow’ is when we become the disruptor and here we are talking about digital transformation.

This is the IT landscape of Tech Mahindra. The second landscape is engineering services, where we have acquired an iconic brand called – Pininfarina based out of Turin in Italy. The company has designed some of the best automobiles, buildings, watches, pens, headsets across the globe. They are a styling company and are into purity of design and innovation, so we have the capability to design across mechanical, electrical and structural designs to dispensing machines for Coca Cola, Pepsi to aircrafts which can be as large as an Airbus 380. In a nutshell, the company has aerospace, automobile and engineering capabilities.

Today’s products are as much about the ease of use as much about the pride of possession to functional capabilities. Clearly our capability is to do style as much as we are able to do engineering to number three, integrate technology into the design. That is the work that we sell under engineering services. The third important part of our business is cybersecurity. We work on advance threat management, software solutions for defence, government and enterprises worldwide. I put everything under run, change and grow because we are a part of the connected world, we are into network services, engineering services, application development and we also secure these. If every bulb today is connected as an IoT device as a smart bulb then it is also a potential threat. In today’s environment, you can be rest assured that in the next three year every fabric that you wear would be an IoT sensor because the cost of an IoT sensor will be so less that it would be better to put it in. People talk about luggage tracking or containers. I have started advocating a challenge wherein in the next 3-5 years every banana in a container can be tracked, for example think about it – if a banana has left a plantation in Brazil to travel to Muscat but if it is not going to be the best of quality when it lands in Muscat then why not terminate it’s travel rather than bringing in a spoiled banana to Muscat.

What is the purpose of your visit to Oman and what are your thoughts on the IT services market in Oman?

Oman for me is one of the best markets in the world and one of the reasons why I consider it to be one of the best markets in the world is because the Middle Eastern market is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and though different people have given different estimates, it is a huge market. Oman, a sweet spot in the Middle Eastern Market, is a welcoming country and is neutral. We provide IT solutions to telecoms, banks and other large players in Oman and have seen high growth rates. We have seen an active interest in oil & gas and we are looking at expanding our base by creating service offerings for part of the MENA region from here. We have been in Oman for over a decade and in the Middle East for two decades. Oman has a unique positioning and some of the projects here that are connecting the remote parts of Oman and building businesses in different parts of the country which shows an appetite and vision for the future. There is so much to be done in AI, IoT, Cloud, blockchain it is a perfect place for us to expand our operations from.

How important is the GCC/Middle East market? How long has Tech Mahindra had a presence in this market and what is your strategy for this market?

All the technology trends are talking about automation, which is the automation of a car or an automation of a refineries or in manufacturing. Different people have given it different names like Germany calls it 4.0. Second is AI driven development. The point about AI driven development is that we have seen it to some extent in surgeries to mining. There is a need and desire that we participate in Oman and the region’s economic development by bringing in immersive technologies and those immersive technologies can only function well when we combine this with people integration. So the whole objective I would say is – our purpose is also to look at possibilities of skill development and marry our design with immersive technologies and people development. We have a presence in almost all the GCC markets.

What in your opinion are the major trends impacting the world of technology, now and in future?

Automation is one big trend, public cloud services, IoT and the biggest game changer would be 5G. Look at it differently. History is always a good sign of the future. Most of us do not want to do repetitive jobs so we will continue to look at where the value adds are.

Tech Mahindra is the highest ranked non-US company in the Forbes Global Digital 100 list (2018) and in the Forbes Fab 50 companies in Asia (2018). What accounts for this achievement?

There are three parts to being digital. One, people and the skills. Understand that being digital is a blend of technology, design thinking and alternate thinking and almost being ambidextrous. So it all comes under human talent. To me investment in talent management is one of the main reasons why we are being recognised. Secondly, technology and digital platforms. We have developed or acquired these platforms and invested in them, and Forbes recognises this. The third part, when you set up an operation it is easy, but how does one scale it up, to me digital is all about data and data is all about being able to appreciate what is structured and what is unstructured. One also needs to see what kind of data is usable and what can be discarded. Last but not the least is our infrastructure security competence. Forbes recognition is a clear testimony that we are making an impact in the digital world.

Muhammed Nafie is an Assistant Editor at Oman Economic Review.

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