Manish Vyas, president, communications business at Tech Mahindra on how the company’s new strategy accelerates transformation of service providers.
CommsMEA: Could you give us a brief intro to Tech Mahindra?
Manish Vyas: When the history of software and technology industry is written, Tech Mahindra would feature very prominently, in terms of how it started and the journey it has had so far. It was a joint venture between BT and Mahindra Group, back in 1988. Incidentally, it was initially not created for what we actually do today. Its prime purpose back then was to offer value added services in India. Later, the company started by doing software for BT. That was phase one for us.
Next came phase two, and we realised that thanks to the BT heritage, we had built a formidable understanding about the telecom and communications business. We doubled down our investment in telecom. We chose to position ourselves as a unique company in the marketplace from a services standpoint. Though we started off as a small company, we made it a point to stay completely focussed on telecommunications. This led to quite a few strategic decisions. We decided to expand our offerings beyond software services. We adopted the six pillar strategy to target various aspects of service provider market.
By phase three, we had grown our telecom business to $800million. An opportunity came our way and we ended up acquiring Satyam Computers. That was the first time we started dealing with non-telecom customers. In 2012, we merged the two companies. However, we retained the exclusive focus on communications, media and entertainment.
As Tech Mahindra, we take lots of inspiration from the business and management philosophy of Mahindra group. One thing which describes the philosophy very well is the ‘federated model’- unlike many other conglomerates, each of the Mahindra Group companies are run very independently, in all respects. We call it ‘freedom within boundaries’. There are only three boundaries- compliance, brand, and core ethos.
Today, we are a $4.5 billion revenue company, uniquely known having turned around and grown Satyam business from $800 million to around $2.3 billion. We have continued our leadership in telecom, and the philosophy we bring in terms of federated model. The new theme around which we are building the business is called ‘Run, Change and Grow’. Our core purpose with our customers is very simple- we will help them run better, change faster and grow greater. That’s the clarion call from now till 2021.
CommsMEA: What kind of solutions and services do you offer telcos?
Vyas: We basically focus on four broad lines of business- technology and digital services, network, operations, and business transformation.
Network is a big differentiation for us- we identified many years ago that we can’t be a dominant player in service provider by just doing software; we have to do networks as well. The best thing now is that networks are becoming more and more software defined now, and hence that’s playing to our strength. The good news is that we decided to invest in networks quite early. We started by doing integration and managed services in the core networks. In 2015, we acquired a company called LCC, which was dominating the access space. Moreover, we worked closely with some of our key customers like tier one operators worldwide and started building enterprise network capabilities. What we do today in network services is really a 3*3 matrix- the three things are core, enterprise and access; the three things we do are integration, managed services and consulting.
CommsMEA: What’s your opinion on the scenario of business transformation in the MEA region and what’s Tech Mahindra doing in this space?
Vyas: There are three things that transcend what’s going on in the industry across all regions, particularly from telecom, media and entertainment standpoint. Industry forecasts say that there will be around trillion IoT devices by 2022. 5G will come through in 2019 or even before in some markets. Thirdly, the manner in which video is consumed has changed so much already in the last five-seven years, and will continue to change even more in days to come. These three trends will be common to all parts of the world.
The service providers will have to be ready to take advantage of these trends- and this readiness won’t be limited to networks or systems or business processes or people alone. It requires a complete shift. Cost and delivery models will change. There is no reason to believe that the whole notion of sharing, as-a-service or virtualisation will not happen in telecommunications.
Where are we at that journey in this region? I would say, we are at best at an infancy stage. We have the necessary base and there’s a huge potential.
CommsMEA: Could you cite few examples of your recent customer wins in this region?
Vyas: One of the big operators in the region has selected us to transform their data engine. Data analytics is going to be the fuel that will power the ability to generate new products and services.
Another operator has selected us to transform their customer interface at a digital level.
We have renewed our partnership with one of our old customers- we pretty much run the IT department for this company.
Another company has chosen us as their go-to-partner for rolling out new IoT catalogue services.
CommsMEA: How is Tech Mahindra executing its ‘Run, change, grow’ strategy?
Vyas: These words are not just on our slides; they define how our business is constructed now.
For example, let’s say a telco runs its billing system in a particular fashion. In the past, our run story was that we will do it cheaper or better by a certain amount. Now, it’s about transforming the customer experience while exponentially reducing the cost of delivery. We leverage our AQP platform, an automation framework.
In terms of ‘change’, I can give two examples. On the network side, we helped a big customer in the US, who’s arguably the world leader in driving network virtualisation, migrate and on-board network functions onto the cloud.
In another case, we have started working with several customers on micro-services and DevOps because these are the new transformation engines in the software world.
In terms of ‘grow’, I can share few examples. In one case, we are helping a global aircraft company. We built an IoT solution for them- a real-time health monitoring system. In another example, we partnered with a telecom service provider and an insurance company. We built a drone solution to capture and analyse data about the churches in US. We collect data about the physical health of those churches, and have improved asset performance ratio with real-time analytics. We managed to generate new revenue for both the telco and the insurance company.
CommsMEA: Customer experience by telcos in this region lags behind in terms of digitisation. What's your opinion on this?
Vyas: I think it’s all about the relative speed of change. The speed at which consumers have changed their opinion and expectations is much faster. On the other hand, the companies are relatively older and it’s not that easy to make the changes.
I think telcos often get less credits compared to the efforts they put in to transform customer experience. Primarily, it’s legacy that holds them back. A lot more work needs to be done, for sure.
Our job is to make the service providers more successful in all areas- technology speed, customer experience, costs and more.