India Will Become The Base For Our Southeast Asian Operations: Eddie Chandhok

This is a good news for the IT aspirants. IT major Infogain plans to focus on the Indian market. In an exclusive interview with BI India, Eddie Chandhok, President of the company shares his experience in the Indian market, the company’s focus areas in the country and the biggest challenge in the industry. Here are the excerpts:

Infogain is focusing on India and Middle East markets now. Could you please tell us some of the initiatives that the company will take for these two respective markets?


These are interesting growth markets for us. Over the last few years, we have been thinking of these markets and there is a big change happening in India in terms of making investments and technology. And I am not talking about just the last couple of months. What is very interesting about the Indian market is that it is more focused on the outcomes. I don’t think that Indian companies like to deal with multiple vendors, but prefer a single vendor who would come in and present the entire IT solution as well as the application management and support. While in the US, it is totally opposite. So, from that perspective, here it’s a much bigger solution that we are in a position to provide. So it has been a much bigger and longer-term relationship in India.

What is the key difference between the Indian and Middle Eastern markets?

The Middle East market is a very packaged market; as in, they are used to taking existing packages and implementing them. They don’t typically like to go for customized applications. They would want us to take the application and implement it the way it was designed to work. They don’t want to spend so much on customization of the solutions. While in the Indian market, a huge amount of customization and integration is required in the Indian market.


Second important difference is that the Middle East market is primarily Oracle based. They have a huge Oracle market. On the other hand, Indian market has a mix of Oracle, SAP and Microsoft custom application development among others. So for in the Middle East market, we provide services from our Pune facility, which provides purely Oracle-focused operations. While for the Indian market, services are provided from our Noida and a little from the Pune facilities.

Infogain focuses on retail, healthcare, insurance and even high technology sectors. These sectors have had a dampened spirit in the past few years. What are your forecasts for these sectors?

Every sector has a different situation. As far as retail sector is concerned, there was a slowdown in this sector in India. We did some implementations for them. For instance, there is a retail chain called Lifestyle in India. We did implementations for them and some other companies. But there was definitely a lull in the sector because of uncertainty in the policies and the economy. That has really changed in the last one year. The other change has been the advent of e-commerce. In many ways, the retail sector is changing very rapidly because of the e-commerce. This sector (e-commerce) is highly reliant on technology than the traditional brick-and-mortar. We are also doing a lot of work with companies in the online retail sector. So, I believe that e-commerce has brought in a big change in the retail sector.


What about insurance sector in India?

Well, I would say we haven’t done much work in the insurance sector in India. Traditionally, our insurance focus is on the claims management process. We work in areas like Property and Casualty insurance. There is a big focus on this area in the US in the automotive sector, but in India it is not large enough. Having said insurance isn’t really our target in India. But in the Middle East, we have insurance opportunities and are working with a couple of insurance companies there.

So, what are you focusing on in India? Which are your key target sectors here?


One of our key target sectors is telecom. We are working with a number of telecom companies in India. Our focus is on customer support and customer delight applications. It is the application that runs in the call center and you can imagine that telecom companies have huge call centers and people call with issues and also to buy different services. We are involved with three large companies here.

Retail and hi-tech too would be important for our business here. On the other hand, healthcare is just starting to get organised. Traditionally, the sector has not relied much on technology as it has always been the local doctor, the local hospital and other such things. But now, that is changing. For us also, healthcare is a newer vertical and globally too, we are developing on that. Big offerings in the healthcare sector, at least in India, will take a year or 18 months.

What are the challenges for the IT sector in India?


From our perspective, we are seeing a very strong growth in the industry. The biggest challenge still is getting the right talent at the right price. You know what happens is that a large number of people come into this sector, but we have to first invest in recruiting and then invest in training them before being able to utilize them. So, while there is significant amount of volume, the quality tends to be a little spotty here in India. And the result is that we have to meet hundreds of people to make 20-30 offers. Over here, even the average person coming out is not acceptable because the volume is so large. We have to look for an above average guy. The biggest challenge is to find the right kind of resources and deploy them for our complex applications.

So, how do you address this challenge?

We visit the campuses and set up our own labs over there. And we are taking students, who are in their final year of engineering school and working with them remotely. This makes them pre-trained when they come out and secondly they then fit into the specifications that we require. We have these outreach programmes wherein while they are still in their fourth year, they are participating with Infogain, working in the projects and using the equipment that are provided by us to the universities. We are high on campus recruitment. Nealry 30% of our intake is from the campuses.


Coming down to SMAC, what according to you are the latest trends there?

I think SMAC is a little overblown in terms of the total segment. I would say less than 10% of the overall work is being done in this segment. Yes, it is an important sector as it is growing rapidly. Our companies are starting to invest in it. However, if you consider the vast majority of the headcount in India today, then you will see that they are still working in the traditional IT- application development using packages like Oracle and doing implementations. To me, Mobility and Cloud are where we are focusing. The reason for that is we do a lot of work for hi-tech sector for software companies. And software companies are now being challenged by their clients to move away from on-premise software to cloud applications. We are helping them develop more and more cloud applications. The industry itself is in transition as their clients in that phase. Nearly 90% companies across the world continue to use the traditional IT services and not SMAC. But there is a growing demand for SMAC and as our clients demand them, we will provide those services.

In the retail space, we are working with a client who is going all mobile. There will be no queues and cash registers that we see today. We will see people with tables and doing checkouts. SMAC is extremely important for engaging with your customers today.


Interestingly, even though a lot of companies are working with traditional IT services, but if you don’t have SMAC offering, they won’t even consider you for the traditional work.

Do you see SMAC turning fortunes of the Indian companies?

I think IT sector is doing extremely well and thus, there is no need to turn fortunes. The stock market valuations of the IT companies are extremely good.


Apart from India, which are the other emerging markets that you would like to focus on?

Well, we are doing some work in Singapore and New Zealand. I would say they are our secondary markets and the developed markets in Asia. If our work in these regions grows, then we will make further investments and open an office or so. Right now, we are into supporting our current customers there.

Lastly, does the company plan to make India as the base for its operations in other Southeast Asian countries as well as the Middle East markets?


Definitely, in fact our company in Dubai is a subsidiary of our Indian arm. We certainly plan to make India as the hub work we are doing in the New Zealand is also being done from here. So our Indian offices (Noida and Pune) will become the hub for any expansion in Southeast Asia.