Infotech Lead India: Persistent Systems, a provider of software product and technology services, was recently named to the 2012 Global Services 100 List (GS100) for the second consecutive year. The company attributes this success to the company’s “early investments in four key areas – Cloud, Big Data, Mobility and Collaboration.”
Infotech Lead recently interacted with Hari Haran, President, Persistent Systems, to know the company’s growth strategies and future plans. Our exchange follows:
What are your investment and expansion plans – facilities, geographies and people?
Our investments are primarily in our 4 X 4 X 4 business strategies. To elaborate this further, we have four technology areas: cloud computing, analytics, mobility, and collaboration; 4 verticals: Technology, Telecom, Life Sciences, and Banking & Financial Services; 4 business models: traditional outsourced product development services, IP led services, Strategic alliances and partnerships, and high end technology consulting.
In terms of geography, we are investing in Europe, Middle East, South East Asia, South Africa, and Australia. Our focus in North America continues to grow and sharpen. We believe that to differentiate ourselves, we need to invest in our people to enable them to solve our customer’s problems. In order to amplify our solutions capability, we are investing in building frameworks, accelerators, methodologies, cookbooks, and establishing knowledge base that is necessary to position ourselves as problem solvers. This translates to investments both in our people as well as systems, processes, and software.
What are your strategies for retention of manpower?
A couple of key factors that contribute to retention are job satisfaction and technical growth. We provide tremendous opportunities to our people to try out new initiatives, rotate to different jobs, move to different geographies and try out different functions. Our view is that in general if people are learning and see themselves deliver value, this results in tremendous job satisfaction. We are one of the most flexible companies when it comes to our employee growth.
What is your growth strategy?
Taking the theme of 4 X 4 X 4 further, our growth strategy stems from the following premises:
– The change in software landscape is causing Independent Software vendors (ISV) and enterprises (Large and Small) to shift their applications to the cloud. This represents a tremendous opportunity to companies such as Persistent. There is the need for specialized engineering services to build out the platforms necessary for Cloud Computing. Also, the applications need to be migrated to the cloud and this is also a very large growth opportunity. Our approach is to invest and gain expertise in these platforms and have teams in place to bring about these migrations, maintenance, and support.
– The plethora of devices in the market and the associated adoption is also driving the development of several applications and middleware. Persistent’s strategy is again to be in the center of this implosion. With the required expertise and pre-built frameworks, we should be able to accelerate the time to market of such products for our customers.
– Persistent has also built methodologies, tools, and libraries in the Big Data space. We are leveraging our core knowledge and skills in developing Analytics platforms as well as building applications around these products and platforms. This is again a key horizontal growth area for Persistent.
– Another technology area that is ubiquitous today is the social network. Persistent is investing in this area to take advantage of the growth in the Social Enterprise, Search, Collaboration networks etc.
These horizontal technology areas are deployed in just about every industry vertical. Persistent’s approach is to serve any and all of these verticals as a specialist in these areas.
There are four verticals where due to our experience we have developed a good understanding of the customer and the market. These verticals (Technology, Telecom, Life Sciences and Banking & Financial Services) over a period of time have given us in-depth insights and market relationships which we are leveraging by building solutions. Some examples of these solutions are Location Based Services, Banking Data Migration, Network Performance Management Solutions, etc. Our intent is to grow through demonstrating to these verticals that our thought leadership can solve certain unique business & technology problems.
We also firmly believe that in order to grow, we have to engage creative business models. Apart from our traditional Time and Material based pricing models, we also intend to grow through partnerships. We invest in a partner’s product and build services around the implementation and customization of that product. The “Go to Market” is primarily through the partner and this gives us a nice way to scale. We are also acquiring or building IP in some cases that will give us a way to go to market with complete solutions. We have invested in high end consultants to enable us to engage in solutions and architectural discussions with customers that give us an edge to win deals while maintaining a Value based pricing model.
What are your strategies to gain market share during the current downturn in some of the markets?
Our strategy is to invest with some of our long term customers during this downturn. We want to invest in sales and marketing more significantly but enhance our customer relationships are at the forefront. We also continue to invest in new technology areas. We believe that when the downturn is over, our customers will be eager to implement the next generation of products and service and we want to be ready at that time and we are already starting to see the signs that this strategy is working.
Which are the main industry verticals that are bringing majority of businesses?
Technology ISV is our largest segment, followed by Telecom, Life Sciences, and then Banking &Financial services.
Who are your technology partners? What are your expectations from them?
Some examples are IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Salesforce.com, BMC etc. These partners are typically large technology players that partner with us on the engineering side, we then become knowledgeable on their products, we then invest in consultants and are ultimately able to enable sales for our partners through implementation and consulting services around their products. Our expectation from them is to setup a model where we can become experts in their products as well as be the “Go to Market” partner with them on key products that utilize our technology expertise.
Is there any major shift in strategies when you select your technology partners?
This is usually very much in line with the market and technology trends that we see. Our partners and our investments are all typically lock step with our technology focus areas.
What are the new demands of your customers? How do you maintain satisfaction of your clients?
Customers want us to take more ownership of the problem. They expect thought leadership from their vendors and partners. In anticipation of this, we have been orientating our front and back end to work in this fashion. Customer satisfaction is all about setting expectations and delivering on the expectations.
Is innovation a major focus area at Persistent? Please share few examples.
Very much so. We have an amazing entrepreneurial culture at Persistent where we are constantly having new ideas, services andsolutions developed just through the course of normal business. From a more formal company standpoint, we dedicate about 5% of our staff in R&D and innovation. These people are set aside in non-billable activities and purely work on areas that are future oriented as well as in building IP, Solutions, etc. One example is in Pebal. In anticipation of the flow of work in the Big Data space, we started building several libraries and tools to accelerate Big Data development. eMee is a gamification performance management platform for enterprises, and there are many others.