Readying next-rung leaders of Information Technology

Readying next-rung leaders of Information Technology

India has made a name for itself in the global arena for the IT and ITeS services it offers. While several companies are doing good work, there are but a few that are recognised as leaders because of their stature and volumes. They are sought after for the quality of the service they provide and their reach. And this further spurs their growth.

“A1 is one of the first Indian companies to offer logo design as specialised service in 2003. It has been ranked as one of the top five logo design companies in the world, 10,000+ clients from 50+ countries and has a design team comprising 75+ full time design professionals.”

The journey to the top is not easy. It requires a combination of vision, products and services that give one the edge over the others, selling power and the finances to sustain that very edge. The need of the hour for the small and medium businesses is to offer breakthrough products and services and market them well for sustained growth. But most importantly, strengthening their brand and improving visibility in the market are critical to achieve this.

“We notice that such (SMEs) companies get lost in competition. Though the core is strong, they lose out when scaling up,” points out Avinash Raghava, regional director – north, NASSCOM. Therefore, NASSCOM – the premier trade body and the chamber of commerce of the IT-BPO industries in India – announced Emerge 50 wherein it selected 50 promising companies from a list of 200. The list was finalised on four parameters: year on year growth, market reach – domestic and emerging markets, service offerings and products. The last being a critical segment, and NASSCOM works closely with such companies, mentoring them.

The unique proposition

Bangalore-based Eka Software Solutions, started in 2004, provides software for buyers, sellers and traders of physical commodities. The market opportunity is estimated at around US$ 1 billion per annum, with the market itself inundated with risk and unmanageability. “Before Eka was launched, existing technology providers focused either on the energy sector or on the financial aspects of commodities. Eka came out with a product that helps commodity companies with effective risk management while executing trades through the physical supply chain, from origination to logistics through till delivery to the end user,” says Manav Garg, founder and chief executive, Eka Software Solutions.

Apart from having a unique product offering, they have also experienced profitable growth of over 100 per cent per annum for the last three years and expect to continue on high growth path. They aim to be the preferred software partner for organisations dealing in commodity and financial markets. For this, they have a multi-pronged growth plan that includes strengthening their 200+ team, enhancing the delivery model, innovating and investing in research and development and most importantly, increasing their market focus. Apart from their head office, they also have a presence in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America, serving a growing client base across various commodity segments, sizes and geographies.

Kolkatta-based A1 Future Technologies is into logo design, graphic design and print design. “A1 is one of the first Indian companies to offer logo design as specialised service in 2003. It has been ranked as one of the top five logo design companies in the world, 10,000+ clients from 50+ countries and has a design team comprising 75+ full time design professionals,” says Srish Kumar Agrawal, founder and chief executive. The company has carved a niche for itself by offering editable source files to their clients and the fact that most of its clients come through word of mouth is proof of their efficacy. Their aim is to explore non-English speaking markets and to move to a bigger office space to accommodate a bigger team.

The company is also looking at developing more re-sellers around the world, evaluating more joint venture proposals and acquiring another design company.

Chennai-based Matrix Business Services, with equity participation from the Kotak Mahindra group, offers a combination of centralised back-office outsourcing capability as well as decentralised feet-on-street outsourcing capability at 130+ locations all over India. The company, established in 2003, has around 700 employees, 7 branches and 125 associate offices all over India. “This makes our delivery model unique and enables us to offer verification services to corporate customers on an all-India basis across multiple industry verticals. Multi-location verification is our core competence,” says R. Swaminathan, managing director and chief executive.

The company offers commercial verification (audit & assurance services for retail and fast moving consumer goods’ customers) and consumer verification (employee background checks for banking & IT / ITES companies). Their vision is to strengthen their presence in the financial verification space (for banking and financial services) to become the number one verification services company.

Leap-frogging to the top

A part of the Emerge 50 listing, the above mentioned companies started in a small way, but, have established themselves by virtue of their product or service offering. They have the potential to become large companies, but, there are many challenges to getting there – one of them being a strong marketing base. Roughing it out with competition sometimes sees promising companies stagnate or sink into oblivion.

Many a times, such companies are started by people with a sound technical background, and therefore, the product or the service offering is robust enough, but the reach? Marketing is not their greatest strength and once the product stabilizes, they tend to stagnate.

Emerge 50 aims to address this challenge. “The top 20 in the IT industry is well known. But, the next rung, though doing well, is not so well known,” says Raghava.

NASSCOM has several initiatives for large companies. Emerge 50 is its first step towards encouraging and facilitating the growth of the next 50. Of these 50, it also offers mentoring services for the top 10 companies in the list, working with them closely to ensure that they move up the chain. NASSCOM also provides an Emerge Forum – a catalyst for growth for emerging companies and start-ups. The aim is to identify four to five leaders from this. Emerge Out, an annual conference, will also be held in April-May where these companies will be able to share their experiences.

Spreading the umbrella

The concerns of businesses, at a certain level, are the same – sustained growth, moving up the value-chain and ensuring continuity. With a forum that enables similar minded people to share these concerns and experiences, NASSCOM hopes to see several promising companies emerge out of the shadow of the small and medium tags and live up to their promise. To ensure continuity from their end, the process does not end with mere identification of such companies, but giving them an edge to move up faster. If this strategy works, then India will soon have what is dreamed of by all visionaries – innovations that really count by making break-through ideas work and work in the long run.