Head, Pre-Sales, India, MECAA, SAARC, Tata Communications
- Dear Raj, thank you for taking out time to chat with us. To begin with, how do you see the Hybrid Cloud & network transformation developing globally? What specific trends do you see that will shape up the future of collaboration in these fronts in India?
Great question. In the last year or so, we have been observing a shift to “internet first” architecture by many organisations. While some of these shifts were still just outlined somewhere on a strategy paper, COVID-19 has forced the conversion from paper to execution for many companies. We have seen 2 years’ worth of transformation in the last 2-3 months because of COVID, with employees, customers and users engaging digitally and on the internet. This has given an impetus to hybrid cloud and network transformation, globally. To plan for the future and for growth, organisations must look at a hybrid architecture for cloud and network. If they don’t, they will cease to exist; it won’t be effective for employees and it will be hard to retain customers in this new COVID-19 world.
Neither network nor cloud can operate in isolation. If the cloud becomes hybrid while the network doesn’t or vice versa, it wouldn’t work optimally. Therefore, it is important that they go hand in hand. This doesn’t mean that organisations must transform digitally 100% immediately. It will happen in phases. The optimal balance for each organisation will depend on the industry, the maturity level that they are in, etc. The wonderful thing is that I am seeing all of this come to fruition now and I am really excited about the opportunity.
- What are your views on Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) Market competition in India? What do you think about the market readiness of adapting CDNs and how is it affecting the overall competition?
This is a relative question. For a seller who may have struggled to win a much sought assignment, the competition is intense; however, for a person in the same company, who may be looking at it from a different lens, competition doesn’t exist because the product sells itself. From a neutral view, I would say that the competition in the CDN space is healthy. However, this space deals with lack of use cases. There are limited set of use cases which typically are looked at for video or content acceleration (to solve through CDN). CDN as a technology can do many more things – for e.g., tightly integrated in a digital sales platform, it can play an integral role by ensuring a digitally connected experience for the customer. The seller is able to pitch his/her product to a customer live, giving that “personal touch” without being physically present, especially in the current COVID-19 situation. There is a clear need for such solutions and at Tata Communications, we are already working on a number of such use cases across industries.
- In a pandemic like Covid-19, what are the most important recent developments in your field of business that you believe will have the biggest impact on the industry? What developments should the market be aware of that they aren’t already?
Well, if I say that we have or anyone else in the industry has launched a completely new product which is unheard of, to address the COVID-19 situation, it would be incorrect. We have all repurposed existing products and services to serve the new reality. For e.g., at Tata Communications, we looked at NetFoundry, a 100% Tata Communications subsidiary, as a product for work from home users from a different lens, where NetFoundry can increase the performance of the home broadband by 3-10 times, ensuring that performance issues that the user may face from home to access office applications are addressed with zero-trust security. Our NetFoundry customers are not only appreciating the service, but also spreading the word for others to be onboarded and reap the benefits that they are receiving.
Similarly, we are looking at traditional collaboration and security solutions and making them more industrialised and scalable for enterprises. Enterprise need for digitisation and enabling safe and secure access has become ever more critical now and traditional solutions by themselves won’t work, they need to be industrialised and relooked at to cater to the new realities.
- Can you tell us a about your involvement & experience as a core team member responsible in building a telecom company from scratch in Botswana, Southern Africa?
It brings back a lot of beautiful memories. Land of Elephants, beautiful landscape, brilliant people. However, Botswana had a telecom architecture which was still developing at the time. When I landed there, the price of an internet connection/service was above 100 USD per mbps – which is alarming, considering it was and remains a basic need. For a developing economy, internet penetration has a direct correlation with the GDP. For Botswana, the internet penetration at the time was low but that was an exciting challenge for us to address.
Needless to say, as we explored and built business opportunities, I forged relationships for life with the beautiful people of that country. With the help of my team, we were able to design and deliver a robust telecom architecture which brought down the cost of internet, spread across the country.
- What in your opinion are the most pressing challenges that inhibit cloud computing and digital transformation implementation – especially in the Indian scenario? What can be done to overcome them?
This has much to do with one’s appetite to take risks and make bold decisions. Organisations need to step up and take the plunge. While there are always risks involved and a number of considerations across technologies, vendors, legacy systems, usability, regulations, etc. you will only experience the benefits when you go ahead and make the decision to deploy.
Like I said before, COVID has accelerated digital transformation. This unexpected external factor is going to be proof that clearly separates those who plan for and act on digital transformation vs. those who don’t.
- You have attended a lot of conferences in the past on this topic. Trescon has created a niche online virtual format that only brings an elite group of pre-qualified CIOs, offering them hands-on learning experience, and an opportunity to learn from technologies at the showcase. How do you see this format helping the industry in the region?
I personally believe that as individuals, we should share learnings openly – whether it has to do with our successes or our failures. More so failures – so that others are aware and learn from your experiences. A platform like Trescon offers me an opportunity to learn from like-minded people and share learnings from failures and success with everyone. And that too from the comfort of my home, which is great!
- Tell us a about your session that you are hosting and how this can be instrumental in creating a comprehensive Network, Cloud, data security & AI roadmap for our attendees?
In this session, I aim to share learnings of what we are doing with other customers across network, cloud, data security and Collaboration, specifically in light of all the changes that COVID is forcing our customers to accept as a new reality. While the intent is to keep the session high level, I would like to deep dive on a one-on-one basis with anyone interested. I shared a few examples to demonstrate the benefits and solutions that Tata Communications can bring to the table. I hope the participants find the session useful and are able to apply the learnings in their organisation and make a difference to their levels of productivity – like the pre-COVID times. That would be a really great result and extremely satisfying for me!
Thank you, Raj. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you.