By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
Will the cloud level the entrepreneur playing field and smooth out some of the ugly bumps encountered during a typical startup journey, especially in an Indian context, similar to how India leapfrogged years of telecommunication lag through its mass adoption of mobile technology? What are some of the barriers, challenges, and blue-sky opportunities for new offerings and newer businesses in India based on the cloud? In the following interview, Sramana and Sankarson Banerjee, CIO of IndiaInfoline, dig into several aspects of cloud computing technology adoption and market needs in India.
Before joining India Infoline in 2009, Sankarson Banerjee was the CEO of FutureBazaar, the online and virtual retail arm of the Future Group, which he led from its launch in January 2007 to a turnover of over $26.43 million in fiscal year 2009.
Sankarson has more than 14 years of experience, five of them in CXO-level positions. He started his career in IBM India and later handled various assignments with Indbazaar.com, Deccanet Designs, TDA Capital Partners, and MphasiS. He is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Kolkata. Besides IT, he is into urban cycling around in cities more than in open country. He has cycled extensively in many cities in the world, but most often in Mumbai, New York, and San Francisco.
The IndiaInfoline Group comprises the holding company, IndiaInfoline Limited, and its wholly-owned subsidiaries. IndiaInfoline is one of India’s largest retail financial brokers with turnover in excess of $202.7 million. Launched on May 11, 1999, the IndiaInfoline website provides business and financial information through quality information and analysis. Their services include a combination of information and transaction services such as mutual funds, personal loans, and online broking through www.5paisa.com. They offer online trading facilities with significant market share in India.
Founded in 1995, the holding company India Infoline Group has a network of over 2,100 business locations (branches and sub-brokers) spread across more than 450 cities and towns. The group caters to approximately a million customers. Its global footprint extends across countries with offices in New York, Singapore, and Dubai, and it employs more than 15,000 people. The company is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE).
SM: Welcome to the Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing series (TLCC), Sankarson. For the benefit of our readers, would you give us some background on you and your company in terms of what business you are in and the scope, scale, and size of the company? Most important, in the context of TLCC series, would you highlight the scope and scale of the IT operation you manage at IndiaInfoline?
SB: Sure. IndiaInfoline is India’s largest retail brokerage firm. We are a brokerage firm that reaches out to pretty much every corner of India. You can open an account free with IndiaInfoline, there is no minimum requirement. There is no maximum requirement. There is basically no requirement except that you need to be legally allowed to open an account. We have nearly a million customers. There are more than 770 branches, and with that we cover pretty much all of India. We are just over 9% of the dominant stock market volumes, which is the National Stock Exchange (NSE). As far as brokerage goes, the IndiaInfoline business is quite big in India. We are the best Indian retail broker, and we have won many awards related to online brokering. That is pretty much IndiaInfoline. We were founded nine years ago, nearly went bust during the dot-com bust, later recovered, and are now worth a market capitalization of around $1.5 billion.
SM: What is the revenue at India Infoline?
SB: We have about $300 million in revenue, or more than $270 million.
SM: How many people are employed by the company?
SB: We have nearly 15,000 employees.
SM: Are these 15,000 people spread all over India or outside of India?
SB: We have very little footprint outside India. We have a few wealth customers, primarily nonresident Indians (NRIs), who are our wealth customers, whom we service outside of India. But our primary focus and operations are in India. We have a small presence in New York City for Indian Americans living in the United States who want to invest in the Indian stock market. We have a small amount of activity in Singapore, Dubai, and Mauritius, but those are tiny offices. A large majority, almost 99% of our focus and operations, is in India.
SM: Within India, what is the distribution of the employee base?
SB: We are pretty much everywhere. We cover the largest markets; obviously, we are concentrated in the cities and major metropolitan areas. But we are pretty much in every area and in business towns, either directly with our own offices or with our nearly 3,000 strong franchise base.