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Outsourcing: LN Balaji, President of ITC Infotech (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Mar 12th 2012

Bangalore-based ITC Infotech is one of the leading outsourcing companies in India. A fully owned subsidiary of ITC Limited, ITC Infotech has wholly owned subsidiaries of its own in the United States and the United Kingdom. This 11-year-old IT services business serves 140 countries and has delivery hubs in Bangalore and Calcutta.

Sramana Mitra: Hi, Balaji. Let’s start with some context about ITC Infotech. Of course, ITC has a wide-ranging portfolio. Tell us more specifically about ITC Infotech.

LN Balaji: By that comment, I take it you’ve heard of ITC.

SM: I grew up in India. How could I not hear of ITC?

LNB: As you know, ITC is five businesses. One is – as they call it in India – fast-moving consumer goods, or consumer products as we call it here [in the United States]. It’s the market leader by far. The second is hotels and hospitality. It is the most profitable hotel chain in India, with a 34-year partnership with Starboard even before it became Starboard. All luxury collection hotels in India are ITC hotels. All luxury collection hotels of ITC are platinum lead rated. There’s no other hotel chain in the world that is like that. The third is paper and packaging. Again, it’s a market leader in that part of the world. It has a focus not only on packaging grade paper but also stationery, which is a separate consumer product in itself. The fourth is agribusiness, which relies heavily on innovative IT solutions as a core part of its business. The youngest of ITC’s five businesses is IT.

We began at the end of 2000 and early 2001. We are in our 11th year now. In the IT service business, which is what we are, we don’t do IT products. We’ve chosen our playing field carefully. We are not all things to all people. We’ve got five industry verticals on which we focus. Three of them represent businesses in which ITC, our parent company, is a leader. The five chosen verticals for us are consumer products and retail; manufacturing and engineering services; travel and hospitality; banking and financial services and insurance; and last, which we are growing and incubating, is media and entertainment. We can draw upon the expertise of world-class businesses that are part of ITC, not only in implementing cutting-edge solutions for them and then using that learning for solutions elsewhere in the world, but also to call upon practicing managers in each of these businesses who actually work with us.

Taking consumer products, ITC’s consumer products distribution is one of the most complex distribution processes you’ll find anywhere in the world. It is what we have learned there that has helped us to craft sales force automation solutions in partnership with Oracle or a supply chain performance management solution that we’ve done for a large soft drink company in partnership with SAP.

The ways we set ourselves apart are first, we focus on definite and chosen industry verticals, with good reason, and second, we leverage what we do to provide domain-led solutions. That means we are capable of doing all horizontals that any IT service company would do. In addition, we bring in a sharp domain focus. For example, say we were to do something in customer relationship management, in implementing supply chain performance metrics, or implementing their product life cycle management software, in which we are probably the market leader anywhere in the world in terms of PLM (product life cycle management).

For these kinds of things, we bring deep expertise in addition to the technical capability that goes with any good IT service company. The horizontals are the same as any other IT service company, whether it’s ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) for enterprise services, PLM, or application development, which is custom apps using the usual technology. We use not only Microsoft and Java type technologies but also some of the newer ones that are used by our clients in the media and entertainment vertical. Media and entertainment includes online education. In fact, the world’s largest online educator happens to be a client of ours.

Mainframe services, quality assurance, remote infrastructure management and Windows 7, which is a pretty hard area for us, these kinds of services are our horizontals. They cut across the five industry verticals we spoke about. One last point: as a result of this combination of domain and technical capability, we also help leading software product companies like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and PTC Biometric Technologies develop their products even more.

For example, if you looked at Oracle, around the Siebel technologies, which pertains to CRM, there are a couple of products that we are developing for Oracle that becomes their IT. Because we developed it for them, we know it better than anybody else. Obviously, when they go into the market, they price this product, and we go in as the preferred systems integrator. In fact, we are one of nine SIs in the world to be called Oracle Industry Solutions Centers of Excellence.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Outsourcing: LN Balaji, President of ITC Infotech
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