April 2015 | Nithin Rao
'Mindset is the key'
Tata Communications aims to be recognised as a meaningful player in terms of scale and innovative services in the coming five years. Excerpts from an interview with managing director Vinod Kumar.
Tata Communications was always quick off the block with regards to technology changes. What further needs to be done to become more nimble and agile?
There are so many technology choices that keep emerging; our customers' business models and the procurement of telecom and infotech services keep evolving. Our competitive advantage comes from agility, flexibility and hyper-communication with our customers and markets.
We have launched two major programmes, both of which have proved successful. One is SauMill — a combination of 'sau', which in Hindi means hundred, and million — the idea being to find opportunities to generate $100 million of cost savings. There was great enthusiasm across the organisation for the initiative and we achieved the target. 'Shape the future' was a programme that sought ideas from employees regardless of function or level. These ideas go through a rigorous evaluation process before internal and external judges choose the best. Two rounds of the initiative received nearly 300 responses, of which we shortlisted three.
Separately, we have invested in an artificial intelligence company. We cannot build everything ourselves; we need to partner extensively. The key aspect is investing in technology companies that complement our strengths. We're also working on a space mission, alongside TeamIndus, India's only competitor in the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize. TeamIndus is determined to be the first-ever privately funded team to land a spacecraft on the moon. As their communications partner, we will be helping them achieve that dream.
Which are the most significant challenges for Tata Communications?
There are many challenges and opportunities. One is around service innovation: the customer experience and making telecom and infotech infrastructure services user-friendly, flexible and adaptive to customer needs. Service innovation relates to using new technology, bringing faster network speed, higher uptime for networks and easier-to-deploy hosting solutions.
Mindset is the key; this is about looking at everything through a customer lens, and having systems in place so we can partner and create services and bring them to market quickly and intuitively. We have a broad portfolio of services and have to internally partner across functions and product categories to create powerful propositions. This leads to the bedrock: people.
Five years down the road, where do you see Tata Communications?
While we are serving a big market, our goal is to redefine the scope of our addressable market from $30 billion to $50 billion. We believe that in five years we will be recognised as a meaningful player in terms of scale and also for the innovative nature of our services, for our agility and flexibility, the way we serve customers and the experience we create for them.