Strategic alliance

The strategic alliance between Satyam and Emirates Consulting Group will help develop national resources for the global IT giant. The Middle East is a critical component of Satyam’s global expansion strategy.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  March 23, 2005

In a move to develop regional information and technology skills, global IT services company, Satyam Computer Services, is embarking on a path to localise its team in the Middle East and establish a tactical partnership with Emirates Consulting Group (ECG), a member company of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders. Under the agreement, Satyam will provide real time support for projects executed by the ECG with the aim of improving the local IT talent pool. The alliance will entail a strong combination of Arabic resources, in which Satyam plans to invest, along with resources from ECG. ”With Satyam’s IT expertise, this partnership will lead to an enhancement of employment opportunities for Nationals and the successful delivery of IT projects in the region,” says Mohammed Al Ali, CEO of ECG. Besides taking responsibility for cost and delivery, Satyam will manage the 360-degree implementation of future projects, offering an array of solutions customised for different industry sectors and a wide range of services from strategy consulting through to implementation. Satyam is rated at SEI CMM level five, the highest quality standard for IT services companies. The company’s position as a leader in its field means that it has the experience, expertise and skills to provide considerable opportunities to its Middle Eastern partners. The service provider has already brought on board Arab nationals from various countries for existing projects and is providing training for ECG employees in Satyam tools and methodologies. With strong regional presence and a focus on verticals such as oil and gas, telecom, banking and insurance, government and retail, Satyam boasts a host of high-profile clients in the Middle East. Organisations as varied as Etisalat, Emirates Airlines, the Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Authority, Kuwait National Petroleum, Oman Trading Establishment, Qatar Petrochemical Company and Qatar Telecom, all rely on Satyam’s bespoke range of IT services. Despite being a global company, Satyam executives believe it is important to create strong bonds with local communities. “Throughout our operations in various countries we try very hard to maintain a local touch. As part of that strategy we believe that we need to increase and engage local talent,” explains B. Rama Raju, managing director of Satyam. Furthermore, Satyam expects to see strong growth over the next twelve months, with an increase in demand for enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions from the energy, government and service sectors, and significant investment in software from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. “The Middle East is a critical component of Satyam’s global expansion strategy because it is a rapidly growing IT services market. We have achieved 75% growth in the region and are targeting similar growth figures in 2005,” says Ajith Menon, Satyam’s head of Middle East and Africa operations. “To drive regional investment, we are opening a fourth regional office in Saudi Arabia and developing Dubai as our key base. This partnership with ECG will strengthen our regional commitment and provide valuable insights into the needs of our customers.” Including Arab nationals in the set-up of its organisation and working with local entrepreneurs, will allow Satyam to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the region’s culture and working practices. ECG has a strong portfolio including sales solutions, contact centre and marketing solutions services along with a range of IT solutions. “We found the people behind the ECG to be very passionate and dynamic in their approach, and most importantly, we felt that we shared common ideas. The two companies mindsets fit together well,” says Raju. A lack of investment in information and technology skills is holding back the Arab world. According to a recent Booz Allen Hamilton report, ICT expenditure averages 8.3% of GDP in North Africa, 8% in Europe and 4% in Arab countries. Investment in local talent, such as that demonstrated by this partnership of Satyam and ECG, is required to develop the IT sector, which in turn will contribute to the creation of new industries. Satyam hopes that in collaboration with ECG it will set an example for facilitating knowledge transfer in the region and help to build local expertise in IT. Satyam recognises the potential the Middle East holds and believes that as a company it is its responsibility to encourage the optimum expansion of local talent. “A country’s real growth and progress is measured by the skills and capacity of its workforce. One of our priorities is to initiate and support programmes that enable youngsters to realise their potential in environments that encourage maximum development. The knowledge transfer programme with ECG will involve classroom training and on-the-job training on processes and methodologies followed by Satyam,” he adds. The benefits of the alliance are by no means one-sided. Both parties stand to gain a great deal from the partnership. Satyam will profit from ECG’s cultural understanding of the Middle East, but at the same time ECG will benefit from Satyam’s resources and knowledge of the field. “It is an alliance built on mutual contributions. We are both pooling our resources and strengths to work toward a vision that both companies believe is going to be successful. Together we have a better understanding of what is required for service provision in this region. By exploiting national talent and taking on projects together the partnership will be able to serve the interests of both organisations for the short and long term,” says Al Ali. ECG has set the bar high for itself, and after its strong start the company is now hoping that the alignment with Satyam will help the consulting firm to become serious contenders for the title of regional market leader. ECG is trying to grow as fast as possible as a company, and is keen to take on larger projects but had previously been limited by their resource capacity as Al Ali points out: “The type of expansion ECG desires requires a lot of knowledge, resources and experience. Satyam has 20,000 employees and this partnership will allow us to have access to those resources.” Currently, ECG’s focus is on several projects in the government and private sectors and Satyam will assist the consulting group to establish a national team of specialists and share its industry-specific expertise. ECG plans to complete work on these major government projects unilaterally and subsequently, the alliance will start to expand coverage, undertaking several landmark joint projects in Dubai and attempting to strengthen its hold on market segments. Certainly, with the support of the government support, the allied companies will be well placed to profit from potential contracts and continue to grow their businesses. Al Ali is optimistic and believes the shared goals of the two organisations will also prove advantageous well into the future. “We share the same vision within the region as far as the principles we follow. Satyam has a genuine belief in the vision and so does ECG. Between us, we have put together an unambiguous road map and I expect that we will see some very prestigious contracts in the not too distant future,” he says.

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