The consultants

On a visit to the Middle East, S Ramadorai, CEO and managing director of Tata Consultancy Services, spoke to Brid-Aine Conway about growth plans, and rumours of free products and services.

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By  Brid-Aine Conway Published  June 1, 2008

On a visit to the Middle East, S Ramadorai, CEO and managing director of Tata Consultancy Services, spoke to Brid-Aine Conway about growth plans, and rumours of free products and services.

How much business is TCS doing in the Middle East at present?

If we combine the Middle East and Africa together, we are doing close to about US$50 million and growing a lot faster than before. The Middle East is getting a lot of strategic investment.

In the past where we did engagements based on our expertise basically opportunities which we followed, we had a physical presence in MENA in terms of offices, we are stepping it up as a strategic initiative.

What upcoming plans do you have in terms of office growth or employee growth for the Middle East and Africa?

In this region there are currently 400 people available, on projects here, or projects out of India or a combination thereof. So number one is our commitment to enlarge our expansion, through projects and through a physical presence in countries like Morocco or Egypt.

So what we build on the ground, what we ramp up on the ground to address the Middle East market is one strategy which we will certainly do.

The second one is, markets here, whether it is the UAE or another Gulf country, we want to make sure we have a very strong presence in those markets and go after potential opportunities here.

We do not have a fix on a specific number for the growth we want to see, other than saying these are the investments we are willing to make - physical presence on the ground in Morocco, looking at Egypt very seriously, enlarging our presence in the Gulf countries and then taking those decisions which are necessary proactively to make the investments.

Like I said, emerging markets are centre-stage and will not be shy of investments. Returns may come a little later, but on a long term basis it makes a lot of business sense.

How do you see upcoming and current trends like virtualisation, SAAS and green IT interacting over the next few years?

These are going to be centre-stage. Green IT is linked to virtualisation; how do you consolidate the servers, how do you reduce the datacentre footprint, how do you share the infrastructure and resources, what kind of optimisations and performance engineering capabilities need to be built?

The next wave is service-orientation through SAAS. What are the kinds of platforms you can create, what are the assets behind it that enable you to create and provide those services? Customers are repeatedly asking ‘Will I have to pay for licences year on year?

What is the cost of that? What are the cost implications as my size increases, as the number of employees increases, if I have to keep on paying additional licence fees?' These models are, in certain segments very difficult, such as SMBs.

So I think you have to create some variations in the business and service-oriented models where assets are to be shared. You have to look at end-to-end service-orientation models, you cannot just take one part.

When we look at SAAS, all the enablers also get integrated into providing SAAS, whether it's a platform, a PC, a network or an application. So you can't combine each of these and say that this is the monthly fee you'll pay or this is the per transaction cost.

Then there's the user training to adopt these models and how they would perform and addressing some concerns like, how secure is my data? I think you have to look at it in totality rather than just one aspect of it and then leaving a lot of problems to be handled by the customers at large.

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