The View from India: A transformative government and a spirit of enterprise

Date:   Tuesday , November 24, 2015

From emerging opportunities to factors driving the growth and adoption of unified communications, Minhaj Zia, Managing Director, Polycom India & SAARC brings us his views from the Indian subcontinent.
If you look at India as a market, there are various customer segments when it comes to video and UC. Some of them are really advanced technology adopters while some are lagging or not yet aware of its impact on workforce productivity. The primary focus for most customers today is increasing the productivity of their workforce to reduce costs and enable their people to come together as dynamic teams, no matter where they are located. When I talk about early adopters of technology, there are three influential factors I refer to specifically when it comes to video collaboration:

IT services in India. This segment is growing very fast on an average of 15 percent year on year. It is worth almost USD $100 billion worth of exports collectively, employing close to 3.2 million people directly, and indirectly employing almost twice that number. That\'s a large workforce of knowledge workers which serves not just the Indian market but globally too with huge numbers of customers in North America, Europe, Australia and even China. Their profitability is really dependent on workforce productivity, because their business is people – delivery teams who are typically based in India, and sales teams based out of other geographies – who are serving customers globally. Video collaboration enables employees to build trust among each other, save time in coordination of activities, and helps ensure projects are delivered to customers on time.

Government. India is a very large country and it is impossible for its administrators (ministers, government employees, and bureaucrats) to offer citizen services and coordinate projects down to a village level. The patience of citizens is also not what it used to be; in the internet age when citizens can get instant gratification from private sector services, they expect the same level of service from government departments as well. The easiest way to provide this is with video, as other technologies are not as effective in making such timely collaboration possible. There is also a lot of money being invested in theDigital India project, an ambitious programme to digitise and automate entire processes of governance.

The proliferation of network in India. Previously the availability of networks was weak in certain rural areas and even in some urban areas. With huge growth in telecom and mobile data that continues very rapidly, Indian customers are now able to adopt video technology more easily.

What emerging markets and opportunities will you target in 2015?
The Indian environment is evolving in many ways – transitioning from small towns to new cities, many new start-ups, and large growth of SMBs. There are 2 million SMB companies in India below 50 or 100 employees, and they are driving job creation and spurring on technology innovation, because they cannot leverage on large financial muscle or workforce to compete. Instead, these SMBs use technology to create new business models, which can disrupt the way large companies operate.

e-Commerce is an example of this disruption. India had a very unorganised retail sector, unlike Western counterparts which operate large retail chains that dominate the industry. With the penetration of Internet, the retail sector here skipped the \'large chain\' model of growth and quickly made a move to e-commerce. This presents an opportunity to provide technology-enabled collaboration to retailers to help them become more competitive in the market.

Other new opportunities for Polycom India & SAARC lie in neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. These economies are also emerging, but video adoption is about 10 years behind India and growth can really be accelerated. We have already partnered with the leading service provider in Pakistan, PTCL to offer Video as a Service to enterprise customers. It is an exciting time for such markets.

Government initiatives such as the Digital India project also present great opportunities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a big digital and technology focus and initiated a lot of e-governance and digitisation in Gujarat, where he was the Chief Minister. He is now driving these same initiatives at a country level and the Government has announced considerable investment for technology initiatives such as virtual classrooms for skills training. This will be the solution for faster development of skills across the country, and bridge the gaps in the availability of specialized trainers. Through video classrooms, these trainers can reach people all over the country, no matter where they are located, and help develop required skills such as in manufacturing, another big focus for the Government driving programmes like the Make in India campaign.

There is also a big push towards establishing good power and infrastructure in India – such as ports to city connectivity via roads and super fast railway lines. Faster delivery of these projects can only be achieved with strong collaboration. There was even a government circular directing employees to use video conferencing to save money on travel and make faster decisions. With a majority market share in government today, innovative collaboration technology and a strong presence in India, Polycom is very well placed to support these government initiatives.

Polycom India remains focused on being the leading collaboration partner for our customers – whether in government or in the private sector offering seamless user experience, and open and interoperable technologies through an ecosystem of expert partners. We will have deeper engagement with our large enterprise customers, and examine how their collaboration experience can be further enhanced, be it with upgraded audio conferencing, content sharing, recording or streaming. It is not just about selling end-points for us, we will continue to look at what more we can offer as a business solution, which will have a greater impact on organizational workflows, to drive customers\' bottom line growth.

For example, we have learned that more of our larger customers want end-to-end managed services based on service level agreements and delivered through an Opex model. Our audio conferencing solutions continue to have fantastic growth, but now it\'s about helping our customers enhance their audio capabilities with advanced solutions such as the Polycom Sound Structure, and this is another area of focus.

Although currently only about 10 percent of the UC market, cloud technology is also gaining traction in India and we are poised to leverage this growth. In addition to our partnership with PTCL to offer cloud-based video services, we are also working with service provider partners in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. As always, we will align closer and invest more with our partners, so we can jointly share the successes of our go-to-market and expansion plans.

About Minhaj Zia

Minhaj has joined Polycom in October 2013. Minhaj is responsible for leading Polycom\'s growth and revenue share in the region, and driving new opportunities in the company´┐Żs key South Asian markets.

With over 18 years of experience in enterprise communication, Minhaj\'s chief focus for India and SAARC – the alliance of eight South Asian nations including Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – is to drive growth by addressing the needs of the video conferencing market in the region. He joins Polycom with extensive technology and sales leadership competencies and will look to build on the strengths of established local teams.

Working with Polycom\'s extensive partner network, Minhaj will also concentrate on enhancing business development and customer relationship management. In previous roles, Minhaj served as Sales Director for Cisco\'s UC Collaboration business in India & SAARC and has led sales teams for Avaya and Alcatel. With his extensive experience, he now joins Polycom, the global leader in the UC&C space.