Altran India: Making its Presence felt in the Indian Aerospace Industry

Date:   Tuesday , November 05, 2013

India, a country that consumes one out of every six Airbus aircrafts manufactured worldwide; stands ninth in aviation and aerospace, is moving towards being the world\'s fifth biggest in this vertical. The country also takes pride in being the sixth largest producer of nuclear energy. It was just a matter of time before the world\'s top global aviation and nuclear energy companies started to explore the immense potential on offer in the Indian aviation market. Amongst these global players are several European companies which are strongly establishing their mark despite lagging behind in terms of a local industrial presence. Making its presence felt is France-based global consulting firm Altran (ALT.PA), a Paris Stock Exchange listed company, which plunged into the unexplored market in 2004 through Altran India. Eight years hence, the Bangalore-based company has a dominant presence in the aerospace and nuclear industry and works behind the scenes very closely with names such as Airbus and a host of other established aviation firms.
The innovation giant initially got into the Indian market in part due to the Indian Government\'s decision to impose \'offset\' legislature for all defense procurement contracts, requiring a minimum amount of work to be undertaken inside India. \"We were initially headquartered in New Delhi, but we soon moved base to Bangalore, because of the availability of a trained workforce of bright, talented young people,\" says Sanjay Kumar, CEO, Altran India.

Altran globally is focused around Technology and Innovation consulting that spans across different domains including Aerospace and defense; Automotive, Infrastructure and Transportation; Energy and industry; Financial services and several others. In 2003, the company joined hands with Solar Impulse as engineering partner to help them invent the world\'s first solar plane. The solar powered manned aircraft, named Solar Impulse was able to fly across two continents; however, they are working towards overcoming the challenge of flying it day and night using only solar energy even in adverse climates. \"Providing such innovative consulting is in the DNA of Altran, and we have incorporated the same to our core philosophy,\" says Mr. Kumar.

Within India, Altran\'s focus is majorly in two industries: aerospace and nuclear. Aerospace is their biggest practice in India and paddles both civil and military aerospace or defense. The company partners with some of the biggest aerospace manufacturers in the world in helping them develop technology solutions through a broad range of activities from stress analysis in structures to fatigue analysis to flight physics studies. Kumar explains, \"India beholds tremendous opportunity in both aerospace and defense and we are looking at how we can participate in this market over a period of time as it grows both in the civil side in terms of working with the global aircraft companies which work in India and on the defense side either through joint ventures or through partnering with local players who seek our expertise\".

Altran has also developed an intelligence system practice that works both at systems integration in avionics and also in aerospace. Every Altran employee is committed to bring their client\'s most complex projects to life and boost performance through their vast expertise in technology and innovation processes. Where creative ideas become a reality, Altran consultants step up to transform them into innovative solutions that can enable technological progress. Tagged as a French company, Altran already is a level up than other players in the space and with India operations taking off, they are able to provide services to a wider geography particularly allowing them to access markets in the Middle East and South East Asia and even across west coast U.S.

Adopting to Indian Methodologies and Driving Success

Altran scripted their story in India from Delhi in 2004 but they truly stepped onto the stage in 2008. With a small presence in Delhi, the management decided to shift base to Bangalore in 2010 and the success stories grew twofold to say the least. Unlike the U.S. and UK, countries with a history of business associations with India, the European countries have recently started working towards building a bond with the Asian market. Like any other European company, Altran too spent their early days testing the waters as they were not familiar with the geography and the economic environment here. Along with little exposure to Indian engineering, Altran also faced the challenge in understanding the issues around quality, capabilities, infrastructure and efficiency. \"Our growth took off in the past three years when India started emerging as a crucial market for the aerospace industry. Recognizing India as a game changer, we were pushed by our global customers to have presence here,\" adds Kumar. Today, Altran India is the obvious choice for the skills needed by their customers which they have garnered through years of experience working with different markets.
Altran follows the TDMS (Task Delivery Management System) tool which is a tried and trusted methodology of working at different geographies. It defines the common rules that holds the projects and project teams across the world and applies when it comes to delivery to a customer globally. To check the compliance of the delivery models across geographies comply, Altran performs audit. The global consulting company has defined four levels of delivery which is together known in the industry circles as ADM (Altran Delivery Model). The four of which are defined as the consultancy and technical support, managed services, fixed price projects and outsource services. The veteran management team leverages the PPM (Project Portfolio Management), which is a clarity tool that allows managing the resources, tasks along with value management to provide the best in class services to their customers.

Overcoming Odds with the Best Talent

Even though skills are the core ingredient of Altran\'s success, the company once overcame against all odds when it was under a high attrition rate of over 19 percent. Today the company not just hires the engineers but trains them extensively for over 18 months across India and Europe centers to align them with the needs of the industry. More than 50 percent of their employees have been to Europe for training to align them with the global skill sets required by global clients. This has provided the employees a hand above their peers on the global front. Currently their attrition rate is less than 3.9 percent which can be considered as one of the best in the industry. \"What could be of more worth than a handful of satisfied employees who are enjoying the quality of work they do? We take pride in the fact that we are able to attract the best talent in the industry and provide them an environment to grow with us. What was previously considered impossible in a third world country is now being done in India through our competence centers i.e., mechanical engineering and intelligence systems,\" adds a proud Kumar. A testimony to the skilled workforce is with the company getting an ISO 9001 certification and looking forward to an ISO 9100 certification in the near future. Most of the employees are ITIL certified and several others are PMI certified. \"We offer high level engineers that we select from the best universities in India. Adding on that, we encourage and manage on-site assignments in Europe and the U.S. One can easily find the engineers at Altran with higher probability of having middle or long term assignments in Europe. Having such exchange programs is the best way to have our engineers add on better communication, specific content understanding, and good technical level. When it comes to work within the Indian market, we are always more advanced when compared to competitors as we have people who better understand the market and are faster,\" says Jerome Golaszewski, Program Director, Altran India.

The above point can best be better explained through the partnership between Altran and a reputed automotive manufacturer in France. This French auto manufacturer has setup their captive center in India and were keen on propositions for transfer of activities but with less risk. Altran was working with this automotive manufacturer in Europe from quite a few years, while Altran India started working with the French automaker\'s India captive center from January 2013. The unique work methodology can be pointed out in the area where Altran France proposed a less risk transfer knowledge from French automaker to its Indian captive center through Altran India with an option of a one of a kind BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) model. As a pilot, work is currently underway for multimedia connectivity solutions for automotive programs scheduled for release in 2014 and 2015. The team has been built so as to comprise a combination of varied development and testing skills in manual code development, model based development, Android applications related to systems engineering and software engineering.

Apart from smooth strategic alliances, the challenge for Mr. Kumar still remains finding the right quality of people who can be skilled up and align with the industry needs. However, he foresees exciting times ahead both from growth and development perspective in terms of the complexity and nature of work that Altran\'s people will continue to engage in the months ahead.

Moving Beyond being a Pure Play IT Provider

Ever since Altran India sketched their growth graph three years back, they have always been keen on growing both organically and inorganically. The company boasts of possessing the best infrastructure facilities, state-of-the-art laboratories and simulators in all of the Altran Group and are planning few minor acquisitions over the next 12 months starting this quarter that will be essentially focused around mechanical engineering, along with two major acquisitions in Intelligence Systems which will help the company to achieve the market objective and meet analyst expectations.
Currently, Altran has tightened its belt and geared up their arsenal to take India to the next step in terms of engineering and moving beyond just being a pure play process oriented IT provider. With Altran\'s excellence in innovation, India also benefits by moving up the value chain and establishing good skill sets into complex engineering methods. The company today continues to forge stronger partnerships with the Indian market and showcases the true potential of the aviation and aerospace Industry of India to the world.