Collabera: Collaboration for Accelerated Value
Date: Monday , November 03, 2008
"There is no doubt that organizations are collaborating more and more. I see collaboration as an engine that can drive rapid growth, and if necessary radical innovation as well," says the author Ralph B. Welborn in his widely popular book Jericho Principle. Collabera is one among such few companies that believe in bringing value for customers by adopting collaborative models, especially in this fast changing technology space, where many IT vendors are struggling to keep their customers remain engaged with them. This Morristown, New Jersey based IT consulting services and solutions firm believes that engaging with the customer in a ‘collaborative’ manner, by being consultative, by offering domain specific solutions, and embracing Enterprise 2.0 principles in their delivery models, could be a game changer.
In the world of the so-called commoditized IT services arena where a lot of biggies like Accenture, IBM, Wipro, Infosys, and many others play around, Collabera needed a strong differentiator to stand out in the crowd. They decided on being a strong consultative partner to clients in chosen domains by offering IP driven business solutions. "Our client engagement model has changed to being more of an advisory partner and our services are more prescriptive. This required the entire organization’s DNA to be transformed towards a consultative mindset," states Mohan Sekhar, President and COO, Collabera.
No doubt, there is a strong reason for Collabera to feel good, because their forward-looking approach gives them an edge over the market scenario as well as their competition. The company's go-to-market positioning is about bridging the execution gap and helping customers adapt to shifting market needs. Collabera’s proprietary Momentum consulting framework delivers asset based domain solutions and services to clients with greater success and predictability. Informs Hiten Patel, Chairman and CEO, Collabera, “With our proprietary methodologies such as Momentum, Asset Based Services (ABS), and collaborative engagement models, we help our customers experience accelerated value by bridging the critical gaps between business and IT.” Today, with revenues of $300 million, the company employs over 4,000 highly skilled professionals at 19 offices and three world-class delivery centers in the U.S., Europe, and India. This global delivery model leverages a best-in-class quality system, which includes SEI CMM I Level 5 and ISO 27001 security certifications to deliver a full portfolio of services to the global 2000 companies in the areas of Consulting, Application Development and Management, Enterprise Software Solutions, Independent Testing, Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence.
Bridging the Gap: An Innovative Approach
A leading publisher in UK whose flagship paper boasts a circulation of nearly 1 million prints was facing challenges in synchronizing their two channels of publishing—print and online. Existing applications were non-cohesive and non-communicating. Collabera approached this not just as an IT opportunity, and instead took a holistic approach to address the business need. Collabera analyzed the existing operations, technology, and systems environment through its 4 week consulting workshop and came up with a strategy to streamline the processes, improve agility, and control the cost of operations. Collabera also automated the aggregation and presentation process, thus ensuring the client to gain operational efficiency and reduce the cost of maintaining multiple applications.
So, what makes Collabera different is the way in which it perceives customer's needs and how they create the glue between concept to strategy to realization. The key layers of any organization would be its strategy, business process, application, and infrastructure layers. Most enterprises face challenges due to the gaps that exist between these four layers, which prevent them from meeting their strategic objectives as most of the solutions available in the market typically address only one of the four layers. "The reasons for this could be several. The key ones would be loss of information, lack of streamlined effort, semantic disconnect, capacity mismatches like in the areas of infrastructure, budgets, skill sets, and lack of adoptability or flexibility," says Jayanth Selvappullai, Global Marketing Head. Added to this, the ever increasing and always shifting market demands keep continuously raising the bar.
Collabera looks at the client's needs holistically, cutting across the internal silos. This is where their consultative mindset, asset based solutions, collaboration, and innovation aspects play a role and make the difference.
Consulting Led Services Philosophy
The ability of an organization to sense and respond to external market changes and internal business needs is critical for it to survive and thrive in any economic condition. Collabera believes that there are four key characteristics that must be present in an organization to exhibit this agility; namely 'flexibility' ? the ability to react to, and in some instances predict, change; 'adaptability' ? the ability to react to unpredictable changes; 'awareness' ? the ability to be aware of and utilize the right information and activities that drive its agility; and 'productivity' ? the effectiveness and efficiency of processes and operations.
How organizations leverage their IT capabilities could be a key enabler or be a major obstacle in their quest to be agile. "Collabera's consulting organization ensures that IT organizations can 'accelerate' their 'value recognition' and deliver to their business by helping them prepare to meet the challenges of unexpected business changes, better predict what business and related IT changes should be expected, provide their business the ability to use the right information at the right time, and finally be efficient and effective in the delivery of their services," explains Shafqat Azim, Head of Consulting and Advisory Services who recently has come on board from Gartner Consulting. Consulting services are focused in four areas; IT Strategy, Architecture and Technology, Sourcing, and Program Management. It provides substantial depth of coverage and hands-on experience in each of the practices, which enable the clients transform their IT organizations.
Collabera uses its Momentum consulting framework to keep everyone focused on the outcome and impact on the organization at every step towards realizing it. "There are three primary phases of Momentum, firstly, Problem Definition, secondly Prioritization, and thirdly the ROI roadmap," explicates Eric Carlson, SVP Consulting. Collabera designed this consulting framework to provide high-quality results within a reduced time frame. "We analyze the business issues, identify the end goal, and then guide the client through prioritizing the recommended actions to ensure our efforts are focused on the specific actions that will deliver the greatest benefits to the client," says Carlson. "Momentum methodology quickly creates a consensus on project scope and priorities across business and IT," says a Senior Director at a major U.S. Insurance Company, a key client of Collabera.
Asset Based Domain Solutions
Well, Momentum is not just a methodology; it is also based on the assets behind it. For each selected vertical the company has a library of reference architectures, business processes, and business models pre-built ahead of time with it, and calls them 'assets'. Broadly, Asset Based Services (ABS) is Collabera's next generation execution framework that is built on the concept of repeatable service delivered through a combination of IPs, frameworks, best practices, and skills that ensure higher level of productivity and quality for customers. Building several reusable assets through innovation triggered by client’s needs forms the heart of ABS.
Collabera has chosen Banking, Communications, Media, Retail, and Manufacturing as the key domains to offer their solutions to. "These are the areas where we will continue to invest in building assets and accelerators which will help solve client's business problems in the shortest time possible," informs Sekhar.
For instance, instead of taking standard application development services, Collabera has developed the Digital Transformation solution for the publishing media, which directly aligns to the current challenges the publishing media is facing and the hurdles it encounters in leveraging the online channel.
"For the telecom clients, we have developed the Revenue Assurance solution, which is a significant pain area for the service providers, and no single product available in the market can solve the revenue leakage issues fully," says Krishnamurthy Ramamurthy, Global Delivery Head. Another area is enterprise mobility. "We are expanding the capability significantly here by developing an enterprise mobility offering that covers strategy to implementation and building an application framework to accelerate the process of extending enterprise applications to the mobile community," clarifies Krishnamurthy.
Collaborative Engagement Models
Collabera's unique collaborative engagement models are specially conceived for delivering services with greater success and predictability. As we all know, over the past few years, the IT Industry has seen tremendous growth, especially in countries like India. The trigger for offshoring was primarily led by the need for cost-effective delivery to clients, and India became home of the global delivery model with most of the companies operating in an onshore-offshore model.
But a majority of the Indian IT players focused their efforts on increasing the offshore effort to protect their margins. This model of operating with a thin client-site presence was not so successful with many of the Fortune 1000 companies that have been facing operational challenges. This has led to evolution of their Collaborative Engagement Models based on a customer-centric execution philosophy, which leverages offshore advantages. "Interestingly, our model evaluates the clients' projects in six dimensions: time to market, criticality, technology, domain, process maturity, and risks. And depending on the outcome we recommend to the client an execution framework which could be a stand alone or combination of client site, offsite, and offshore delivery models," explains Ashwin Rao, Global Sales Head. Today, Collabera sees that this model is indeed a clear differentiator and is leading to increasing client satisfaction.
Leading through innovation is a critical part of Collabera's asset based service delivery model. A significant investment has been made in instilling the culture of innovation and technology thought leadership through Collabera Labs. The group's charter includes creation of IP assets, newer technology adoption, and research. "The lab is also responsible for solution ideation, tech consulting and building technology toolsets that make our software developers more productive," explains Bala Variyam, head of Technology.
Currently, Collabera Labs is working on initiatives such as Mobility, Enterprise 2.0, and Software Engineering (Requirement Management) amongst others. The team has also instilled a formal feedback mechanism to solicit vital inputs from the client site that contribute to the process of building IP assets.
Ideas and Principles
In this era of globalization, more and more organizations have started seeing collaboration as a critical requirement for their success. In fact the name of the company, 'Collabera', is derived from the word 'collaboration', which is precisely the way in which the company works. "It is a reflection of where the company is headed towards and it also reflects partnership and teamwork," says Sekhar.
Interestingly, many of the Enterprise 2.0 companies also reflect the same principles. Enterprise 2.0 tools like Blogs and Wikis and many others are essentially collaboration tools, which are useful for sharing unstructured information associated with adhoc or ongoing projects and processes.
"We believe that by adopting such collaboration methodologies we can bring in transparency and increase participation from multiple stakeholders, which ultimately results in consensus driven output," says Patel.
The Road Ahead
A forward looking company that has seen key leadership additions in recent times, Collabera aspires to script a new history in the IT consulting and services arena. Sekhar, who has had considerable success in driving growth and transformation at Infosys and iGATE, joined Collabera in May 2008. He is responsible for building and transforming global IT services business of the company and making Collabera a premier brand for customers and employees. "With our innovative collaborative approach and the experienced team, we'll achieve success in the next few years," affirms a confident Sekhar. "Collabera is now well positioned and has the fundamental building blocks (consulting, alliances, assets and global delivery) with multiple growth engines. We are confident of Collabera's success with world class delivery and customer engagement team," adds Patel.
In terms of market, Collabera is currently targeting the U.S. and U.K. It plans to spread out its reach to most parts of Europe soon. With well-defined strategies and roadmaps, certainly there is a bright prospect for Collabera to fulfill its aim to touch the sky of unlimited opportunities. "Collaboration is going to be the way going forward", and Collabera strongly believes in this principle.
Founded: January, 1991
Chairman & CEO: Hiten Patel
President & COO: Mohan Sekhar
No. Of Offices: 19
Global Delivery Centers: 3
Global Headquarters: Morristown, NJ, U.S.A.
Vertical Focus: Financial Services, Communications, Media,
Manufacturing, and Retail.