Making IT Fun

Date:   Saturday , September 30, 2006

Every week about 600 techies at GCI Solutions get an email containing a new trivia about the company. Labeled as ‘Did You Know,’ the mail tells them facts about the company’s 16-year-old history, its businesses and even about the accolades and rankings the company has achieved. CEO Jawahar Bekay says, “People here like that mail a lot.”

Bekay has a reason to say that. Right since 2003, GCI has been one of the top Indian founded companies in the U.S., providing IT consulting services and solutions to Fortune 2000 customers. It has over 3000 employees working in 20 offices and 6 global delivery centers.

Being Special Helps
Though its customers range from Telecom to BFSI, Pharmaceuticals to Insurance, Manufacturing to the Government, majority of its services are centered on e-business. With enterprises looking at improving the effectiveness of their business using the Internet, GCI has been working on web solutions. “We were a market leader in Web 1.0. Similarly we are doing cutting edge work on Web.2.0,” says Bekay. With Web 2.0 showing promise as is visible from various companies spawning in this sector, GCI has a lot to gain. Its engineers work on technologies that revolve around web portals, contents, transactions, collaborations and applications. In the last two years, they have launched two versions of Extended Supply Chain Management (xSCM) that looks after the entire series that includes demand, selection, planning, multiple order, data logistics, transportation and logistics for a leading manufacturing, retail and logistics industry player. As the team here is also involved in building applications from ground up, techies are involved in architectural work, besides, migrating Web 1.0 application to Web 2.0.

With the surge in usage of mobile devices across the world including India, device testing is one industry that excites techies the most. It is also a potential money-spinner. Keeping this in mind, GCI has set up a device-testing lab in Bangalore that can also test various networks, protocols like bluetooth and WiFi. Bekay says, “We work with some of the largest industrial grade mobile manufacturers in the world.” GCI also has a strong RFID team in Bangalore that is aimed at the growing organized retail sector. It recently started working on enterprise software support and planning for the ERP and is developing software on Net Weaver.

People Support
It’s always difficult for a new brand to make a dent in the market and techies might just dismiss a new company as an ‘also ran.’ But this is not the situation with GCI.
With scale comes anonymity and this happens in any large IT firm. In contrast, with any small company, Bekay says techies at GCI do not suffer from anonymity, as employees know each other. But recruiting, hiring, and training at a pace that can satisfy insatiable appetite for talent requires more than simply showing new employees their desks. Clearly, GCI is helping its employees in more ways than one. That includes growth. Growth at GCI is faster than at a traditional IT company that has layers of

Techies, some with just six-eight years experience, work on complex designs and
technology. “It is phenomenal to build a mission critical project and it is a combination of getting the right people and being able to train them in the way we want,” he says.

GCI has niche level multiple track career-planning programs to produce a second line of managerial defense. In this program, they have identified techies-including freshers as future managers. This number is seven percent of the total headcount. They are selected based on their aptitude for learning and their work is mapped for three years. Based on what they enjoyed doing during this period, they are assigned the work. This is a kind of contingency plan that keeps a layer of managers groomed and ready for the company so that it eliminates the need to go to the market to search for managers. This way the company has 40-50 employees who are ready to take over managerial post when the need arises and manage 400-500 people.

Company Culture
“We encourage people to think differently on many fronts,” Bekay says referring to the periodic CEO chat where all employees can ask questions on any topic. This helps the techies to sort out their problems or differences. This tool helps the company create right working environment, he says.

GCI also has a cross functional group that suggests improvements that have to be made across the organization, be it a specific technology area, or company wide initiatives like branding, quality and career planning. Techies take part in the meetings and add to their overall managerial and organizational change initiatives. Now that’s what one calls ‘Making IT Fun’.