Paving their Own Road to Success
Date: Friday , November 02, 2012
It used to be if you had the best technology, you were successful. But today, everyone’s got the best technology. Today, success goes to the company that uses that technology the best. The distinction is subtle but crucial. The same can be said for the companies building and deploying the technology – IT services providers. They all pull from the same technology resources available in the marketplace, and they all recruit from the same global talent pool.
But they do not all compete on equal ground.
That’s because a company like UST Global has taken the proverbial “road less traveled” and structured its entire organization in a different way.
As UST Global CEO Sajan Pillai explains, “Taking the familiar, well-traveled path may seem easy. But it leads to a familiar, well-traveled destination. Today, thanks to globalization, that familiar destination is no longer where companies want to go. So at UST Global we have set out to pave our own road to success.”
That road includes a different approach to innovation, to hiring, to locating its offices, to educating its workforce, and to delivering the next technologies that will propel its clients forward.
UST Global is an end-to-end IT Services and Solutions provider serving more than 50 Fortune 500 companies in retail, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, media and entertainment. The company provides IT consulting, managed services, BPO, and application development and management.
Founded in 1999, UST Global has operations in 18 countries across four continents. But that is not what makes a company global, according to Sajan.
“To be truly global, a company should be able to deliver sales, marketing, customer service and production anywhere to anyone.”
One example: UST Global recently opened a new center in Mexico. The company entered an exclusive partnership with Centro Fox, the state-of-the-art presidential library and learning center dedicated to leadership development throughout Mexico and Latin America. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox announced the partnership himself when he visited the U.S. headquarters of UST Global. The center will be home-base for 10,000 UST Global employees of which 1/3 will serve the U.S. market, 1/3 the Mexican market and 1/3 will serve the rest of the Latin America market.
Fewer Clients, More Attention
Due to globalization, the way to stand apart as a service provider today is by increasing customer intimacy.
There has been a drastic change in the current IT Services sector in terms of customer intimacy. It is important that all sources of partners, particularly technology partners, truly understand the role of the customer.
Initially, control was in the hands of creators. That control gradually shifted to dealers. Today Customer Rules, they are in control. The secret lies in understanding that in past 120 years, the business world has evolved from big market retailers and mall owners to global leaders like Wal-Mart that use marketing as a driving principle along with large but sophisticated distribution system which is no longer based on cities, but it is for global markets. And that is why UST Global principle of “Fewer clients, more attention” fits today’s customer intimacy necessity.
Hence we need to have further understanding with customer, to whom the technology partners serve. This requires a new way of thinking about clients. For instance, a technology partner typically would think, “Can we give the customers a cheaper, better and faster technology solution which will increase the revenues of the client?”
Such shift, being completely concerned and caring about customers by providing them the competitive edge is going to delineate the size of the company, is no more relevant. The history of IT Services businesses pictures the first generation companies as the one who had lot of people spread across nations. The second generation was branded companies and the third, the size and brand is important for them but not sufficient. And this is the shift that UST Global is making. In order to serve its customers better, the company has set up a unique three point client intimacy model that ensures that the business runs efficiently without giving any reason for customers to be disappointed.
Not Just the Best Practice, But the
Sajan envisions UST Global to become the Apple of its industry sector – inspired by the preemptive advantage that Apple has created in its own market, placing itself several laps ahead of its competitors with creative innovation.
This preemptive advantage has taken UST Global several steps ahead of its competitors in terms of innovation.
“Innovation is part of our DNA. We have taken action to enable a continuous stream of innovation – with the goal of serving as a lightning rod for the crowd-sourcing of innovation,” explains Sajan.
UST Global has implemented several different initiatives to ensure it achieves that level of innovation on an ongoing basis – innovation centers, managed innovation systems and co-creation centers, to name a few. These initiatives help them build next-generation business models in participation with their clients, and to create monetization models with the clients for approaching new segments and industries.
The Client University
Sajan knows the secret sauce behind successful businesses. His years of experience have helped him form a Client University so that UST Global team members can gain intimate knowledge of a client’s business and industry, and therefore add as much value as possible to the work generated for those clients. The knowledge base housed within these UST Global Client Universities is so deep that sometimes even the clients themselves use it to train their own employees.
UST Global also is bringing next generation consumerology and algorithms from universities to its own knowledge base.
UST Global creates multiple types of investment and engagement models to help customers increase their revenues. Serving as a true partner, the company connects multiple clients with each other to create new solutions for both parties.
“Our own clients have become the channel for interaction to create a line of products for both of them. We have co-creation centers that we are putting in place where multiple clients in UST Global co-create new services that can increase revenues for them,” says Sajan.
Innovation in a Different Way
Conventional wisdom says: hire the best – that is, those who appear to be the best at what they do on first glance. But Sajan has a different plan. He would rather bring out the best. He believes that bringing out the best in the people you hire is more interesting and more valuable for companies than hiring the best.
“Those who get the best education do not necessarily have the most knowledge. To me it is more valuable to have a team of people who are motivated, informed and inspired. It is my job to inspire people to build the very best every day,” says Sajan.
Sajan encourages employees to experiment. If they fail, he supports them. And if they succeed, the whole company celebrates.
Instead of making people come to cities to get work, Sajan brings work to them, thus reducing social displacement problems. Hence, one can find all the major centers of UST Global located in Tier II cities, rather than Tier I cities, throughout North America and India.
The Mantra of Purpose Before Self
It is important for all corporations to answer “why are we doing this?” before even considering “what and how are we doing it?” UST Global expresses this principle through its mantra: purpose before self.
“If we do not have an answer to the ‘why’ question, and if employees do not understand or believe in our purpose, then they cannot give their best and we would not achieve our best for our clients,” explains Sajan.
Sajan believes so strongly is this principle that he suggests to clients that they talk to as many employees as they want to before deciding to give the business to UST Global.
The ‘SoLoMo’ way
UST Global believes in the ‘SoLoMo’ way – a movement toward social, local and mobile applications and services. This was conceptualized within the Client University where clients from verticals like retail, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and media and entertainment asked for mobile services.
This trend influenced the company to acquire Amtare, a mobile CRM application provider – propelling UST Global’s venture into the mobile segment and providing strong mobility support to its clients.
“Social, local and mobile, are the three groundbreaking platforms for technology and business,” explains Sajan. “Companies know where they will find their clients, i.e., social networking sites. This has forced them to go local to offer the best to their clients. There are four billion cell phones and less than one billion computers – so why would not a company go mobile? The social, local and mobile combo makes it easier than ever for companies to reach potential clients at a lower cost. Thus, we are making tremendous amount of investment on this segment now.”
But the bottom line for Sajan and for UST Global is that success is based on a commitment to a client’s success that goes beyond the contract. That commitment translates into a culture focused on going above and beyond for its customers, and on doing things right – right from the start.
Just as the familiar path leads to familiar results, the road less traveled – the commitment beyond contract – leads to new and exciting opportunities for UST Global and its customers.