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Glow Touch Technologies Nurturing a lasting Employee-Customer Relationship
Vimali Swamy
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The multi billion dollar ITeS industry is a competitive one and with big wigs like IBM and HP taking more interest in the services industry, the future looks rosy too. But in an industry where every one in a rat race to gain the larger share of the pie and rake in big ‘moola’ by stepping into every possible area of IT services, Glowtouch Technologies thinks otherwise. Founded in 2004 by Vidya Ravichandran and her father Dr. Ravichandran, Louisville, Kentucky headquartered Glowtouch believes in doing some thing different. Rather than focusing on every possible service offering available in the market today, it provides specialized offerings in niche market segments. But more importantly, rather than chasing a list of clientale, the company first and foremost focuses on its employees, for Vidya knows that a happy organization translates into a happy business practice and a satisfied customer base.

“The ITeS segment is known for the high rate of attrition and employee and personnel issues. But we at Glowtouch have been able to overcome this since the beginning,” she explains. Currently with employee strength of 800 in its headquarters at Louisville and development center at Mangalore, India, Glowtouch takes pride in the fact that its attrition rate has been one of the lowest in the industry. In fact, some of the employees who started during the founding days of Glowtouch are still continuing with the company and faring very well in managerial positions. Over the past few years, the company has received several awards and accolades for its organizational culture from STPI and FICCI and also be recognized as one of the fastest growing companies by Inc 500. “The key to achieving a wide recognition has been focused approach in the domain we are involved in and relying on the strengths that our senior management and employees have been able to bring to forefront,” beams Vidya.

Employees - The Real Assets
One of the founding principles of the company was to build an organization that celebrated and took pride in its resources. Hence it was a conscious decision to set up the company in Tier 2 cities in both U.S. and India, the reason being the level of commitment that comes across from the talent there. Unlike Tier 1 cities, where the talent scout is very intensive, leading to high attrition, talent in Tier 2 cities is more stable and prefers in long term relationship with organizations.

The back bone of any organization is the management and employee culture on which the entire business relies on. Glowtouch, since day one of its founding, has encouraged a transparent and entrepreneurial environment, with entrepreneurial culture not only practiced by those at management level but also those at senior employee level, by taking a sense of ownership in what they do. “Essentially, one of the things is that we are not afraid of is to admit if we are wrong. From the CEO to the bottom most level, no one is afraid of making mistakes and or even to learn from it. We believe in taking risks and to initiate this challenging bent of mind, the company ensures that the employees are not tied down by a stringent corporate structure or policies,” says Vidya, President, Glowtouch Technologies.

Over the years, the company has managed to build a strong talent base by scouting people across geographies with just the right mix of passion and attitude. Despite being 800 people large across two continents, Glowtouch still exudes the aura of a close knit family and leaves no stone unturned to keep the family together.

One of the unique things that one would come across at Glowtouch is a separate department that helps new employees settle down both with in the organization and outside. “We recruit people from small geographies and understand the difficulties they face when settling down at a new place. Hence we have a have a department in the organization that takes care of the employee needs and helps them settle down and be of help in whatever way they may need. The company even provides housing to about 30-35 percent of its employees. Apart from transportation to all, 24 hour medical facility with in the campus, health like yoga and meditation classes are additional facilities that we provide for their well being. On the whole the idea is to establish a healthy environment with in the organization,” explains Dr. Ravichandran, C.E.O of GlowTouch Technologies. The result — an agile and nimble workforce in hand and it is this agility and nimbleness that the company has successfully managed to translate into a strong customer relationship.

Customers — the King
With a senior management based in U.S. and its development centre in India (the largest in Mangalore) the Glowtouch has a set up a flexible business model where in the clients are directly in touch with R&D team. While all the customer facing activities happens from U.S. office, with senior technical managers going onsite, facing customers and managing customer relationships; the development team in India works simultaneously with the clients for project delivery. Of the 800 people, 25 are based in the U.S. and the rest in India.

One of the essential concerns of a client is the discontinuity in communication it faces due to frequent change in a team. “A question that arises frequently from customers is how they can ensure that the amount of training and time they spend on a project with the company’s employees does not go waste. Fortunately, for us this has never been a problem as this is where our strong organizational culture comes into play,” says Dr. Ravichandran. In the last seven years, there has hardly ever been a circumstance when Glowtouch’s client had to face discontinuity during a project and on an average most of the projects is on going for 3-4 years. Each of the employee has a very deep and understanding of engagement with customer. Some of the customers today stand way back from early 2000 and some of the employees have been engaged with them since the day one. “The journey helps both the client and employees to re-invent themselves,” he adds.

A Potpourri of Niche Services
In its strive to stand apart from the traditional IT services companies, the company also has a focused approach towards its business. Instead of offering a myriad of services, Glowtouch has had and continues to have a focused approach towards providing specialized offerings in niche segments. The company’s core business is Application Development and Tech Support for Web Hosting companies.

Intelligent Application Development for Business
Though the company provides a variety of application development services but the primary focus is Business Intelligence (BI). Glowtouch is a certified partner of IBM for Cognos and also Pentaho, an open source platform for BI.

With the advent of rich interactive technology, a lot of organizations, especially in the healthcare sector, have begun to generate tremendous amount of data. But unless channelized, it is very difficult to make intelligent decisions based on that data. Until a few years back, all of this data had never been put into a roadmap and hence organizations could not reap its potential. Due to this, organizations had been unable to make key decisions due to lack of information. With our BI expertise, we help organizations process the constantly generated data into a management dashboard so that both the organization and its clients can use it derive useful information. This information helps organizations increase efficiency and improve the process. “What we essentially do is start as consultants in the beginning and then transcend into processing the entire information and developing a management dashboard so that all the data generated makes sense,” explains Vidya.

For example, one of the Glowtouch’s clients is CareMedic Systems. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, Caremedics is a healthcare industry leader in providing proactive financial management technology, implemented in more than 1,500 hospitals and other institutions across all 50 states and Puerto Rico. CareMedic’s suite of revenue cycle management solutions help organizations streamline cash flow and speed the reimbursement process, helping customers manage the complexity of the revenue cycle to increase their bottom lines.

Its revolutionary product, the electronic Financial Record (eFR), consolidates all revenue cycle information and activity in one place, eliminating information silos and uniting data from disparate systems. Not only does this improve workflow and operational efficiency, but it also enables CareMedic customers to put more time and effort into what’s most important – their patients.

Glowtouch stepped in by helping build electronic Financial Record (eFR) Dashboard, an advanced management tool that enables effective management at all levels and decision makers. Users at any level are able to access better information with high speed. The success story of Care Medic Systems Inc. - electronic Financial Record (eFR) - IBM Cognos solution, developed by GlowTouch Technologies was recognized by IBM as well. Today, years after the initial engagement, GlowTouch continues to provide maintenance and productivity enhancement features with a highly experienced and functionally strong Project Manager and a dedicated programming team.

Similarly, the company has built refinery monitoring system for Genscape, a leading global provider of energy information for commodity and financial markets. Utilizing patented technologies and proprietary algorithms, Genscape provides accurate & timely data on capacities, flow and utilization for all major energy commodities. The product range includes the well known real-time services for power and gas in North America and Europe. Genscape also delivers fundamentals-based market intelligence services which market participants rely upon to better understand drivers, risks, and dynamics of regional power and gas markets.

Glowtouch developed a refinery monitoring system which provides operational insight covering critical refineries in the US that supply gasoline and today it continues to help monitor three major oil storage fields which are located across United States. The team works round the clock (24x7) to provide real time and accurate data about the oil storage fields, a process which involves monitoring the IR images of the storage units very closely and sending the reports at regular/agreed time intervals.

Some of the other bigwigs in its BI clientele include Research in Motion (RIM) for which it prepared a technology planning tool that helps the company make corporate wide updates on the status of the various research projects with in each team, monitor product development, release time frame for hardware/software launch and more via an interactive dashboard.

Moving Beyond Tech Support
The other major business for Glowtouch is Tech Support for Web Hosting companies where it provides Tier 1, 2 and 3 support including back office support and infrastructure services. Active clients: 100 at a given time. For years now, these were the only services it offered to Web Hosting companies but now the company is slowly spreading its wings to venture deeper into this segment.

“In BPO sector we see a lot of untapped potential. There are several areas where many of our web hosting clients is unable to provide services. They have the customers but are unable to leverage on it for providing add on services. So we have started to partner with them to provide these add on services, so that our clients can continue to monetize on their existing customer base,” explains Vidya. For example, IPower, a web hosting company, was not offering add on services such as web design, SEO, high end custom design services previously. Glowtouch put together a potpourri of add on products and services for it and some of its other clients and has started to offer it in partnership with them. The end result — an increased revenue lifecycle for both the company and its customers.

“From customer standpoint, we are looking at increasing our engagement with them and increase the processes we are involved with them. They are now bringing us into more processes than we seeking them,” Vidya says. In a way tech support has started to perform better as the years go by and become more commoditized. What the company aims to achieve is climb higher up in the value chain with services like back office support and engineering segment. “We want to keep the focus of the segments limited because of the domain knowledge but are looking into engaging deeper in case of segment and broader in case of services. In the long run, what we are hoping to achieve is full life cycle support instead of just tech support,” says she.

The Road Ahead
Despite being located in Tier 2 cities and offering niche services, the company is quite active in its marketing activities. The company since founding has acquired over 150 clients across US and Canada and a few in UK, of which 100 are active at any given point.
To continue its successful streak the company brought in private equity partners, about three years ago, who have invested in Glowtouch and helped it morph into a more credible and professionally run company than just a family run organization which it was in the initial years.

In the long run, Vidya bets on a promising future in the healthcare sector. “This is one sector which is witnessing a continuous expenditure on technology. There is a big need for augmentation and need for development in this sector and we find ourselves in a sweet spot due to our presence since early part of the decade,” says she. The company hopes to expand its clientele geographically, especially Europe. Apart from this it also plans to double its revenues and resources in the next three years.

With its focused approach towards its business and a strong organizational culture, the company is a shining example of what a simple “employee care” could do for an organizations business and its growth in the long run.
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