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Stay Ahead of Change

S  Janakiraman
S Janakiraman
R&D Head, 
MindTree
It was November 2001 and just two months after 9/11. The leadership team of R&D Services, a business unit of MindTree Consulting had gathered for the Annual Strategy Meet. The schedule for this meet was decided much ahead of 9/11 to take stock of the progress and plan the strategies. At the time of scheduling the meeting we had no clue that the world as well as our businesses would change for ever.

MindTree was launched in August 1999 as a high profile start up with Ashok Soota at the helm and a solid team of industry veterans coming together. The first full fiscal year April 2000 to March 2001 had been a record year for the toddler delivering $14 million as revenue.
MindTree entered the software services market with two businesses: R&D services business focused on communication technologies and providing design services for our customers to address the communication product needs of enterprises as well as telcos. IT services business focused on Internet technologies targeting the booming B2B and B2C dot.com markets. The spaces we chose to focus on, the industry expertise we brought in and the timing of the launch of MindTree were so perfect, it looked nothing can stop us from building a successful and fast growing global enterprise.

But, by the time we met in Nov 01, everything had changed. Most of the customers of R&D Services were high profile networking product startups that were rearing to take over the world away from giants like Cisco, Nortel and Lucent. Future of many of those startups came to a grinding halt with 9/11.

The analysts who predicted unlimited headroom for growth for the communication bandwidth and Internet applications just few months before 9/11 realized that world is running with excess capacity of bandwidth and Internet applications cannot fully replace the legacy systems.

Most of our customers who were startups in the communication space ran out of gas in just two months post 9/11 with investors pulling the plug and the bubble was burst. Our business which was growing at rapid pace till Sep 2001 came down crashing to half of what it was with many of our customers winding down their business and some cutting down their investment in technologies, people and outsourcing. The situation for us was like pulling the rug when the toddler is trying to walk.

Hence my leadership team that was gathered in the strategy meet to celebrate the past success and strategize the future was in a somber mood with questions in their face on how we can turnaround the business when we were excessively focused on communications space that was in deep trouble.
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Reader's comments(8)
1: Great, It is truly encouraging to enterpruners. I knew Mr. Janakiraman during my tenure at Wipro FEG 1982-91 and at R&D always he looks for .. what next ? Continuous improvements, changes(ECNs) etc.,
B. Ramesh Upadhya (bru)
Posted by:RAMESH UPADHYA - 08 Nov, 2010
2: A well written article Mr Janakiraman. I definetly agree to stress upon the importance of "Futuristic scenario planning by every organization". Needless to say we need to start meetings with"What we should not do?" rather than "What we should do?" At the same time we should be always in a quest to discover our own blue ocean making the competition irrelavent.

Regards
Sunil
www.sunilv.com
Posted by:sunil venkat - 13 Oct, 2010
3: R&D to me is, 'Resolve' & 'Deliver'. It’s all about a strong ‘resolve’ to allay the fear of risks, hurdles for change and uncertainties to rest and 'deliver' the vision. This case just exemplifies it to the ‘T’. Associated with R&D, I empathize & appreciate the grit of your team as also the strategic leadership which backed you relentlessly. It also demonstrates a classic case of open innovation, wherein you were able to leverage your expertise in one area to another.Simple Narration..
Posted by:Naveen Kashyap - 03 Aug, 2009
4: really awesome ,it shows the way by which you can take a positive side of change and convert it into opportunity.
Posted by:OmP Prakash - 03 Aug, 2009
5: Started my career after Sep 9/11 attack with all my dream shattered of studying abroad. Got to work as a fresher in a small company where efforts were made to sustain project.It was the management who kept the employee happy and those who have worked in those company have flourished in their company.Hats of to my first starting company
Posted by:Arun Jain - 24 Jul, 2009
6: Perfect article. Truely encouraging.
Posted by:Sandeep G Kashyap - 18 Jun, 2009
7: a read on this has thrown a light on what and why change is?
good eye opener to those who read this.
balakrishnan
Posted by:bala krishnan - 09 Jun, 2009
8: Hi Janakiraman
A very inspiring and encouraging information shared.

All the best
Cheers !!!
Bindu
Posted by:Bindu S Rathore - 15 May, 2009

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