Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

'Cloud computing, IT security will become more strategic': Qtek Systems CEO

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the gaps between business continuity plans on paper and what needed to deployed in practice, says Anand Ramakrishnan, CEO of Qtek Systems, part of Quess Corp

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Apr 24, 2020 05:24:55 PM IST
Updated: Apr 24, 2020 05:59:17 PM IST

'Cloud computing, IT security will become more strategic': Qtek Systems CEO

As countries and economies start opening up, enterprises will look to accelerate their move to the cloud. This, along with information security, will become more central to their strategies, says Ramakrishnan in an interview with Forbes India. Edited excerpts:


What are the biggest challenges (and any opportunities) your customers are facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic?

The top four challenges are the following: First, managing the differences between a planned business continuity plan (BCP) and an actual BCP—most customers had a BCP on paper but its full-scale implementation was not envisaged and hence, untested. Now, companies are discovering that implementation is not that easy and requires a lot more planning and fine-tuning.

Second, partial work-from-home has resulted in challenges of work allocation and efficiency measurement.

Third is the challenge of tiding over the short term without impacting the long term. For instance, taking decisions on vendor contracts’ scope reduction and at the same time retaining the ability to scale these contracts back once normalcy returns, without having an adverse impact on either the business or cost.

Four, small IT vendors are unable to manage cash flows and resources, which, in return, is proving to be a continuity risk to the customers.


How are you helping your customers to tackle those challenges?

We are involved in executing our customers’ BCPs and covering gaps that have not been thought of previously from an IT standpoint. For example, not enough thought is given to information security in a BCP. We make it as basic as possible and help our customers in getting the simple things right first.

We have a team on 24x7 support. Even during the lockdown, we have sent engineers with the necessary clearances from the police to attend to critical issues. We have a motivated workforce whose primary intent is to support our customers, irrespective of location. Hence, there is a substantial amount of remote and telephonic help we are providing to our customers, while ensuring service-level agreements are met even during these difficult times.


Which products and services from your company are most in demand during these times? Why?

We are seeing our services across infrastructure services and cloud, remote service desk, break-fix services (meaning ad-hoc service for a fee) and information security, all in more demand due to the sudden need to work-from-home.

Interestingly, one of the other services being spoken about is robotics process automation (RPA), until now restricted to certain areas of banking and finance and customer support centres. This is possibly because customers have begun to realise that automation spend today may result in substantial benefits during times of crisis in the future too.

Once Covid-19 comes to an end, we expect to see a lot more action around cloud and information security together as a strategy.


How well were your customers prepared for the work-from-home scenario?

I think most of our customers did admirably well and most importantly, they acted quickly. If we look at the various sectors, organised retail has most stores shut or working lesser hours. Similarly, quite a few manufacturing plants are closed. However, the critical corporate functions in both these sectors are working from home reasonably well. In other sectors such as essential services and IT too, things continue to run.


How are you helping them to shift to the work-from-home model?

We help them lift and shift from their office to home environments; manage their information security; ensure the availability of engineers to provide support remotely; ensure physical presence for key issues with all required clearance; and access to their key business applications.

Moreover, in partnership with companies such as HP, Cisco and IBM, we are providing solutions for remote management and work-from-home like HPE iLO, Aspera cloud services from IBM and Cisco Meraki Security.


Are your customers accelerating their move-to-the-cloud plans during these times? Why?

Given the current circumstances, we don’t necessarily see many of our customers moving to cloud right now because priorities are different. But we are certain this will be part of their plans once the lockdown ends. We also expect a lot more activity around BCP, which will involve cloud in a big way.


What are the biggest opportunities and challenges faced by your own company during these times?

We believe the Covid19 and post-Covid19 periods will be an opportunity for us. The Indian IT service provider landscape is extremely fragmented, apart from a few large players. During this period of crisis, many have had severe cash flow issues and attrition. Our size and stability are a huge advantage. We already have requests from customers to add resources to make up for what they are losing from smaller IT players.

We are one of the early cloud players in the US, where we run our own cloud for insurance companies. This is a capability we bring to Indian customers too. Since the US insurance landscape is also highly regulated, we have expertise in building secure clouds with adherence to regulations and compliance requirements.

Moreover, we are a flat organisation with people on the ground empowered to take decisions. This allows our teams to work with the customers during times of crisis, without being bureaucratic or contractual. Such decision making has already helped us expand our relationships with some of our existing customers.