They say a football match is a game of two halves and this is an analogy that can also be applied to the business world. Every successful team or company needs a visionary leader, and this is where Kamal Nath, CEO Sify Technologies, steps in as he has navigated the transformation of this Indian ICT services and solutions company for the past decade.
Named CEO of the Year by the World Leadership Congress, Nath has 30 years’ experience in this sector of industry and is a lifelong football fan who cites the late Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona as his inspiration. “Maradona was an extremely passionate footballer and a great leader who broke the boundary between football and life.”
“I imbibe lots of management lessons from sport. I played football extensively and passionately follow the game. I derive lot of philosophies from the game which I practice and preach in my professional life,” said Nath who feels the ability of Sify to remain relevant to its customers has set it apart from its competition. “We have always felt that in some services we were ahead of our time.”
Headquartered in Chennai, India, Sify, a NASDAQ-listed company, is a comprehensive ICT solutions provider with global service capabilities. With Cloud@core at the heart of their product and services portfolio, Sify is focused on transforming the ICT requirements of the emerging digital economy and the resulting demands from large, mid and small-sized businesses, cutting across all verticals.
Sify’s infrastructure comprising top of the line Data Centres and Cloud, the largest Enterprise MPLS network, DC and Cloud interconnects, and partnership with global technology majors, vast expertise in business transformation solutions modelled on the cloud, make it the first choice of enterprises.
More than 10,000 businesses across multiple verticals have taken advantage of their data centres, networks and security services and conduct their business seamlessly from more than 1,600 cities in India. Internationally, Sify has a presence across North America, the UK and Singapore.
DNA of transformation
With its birth in 1995, Sify heralded the internet revolution in India. Through Sify, millions of Indians experienced internet for the first time. Sify cybercafe’s across the country brought Internet closer to homes at a time when the last mile communication was a big challenge in India.
In 2006, Sify took a bold decision to move away from an established consumer-facing business model to a 100% enterprise focussed company over the subsequent years. This has paid off very well for the company.
Sify’s journey in the last ten years is a testimony of the company’s DNA of transformation led growth. Nath says, “The biggest challenge for any company is to remain continuously relevant and strategic for clients in the midst of multiple disruptive shifts in the industry.”
Today, Sify has evolved as India’s leading Digital ICT Services company based on the strength of its key assets of Data Centres, Network and Cloud and related digital services.
Nath joined Sify in 2012 and led it’s transition into the most comprehensive ICT solutions and services provider in India. Sify has consistently grown in revenue and profitability and has emerged as a preferred service provider partner for enterprises, public sector and government in India.
“Sify was always a thought leader and pioneer. From spearheading internet adoption and penetration in the country to setting up the first commercial Data Centre, setting up the first Enterprise MPLS network in India, Sify always led the way.”
Nath pointed out: “You will not find any other company formed back in 1995 as an ISP, which has sustained, grown and remained relevant in the midst of so many disruptions in technologies and market. This speaks volumes about Sify’s resilience as a company and ability to change with time.”
Advantage of Hyperscale Cloud Provider partnership
Nath pointed out that beside Sify’s own Data Centre infrastructure they have partnership with three leading hyperscale Cloud Service providers hosted at Sify’s Data Centre. “The advantage of this is we are able to create a hybrid cloud platform by virtue of the proximity of our data centre and the hyperscale cloud. The customers get a very good choice and option of hosting applications, either in a hosted model, or in one of the hyperscale clouds, or in multiples, which get interconnected through DC or Cloud interconnects.”
“While the customers drive digital objectives, or digital innovation initiatives, they can be rest assured of the underlying fundamental infrastructure. Our infrastructure platform provides flexibility, agility and choices to our customers.”
How agility helped during COVID-19
Nath pointed out that “when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we had to re-organize our priorities. I can now say that we walked a tight rope being concerned about our employees and families and at the same time preparing our employees to new ways of working. We also had to support our customer’s mission critical business in sectors like BFSI, e-commerce, healthcare, utilities, and our employees were in the respective facilities or in the field, to keep customers critical infrastructures running. All this, while, remaining focused on their well-being”
“We helped enterprises by managing their business and helping them to achieve business continuity in such a challenging situation. But the toughest part was the change management and working to ensure we sustained our own business. We have had to look at how we do business with our customers and how we generate new contracts. It has been a huge learning curve but will go a long way to building our customer engagement models in the future.”
“It is not an exaggeration to say that we at Sify, by virtue of our resilience and ability to change with situations, were relatively better prepared to face a situation like the pandemic. For the entire Sify team, the learning curve during COVID-19 was shorter and angular, than steep,” he said.
Power of partnerships
Nath explains how Sify has leveraged the expertise of key partners
“Partners like Schneider, Caterpillar and Siemens play a significant role. They help us to bring global technology into our data centres which enables us to build world-class data centres, which are suitable for global customers and particularly the hyperscale Cloud Service providers which are expanding in India.”
“The other aspect I want to highlight is organisations like Schneider are building manufacturing facilities in India. With respect to the data centre technology, the big differentiator from Schneider and Caterpillar is the ability to provide equipment at a cost-effective price. This is possible by virtue of the fact they are manufacturing in India.”
Innovation and investment
Looking ahead to the next 12-18 months, it will all be about customer relationships and engagement, investments in infrastructure, and remaining closest to customers’ innovation journey.
“Covid-19 has completely changed the priorities of customers. Every customer is taking digitalisation and digital transformation as the top priority. They are doing things which was never done. So, innovation is the key priority for Sify, over and above our existing Digital infrastructure and capabilities. We are also partnering with new age technology and platform companies and co-create newer models.”
“We have a large annuity customer base. So, every customer’s digital transformation journey is an opportunity for us.”
We continue to remain relevant to our customers and build on our legacy and the trust of our customers, while we innovate in this disruptive age,” said Nath - a leadership message which could equally apply to a football club or global organisation.”