In mid-April, when the news emerged that HCL's Asia-Pacific head Virender Aggarwal was leaving the IT services company at the end of the month, no one had any idea who would fill in his shoes.
For a while, there was no announcement from HCL and subsequently, we learnt that the Indian IT services company had appointed Pradeep Bindal as the new head of the company's Rest-of-World ("ROW", includes AP, Middle East and Africa) region.
His last assignment was as a global head of the IT company's managed infrastructure business, which right now contributes to roughly 25 percent of HCL Technology's business. He is also the in-charge of HCL's domestic market in the same area.
Bindal joined HCL Technologies nearly two decades ago and he is seen as a pioneer in crafting and driving "Remote Infrastructure Management" and "Total Outsourcing" propositions for HCL in the global markets. Both these propositions are now acknowledged as "Disruptive" by various analysts.
The adoption rates in Asia Pacific for both these models are relatively low as compared to other regions. This, coupled with the slowdown in the US and Europe has positioned Asia Pacific as a strategic region for HCL. Bindal wants to grow both segments in the Asia Pacific.
"This region for us is a unique and important market for us growing at 11.4 percent QoQ [quarter on quarter] in financial year 2012 with 16.5 percent of overall HCL revenues," said Bindal in an exclusive interview. "This region is also strategic for us, given our foray and successes in disruptive technologies like Mobility, our large delivery centers in Jurong and Malaysia, and our relationships with important partners and the support of the ecosystem."
"We are well positioned to leverage our experience and expertise in best practices across the globe, and relevant projects from India to this region," he said.
AP market is different from the Western market
"This market is slightly different from the Western market," said Bindal. "There are two kinds of businesses (for an IT services provider). One is 'run the business', the other is 'change the business'. In the western countries, we entered the market by doing 'run the business' and then derived some funds-benefits for the customers, some savings-and deployed those funds to do the 'change the business' part." This had to be done because a customer would not want to spend more upfront. "You save something and then invest into that [change the business part]."
Referring to the AP market (with the exception of Australia and New Zealand), Bindal said, "In this market 'run the business' is a challenge because, one, cost arbitrage is [in Singapore, Malaysia belt] not there from this area to India because it will not make more 20 percent difference and nobody will take a risk for 20 percent. Secondly, the nature of the customer [here] is that they want control. They will not give it [control] to you. So, here the challenge is that we can't start by 'run the business' and then [go on to] 'change the business'. We have to engage in this territory by 'change the business' or [through] projects what we call the system integration [SI] business. This is more of an SI business market and we have been doing that business for sometime now. And we will see how we create a better control on this SI business. That is not the business we are doing across the globe in a big way."
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