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Business News/ Companies / News/  ‘IBM India targeting a diverse hiring growth plan,’ MD Sandip Patel says

‘IBM India targeting a diverse hiring growth plan,’ MD Sandip Patel says

IBM has seen strong financial performance through the first three quarters of FY22, and has taken up the revenue expectations for the year above its mid-single digit model, the company's India MD says.

Sandip Patel, Managing Director, IBM India/South AsiaPremium
Sandip Patel, Managing Director, IBM India/South Asia

International Business Machines Corp.'s pivot to India is no surprise. Having witnessed strong performance in the first three quarters of FY22, IBM gears up with solid plans to strengthen its India business. In an interview with LiveMint, IBM India's Managing Director Sandip Patel talks on varied issues from cloud and AI to the company's commitment in skilling two million Indian youth in next five years.

Edited excerpts

What’s your outlook for the global IT sector for the coming year?

As most businesses are dealing with everything from inflation to demographic shifts, from supply chain bottlenecks to sustainability efforts, many are taking a strategic approach to IT adoption and prioritising solutions and approaches that drive innovation, productivity, resilience, and scale. Business leaders are focused on four fundamental characteristics as they digitally transform their businesses for growth: data driven and predictive, intelligently automated, risk aware and secure, and built for agility and speed. As this digitization journey accelerates in the coming years, I expect the IT sector to continue its positive momentum and see robust growth.

In fact, IBM's recent growth has followed this trajectory. We have seen strong financial performance through the first three quarters of FY22, and hence we have even taken up our revenue expectations for the year above our mid-single digit model. This growth is attributed to our building a stronger, focused company that is closely aligned to client needs.

Pandemic has made IT firms press on the accelerator towards digital transformation, particularly AI and the cloud space. What are IBM’s latest innovations in these areas?

Given modern economic pressures, businesses are eager to deploy AI and automation capabilities at scale to boost their levels of productivity. We are working to drive innovations in four key areas – AI to interact and converse, AI to automate IT processes, AI to extract knowledge and insights and, finally, AI to automate business workflows such as HR, supply chains, and financial reporting.

We are doing a lot along with our partners to offer advanced hybrid cloud, data and AI, automation, and security capabilities. For instance, we recently announced that Red Hat and Dell are launching a set of new solutions that will simplify deploying and managing on-premise, containerized infrastructure in multi cloud environments. We also expanded our partnership with VMware to help clients in regulated industries easily move workloads to the Cloud.

We recently expanded our embeddable AI software portfolio with the release of three new libraries designed to help IBM Ecosystem partners, clients and developers to swiftly and cost-effectively build their own AI-powered solutions and bring them to market.

India is touted to be the emerging leader in SaaS. Can you talk us a bit on the role IBM plays in the SaaS space and on how you see the technology’s growth in the coming years?

SaaS will continue to remain strategically important as enterprises migrate to the cloud to modernize, minimize risk and optimize costs. India has certainly proven its capabilities in the SaaS space. A recent EY-CII report predicted that the Indian SaaS market is expected to account for almost 7 to 10% of the global market, up from the current 2-4%. As this market grows, which according to Gartner could reach $195.20 billion in 2023, we can expect India’s large talent pool to serve as a great advantage in creating new SaaS based products in the coming years.

When it comes to IBM and SaaS, we have a wide range of SaaS offerings to meet client needs across the technology stack with more than 150 SaaS business applications to help organisations innovate with solutions spanning application modernization, automation, backup and disaster recovery, customer service, among others.

IBM’s partnership with IIT Madras to advance quantum computing in India is quite fascinating. Where does India stand in the overall quantum computing market?

We are witnessing increased interest in quantum computing in India with active participation from students, developers, academia and the government. India can become a talent hub for quantum computing skills that are crucial for growing such an interdisciplinary field. IBM is committed to helping India advance its quantum agenda by developing the talent and skills landscape and building an ecosystem for nurturing the quantum community. For instance, we are providing over-the-cloud access to our quantum systems for educational institutions including IITs, IISc, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) and Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER). Our work with IIT Madras will no doubt advance quantum computing skills development in India, it will also open new avenues to work with industry partners to accelerate research, make quantum real and create a vibrant ecosystem in the country. We believe the joint work will contribute towards the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications to grow and prepare India for the future as one of the global powerhouses for quantum computing.

You had a meeting with the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently and IBM had made a commitment to skill 2 million youth in India over the next 5 years. You said you will focus on the underserved segments. Can you explain more?

We are partnering with the government, industry, and the academia to skill the next generation of technologists and are aligned with the government’s vision to ‘make India the skill capital of the world’. As part of that endeavour, we had a detailed discussion with the finance minister along with our Chairman & CEO Arvind Krishna on various IBM skilling and talent development initiatives. We have committed to skill 2 million youth over next 5 years with a focus on under-served areas like Northeast and others. What’s key here is that we are working with the government to focus on areas that they are looking to develop in terms of infrastructure and human resources. Our strategic focus on these areas along with our skilling programs can be a great force multiplier for the country’s skilling agenda.

Any expansion plans in India’s tier II cities?

We are being intentional about expanding beyond metro cities to emerging cities. By drawing on the skills and talent available in different pockets of the country, we are creating a strong base for developing and delivering next-generation solutions to our clients in India and for the world. In addition, by bringing job opportunities closer to where talent resides, it provides a great opportunity for an improved work-life balance thus boosting innovation and productivity.

Moreover, as we establish SW Labs and delivery centres in emerging cities, we also help to build a strong eco-system of academia, research and business partners in these areas that in turn drive growth. We are targeting a diverse hiring growth plan across our key businesses in India and scaling our university hiring. As part of that plan, we have and will continue to expand and extend opportunities to talented people across key emerging cities.


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Published: 23 Nov 2022, 10:30 PM IST
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