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‘Digital arm will be a revenue contributor’

Amur Lakshminarayanan MD & CEO, Tata CommunicationsPremium
Amur Lakshminarayanan MD & CEO, Tata Communications

We like to call ourselves a comm-tech company, which has a digital fabric that provides more intelligence on top of connectivity and more security on top of it. We are shifting away from purely a connectivity player and telco, on which everything can be consumed by APIs, and it is secure, said Lakshminarayanan

Digital platforms and services will become major revenue contributors in the long run but will be an equal revenue generator to core connectivity in the medium term, said Amur Lakshminarayanan, managing director and chief executive of Tata Communications, in an interview. The Tata group company, which is the largest investor in sub-sea cables, and one of the top five firms in this business globally, will continue to invest in expanding its sales team and hiring talent as it sharpens focus on the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, connected solutions for next-gen technologies. He said the company was also looking at new avenues, such as captive 5G networks for enterprises. Edited excerpts:

What will be the key drivers of growth in the coming quarters?

Financial fitness, deeper engagement with customers, product shift to a platform play instead of being a connectivity provider, and making sustainability, automation and AI the core of everything we do, are key elements of our strategy, and we’re on course for it.

Last two years, collaboration, which is part of the digital portfolio, went through turmoil during covid-19, as people were working from home. Post-covid, even today, a lot of fundamental shifts are happening. So, over the last year, we have ramped up investments for talent and salesforce. Our investments into products and platforms, including the Digo platform, pivoting to connectivity management, which can provide any-time, all-time connectivity along with intelligence. In future, it will provide connectivity to satellites as well. In next-gen connectivity, we have invested in IZO (cloud storage). All the investments are now beginning to show results.

Is Tata Comm completely bucking the retrenchment trend we’re seeing in the tech industry?

We like to call ourselves a comm-tech company, which has a digital fabric that provides more intelligence on top of connectivity and more security on top of it. We are shifting away from purely a connectivity player and telco, on which everything can be consumed by APIs, and it is secure. In the products and platforms, we are hiring talent, and we plan to add more graduates. We’re also investing in training our own people on digital. Last year, we trained several thousand people in AI and are running an AI academy.

How do you intend to gain traction from data play in the subsea cable business? Do you see challenges in that segment?

Today, our digital platforms and services segment contributes about 30% to revenues and core (connectivity) is 70%. We are the leading player in that space. We are a tier 1 company and among the global top five. In India, yes, people are also doing it. But we have the ability to offer more diverse routes, and our investment in cable systems far exceeds our nearest competitors. That is the foundation on top of which we’re building other platforms, including API security.

Any timeline you may be looking at for both revenue streams to contribute equally, or is digital becoming a larger contributor?

I think, in the mid-term, we want to see it come close to 50%, maybe in the next 2-3 years. As we invest more and more in the digital platforms space, it will start contributing more.

Will you offer a private captive 5G network for enterprises?

Yes, we’re invested in our ability to deliver industrial connectivity as a service, which today can be 5G and tomorrow it can be 6G. We have invested in a 5G private network. We have a lab in Pune that many customers use, and we are also talking to several Indian and international customers. The Indian government has to say when private networks are going to open up. We are anxiously and eagerly waiting for it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gulveen Aulakh

Gulveen Aulakh is Senior Assistant Editor at Mint, serving dual roles covering the disinvestment landscape out of New Delhi, and the telecom & IT sectors as part of the corporate bureau. She had been tracking several government ministries for the last ten years in her previous stint at The Economic Times. An IIM Calcutta alumnus, Gulveen is fluent in French, a keen learner of new languages and avid foodie.
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