Vodafone Idea’s universal cloud

Vodafone Idea’s universal cloud earns it Red Hat award

by | May 25, 2020 | Technology, Telecom

The telco’s universal cloud deployment over an 18-month long period has helped it handle vagaries of data traffic like a breeze.
Share to lead the transformation

An old proverb is that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In the challenging times of Covid-19, it applies well to the telecom sector at large and Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) in particular. The latest feather in VIL’s cap happens to be the ‘Innovator of the Year’ title. It’s a well-earned accolade that has its roots in Vodafone Idea’s universal cloud deployment announced on 21 October 2019 in a Red Hat release. (The actual work is understood to have started much earlier.)

Vodafone Idea Limited claimed the top honors at the Red Hat Summit 2020, for orchestrating the vision of a single, universal cloud into reality. The telco now owns the largest cloud deployment of its kind in India, linking its IT, network, and third-party applications using open source infrastructure.

The initiative

This cloud initiative, which VIL had kickstarted around 18 months ago, had started bearing fruits even before the pandemic had hit the scene. It had helped VIL transform its network infrastructure by a great measure and made it highly scalable and agile. The pandemic merely tested its limits.

When it did, VIL’s network seems to have responded quite impressively. Not only was it able to accommodate a multifold rise in traffic but also managed to handle the overnight shift in demographic patterns.

It is a known fact that after the pandemic-induced lockdowns, a majority of enterprises rushed to enable their employees to work from home. This amounted to near-zero traffic demand originating from the business clusters while a massive surge in demand happened from residential areas.

Moreover, as communication and entertainment became the lifeline for netizens during lockdowns, VIL’s network experienced a year’s worth of traffic growth within a week of lockdown. With the cloudifaction carried out over the past several months, the telco was able to scale up elegantly enough.

Not surprisingly, the company’s stock rose 86% between 1 April and 20 May, from Rs 3.04 to Rs 5.65 a share. On the day of writing this analysis, the stock traded had last traded at Rs 5.53 a share on the BSE.

The build-up

Vishant Vora

Vishant Vora: Driving cloud transformation

Vodafone Idea says it took on the challenge of transforming its network to make it future ready and building a ‘Universal Network Cloud’ that is workload agnostic from core to edge. The cloud enables Vodafone Idea to better serve its more than 300 million subscribers by simplifying and transforming its IT and telecom network operations. The new platform is deployed across many distributed Vodafone Idea cloud microsites across India, as well as its central IT operations.

Vodafone Idea’s universal cloud initiative was to rapidly transform the 100-plus data centers of the erstwhile Vodafone and Idea entities, through a shared software platform. The Red Hat OpenStack Platform was used to design efficient ‘pods,’ which could be geographically distributed and taken closer to the end- users, helping to reduce latency and enable an optimal user experience.

Better World sees these ‘pods’ as akin to microservices that leverage containerization techniques and could be orchestrated using the open-source Kubernetes container-management system.

Recognition a shot in the arm?

Vodafone Idea considers the Red Hat award to be a recognition of its early adoption of emerging technologies for enterprise and retail customers. The cloud deployment has helped the telco in reducing latency in carrying multiple workloads and optimizing costs.

VIL is now also gung-ho about its future potential, especially with regard to next-generation services like internet of things (IoT) and blockchain.

Vishant Vora, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone Idea said, “A distributed universal cloud centrally orchestrated is an ambitious project for us, representing a vision for the telco future where “pods” could be geographically distributed across the country. Our vision is to build a universal cloud that will not only carry the traditional telco workloads but also carry IT and enterprise offerings for our customers. This will also position VIL very well for the nextGen services like IoT, Blockchain etc. These capabilities need to be accommodated with a versatile and scalable platform offering flexibility and control as an organization. We are extremely proud of receiving this prestigious award.”

Chris Wright, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Red Hat, noted, “We want to extend congratulations to Vodafone Idea Limited for receiving the 2020 Red Hat Innovator of the Year award. Vodafone Idea’s journey in building a Universal Cloud, hosting both Network and IT workloads, based on open standards, is truly impressive. By adopting Red Hat OpenStack Platform, Vodafone Idea Limited and its customers can more quickly adapt to changing market conditions. We are proud to be working with Vodafone Idea Limited on this shared vision and we look forward to continuing our work with them as they look to build out additional offerings on this flexible platform.”

As part of Red Hat Innovation Awards each year, a panel of industry expert judges select the top five winning projects from a pool of global nominations. These five projects are selected based on the set of criteria for outstanding and innovative usage of Red Hat solutions. From the five winners, the Red Hat Innovator of the Year is selected by the community through online voting.

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

Nokia’s CoE at IISc could be a 5G robotics catalyst

Nokia’s CoE at IISc could be a 5G robotics catalyst

Finnish multinational Nokia recently announced that it has collaborated with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), one of India’s foremost institutes and university for research and higher education in science and engineering, to set-up the Nokia Center of Excellence (CoE) for Networked Robotics. Nokia’s CoE at IISc has some far-reaching potentials in the areas of 5G and artificial intelligence (AI).

The CoE would primarily focus on 5G-connected drones in emergency management, agriculture, and industrial automation.

Nokia mentions that the new facility will leverage the competencies of Bell Labs—a Nokia-owned industrial research and scientific development entity—to facilitate research and solutions development in areas such as robot orchestration, robot network controller, and human-robot interaction.

“Emerging technologies such as the 5G have the potential to enable an entirely new array of use cases with a profound societal impact. With Nokia’s rich innovation heritage, we aim to engage with the bright and young minds at IISc to nurture and advance the latest technologies that can benefit communities. We are confident that it will lead to the development of ground-breaking use cases,” Sanjay Malik, Senior Vice President and Head of India Market, Nokia, said in a statement.

According to Nokia, the critical research use cases in this effort will include drones for remote management of agricultural orchards to promote water conservation and avoid human contact with pesticides, gathering situational information, and applications like anticipating crop fires. The research at Nokia’s CoE at IISc will also include the use of connected robots in industrial automation.

Drone technology strengthened by 5G

Drone-based use cases are particularly exciting for a vast country like India, which needs intelligent, safer, and budget-friendly solutions to monitor and manage remote locations for various purposes. A couple of years ago, Reliance Jio, now the country’s largest telecom operator, showcased a robust 5G-enabled drone that could be used in security surveillance and detect threats through real-time monitoring from the sky. Jio is believed to be working on several new technologies by harnessing the power of 5G to create a strong impact soon. Jio and Ericsson had jointly developed the prototype.

One of the significant potentials of 5G technology is that it reduces the latency rate to one millisecond. This is phenomenally better in comparison to 4G technology, which offers an average latency of about 50 milliseconds (latency is the time taken by the signal to travel from the device to a cell tower). Hence, in such a scenario, 5G-enabled drones will leverage high-speed internet connectivity and technologies like AI to realize their full potential in real-time. For instance, such drones will be useful in disaster rescue operations and locating casualties during catastrophes through instant live-streaming footages.

For enterprises too, the drone technology could be of great help as it would enable them to keep a tab on their remote warehouses and delivery of goods and services even to the most distant of places, without much of human intervention.

A part of bigger 5G gameplan

Globally, everyone is eagerly waiting for the rollout of 5G technology. While the Covid-19 outbreak may have pushed the 5G deployment plans a bit further, the technology today holds more importance than ever before.

The remote-working environment and social distancing measures are likely to continue for a longer period, even once the outbreak of the pandemic subsides. In such a scenario, 5G is expected to drive enterprise and socially relevant digital transformation efforts by supporting several new-age technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), robotic process automation (RPA), facial recognition (FR), and machine learning (ML), among others, for efficiency gains.

Nokia’s CoE at IISc may be seen as one of the many steps to intensify its 5G prospects in the country. The initiative is in line with the Indian government’s efforts to promote innovation, strengthen the domestic ecosystem around new-age technologies, and foster economic growth. By collaborating with IISc, Nokia also has the opportunity to demonstrate its technological competency and network capabilities to the government.

It is notable in this context that Nokia has recently signed a deal of Rs 7,636 crore with Airtel to help the telco lay the foundation for providing 5G connectivity. The company is exploring several partnership models to expand its horizons in India.

The made-in-India angle

India, which is aggressively focusing on modern-day innovations to enable advanced facilities and infrastructure, even in the remotest of its areas, is being seen as a massive investment destination by multinationals.

With local sentiments growing for domestically manufactured products and services, global multinationals will continue to take a collaborative route to produce Made in India products.

Moreover, as the second-largest telecom market in the world, India also offers massive potential for 5G gear makers such as Nokia, Samsung, and Huawei. These companies will likely explore other possible routes as well to meet India’s domestic manufacturing requirements.

The Jio ecosystem has begun to unfold

The Jio ecosystem has begun to unfold

 

Name of app

Area of service

AJio

Online shopping

JioBrowser

Web-browser

JioCloud

Cloud storage services

JioCinema

Video-on-demand

JioChat

Messaging service

JioGameslite

Online gaming

JioGate

Apartment security

JioHome

Mobile remote control for Jio Set-top box

JioHealthHub

Health and fitness

JioMart

Online grocery delivery

JioMeet

Video conferencing

JioMoney

Digital currency and payment services

JioNews

News and information

JioPOSLite

Jio recharge commission

JioSaavn

Music streaming

JioSecurity

Security

JioSwitch

File sharing

JioTV

Live streaming

With close to 400 million telecom subscribers and several partnerships with multiple global technology giants, Jio Platforms is sitting on a hotbed of opportunities to build a Jio ecosystem. From telecom to e-commerce and future 5G solutions, the company is ticking every box in its bid to become India’s digital behemoth.

Today, Jio Platforms operates more than a dozen mobile apps spanning different e-service categories. Launched barely three months ago, its Jio Mart has already shaken the retail solutions market, becoming the largest e-grocery in the country with close to 400,000 daily orders.

The secret to Jio’s success is undeniably the customer-centric model it has followed, along with the robust financial support from its parent company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

Back to mobile telephony

When Jio launched its 4G telecom services in 2016, many industry observers were doubtful if Jio would be able to create a niche for itself in the hyper-competitive telecom market. For the first few months of the launch, Jio offered voice and mobile data services for free.

In the months leading up to the launch of Jio’s aggressively priced 4G services, Jio faced severe criticism for adversely impacting the rest of the telecom services industry. However, it is equally valid that without Jio’s incredible efforts, the dream of digital India wouldn’t have appeared as possible as it looks now.

Amidst all this hullaballoo, Jio’s deluge of freebies and ultra-affordable data plans enabled it to increase the mobile broadband subscriber base to several million. For the first time, many Indian consumers used the mobile internet and realized its potential benefits at a cost that was unthinkable before. The company’s mobile-first approach helped it gain a substantial footing in the market, and improved data adoption in India enormously.

Back then, no other operator was willing to drive data growth through aggressive price plans. The operators had continued to keep the mobile data prices at a level that was not attractive enough for mass adoption. One needs to remember that before the arrival of Jio, the 1GB data used to cost around Rs 200 for the user, which was way too expensive for the masses. Today, the same data costs an average of Rs 25 per GB, considering various mobile plans.

The price cuts resulted in enormous growth in the average consumption of mobile data, something India had been waiting for so long.

Once Jio built the much-needed user base, it went on to develop several Jio exclusive as well as open-market apps and platforms to drive the digital transformation around a developing Jio ecosystem. (See: Jio driving digital shifts in the economy).

That Jio’s growing dominance made it difficult for its competitors to survive and spurred a wave of consolidation in the telecom sector is another story.

Value of lessons learned

The telecom and allied businesses have always been close to the heart of RIL’s Chairman and MD, Mukesh Ambani. Time and again, he has proved that there is no match to his sharp acumen, ability to envisage, spot the future trends early on, and design an impeccable business strategy that is driven by Indian needs. By focussing on building new partnerships, Ambani is helping Jio take the next significant steps in the digital terrain.

One can’t forget the Monsoon Hungama offer in the year 2003, which created a mass frenzy and drove an unprecedented price war in the Indian telecom market. That, in turn, helped India to expand its local telecom service base.

To run a quick refresh, the Monsoon Hungama offer entitled a customer to get a mobile phone along with a 100-minute call time per month for an upfront payment of Rs 501 and a monthly payment of Rs 200 for three years. The offer lowered the entry bar and encouraged many first-time users to use mobile services. Later, however, due to reasons known to all, Mukesh exited the telecom business in 2005, and his Reliance Infocomm business went to Anil Ambani, his younger brother.

 With Jio, he is pursuing his futuristic vision again and swiftly turning Jio into the country’s super telecom and digital service provider, something which he could not do in his previous telecom outing.

By bringing various small and medium-term businesses to a Jio ecosystem, the company is tactically moving up the value chain by demonstrating profits for all those who are getting associated with Jio’s dream plan.

A Jio timeline

June 2010 Entered the telecom space by purchasing a 95% stake in Infotel Broadband Services Limited (IBSL), which had a 4G broadband spectrum in all 22 circles in India.
January 2013 Renamed Infotel Broadband Services to Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL)
May 2016 Launched several multimedia apps on Google Play to offer along with its 4G services
September 2016 Initiated a price war by launching ultra-affordable 4G services throughout India
December 2016 Acquired 50 million telecom subscribers
February 2017 Crossed 100 million subscribers
August 2017

Launched a host of feature phones, marketed under the Jio brand

September 2019

Introduced a fiber to the home service, providing home broadband, television, and telephone services

November 2019 Formed a new digital services company, Jio Platforms. Made RJIL a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms
March-June 2020 Raised Rs 1,52,056 crore from top tech investors including Facebook, Google, Intel, Qualcomm, and Silver Lake, among others
July 2020 Jio Platforms’ enterprise value estimated to be around US $70 billion; crossed 400-million subscribers mark

Jio Platform’s recent partnership with Facebook has been seen as an excellent idea for generating immense opportunities for the company and the Jio ecosystem. (See: Will FB–Jio deal create magic?).

Already, 13 other global technology behemoths and strategic investment firms, including Google, Intel Capital, Qualcomm, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, Mubadala, ADIA, TPG, L Catterton, and PIF have participated in the fund-raising exercise for Jio Platforms.

Jio is enabling many small and medium businesses to leverage its technology platforms to create a unique digital ecosystem in India. And its sizeable local footprint and business goodwill are helping it to create a fund-raising frenzy even during a pandemic-driven economic slowdown.

AI in banking now geared for a takeoff

AI in banking now geared for a takeoff

Digital disruption is impacting every industry and transforming the ways of working. The traditional models are slowly waning, and trailblazing technologies are emerging. In the age of cloud computing and internet applications, services like telegram and postcards are things of the past. Banking too has endured many changes over time while implementing several new technologies to facilitate faster transactions and on-the-move banking with just a few clicks. AI in banking is taking transformation to a new level.

The unprecedented Covid-19 scenario, which has compelled many to stay at home, has further pushed the banks to explore innovative banking solutions and create a differentiation strategy for the convenience of their customers. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most powerful technologies that has been helping the banking sector to drive several of these new-age innovations.

Driven by the benefits of predictive analytics, voice recognition, and advance human learning capabilities, AI technology enables banks to provide a customized experience to their customers, strengthens compliance, and delivers a secure digital payment ecosystem across a plethora of channels. It helps manage an enormous amount of data at a rapid speed, and empowers them to comprehend detailed insights from it, providing a better understanding of their customers and behaviors.

Globally, tools such as conversational chatbots, virtual security assistants, fraud detection, and face recognition are being widely used to drive meaningful customer engagement. If we look at the Indian market scenario, banks are waking up to the benefits of AI tools for both back-office and customer interfacing functions.

Let’s look at the AI journeys of some of the leading banks.

HDFC Bank

In 2017, India’s leading private-sector bank deployed an AI-based conversational chatbot called Electronic Virtual Assistant (EVA). In less than three years of its deployment, EVA, designed by Bengaluru-based Senseforth AI Research has claimed to have helped HDFC respond to over 5 million customer queries with more than 85% accuracy. The tool uses natural language processing and is now also available on the Google Assistant platform. It provides the relevant answers to users by scanning thousands of HDFC website sources in just a few seconds.

Chatbots like EVA help fetch relevant information very easily without letting users navigate the entire website or getting into a painstaking effort of waiting on a call. In addition to EVA, the bank has also deployed several AI-enabled tools in risk management, credit scoring, employee engagement, and onboarding in the last few years. It uses OnChat, which works on Facebook, to help with all kind of bill-payments. HDFC is also testing various in-store robotic applications.

State Bank of India

Despite being a public-sector bank, SBI is known to be aggressive in terms of leveraging the latest technologies. The company’s banking dashboards are considered to be one of the best in the industry. In terms of AI-enabled solutions, the bank’s facial recognition solution, developed by Chapdex, the winning team from its first hackathon Code for Bank, helps it analyze and understand the feedback of its customers through their facial expressions. The solution is installed in the branch cameras and collects impressions of customers to identify if they are delighted from their bank visits or not.

The Fortune Global 500 bank has been also leveraging the benefits of SBI Intelligent Assistant (SIA), an AI-powered chat and voice assistant, to answer the customer queries promptly. Developed by Payjo, a startup based in Silicon Valley and Bengaluru, the solution has helped SBI reduce a considerable amount of operational costs since its launch in 2017. The solution interacts with customers to address queries and tasks related to everyday banking just like a bank representative.

The company has also recently entered into a pact with Microsoft to develop an AI-powered marketplace aimed at helping the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry to connect people living with disabilities for upskilling and employment.

Axis Bank

Mumbai-based country’s third-largest bank, Axis Bank, has built two AI solutions that have made life easier for its customers. Its bot, ‘Simply Ask Axis Aha’ aims to bridge the gap between customers and the bank. Users can access the tool through Axis bank mobile app and use a conversational approach to transfer funds, pay bills, recharge, generate banking statements, or enquire about the latest Axis products and services. The bot acts as a conversational assistant to resolve queries of all kinds.

Very recently, Axis has deployed a voice-based conversational bot or automated voice assistant AXAA. The solution operates like a humanoid and claims to deliver far better results than a conventional interactive voice response (IVR) system. According to the company, the solution will assist customers to traverse through the IVR and address their queries and requests, without the need for any human intervention in most cases. Interestingly, the solution can converse in English, Hindi, and Hinglish, and has the potential to address about one lakh customer queries per day.

ICICI Bank

ICICI has been heavily focusing on AI-enabled robotic process automation (RPA) technology for process improvement. The RPA technology enables businesses to automate high-volume, tedious, and time-taking tasks that doesn’t require much human intervention. It has already deployed RPA technology on over 1,200 business processes such as customer onboarding, loan processing, and reconciliation, among others.

The bank also has and AI-powered Chatbot, iPal, that has recently been integrated with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The solution provides an array of retail banking information such as account details, account balance, transaction queries, and credit card details among others through a simple voice command.

Though still at a nascent stage, and mostly restricted to chatbots, Indian banks are now experimenting with several new AI ideas to transform the traditional banking experience. In the next few years, the role of AI is expected to be evolved significantly. A special focus will be on developing customized solutions for customers and designing software based on cognitive fraud analytics. Punjab National Bank (PNB), for instance, has already deployed AI for reconciliation of accounts and to strengthen its internal audit control mechanisms. A number of banks are likely to use AI to detect suspicious activity. Through real-time behavior profiling, distrustful activities of banking users will be immediately reported and blocked for fraud prevention.

AI is a must now to speed up digital transformation

AI is a must now to speed up digital transformation

The history of humankind has also been the history of human intelligence and its continuous evolution. Ironically, this has enabled us to amass so much knowledge and information that it has become humanly difficult for us to process it in real time. Artificial intelligence aka AI is a must now.

Moreover, as we acquire new knowledge, we also tend to lose what we had gained in the past. This is a weakness inherent to us humans, but the digital information systems that we developed help us overcome that shortcoming amazingly well.

Today, we can store and retrieve knowledge at will. More importantly, we can store it in one form and retrieve it in another form. Speech recognition AI technologies have matured to remarkable levels today. One would simply record a conversation and transcribe it within minutes in a perfectly legible text form. Similarly, chatbot technologies are rapidly redefining the customer interfaces for many an organization.

AI is the new game changer

Artificial intelligence driven solutions are now playing a critical role in processing knowledge and utilizing the learnings to augment human activities.

These AI solutions help us shorten our response times to a situation, so that we are able to make the most of an opportunity and deal with a threat in the best possible manner.

However, the AI deployments are still in early stages, though it is hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate these deployments. Specifically, technologies like speech recognition, chatbots, and robotic process automation (RPA) have rapidly matured in the recent years and are now ready for large-scale adoption.

Imagine what would have happened if all cities and governments were armed with sophisticated AI tools when the Covid-19 cases surfaced or were in their early stages of spread. It is quite likely that authorities would have been able to contain the spread before it spiraled out of control.

That brings us to the theme of digital transformation, which could accelerate widescale deployment and usage of AI solutions by governments, businesses, and citizens alike.

Transformation and agility – two sides of the same coin

Transformation could be accelerated by being agile. If you are agile, then you can transform quickly. And if you’re committed to transformation then you will be eager to embrace agility.

Organizations that had already advanced on the path of digital transformation, are today better prepared to adapt and respond to the challenges. Expectedly, they will also be the ones to recover faster than others.

Other businesses too must undertake rapid transformation routes to emerge truly nimble and agile if they were to survive a long and slow macroeconomic recovery cycle. Such an approach would enable them to respond to market situations in dynamic and resilient ways, create value for themselves and their customers, and muster growth and profitability in a sustainable manner.

Moreover, businesses could also leverage IT to change the shape of recovery curve to an extent and create greater value for their stakeholders as well as customers.

AI is the soul of future digital transformation initiatives

AI could significantly accelerate innovation and transformation. It is time to open up new streams of AI conversations that will help realign the digital transformation agenda of businesses to the changed needs of a post-pandemic era.

AI case studies and use cases already exist that could be adapted and used by organizations and governments. Leading organizations in areas such as banking, financial services, retail, logistics, healthcare, automobiles, e-marketplaces, and cybersecurity are already at the forefront of AI adoption. In the near future, while they work to further perfect and mature their AI applications, other organizations will be keen to catch up.

One good way to accelerate AI adoption would be to watch the early movers and learn from their successes and failures.

For instance, Mastercard has been an early mover. It introduced Decision Intelligence, a comprehensive decision and fraud detection service, in November 2016. According to Mastercard, the solution uses artificial intelligence technology to help financial institutions increase the accuracy of real-time approvals of genuine transactions and reduce false declines.

Similarly, AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company, has also been an early deployer. In December 2016, AT&T rolled out its entertainment chatbot Atticus.

In April 2017, Vodafone UK launched its AI chatbot, TOBi, powered by IBM Watson and LivePerson. The telco described it as a virtual customer services’ agent that could handle a range of customer queries including device troubleshooting, usage, and order tracking, among others.

The Covid-19 scenario has made a profound impact on the way people collaborate and work. In this situation, AI and ML will be the key navigational technologies to deliver results, and hence, are expected to be embraced widely by organizations of all scales.

[If you would like to share a use case and recommend it in the larger interest of other organizations, please drop me a word at deepakk@bmnxt.com.]

Tech M ties up with Hinduja CyQureX to up cybersecurity play

Tech M ties up with Hinduja CyQureX to up cybersecurity play

Tech Mahindra, a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting, and business reengineering services and solutions, has announced a global strategic partnership with a leading cybersecurity specialist. The aim is to offer superior cybersecurity solutions to support global clients as Tech M ties up with Hinduja CyQureX, which is a leading provider of advanced cybersecurity solutions worldwide.

The strategic partnership will enable the organizations to become leaders in the emerging ‘zero trust’ environment, leveraging CyQureX’s core Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) technology and solutions, alongside Tech Mahindra’s strategic focus on cybersecurity and other next-generation technologies. The partnership will enable their global customers to have access to state-of-the-art cyber security protection for data assets across the entire life cycle, i.e., “data in motion”, “data in use” and “data at rest.”

Leveraging its consulting and digital transformation expertise, Tech Mahindra will provide consulting, planning, designing, integration, orchestration, and automation of services. CyQureX, which represents a new and critical business vertical the Hinduja Group, with research and development centers in India and the USA and offices spread across the USA, the UK, Middle East and India, will prioritize capabilities in the ‘cyber security domain – the new middleware of the future.’

CP Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra, said, “Organisations have accelerated their digital transformation journey to emerge stronger and smarter from the current crisis. As a global leading provider of digital services, Tech Mahindra is committed towards leveraging new-age technologies to unleash new business opportunities and experiences for our customers and partner ecosystem through strategic partnerships and world class solutions. We see cybersecurity not only as an essential service but as a key business differentiator for our clients. The partnership with Hinduja Group’s CyQureX aligns with our core business proposition, and will further strengthen our position as the cybersecurity partner of choice for our customers globally

GP Hinduja, Co-Chairman, Hinduja Group noted, “This partnership is a game changer in the cyber security domain. It brings the leading security services company Tech Mahindra, and our newest technology company, CyQureX, together to create a highly secure, agile and resilient digital world. I am extremely delighted to see this strategic partnership formed, as it is in line with one of the core principles of our founder, Partnership for Growth. With rapid transformation of business to digital, we believe cybersecurity will be the cornerstone to protect all digital assets, particularly for digital transformation of India and other geographies. We are committed to develop many more indigenous state-of-the-art cyber security products and technologies in the coming years, with a vision to be a major global player in the emerging cyber security solutions market”.

“I am very excited about the alliance with Tech Mahindra,” added MK Narayanan, Executive Chairman of CyQureX, a Former National Security Advisor and Special Advisor on Intelligence and Security to the Prime Minister of India. “This is a critical alliance and I am hopeful that it will be the catalyst to leverage next generation technologies like Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and create Cyber Security platforms to protect businesses, critical infrastructure and government. It promises to take digitalisation to the next level, providing clients across the globe with fully integrated cyber security solutions.”

The strategic partnership between Tech Mahindra and Hinduja Group’s CyQureX will not only provide affordable protection to critical data, and defend nations against ‘stealth offences,’ but also provide cyber security solutions for agile deployment that are critically important for business continuity, competitiveness and flexibility. Together, given TechMNxt charter, which focuses on leveraging next-generation technologies, and Hinduja Group’s CyQureX as a leading provider of cyber security solutions, exciting new opportunities have become available in the world of cyber security. Simultaneously, Tech Mahindra and Hinduja Group’s CyQureX will work towards product development, consulting services and delivery in the cyber security space.

Wipro’s 4C buy to firm up its Europe presence

Wipro’s 4C buy to firm up its Europe presence

Global information technology, consulting and business process services major, Wipro has signed a pact to acquire 4C, a leading Salesforce partner in Europe and Middle East. The deal size is estimated to be around 68 million euros. The acquisition is likely to be completed by 30 September 2020. Wipro’s 4C buy is considered as a significant move for Wipro as it plans to strengthen its position as a digital transformation player across Europe and Latin America (LATAM).

Belgium-based 4C is EMEA’s largest independent Salesforce Platinum Partner, and specializes in configuring, implementing, and executing even very specific tasks to help enterprises in their digital transformation journey. 4C has over 350 employees spread across its offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, and Dubai. With this acquisition, Wipro will also leverage 4C’s 1000+ certifications and almost 20 years of Salesforce development experience. Wipro would be hoping to get more IT services opportunities as a Salesforce solutions provider in the market.

A good amount of focus will likely be on providing customized solutions to Salesforce clients in the areas of cloud, digital, cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI).

Earlier this month, Wipro had also announced to acquire Brazil-based IVIA Serviços de Informática Ltd., a company that provides IT solutions including system development, maintenance, consulting, and project management services to clients in different sectors such as financial services, transportation, retail, healthcare, consumer goods and manufacturing in Brazil. The IVIA acquisition also enables Wipro to bring the best of its global experience to the LATAM market, and set up delivery centers in the northeast of Brazil in particular.

How this matters

The Indian IT multinational already has a robust Salesforce business in the Americas, Japan, and Australia. It is now eyeing to expand into fresh markets with several new acquisitions. 4C makes an important addition to Wipro’s Salesforce portfolio that it had set up with the acquisition of US-based Appirio in 2016.

In the last couple of years, Wipro has been trying to go aggressive in its ambition to expand its horizons in the European market. Amidst the pandemic, most of the enterprises are driving themselves toward digital transformation to meet new operational challenges, and Wipro doesn’t want to stay behind in terms of cloud opportunities. The company has been making significant investments to grow its cloud applications and platforms business across geographies.

“Wipro shares the same values as we do. Their global presence, robust digital transformation consulting and delivery capabilities and significant investment in the European market, provides an excellent platform for the growth of our employees. We will now leverage this opportunity to take the next leap in building companies for the future for our customers, not just locally but across EMEA,” said Johan Van Genechten, Chief Executive Officer, 4C in a joint statement.

Under its Appirio brand, which Wipro acquired in 2006 for $500 million, the company expects to continue expanding its Salesforce business. To sharpen its focus on the Salesforce business, Wipro divested Appirio’s cloud-based HR solutions—Workday and Cornerstone OnDemand—to US-based Alight Solutions for about $110 million.

“Our partners are at the center of our growth.  4C’s strong regional focus and strength in multi-cloud implementations and Quote-to-Cash (CPQ/CLM), coupled with Wipro’s strong consulting strength provide an unassailable advantage to Salesforce customers in EMEA. Wipro had previously acquired Appirio and now with 4C, it has even further enhanced its depth and experience in Salesforce capabilities and resources,” said Angelique de Vries-Schipperijn, EVP and GM of Northern Europe, Salesforce in a statement.

Reaping dividends

As enterprises look to introduce new and innovative products and solutions in a record time, like many of its counterparts, scaling digital capabilities has become one of the major focus areas for Wipro.

Wipro’s focus in the European market has helped it gain some significant deals in the last one year. The company was recently been awarded a strategic multiyear infrastructure modernization and digital transformation services engagement by Germany-based energy company E.ON. It also won another managed services contract from a multinational European automobile manufacturer to modernize and automate its engineering operations.

Wipro’s digital product compliance lab in Hyderabad, established in 2019, enables it to provide integrated digital product testing services to ensure that all its solutions are compliant with international standards for reliability, safety, and security. It has been getting positive reviews from its customers, which could encourage it to extend similar testing capabilities to other geographies. In June this year, Wipro also announced to expand its global strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the area of DevOps, fortifying its capability to drive agile development for enterprises.

Wipro, now led by Rishad Premji, is expected to make more strategic announcements in the year ahead to speed up its value proposition to meet digitization needs of enterprises in Europe and other geographies.

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