Adventity Clubs Product Service Offerings With IT Apps For Clients
Biztech2.0 speaks with Rajendra Sawant, CIO, Adventity.
Adventity is a major player in the KPO space. About 40 percent of the IT usage is for running the KPO processes. While the company has outsourced much of its IT infrastructure, the application space is handled in-house. The number of operation centres across India has grown rapidly from two to eight in just ten months, with the headcount of the IT team limited to 150. Biztech2.0 speaks with Rajendra Sawant, CIO, Adventity.
Where do you see the business going in recent times at Adventity?
There is a clear direction in terms of the way the business is going. All our solution offerings are IT enabled. It's not as if we simply develop and offer a service; it's coupled with IT as a ready-to-use solution so the client does not have to buy the IT solution separately. We give the benefit of the end solution to the client. We club product service offerings with IT and offer them together. So instead of buying an off-the-shelf solution or partnering with a vendor, we develop the IT applications and solutions in-house and offer them to clients. We foresee this as a trend.
Could you list some instances where you have developed products in-house?
Adventity is a major player in the KPO segment, which demands a lot of research and analytics. For example, we have developed a solution for our hedge funds and investment bank clients. The solution is an engine that enables our clients to get real-time information. The clients can access any reports or analytics just by entering the parameters on the website. Earlier they had to inform us a day in advance to get any information that needed research and analysis. The search engine is regularly updated with the research information and the client only gets the end result based on parameters such as geography, vertical area, demography etc.
What are some of the recent innovative ideas that came up in the open forum with the IT employees?
Just a month ago, one of the IT team members suggested an idea on how employees can access the company’s intranet on the move with the help of a single sign-on. The employee proposed the proof of concept, and it was on open source. This has been implemented now. The sever adminstration team came up with a good idea on server virtualisation, which has helped us a lot in reducing the number of servers. They have come down from 79 to 61, and is expected to further reduce to 42. Initially they evaluated various types of virtualisation and came up with a solution that's now under implementation. Henceforth it will be ensured that across all centres virtualisation will be practiced in the same way.
What action plan have you set for yourself to keep abreast with the happenings at all the operation centres?
I visit all the locations at least once every year. Moreover, I am in touch with the next level managers. They independently handle the daily functions; only strategic decisions are to be put before the head office and acted upon further. We have made them independent IT organisations where all their daily needs are taken care locally. The strategy is to make the operations centre accountable for the daily firefighting. However, in case of a network conflict where the network of other centres is in jeopardy, we can monitor it centrally. We have a command control centre in Mumbai. There is a proper escalation matrix and process in place. Even on the operations side, the operations managers have an idea of whom to report to if a certain problem is not resolved in a certain time.
What is your plan of action during an operations centre visit?
My priority is always to meet the Operations first and then the IT executives. The operations are also our customers. We are in constant touch with the service delivery people; we keep feeding them information and listen to them if they have any issues. Secondly, the communication process also includes one-to-one meetings with the operations delivery team to understand their future plans and what they are looking for. We try to come up with ideas and plan to implement them.
How does the company plan to adopt the open source platform?
We're trying to see that our latest applications are built on the open source platform. A special team has been set up to look into that. The reason for going with open source is that the total cost of ownership would come down, and it gives us the leverage to experiment with ideas. So typically one does not have to wait for the vendor to release a patch or a new version.
Adventity is certified with BS 7799. So how is the third party audit carried out?
The BS 7799 certification is due to be renewed in August. The preliminary process for the renewal is on. The third party audit is an ongoing process. Over and above this, we do our internal audit as well. The information security department handles it. The third party audit is done every three months and the findings of the risk element are implemented within 12 days after the audit completion. We work with large financial institutions, so in this context audit and the way we conduct our business becomes all the more important.
Can you cite any instances where you got some major revelations after the audit process that prompted you to restructure the way you do business?
No major revelations have come out yet. We have a strong process that is built in for the internal audit. There are major client visits that also keep us on our toes. So if you compare the way we did business a year ago and the way we do it now, you'll see things have changed so fast. Introduction of structural cabling has had a major effect. It has reduced the data center clutter considerably. Virtualisation has resulted in a lower server count, as I pointed out . The storage solution has also been changed. We are currently using high-end servers and that's reduced a lot of dependency as well. Systems maintenance is an annual practice where the systems are shut down for necessary changes.
What part of the IT Infrastructure is outsourced and what part is handled in-house?
Networking, data, voice and helpdesk management are outsourced. We control the strategic assets where designing and strategic decisions are taken by us, while the vendor does the last level execution. Information security and network management, on the other hand, are handled in-house.
What is the strategy behind outsourcing most of the IT infrastructure?
Basically the strategy is towards getting into managed services more. So we have completely outsourced our IT infrastructure as managed services. Our operation centres have grown from two to eight in just ten months and that's given us tremendous bandwidth in terms of expansion. So now it is possible for us to come up with a new center at short notice. Our IT vendors are big in size and thus they fulfill our bandwidth needs. They have backward integration already existing with them where they can bring all the resources together at a short notice and get the centre up and running. Secondly it brings tremendous predictability for us in terms of cost; and thirdly the whole capital expenditure gets converted into the OPEX model that saves the expenditure to be utilised for some strategic purpose.
Since IT is outsourced, what are the typical challenges that the company faces?
Due to outsourcing the functional relationship becomes SLA-driven. Accountability becomes a major challenge. We conduct regular review meetings with vendors to keep them aligned with the business activities. The meetings also cover vendor performance as compared to the parameters. We create an action plan and regularly monitor them. For BCP we have centres in Mumbai and Chennai. The Chennai centre works as a BCP/DR site for the Mumbai centre.
Considering the strong presence of an IT application team at Adventity, are you looking for Application Delivery Architects?
Importantly we build applications in-house so the application team is very important for us. Due to the kind of work we offer our people, we face zero attrition. We are able to convert a good number of people into the application domain where they are able to manage applications. It is not that we had network professionals from the beginning; we develop them over a period of time to handle the applications.
How many Adventity centres are there in India, and how have you connected them?
We have eight operations centres in India and all of them are connected on the MPLS network. We have offices in Dubai, Singapore, Houston and New York, and all of them are connected on the MPLS. The India and global operations are connected under a single cloud.
How is the IT team divided?
The IT team is divided on the basis of functional areas like telecom, networking, server side and information security, and a huge application development team. Globally we have a headcount of 150.
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