B. Ramalinga Raju, Chairman and Founder, Satyam Computers, Talks At TiE
TiE -Boston organized a talk by B.Ramalinga Raju, Founder and CEO, Satyam Computers, at the Burlington Marriott on February 8, 2004. The event was moderated by Vineet Nijhawan. Raju founded Satyam Computers in the late 1980's. Satyam currently employs about 15,500 people serving about 300 companies globally in 45 countries including 90 Fortune 500 companies. It derives 98% of its revenues from outside India with 70% coming from the US, 15% from Europe and about 13% from Asia. It is currently the number four software company in India after TCS, Wipro and Infosys. At one time, it was number one in terms of the volume of its stock transactions in the Indian Stock Exchange. Since 1993, it has grown about 600 times both in terms of revenue to about $ 500 million and the number of employees. It employs 3500 people outside India with about 2600 of them in 42 states in the US. Besides the domestic companies, Satyam sees IBM Global Services, EDS and Accenture as its global competitors.
"These are very exciting times in India. Last year was the best year economically since India's Independence. The confidence level is at a new high and it is expected that the growth will surpass that of China in the near future. Just as China is known as the manufacturing hub, India is emerging as the 'service hub' of the world. Two-third of the $32 Trillion economy is service based and India and Indian have a 'virtual visa' to create value in a rapid manner," said Raju, describing the current business landscape in India.
From the very first day he started Satyam, Raju decided to move away from the traditional models, which included not servicing the domestic market first. He decided to heavily invest in people, communication and marketing. He grossly underestimated the capital investment needed in these areas. As Satyam started to grow, he started to focus on core competencies and began to divest out of the companies he had started earlier.
Raju applauded the present BJP government. "It is economically driven and understands the needs of businesses and the global marketplace. Gone are the days when it used to take 2-3 weeks to get an appointment with the General Manager of the telephone company and 6-7 years to get a telephone," said Raju. He was very optimistic about market and growth opportunities for businesses in India.
For US companies intending to enter the Indian market, he strongly advocated partnership with Indian companies. "While US companies know what it takes to succeed in global markets, Indian companies know how to start businesses in India. Thus a joint ventures with Indian companies in a win-win situation for all," said Raju.
Raju felt that protectionism was the wrong approach to save the US economy. Globalization is here to stay and it was in the interest of US companies to identify growth opportunities in the world market rather than implement protectionism. In response to commoditization, US had moved from a manufacturing economy to a service economy and now should be looking for a new service economy in the future. For example, today the cell phone rate is 1 cent per minute anywhere in India and for such established products and services, US should be looking for growth in India and globally.
Describing India's recipe for success in the twenty-first century, Raju said, "In the past most Indians used to learn just for the sake of learning. Only now have they figured out how to 'Combine Learning with Earning'. This is India's greatest strength."
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B. Ramalinga Raju
Raju and Vineet Nijhawan