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We are banking on GIS: NIIT Tech CEO Thakur

Muhammad Zulqarnain Zulfi, New Delhi, 6/1/2015 


From spreading IT literacy across the country to exclusively providing IT solutions to India Inc, NIIT has rapidly grown big. Its IT arm, NIIT Technologies, has been working on some ambitious projects, especially in the travel sector, this year. In an exclusive interview with Bureaucracy Today, Arvind Thakur, Chief Executive Officer of NIIT Technologies, talks about the company''s key strengths, the future of the IT industry and the challenges faced by it.  He also shares NIIT Tech’s plan for developing smart cities in India.

NIIT has a strong brand presence in India, and what works the best for it is the specialization it possesses in the Geographic Information System. The GIS has enabled NIIT to uniquely engage with the Government. Right now NIIT is executing very large projects in the Government segment in India.

“We have a very large and significant engagement with the Airport Authority of India and the Airport Operations Control Centre which manages 10 airports and handles 96,000 flights and millions of passengers. The displays at airports like Chennai, Kolkata and Guwahati run on our solutions. We are engaged in the largest SAP implementation for comprehensive financial management systems for the Andhra Pradesh Government and in the sales tax project for the Maharashtra Government. We are executing the CCTNS (crime and criminal tracking network systems) project for the Ministry of Home Affairs to automate all the police stations across five States,” says NIIT Technologies CEO Arvind Thakur. 

He further says, “We are also doing projects for the defence authorities and the BSF which include infra, applications and networking right up to the border and also data entry and other activities.”

There are deliberations going on about smart cities and digital world and the area of NIIT specialization is Geographic Information Services. Thakur calls these concepts colossal initiatives.

He believes that since CISCO, IBM and all big SIs will be going in for this big opportunity they are also deliberating on getting engaged in more meaningful manner based on their technical strengths.

“The starting point for developing smart cities is to plan them. We have put together Geo design framework with a set of associated tools to begin with. These tools can integrate sensors and other things as you can track and can monitor activities in cities. The opportunity to support 100 smart cities is great and we are banking on our niche capabilities in GIS. For example, for a large programme like APDR in the power sector, all big vendor and systems integrators are present. But many partner with us for GIS.”

Thakur says that for the past few years the Government agenda has been to drive technology adoption and the huge programme of Digital India creates a big opportunity for all tech providers, including Tier-1 Systems Integrators.

He also emphasizes the point that there is a need to increase the proportion of revenue (currently at 42%) from the US -- as that figure is much more for the rest of the industry.

“More than 11% of our revenue emerges from the private sector and the Government. That is quite a significant domestic revenue amongst our peers,” Thakur says.

NIIT Technologies is also trying to gain an edge across the SMAC stack by sharply concentrating on a few industry sets -- travel, insurance and BFS.

“We avoid spreading our business model too thin and vertical specializations enable our teams to engage better with clients across our offerings – ADN, IMS and now digital services. All focused verticals are fairly information intensive,” the CEO says.

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