In the Indian business landscape, Cloud-based operations have gotten inescapable. To such an extent that, for certain ventures, it is hard to oversee development without the Cloud innovation. On the off chance that we contrast what the innovation has carried with the Indian organizations, contrasted and customary conditions, it has passed on productivity that engages associations to lessen capital costs and addition business versatility. Additionally, cloud experts say, the innovation has significantly affected how web hosts and worker ranches work.
In this scenario, Microsoft Gold Partner and the leading cloud solutions provider, IFI Tech solutions are empowering businesses with its cutting-edge offerings.
In a conversation with Mr. Puneet Bajaj, Partner at IFI Techsolutions, he shared his journey throughout and discussed the current industry scenario.
- Tell us about the company:
IFI Techsolutions is a born-in-cloud Microsoft Gold Partner and a Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) setup by ex-Microsoft employees to help global customers ranging from Enterprises to SMBs and Startups with their digital transformation journey. We are one of those key partners across the globe that focuses only on Microsoft based solutions and have build deep-expertise in it.
- What were the initial challenges you faced?
The biggest challenge was to make customers understand the value of the cloud and get them to pay a premium back in the day. We started working with some of the early adopters in the US market, and India only had a handful of customers in the entire region.
We acquired the initial few customers without any reference but solely based on our expertise, sometimes working free for months to prove ourselves.
Also, hiring experienced employees was not possible as there was no talent out there, we had to train everyone from ground zero.
- Which was that point that triggered the growth of the company?
The worldwide lockdown due to COVID-19was the biggest trigger and change maker for the entire cloud industry and us as well. We saw a massive surge in customer requests and started working with larger enterprises that needed help with cloud expertise. The traditional ways of cloud sales went away, and we were doing the kind of value sales that we always wanted to. All our customers that were already using cloud technologies saw massive benefits.
The post-covid world is all about HOW and WHEN to use cloud instead of the pre-covid why.
- How have the company graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?
We have established direct sales capabilities and have acquired customers across the globe including in countries like the US, UK, UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Egypt, etc.
We are one of those key partners across the globe that focuses only on Microsoft based solutions and have build deep-expertise in it.
Our sales journey in India started in early 2019 and within 2 years we are managing the entire cloud journey for some of the biggest enterprise groups in India like Larsen & Toubro group, Mahindra & Mahindra, Reliance, Hiranandani, L&T Infotech, and even brands like Bisleri, Gulf Oil, Yash Raj Films, Health India TPA, The Phoenix Mills, etc.
All this would not have been possible without the constant support of various Microsoft teams across the globe, especially Microsoft India. They awarded us with the prestigious Partner of the Year Finalist Award for our work on OSS on Azure. They also recognized us with multiple Gold Competencies for our work in the field of Cloud, Productivity, Security, DevOps, Analytics, etc. making us among us one of the very few Partner across the globe with 360-degree capabilities on Microsoft’s Cloud solutions.
- What is the reason behind your company’s long-standing success?
Our people are our biggest strength. We have always put our customers before everything else, given our best for a great customer experience, and trained ourselves for the future. We are riding the digital transformation wave right on the edge working with solutions that revolutionize the industry and builds trends.
The fact that our very 1st cloud customer is still working with us after more than half a decade is a testament.
- What are the products/services the company focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
We provide services like consulting, managed services, engineering, offshore dev center (ODC), staff augmentation, and Microsoft reseller.
Our solution areas include Digital Transformation, Application Modernization, DevOps, Security, Data Analytics, and Application Development.
- How do you decide to take the company a step further in terms of your products/services?
We have been in the consulting and reselling business for some time now. We are focusing on expanding our Managed Services and Staff Augmentation practices where we expect to add another 100 people over the next 12-18 months.
- Is there any new addition to the list of products/services? Anything exciting you would like to share?
Going by the industry trends we are investing in technologies like IoT, Data Analytics, and AI. Some of our current projects will be disruptive in industries like healthcare, fashion, professional training, etc.
- How has technology transformed the traditional way of business?
Today, customers across industries are understanding the importance of the cloud. Post lockdown as the economy revives and companies go back to business, they will look at cloud solutions as the primary way of doing their business.
Technology has enabled the everything-as-a-service model in every industry so that a business can focus on their strengths and do what they are best at.
- What do you think are the responsibilities of an entrepreneur?
In today’s testing times an entrepreneur’s biggest responsibility is towards making society a better place. You can do this in many ways like providing employment, practicing a sustainable business model, promoting & driving innovations that touch masses.
- Can you please brief us about your professional experience?
I started working as early as college 3rd year where I was working with startups in Delhi NCR region, building apps for someone, doing digital marketing for another, and even started my Technology training center for college students & working professionals. Coming from a typical business family I think entrepreneurship came naturally along with all the challenges. I was at the forefront of the cloud revolution in 2010 as all tech giants were betting heavily on it, my focus was building cloud-based apps so I coded at nights for my dream project (www.iforindia.org) and evangelized Microsoft Azure during the day at various forums.
I got placed at Microsoft India R&D post my MBA where I spent more than 3 years in various roles that gave a breadth of amazing experiences and shaped my career. I was not just driving some key cloud migration projects for Microsoft but also got my hands on the alpha-beta version of the future of the cloud.
Change is the only constant.
Post leaving Microsoft it was time to partner with my long-time mentor Ankur Garg (ex-Microsoft & a successful Bollywood Producer) in building IFI Techsolutions to be a premier cloud consulting company.
- What are the key achievements of your entrepreneurial journey?
I would call the following as our key achievements from various years.
- 2018 one of our projects got showcased at Microsoft Inspire (one of the biggest annual tech conferences) with Satya Nadella on the stage
- 2019 attending Microsoft Inspire and becoming a Gold Microsoft Partner
- 2020 becoming a Finalist for the prestigious Microsoft Partner of Year award.
- 2020 acquiring large enterprise customers like L&T, LTI, Mahindra & Mahindra, etc.
- 2021 becoming a 100 people company
- How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?
For us, our employees are like family and we treat them the same way. We make sure we prepare them for not today but the future by heavily investing in training, exposure to Microsoft engineers & employees, building an environment of mutual trust, encouraging & providing them opportunities to follow a career path that they are most passionate about. We always had policies like flexible working hours, work from home, flexible holidays, and rewarding top performers.
I am proud of the team we have built and confident that they can face any challenges out there with a smile.
- Is there any special experience with your clients you would like to highlight?
I like to see ourselves as the masters of distress situations. There are many such scenarios from helping a customer run their business through a hurricane or a cyber-attack, to doing a 4-month project in 6 weeks, but I’ll talk about the 2 that stand out due to the impact they are making.
The first one happened in March 2020. As soon as the COVID breakout started in India, all offices were shut down and one of the top IT MNCs of the world reached out to us. They wanted a way to make their entire workforce work from home as they had to shut down their office overnight. Their engineers not working meant large enterprises & governments across the globe getting affected and projects worth billions of dollars coming to a halt. We assembled our entire team over the weekend, took 24×7 shifts building the solutions, and within 5 days we had everything ready to onboard hundreds and soon thousands of users across the globe, those solutions are still being used today.
Second is a recent one, where we are helping a health-tech company build one of the largest Covid-vaccine distribution systems in the world. Hopefully, we will be able to talk more about it in the coming few months.
- According to you, what are the basic factors that businesses in the digital landscape should focus on to get better results?
Agility and flexibility to analyze & adapt to market trends.
- One person who you admire the most?
Bill Gates and Satya Nadella are two people I admire the most, for their leadership qualities.
I have been fortunate to have a few very talented people in my life who invested heavily in grooming me over the years and each of them has some qualities I admire a lot.
- Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?
That would be Infosys, I do not think the Indian IT industry would have been the same without them.
- Constant vigilance- a need or a strategy? Please share your views.
It is a need and if there was a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for businesses then I would put it the lowest tier of basic needs. In today’s fast-paced and digitally driven world if you aren’t vigilant enough then you won’t know what hit you and brought you down.
- It’s a rat-race out there. How do you cope with that?
It surely is but talking to other entrepreneurs I have realized that the world is a big place and everyone gets their share based on their capability, appetite, and resilience. We need to constantly upgrade ourselves for our customer needs and changing market trends to be ahead in the race and there are no shortcuts here.