In an interaction with Mamta Maity, indiainfoline.com, Sudhindra Holla, Director, – Axis Communications, India & SAARC says,” We remain positive on the outlook for the coming years, even though the times are volatile. We hope that the economy can revive soon.”
Briefly describe the business model of Axis Communications in India.
Axis Communications provides intelligent security solution for a broad spectrum of industry segments and applications that enable a smarter, safer world. Axis cameras and solutions are easy-to-deploy with efficient networking and storage that provides a sophisticated security system in critical infrastructure, education, retail, banking and safe city solutions. We follow a two-tier engagement model -distribution and channel partner covering Indian metros and cities through our ecosystem of partners - distributors, resellers, system integrators and application developers. The channel partners are again categorized into multi-regional partners, solution partners and authorized partners. We sell through the distribution channel to our channel partners who eventually reach out to the customers with our products.
We are strengthening our domestic presence in India with the help of our existing partnership programs, by expanding our product portfolio, introducing innovative products using the latest groundbreaking technologies we infer through market feedback and requirement. We have mid-size and large-scale installations that focus on the industry segments like government and defense, commercial sectors, critical infrastructure, city surveillance, education, retail, and hospitality.
How do you see this pandemic impacting the overall sector and the economy?
We feel that there will be an overall impact due to the pandemic. As you know, the country’s GDP is being called down to zero by some of the institutions, leading to a dip in general business. However, the stimulus package that has been announced by the Government of India will give some impetus to revive the economy. This includes a mix of fiscal support, monetary support, ease of doing business processes, as well as some fundamental reforms
Having said that, some industries like pharmaceuticals, telecom, data centres, online learning, WFH solutions in IT, and e-commerce will see a good offering. These industries will experience a boom and will eventually grow. Simultaneously, other industries in the likes of airlines, tourism, and hospitality sectors will bear the brunt of the pandemic and experience not only stagnation but also a plunge in their business.
Likewise, the surveillance sector will encounter both the sides - growth and dip. We are experiencing growth in these three areas – social distancing and analytics solution, thermal cameras and content-based businesses building data centres. Business in these domains are not slowing down due to continuing demand. Concurrently, we might see a cascading trend in terms of govt-based projects, that will be slow for the next two to four quarters. There will be a slowdown in the commercial sector as well with the impact of being a mixed bag as we move forward.
Tell us something about the recent business strategies adopted by Axis Communications to keep business going forward during the COVID-19 situation?
A focus point of our business strategy adopted by Axis Communications during the pandemic has been consistent and efficient communication with our employees with minimum disruption. We have encouraged our employees to be available across different channels of communication along with ensuring the health and safety of our employees. As per our global organizational guidelines, we are sharing best practices and being responsive in terms of technical support with our chatbot 24*7. This helps us in extending immediate support in case of any technical glitch for seamless customer experience. We also have a strong tech team working meticulously from home to solve any such issues that may arise.
With the resumption of instate export, domestic flights, and the courier services, we have a team prepared to go to the field and work for any physical repairs, if needed. We have cautiously designed all the precautionary measures to deliver the best even during this lockdown.
We also have maintained round-the-clock correspondence with our distributors and top focused partners while keeping them updated with information to ensure smooth business continuity. We are using WebEx and Microsoft Teams to accommodate the needs of our channel partners aligning with the norms of the new normal.
How have you managed to keep your employees motivated during the lockdown?
We have rolled out new guidelines to our employees to better suit the work from home situation. Our IT team is working rigorously to extend the required support and infrastructure to our employees to proceed with business with minimal glitches. We have prioritized the health and safety of our employees during this time as a satisfied workforce is the key to increased productivity. We are utilizing platforms like Webex and Microsoft Teams to stay connected. We have implemented some employee-centric initiatives recently for their constant engagement and well-being like yoga and meditation sessions, frequent tea-time catch-ups where employees take turns to showcase a new skill that they have acquired or an old skill that they have started pursuing again, tips on maintaining a work-life balance and ensuring that they are getting enough family time and are relaxed. We also hold Virtual Fika, which a Swedish word for coffee-time chat, where we organize informal sessions among our global employees along with their families and pets that are not work related. We have, therefore, optimized all internal meetings for remote participation.
How do you see growth shaping up for you in the coming years?
We remain positive on the outlook for the coming years, even though the times are volatile. We hope that the economy can revive soon. We will align our growth to the industry’s overall growth. COVID has proven to be both a boon and bane for our industry. Even though we are witnessing a dip in government initiated projects as they are currently on hold due to pending investments, surveillance market would continue to see an increase in demands, especially towards the end of the year, at the virtue of security and safety being the priority. The increasing awareness towards the importance of CCTVs have also led to the growing demand of its implementation.
Although the traditional CCTV cameras might take a back seat, but the amalgamation of a complete video management solution might see a rise in demand - a mix of radar technologies that detects or triggers false alarms, explosion protected cameras, thermal cameras, and audio solutions. We also see an increasing demand of technologies like WDR that offers clear footages even in pitch dark scenarios, helping in better monitoring of the crime scene and city management. Subsequently, we are also noticing an interest in our audio solution for the security and public announcement requirements. Hence, most of the analog solutions in most of the buildings which is otherwise very difficult to manage due to poor audio quality and unreliability can now be controlled with the IP speakers. Additionally, cameras with inbuilt immersive technologies like AI & ML would also see an uptake with its real-time analytics to better city, traffic, road and sewage management.
How is Axis Communications contributing to the flagship programme of Government of India, 'Make in India'?
At Axis Communications, we optimize a lot on our manufacturing. We design the products and software but give it to a third party to manufacture it. We have reputed contract manufacturers to ensure that the products are manufactured in such a way that will not comprise the quality and maintain efficiency. Now, the customers have to decide if they want to opt for premium quality products which actually solves the issue rather than choosing mediocre products which compromises on the safety and security.
We have different product series like P-series and M-series that are sold majorly in emerging market. These are affordable products and designed for particular segments and businesses.
However, Make in India is not about bringing down the prices but about where they are manufactured. Cost will vary depending upon where the products are manufactured, whether in India or globally. The main purpose of Make in India is to bring about the vendor’s commitment. People tend to think that products manufactured in the country are more under control and safe enough to curb cyber security issues. Take Defence sector for instance, people are of the view that cameras manufactured in India- serves the security challenges. Our PM's vision towards Digital India and Make in India is to create more jobs opportunities in the manufacturing segment. The place of manufacturing does not increase the value of the product. It is the solutions that matters the most.
What is the company's outlook on FY20 performance?
We will choose to remain optimistic. Even though uncertainty is prevailing across industries, we are affirmative that we will be able to overcome these tough conditions. We will be content even if we witness stagnancy or a crawling growth rate.
Who are your major clients? Brief us about the company's footprints in India as well as globally.
We are a Sweden based company operating for over 35 years. We have been operating in India for more than a decade now and have a strong pan-India reach. Our presence can be felt across several industries like aviation, commercial, education, hospitality, retail, as well as government-initiated projects. Some of our smart city projects are based in Kolhapur, Nanded, Karnal, Junagarh, Hyderabad and Bhavnagar to name a few. We have also collaborated with city projects, our major client being the Kolkata police, partnering with them to deploy hi-tech surveillance systems. We have also extended our solutions in Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan or popularly known as Salt Lake Stadium. For Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, we have established the largest surveillance systems among the healthcare facility in India. We have collaborated with numerous government PWD projects like the PWD Western Court. Besides that, our associations include Café Coffee Day, Novotel, Ceat Tyres, Mindtree, Persistent Systems, Dayalbagh Institute, Mahindra and Mahindra, Safex, PGCIL and Fortis to name a few.
Apart from leading Axis Communications, you are also a renowned Yakshagana artist, having given over 1000 performances across the country. How do you manage to balance the two?
As a strong believer of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, I ensure that I do not neglect either of the two or end up overstraining myself. I make certain that I do not take up anything that will end up feeling like merely a task. I am extremely passionate about both dance and my work. When it comes to balancing, I see to it that my schedules are not clashing. Hence, I only perform during the weekends. I also perform when I am in a good frame of mind. Therefore, I avoid performing on weeks which requires me to invest more on work or when I am traveling back-to-back. I also try to limit the number of performances. Even though I get a lot of requests, I limit it to 15-20 performances per year, which is about one to two performances a month. I believe in quality of my deliverance whether it be my art or work and that is why I take extra care to ensure that my output and quality is not falling short.
What are your views on PM Modi’s stimulus package?
In general, I think it’s a good stimulus package. If any country is investing almost 10% of the GDP for the revival of various sectors, mainly targeting to relief MSMEs, then I believe that it’s a good revival package for the economy. It will slowly help us get back on the track with respect to our growth trajectory in terms of the GDP growth. Moreover, the digital process of this package ensures the money is not passing through any middlemen and going directly to the respective accounts, which I think is a very positive step in ensuring transparency, efficiency, and quick action.