Mahindra Satyam attempts Aussie recovery

Newly renamed Mahindra Satyam has reassured its existing local customers and is now on the market for new ones, according to the company's Australian country head. Yet rival Indian group Tata Consultancy Services is also seeking growth.

Newly renamed Mahindra Satyam has reassured its existing local customers and is now on the market for new ones, according to the company's Australian country head. Yet rival Indian group Tata Consultancy Services is also seeking growth.

Venki Prathivadi (Credit: Mahindra Satyam)

"We've already won quite a few contract extensions with our existing customers. We've also had a new customer win in recent days. We are working on a few opportunities. Without going into specific details, we are hopeful that we will win part of those," Mahindra Satyam's new country manager for Australia and New Zealand Venki Prathivadi told ZDNet.com.au.

The company is slowly recovering from an accounting disaster in January that saw its operations brought into fellow Indian company Tech Mahindra.

Mahindra Satyam is forging ahead with its new image. Promoting it has been like creating a new brand, according to Prathivadi. His travel schedule has been exhausting, he said, leading him to work almost 24/7 in his mission to get around to his customers and stakeholders. Even new owner Tech Mahindra's executive vice-chairman, Vineet Nayyar, spent four days in the country last month going over its acquisition of Satyam.

"Customer reactions have been very positive," Prathivadi said. "Everyone's grateful that the worst is over. We've kept up all the SLA's with customers."

The focus would continue to be in the company's strong areas of banking, insurance, transport and logistics. However, there would be a new offensive in government, education and resources. "We have not had a focus before in the resources sector. That is something we intend to do going forward," Prathivadi said.

Mahindra Satyam would be digging into Tech Mahindra's expertise — business process outsourcing and infrastructure management services — to manage the push, he said, with combined service offerings better able to cover what customers needed. "We'll be integrating those trends and going to the market in a combined way."

Despite Mahindra Satyam's fall from grace earlier this year, customers have been sticking with the newly renamed Indian outsourcing firm because of its "can do" attitude, he claimed. "Nothing's too hard for us," Prathivadi said.

"Many of our competitors have tried at many of our customer engagements — we know it. They have not succeeded," he said. "I can also quote instances where our customers have completely disassociated themselves from any such conversations and have instructed competitors to stay away from the engagements and from our people. In fact, I can't think of anywhere where our business has been taken away."

Rival Tata Consultancy Services general manager Australia & New Zealand Varun Kapur said that his company hadn't actively tried to get work on the back of Satyam's stumble. "We're not an opportunistic organisation: we like opportunities, but we're not opportunistic," he said.

TCS had, however, helped customers which it shared with the company. "What we did is there were a number of instances where we had common customers. We worked proactively with our customers when they approached us and worked together to build contingency plans," he said. "Because if our customers' business gets disrupted that's no good for us. So we work closely with them proactively to work out options in case something fell over. I think by working in that manner we got greater traction with them. We got greater respect from them. It helped them ensure there was certainty in their business as well."

Certainty is TCS's catch cry. According to Kapur, it is the company's track record — it has been in the country since 1979 — of delivering 97 per cent of its projects which wins its business, especially in Australia. The company has grown 70 per cent year on year over the last two years, Kapur said. There are now 2300 people working on Australian business, with 900 based in Australia.

In the current environment, Kapur said that companies needed their smaller spend to spawn projects which would deliver. "If it promises certain business benefits, those are a given," he said.

Its focus will be on the banking and financial sector as well as the energy and retail sectors. It hasn't had a lot of work in resources and government, but Kapur hoped with the Gershon review and some new contacts in mining that business in these segments might pick up.

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