Blazing a trail of success

R Ramaraj, CEO of Satyam Infoway, shares his thoughts on on what it is like to be at the helm of Satyam Infoway.

As I look back over the recent eventful past with Satyam Infoway, it occurs to me that everything that I have done in my career prepared me for the challenge of bringing the Internet to India and India to the Internet

The early years in Sales and Marketing with consumer firms such as Johnson & Johnson, Jagatjit Industries and British Paints were filled with the heat and dust of competition for market shares and honed my competitive spirit. They also involved extensive travel, enabling one to learn to adjust quickly to new surroundings and get down to business. But it was the move to the IT Industry some fifteen years ago that revealed to me what I found most satisfying. And that was a challenge.

The challenge of setting up a business in a category where none had existed before. Where there was no precedence, no prior experience or learning curve to fall back on. Where one had to blaze a trail using one's judgement and instincts to succeed. All the positions that I chose in the IT Industry were such: Pioneering the retail marketing of computers in India by establishing Computer Point in 1984; as one of the founder directors of MicroLand Ltd.; and as the director of Sterling Cellular Ltd. in 1992, when the cellular telephony business was just about beginning in India.

All these prepared me for what we are doing at Satyam Infoway. When I met Mr Ramalinga Raju, the chairman of Satyam Computer Services, when he outlined the idea of using networking and collaborative efficiencies for setting up a successful IT business, the challenge appealed to me. I was given complete freedom and empowered to shape this idea to fruition as I saw it. We incorporated Satyam Infoway in December of 1995, and spent the next two years building a state of the art Internet backbone. For we had already seen the coming Internet revolution, and were determined to build out the infrastructure to be able to provide multiple services that would help catalyse the use of the Internet for the people and businesses of India.

We launched corporate communications solutions in April 1998, followed by an online consumer portal, and Internet Access for consumers in November 1998. Other initiatives were launched in quick succession for a business model with multiple revenue streams from a common infrastructure. A model that analysts have lauded as unique and capable of growing the market for Internet while telescoping the path to profitability.

We have tried to do all this to international standards, with partnerships and associations with the world’s best. Along the way, we have built up formidable capabilities and the respect of our partners and our peers. This has resulted in numerous recognitions and awards, the latest being the Internet World Asia Industry Award for best ISP. But for me, the challenge continues.

For our purpose is to make a qualitative difference to the lives of millions of people and organisations by harnessing the power of India and the Internet. We intend to do this by empowering people and organizations with the potential of the Internet, and by leveraging the capabilities of Indian knowledge resources. Thereby empowering India to become a major e-commerce and economic force in the world.

So there is still much to be done, in terms of evangelizing the Internet and its benefits to people and companies, getting the Government to understand how this can make a difference to the economic well being of the country and so on. Everyday is still a challenge. A challenge that I enjoy and that keeps me occupied productively. For in meeting this challenge, I know that we can make a fundamental difference to India and its position in a networked world.

Read R. Ramaraj – The enabler of Satyam