Cloud-based Services Model Is The Future For Partners: Emkor

Vikram Dham, CEO and MD, Emkor, spoke to ChannelWorld about the vendor's channel landscape for India. He also explained why he believes Emkor will be a "disruptive cloud company" that will completely transform the way business is done and pose a threat to traditional on-premise service providers.

CW: Emkor is a relatively new company. What led to the formation of the company?

Dham: I have worked with Dell and many other legacy IT companies before. I was working for industry leaders when the trend of outsourcing had just begun, and was at the helm of those lifecycles. This ensured that I gained good insight on the concept of managed services during my stints at these companies. What intrigued me is why small companies did not have the desire to become full-fledged services companies. I thought it was better for a company to be entrepreneur-driven than board-driven.

CW: Why do you call yourselves a disruptive cloud company?

Dham: We are going to disrupt the way businesses operate. On-premise players will feel threatened by what we do. They will feel the heat. Our model is going to give SIs a new model to run their business.

CW: Who are Emkor's prospective clients?

Dham: We are targeting the more evolved companies whose revenues stand between Rs 50 and Rs 2,000 crore. We are also looking at verticals like manufacturing, distribution, retail, logistics, and realty (infrastructure) in India. We have clients in all these sectors today. But we majorly target SMBs.

CW: What kind of services does Emkor offer to the SMB market?

Dham: We are a cloud-based services company, and we do not offer anything on-premise. We have christened our offering "Business Function-as-a-service". It is a combination of four cloud practices: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS), Business Intelligence-as-a-Service (BIaaS), and Business Consulting-as-a-Service (BCaaS). We can deliver the entire line of automated services over the Web. And we have the infrastructure to facilitate this through our datacenter in Mumbai.

CW: All said and done, how does your service fulfill this promise to SMBs?

Dham: With our service, customers do not need a CIO or IT manager or anyone who understands technology to be present at their premises. It is completely outsourced. We classify our offerings into three broad categories: Business-critical, office, and communications. When we go and talk to customers, our foot in the door is towards business-critical applications. The worldwide trend implies that SMBs are the prime movers of adoption of business-critical applications and business processes on the cloud. The main reason is that these kinds of business bodies are keener to adapt to new changes, compared to their bigger IT counterparts. At least the more evolved ones have realized that IT is important to drive business. Emkor's service offerings leverage the flexibility of the SMB workforce.

CW: Emkor is still a small brand. How do you plan to increase your brand awareness among customers in tier-2 and 3 cities?

Dham: We are doing cluster events in cities such as Ludhiana and Chandigarh, and plan to conduct more such events in other cities. In these events, we ideally invite customers from various verticals and showcase our solutions to them.

CW: Do you have any customer wins so far?

Dham: We already have 12 customers using our cloud-based services in India, and we have a customer in Dubai as well. Apart from that, we are running six POCs at the same time. In the last couple of months, we have got certain customer leads through the channel route. We are sure there will be more wins coming through the channel very soon.

CW: So, what does Emkor's channel landscape look like?

Dham: We have eight partners in India so far and plan to add more. Team Computers and CtrlS are our partners. We have categorized our partners into two categories. We have sales and marketing partners, who just take our services portfolio to the customer and mediate the process, and we take it forward from there. These partners get a commission out of the sale. Then we have the white label partners. They take our service offerings as their own to the market, but with a notification that says the services are powered by Emkor. We manage the backend--like the SLAs, and the white label partners take care of the consulting part.

CW: By taking such an approach, are you empowering partners to become managed service providers?

Dham: Yes, SIs, who has been typically involved in on-premise integrations, will now be empowered to provide new solutions on the cloud. We are a cloud company and we have to scale. If we do not scale, we will not be doing justice to our business model. SIs have a constraint on scaling. Therefore, the onus is on us to see to that our partners do not have a conflict of interest while dealing with us. Partners have many customers on the ground. So, why not take their route? We need many such SMB customers in India and the only way of achieving this is through an aggressive channel strategy.

CW: But don't you think cloud computing is a direct threat to SIs?

Dham: We don't see why SIs should consider cloud computing a threat. They should in fact see it as an opportunity, and try to earn the same revenues through cloud solutions which they used to make by selling on-premise solutions. Moreover, cloud-based solutions have shorter sales cycles. And there are so many entry barriers with on-premise solutions, such as upfront capital investment. Seventy percent of such on-premise deployments fail. Our services portfolio has no such constraints and barriers whatsoever, and subscribes to the pay-as-you-go model.

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