An Exclusive Interview with Khurram Rahat Managing Director of Teradata, on IT Industry of Pakistan
Please tell us about your professional background?
I am the Managing Director of Teradata responsible for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. I have a Masters degree in Business Administration and have been actively involved in management and technology for over two decades.
I have held various senior management, project management and sales positions at the country and regional level and have wide exposure to the Financial, Telecommunication and Public sectors.
I possess in-depth knowledge of leading edge Business Intelligence and Management Solutions and have been providing consultancy to organizations on how they can develop an ‘Information-based’ decision making culture. I have also been regularly invited as a guest speaker at various forums and conferences.
I am honoured to be one of the founding members of the Islamabad Chapter of the Project Management Institute because I have always supported creative ideas and efforts in the IT and management community in the region.
Can you describe Teradata and its operations in Pakistan?
Teradata is one of the world’s leading IT companies and is a world leader in Enterprise Data Warehousing, Big Data Analytics and Integrated Marketing Management solutions.
The IT industry in Pakistan has made impressive advances and has made many important breakthroughs by producing high quality and efficient applications. Teradata is leading these developments in the country.
Teradata was established specifically for the purpose of enabling companies to organize large amounts of data from various sources and gain insights for making strategic and operational decisions.
Over the years, as business needs and technology have evolved, Teradata has maintained its leadership position and has worked with partners to evolve a Unified Data Architecture best suited for Big Data requirements for different customers.
There are a number of opportunities for Big Data Analytics in Pakistan across different sectors and industries. Government, Telecom, Finance and Manufacturing sector are key areas where such use would encompass retention analysis, fraud and risk analysis, social network analysis, sentiment analysis, etc.
How much work force does Teradata have worldwide and in Pakistan?
Teradata Corporation [TDC] is traded on the New York Stock Exchange in the USA. It employs about 11,500 people. In Pakistan, Teradata employs close to 450 people.
How do you see the global IT industry these days? What are the challenges and opportunities?
The global IT Services industry holds significant opportunities for industry players due to increasing IT spending in the healthcare, retail and transportation sectors, among others. The market is projected to reach an estimated US $1,147 billion in 2017.
The global IT services industry comprises services related to the application of business and technical expertise to enable organizations to create, manage, optimize, and access information and business processes. The industry’s scope includes product support services such as hardware and software maintenance and professional services such as IT consulting, development and integration services.
North America, with 42% of the global market share, dominates the highly fragmented global IT services industry. The IT services industry is expected to register the highest growth rate among all regions during the forecast period and lead the industry. Government-backed reforms are expected to contribute to significant increases in spending for IT investments. In addition, by generating new opportunities for IT vendors globally, cloud computing is expected to reshape the industry. It is anticipated to offer immense opportunity to penetrate in the small and medium business sector.
What is the present situation of IT business in Pakistan? What opportunities do you see in the Pakistan market?
Pakistan’s information technology industry is quite young. It is in its early stages of development. During the 1990s, the Pakistani economy stagnated and its IT industry did not make any headway. However, it grew at 40% during the 2001-2007 period.
The State Bank of Pakistan reported in 2007-08 that export figures of software and Information Technology-enabled services were US$169 million which showed a consistent annual growth. It is significant to note that the growth of Pakistani IT exports in the last few years has been more than 40%.
Currently, Pakistan is struggling with an insurgency and a stagnant economy that is taking a heavy toll on the nation. If, however, the political and military leadership succeeds in creating a semblance of peace and stability in the nation of nearly 200 million, there can be an expectation of a bright future ahead for the IT industry in particular, and an innovation-based knowledge economy in general.
Analytics, Marketing applications and data warehouse; how do you rank these 3 services in terms of revenue?
It is difficult to quantify the quantum of data warehousing market due to confidentiality reasons. However, Teradata is the market leader with almost 75 percent of the enterprise data warehousing market in Pakistan. Here, I am referring to organizations with proper data warehousing set ups and not instances where an organisation may have a business intelligence tool running or may be claiming to have a single database holding data.
Over the years, as the business needs and technology have evolved, Teradata has maintained its leadership position and has worked with partners to evolve a Unified Data Architecture best suited for Big Data requirements for different customers.
There are a number of opportunities for Big Data in the country across different sectors and industries. Government, Telecom, Finance and Manufacturing sectors are key areas. Other directions include retention analysis, fraud and risk analysis, social network analysis, sentiment analysis, etc.
Building on its leadership role, Teradata has developed a Unified Data Architecture environment in Pakistan to ensure that its customers can take advantage of big data analytics and perform consolidated analytics by integrating structured and non-structured data, which is transparent for the end users.
A good example is Telenor Pakistan’s recent expansion. It is an investment in Teradata’s Unified Data Architecture that will provide immediate value, enabling the company to do deep analytics on their business in almost real-time, and with that, maximize its return on investment. Telenor Pakistan ran a rigorous process which validated Teradata’s thought, leadership and more importantly, the economic viability of running their best in class environment on Teradata.
Which sectors are in need to implement new technologies in Pakistan?
In order to achieve real growth, we must set realistic targets. For this we need to draw up a roadmap of the possibilities we can reach in terms of IT. This feedback needs to be then evaluated on the basis of existing market benchmarks encompassing the country’s business and education sectors. Pakistan has so many success stories in IT despite all the problems it faces and these can really make an impact.
What would you like to recommend to government offices about their use of software technology?
The information and communication technology (ICT) ‘revolution’ has been hailed as the enabling force for developing countries to become more active participants in the global economy. Institutions like the United Nations and World Bank support the creation and funding of ICT strategies to help such countries leapfrog stages of economic development.
But developing countries must first solve tough, often unglamorous problems like illiteracy, social mobility, government inefficiency, and a lack of economic opportunities if they are to realize the potential of ICT for development.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a fusion of several development and connectivity initiatives, focusing on infrastructure, energy, the Gwadar port and industrial cooperation. This multi-billion dollar project will spur regional economic integration and bring prosperity to the entire region.
What are the major issues when dealing with local clients?
The people’s mindset must be changed and they should become acclimatised with the change from paper to email. We are slowly moving towards e-governance but we have to overcome a lot of resistance and overcome our old ways. Another key area is the mind-set where people need to understand the value of taking decisions based on data and facts rather than just their ‘gut feeling’. Agreed that the importance of experience cannot be undermined but imagine the effectiveness of same experience in making decisions based on facts.
Change that is IT-oriented will come when the right environment is created for it.
Is Pakistan lacking in skilled persons in IT industry?
Pakistani colleges and universities produce almost 1.2 million skilled graduates annually. In terms of enrollment, the 2005 Pakistan Education Census reported 43,801 students enrolled in 4-year engineering institutions, another 37,635 students in 3-year colleges offering Information Technology degrees, and 69,719 studying in three-year polytechnic institutes. With such interest among the public, Pakistan’s IT industry should soon have a sizeable work force and I don’t see any lack of skilled people in the IT sector.
Who are your main competitors nationally and internationally and how do you compare yourself with them?
Teradata’s top competitors worldwide are, International Business Machines Corporation and Oracle Corporation.
Trillions of bytes of data don’t faze Teradata. The company designs and implements enterprise data warehousing systems that store and analyze information about customers, financials and operations.
How do you see the future of Teradata and this industry in the next 5 years?
The response to Teradata within Pakistan, though initially slow, has been very encouraging. More and more organizations are embracing enterprise data warehouse and business intelligence solutions. In our portfolio we have clients, who are market leaders or are challenging the market leaders. This fact alone speaks for itself about the value we help create for our customers.
Other than Telecom sector, leading companies in Finance, Retail, Airline and Government sectors are using our solutions for Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) and Business Intelligence (BI). We have also deployed and maintained some of the largest Contact Centers for our clients.
What would you like to advise new entrepreneurs entering in IT Industry?
We continue to see Pakistan as an emerging market with lot of potential and are looking forward to growth in the sector, hopefully with more companies joining the field. I only advice new entrants in this area to be appropriately qualified, competent and ready for the challenges.