Indian tier two IT supplier MindTree is coming of age

I first met with an Indian IT supplier called Mindtree in 2010. At the time I was trying to find out more about some of the smaller IT service providers in India.

One of its founders was a man called Ashok Soota, who was one of the pioneers of the Indian offshore IT services model. He was president of Wipro in the 1980s and 1990s. He told me the story of how the western IT services firms let their guards down and allowed Indian companies to get into the market. You can read the interview here.

I have covered Mindtree in the blog and on Computer Weekly quite a few times considering its size. It is interesting to see how the company has grown despite recession and how it has used its small size to enable it to change with the market and demand.

Back in 2010 when I first met the company it was 10 years old and had a turnover of about $270m.

The company was formed in August 1999 as the result of a collaboration between executives of Indian service provider Wipro, US consultancy Cambridge Technology Partners and Lucent.

This diverse group of people combined the low costs of India with the high end consultancy of Cambridge Technology Partners and the technology expertise of Lucent.

At the time its UK business accounted for about 10% of its business with 80 of these are in the UK, with 720 in India that are dedicated to UK customers. The then head of UK, Tridip Saha told me about how the company would only work with customers of its size or smaller and would focus on a few service lines. This way it could compete with much bigger suppliers in certain areas.

In 2010 the company was awarded a prestigious contract as part of the Indian ID project which plans to give 1.2 billion Indians biometric ID. Read more about it here.

At the end of last year I met the company’s UK and Europe head Mark Wilsdon when he joined the company. After having time to get his feet under the desk I this week met him again after an update.

The company has new exceeded the $0.5bn revenue mark and has 400 staff in Europe including half of these in the UK. It has about 200 customers worldwide with an estimated 30% of these in Europe.

Its focus now is on about 20 service lines where it will invest in resources and build up expertise. At the same time in the UK it concentrates on four verticals: retail consumer goods and manufacturing; banking and finance; travel and tourism; and high tech and media.
The company is expanding its global footprint including an extra 16 delivery centres globally on top of the four it has now, by 2020.  These will be in regions where the company has clients and will be set up with clients.

For example with support from the IDA Ireland, which attracts investment from business, it is building a delivery centre with up to 10 people initially rising to up to 75. This centre will initially deliver services to Irish customers, it will also target prospect in Ireland, and hopes to win more customers. The company has also moved to new, I presume more swanky, offices in London and seems set for growth.

The growth of smaller IT services firms is a reflection on how businesses are changing how they buy IT services. CIOs want specialists in certain areas that can provide flexible services. These tier two firms can change direction easier than the services giants.