Geared for growth

The Dubai-based ICT solutions and services provider Visionaire serves a diverse range of industries in the region.  Aneeta Gupta, CEO of the company, talks about what sets her company apart from the pack.

Many people still think of Visionaire as an AV company. Can you tell us a bit about your systems integration business?

A lot of people want us to be branded that way but if you look at the projects that we did, almost everything large-size and complex in this country was done by us. We didn’t do huge numbers in terms of ports but we did substantially large projects such as 33,000 network points in the UAE University spread across 65 buildings. It’s one of the most advanced networks in the country today.

Also, our positioning is somewhat different; it’s very unique. We’re not a gold partner with anybody. Yes we do have the highest levels of partnership with Microsoft, VMware, HP, etc, but we don’t believe in signing up with these vendors for volume sales or guarantee that we will always sell their products into what we do.

We are typically a vendor-neutral, design-build-manage house, and a lot of system integrators in the business today don’t have any design capabilities. So they will go over to a vendor, become their gold partner, and then the vendor designs everything and hands it over to them. We decided early in our life that that’s not what our mantra is going to be. We wanted to learn and add value for ourselves and that allows us to be very flexible.

What value are you bringing to the table? What is your USP?

The first thing is the integration value. We are a system integrator. We really squeeze the system to over-perform. The first thing we give is much more enhancement. A case in point is the UAEU project, for which we have won an award. We worked with APC for this project and they were trying to push their design. We didn’t take it so we redesigned everything  and created something which was much more balanced that cost the client 40-50% less.

We have two things that are unique about us: one is that we give what’s called best of breed. There is nothing that we have to buy because we have the flexibility. And I think that is the reason that a system integration company exists today in the world. Our job is to basically look at the client, help the client achieve their best functional advantage rather than trying to push a vendor’s quota.

Are you looking at the opportunities around some of the emerging technologies?

We look at what we call the four Cs. The first is the connectivity, and we take both wired and wireless together as connectivity and access. That’s the connectivity infrastructure. Cloud is the second one – cloud and mobility go together. Linked to mobility is BYOD and whatever else you want to do. The third thing is communication and collaboration, which I think is the most important thing in terms of the growth of where the industry going to go, as people want to communicate and collaborate all the time. And then the fourth is converged services, which is how you manage your services to keep this running for you.

The entire philosophy, which now we’ve labelled under one name called technomics – the economics of technology basically. Technomics is our branding, it’s a platform that we have built that brings the four Cs below it, and then we can extend that outwards to give the client exactly what he wants to achieve in the four Cs, depending on his business case and whatever he wants for his business.

How do you see the industry evolving in the next year, especially the system integration industry? Do you think it’s going to change, with cloud and everything coming into the picture? Do you think cloud will become more of an opportunity and not a threat?

I think in services, there’s definitely going to be an opportunity. Hardware is going to get more and more simpler. Software is going to drive much of what’s going to happen, and we need to have strong skills and understanding there. The hardware is going to shrink down into boxes. Maybe all these vendors  will just ship the pre-configured box, so we may not have to do too much there.

We don’t ship boxes, we ship complete, configured systems to the client. We assemble everything here, we deploy it, test it – even the clients can sometimes come in and test everything while their construction needs are going on.

How much of your revenues come from the basic infrastructure projects and how much is from the applications projects?

I would think right now about 60% is infrastructure, because we design major projects. We don’t just go running after every job. If you came to me and said, “I have a simple office building – 300 people – set it up”. Would that interest us? No. If you came to me with a campus or you came to me with a deployment in hospitality or you looked at some of the complexity you require for deployment, then we get very interested in that.

How was 2012 for you? Where does the growth come from?

This year was a very good year for us. Growth has come from two areas. One from services – that is a strong business area that we put together – and infrastructure is still growing. We just won the Abu Dhabi Education Council corporate headquarters building now, and there are many more that are coming up as we go across. I have no regrets – in fact I’m very excited about 2013 now.

What are the plans for 2013?

We are going to move to dramatically expand our solution offering. And we are putting that together with the four Cs approach. We have a lot of visibility in the company – we’re the premium sponsor of Gartner’s IT symposium, the highest level sponsorship that one can have. We’re working closely with Gartner on a white paper that will be published right now. I’ve just finished a white paper on transformational ICT, which is the real business of the CIOs.

Any plans to expand your geographical footprint?

We’re quite expanded already – we have some projects in Qatar. With technomics now, what we will do is we’ll send in our whole idea of what we call a single integrated system. We are expecting customers all across the Gulf region to wake up to this fact that they have somebody regional that can support their needs. We could preconfigure everything here, we could reload everything there. We have a lot of well qualified maintenance and service people on different locations, so we can support a lot of customers.

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