Bengaluru-based Frontier Business Systems is one of the leading system integrators in India. The organization which focusses on Business Analytics, Artificial intelligence, Cloud, Networking, Advanced Virtualization, Structured cabling, Power solutions, Personal Computing, Internet of Things (IoT) completes 25 years in the industry. Wishes for completing 25 years in the industry. In an exclusive chat, Ravi Verdes, Founder, and Managing Director, Frontier Business Systems and Crimson Cloud shares on his journey of the organization for 25 years. Edited excerpts
Turning back and seeing the day when you had launched this organization how is it feeling?
Hard to believe it’s been 25 years and yet here we are. I consider myself extremely blessed to work alongside so many passionate, enthusiastic people whose contagious energy is something I look forward to every day. It has been an epic journey made possible by so many incredible colleagues, customers and OEM partners. We have had a lot of fun and in hindsight even made some crazy mistakes. Could we have done more? Definitely. But I have no regrets. Well, I have learned to be even more patient.
What are the key milestones of your organization in these 25 years?
We have always tried to stay ahead of the curve even though its meant heavy investments – be it adopting virtualisation as a practice and walking the talk by having the first LEED Gold certified green Building and Green Data Center in Bangalore or talking of the present we have recently launched Frontier’s Digital Edge which focuses on the Digital Transformation of organizations. Under this umbrella, we have a whole gamut of Solutions and Services which includes Digital Workspace / Multi-Cloud / Digital Transformation solutions amongst others So we help businesses transform from Thinking Digital to being Digital.
What were the management policies/philosophies you followed while growing this organization?
A key driving rather guiding force is that we have done business with integrity. So many of our customers / OEM’s / Distributors are a testimony to the same. Most of our OEM relationships are 2 decades old as also many customer relationships. Another philosophy has been to never chase top-line or high turnover numbers and rather focus on profitability and hence this means that after 25 years we are a zero-debt organization. Further Our Passion to stay relevant to customers, at whatever cost, always drives our organization. We are constantly on the watch to spot new and emerging technologies that can drive efficiency and give our customers a competitive advantage.
You might have seen the competition everywhere. How do you see the intensity in a partner-partner competition and OEM-OEM competition?
Competition is everywhere. Competition helps. It keeps one on their toes. In this fast-changing IT industry where nothing is constant, such competition forces us to keep with the times and also constantly relook at the way we do business – the way we go to market, etc. This is a ruthless industry where obsolescence is the rule of the day be it for processes or for technology or even people and organizations. And what makes things even more complicated is that the same OEM’s we partner with we also compete with. So you learn to work together as well as compete with no emotions attached.
There are two versions of the future of channel partners. Few say that resellers might vanish as things are moving on cloud and OEMs can go direct and so on. Another version says the channel is needed as they deal with multiple OEMs and can give the right direction to the customer. What is your take?
Being a system integrator means that clients have options to pick and choose the best OEM’s to build a solution, something they cannot get if they went to anyone OEM. And that’s where we differentiate and stand out especially if skills are available to back such complex multi OEM solutions. Hence customers benefit as they will have the option of choosing the best product at the best price from an SI. Invariably OEM’s are known to be strong in say Hyperconverged or storage or networking. A System Integrator through various partnerships can bring the best OEM in each of the above-mentioned streams to a client and also help design a solution, implement and integrate the same and manage the solution for the customer. Clearly the industry is heading towards a Hybrid model – On-prem in addition to the cloud. Both models will co-exist with each other and data will flow freely from one to the other while remaining secure.
What are the top five things channel partners should never do in their daily business?
- Never drive revenue without focusing on profitability – OEM’s will push for turnover and low margins. Do what’s best for your business
- Never look for short term benefits – It comes back to haunt you.
- Never compromise on your values. It’s not worth it
- Never stop thinking about your business models.
- Never stop being paranoid about cash flow.
What would be your suggestions for people who recently entered the channel business or planning to enter?
Be clear about what your objectives are. Be clear as to why you exist as an organization. Learn to stand on your own feet and not depend on the benevolence of any particular OEM.
Moving forward, what are your expansion plans? (perspective of Frontier and also if you planning to invest/ acquire etc)
Despite the fact that we have completed 25 years it still feels like Day 1. So many of our businesses have yet to mature. I believe that the stage is set for the next phase of growth. Our ‘Digital Edge’ offerings have just been launched and they are gaining huge traction, hence we need to quickly ramp up the same. We have dramatically expanded our customer base through sustained efforts and now need to cross-sell and up-sell. Lots of work to do.