The outbreak of Covid-19 induced unprecedented impact at multiple levels every industry vertical showed some level of impact due to the pandemic. During these uncertain times, work from home emerged as an effective choice as lockdowns and fear of infection of the deadly virus stopped people from coming to offices. To understand how the pandemic affected biometric solutions providers, Elets News Network (ENN) interacted with Mathew Chacko, Founder Director & CEO, Precision Infomatic (M) Pvt Ltd.
Chacko said that the company observed an expected drop in the demand for biometric solutions in the initial stages of the lockdowns and launched a series of communications that allayed the fears of the customers. He further stated that the company is very optimistic plans for 2021 and ramping up it’s R&D capabilities.
Excerpts of the conversation:
1. What are your views on the outbreak of covid-19 pandemic and the challenges posed by it? How is your organization converting those challenges into opportunities?
The outbreak has had an unprecedented impact at multiple levels – human, social, economic etc. We have seen almost every industry vertical being affected in some manner with only the magnitude being different. Having said that, thanks to the rapid action and programs mobilized by the government, the dedicated service of healthcare professionals & public officials, cooperation from the industry and citizens in general, the impact appears to have been largely controlled now.
Precision (www.precisionit.co.in), being a technology company operating in the biometrics, IoT, Cloud, Managed Services and Systems Integration space was able to quickly adapt various processes to the constraints imposed by the series of stringent lockdowns.
Precision quickly mobilized the resources required to equip the team to work from home and rapidly addressed the processes appropriately. In the initial stages of the lockdown and subsequently, too, a series of communications were sent out to customers and employees alike, reassuring them of continued and unconditional support. Consistent and regular communications helped bridge the shock of the sudden transition of physical to virtual and also helped alleviate the uncertainty and stress to a great degree. Though faced with an impact on revenues and cash flows during the initial phases of stringent lockdown, we took a decision to ensure that no employee would be let go of, unless on their own volition. We were able to adhere well to this principle and this has certainly created a better bonding and a sense of belonging amongst the teams.
Having built a mature remote infrastructure management practice over several years, this helped Precision provide on-going support, with minimal disruption, to customers. In several cases, our teams also addressed support needs on client sites too, while adhering strictly to the regulatory & health & safety guidelines.
Regular virtual meetings with existing clients and prospective ones alike, helped build customers’ confidence in Precision and to improve loyalty. We received several communications from various clients thanking and commending us on the consistent and unconditional support provided.
A small team operated from our offices across the country, in strict compliance with the guidelines issued at various times, to make sure that the back-end support processes and supporting infrastructure were running smoothly always.
2. Have the leadership responsibilities in your organization changed post covid?
The leadership responsibilities expanded to increasing the levels of engagement with employees and customers. Considering the sudden change of workplace – the shift from office to home – the social element of interactions with colleagues was severely impaired. Recognizing this change, the leadership initiated intense remote engagement programmes with employees, reaching out through calls, emails and group communications, as well as regular one-on-one conversations by the various leaders with their individual teams.
Additionally, group participatory exercises such as brainstorming meetings and refresher training sessions were brought in as a strategy to improve the interaction and engagement levels, while providing opportunities to learn alongside.
The leadership also had to focus more on cash-flows and optimizing liquidity management so that employees and suppliers would not have more difficulties thrust upon them.
Cross-functional virtual meetings on a regular basis helped bring in new ideas and methodologies to advance business that had been impacted in the early stages of the lockdown.
Several initiatives were commenced on the product development front too, while being closely reviewed and continually improved upon.
3. What change in customer demand are you witnessing lately in the biometric segment?
We observed an expected drop in the demand for biometric solutions in the initial stages of the lockdowns – for reasons such as employees working from home, apprehensions related to the transmission of the virus through ‘touch’ based biometric products and so on. Precision launched a series of communications which allayed the fears of the customers by explaining that while the risk was present, it was equitable to that of any other device or equipment being handled by people and that the risk would be significantly reduced, if not eliminated, by adhering to safety practices defined by the authorities.
Post the first few months of the lockdown, Precision has seen that the demand is back on the uptick and RFPs, tenders and requirements in enterprises have commenced again.
Precision has also seen a lot of interest being generated by a new and cutting-edge solution called InnaIT Key, a solution that has been completely developed in house (and for which a patent has been applied), specifically in the banking and enterprise space.
4. How are your solutions helping the BFSI sector in times when digital-first is the necessity?
Precision has been developing its own intellectual property in the biometric, IoT and Managed Services space. Some of the intellectual property (solutions) developed are in the process of getting patented.
In digital-first times, an important domain such as information security comes to the fore and needs careful attention. Additionally, there is a need to make sure that the IT infrastructure is maintained in good shape so that it caters to the needs of the business.
Precision’s InnaIT® Framework is a solution that has several modules that help prevent impersonation and to ward off issues related to password compromise. Precision has implemented this solution at various banks, financial services institutions, and other enterprises. Apart from this solution, our IT Infrastructure Management Services practice has been helping keep our customer’s IT Infrastructure up and running during these trying times, through a hybrid (remote + physical support) services model.
Our IoT solutions have been increasingly considered in adjacent spaces such as the Automotive segment and a combination of our IoT & Biometric solutions have seen an uptake in the BFS segments.
Another IoT solution that we developed is based on an OBD device and software, both developed completely in-house at Precision, which would not only help trace the vehicle to which it is connected, but also track and analyze all the vital operational parameters of the automobile itself. This is a solution that can be used by insurance companies to provide usage-based insurance.
5. Has cloud services demand picked up lately? How do you think the cloud can be a savior in these uncertain times?
Organizations have started considering cloud solutions more seriously of late. While this interest was evident in the pre-covid times too, the level of interest has gone up multifold during the trying times of Covid.
Many organizations have experienced an impact on their spends and are tending to choose pay-as-you-use solutions as opposed to incurring large, up-front capital expenditures. A simple rationale would be that available (and severely constrained) cash-flows would serve them better by being deployed in core-business, rather than on IT infrastructure. This has led to the change in the thought process at the highest levels in most organizations and a pattern of increasing adoption of cloud or other consumption-based models.
We have ourselves observed an increased demand for cloud services and our Cloud practice which consists of well-trained and certified experts, spanning pre-sales, sales, implementations, migrations and ongoing management and support, has been able to cater to the needs of clients very optimally.
Cloud can certainly be a savior in these uncertain times, bringing along key characteristics & features such as the opex-model, scalability, security and efficiencies with it.
6. How are you planning 2021?
We have very optimistic plans for 2021 and the following years. This is largely owed to the fact that Precision has been ramping up it’s R&D capabilities and focus on IP creation over the past few years. A series of new product & service offering launches are planned and our think-tanks have been involved in researching various segments, identifying needs, product definition and development, prototyping, demonstrations and PoCs.
While our foundational businesses such as our IT Systems Integration unit and our IT Infrastructure Management Services practices receive a continued thrust, our Biometric, IoT & Cloud BUs shall be receiving additional focus in terms of developments and GTMs and we expect that these will take us closer to our customers – existing & new and we shall be able to add tremendous value.
Precision’s vision is to Leverage Technology to Enable Outcomes that Matter – outcomes that matter to our customers, our company and our people, and we shall leave no stone unturned in our quest to achieve all that it takes to fulfil this vision.