We recently caught up with Rajiv Shah, CEO, IBS Software Services, and talked about IBS' recent wins, innovation and industry trends. Following are the excerpts from the interview.
Francis Wilson: Rajiv, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I would like to start with IBS Software's recent successes and competitiveness in the global marketplace.
Specifically, in light of IBS Software's recent deals with key tour and cruise operators like Hurtigruten and Celestyal Cruises, it is apparent that IBS Software is capable of competing with companies from around the world. As an Indian company, how has IBS Software been so successful in convincing tour and cruise operators all across Europe that it has the best solutions for meeting the demands of the future? What marketing and innovation strategies have you seen used to make this point?
Rajiv Shah: Let me make a slight correction to that question. Even though we have a very large operation in India, we are a Singapore based multinational company with assets and R&D around the world, from Dubai to Germany. I think what, first and foremost, makes us unique is our global reach as well as our extremely diverse team of IBS family members. We have people with key experience and understanding of our clients' industries, who understand the particular nuances of each target market and how to adjust and market our products to meet the specific needs of each client, no matter where they are.
FW: At IBS Software's recent customer summit in Dubai, the theme of the conference was "Innovating in a World of Disruptions". What disruptive innovations do you see impacting the hospitality and travel industries in the near future, and how is IBS Software working to lead this type of innovation?
RS: There are so many types of disruptions that are out of anyone's control, so it's about providing solutions to the entire industry in an agile way.
We focus on the integrated business benefits that IBS provides – not looking at particular disruptions, but rather focusing on how to shape and improve entire industries. Travellers are constantly asking whether they are being treated in the best possible way, and it is our job to make the provision of travel services as smooth and streamlined as possible.
At the end of the day, it will always be about getting travellers or cargo from Point A to Point B. In the case of travellers, it's about allowing them to enjoy the activities that they have chosen along the way, be it a tour or a cruise or a golf outing. In the case of cargo, it is about ensuring the integrity of the package and making sure that both sender and end-recipient are constantly in the loop about the progress of the journey.
And so, we are always working to find solutions that make a big and wide reaching impact for our customers in order to, once again, provide the greatest set of benefits for their travellers. We are all about implementing powerful and elegant solutions to make the traveller experience as enjoyable as possible while ensuring that travel providers are using the most efficient technology solutions available. When we design our products with this concept in mind, disruptive and revolutionary ideas are created organically.
FW: IBS Software recently received a significant investment from the Blackstone private equity firm – what is it about IBS Software that appealed to Blackstone, and how does IBS Software compare to or synergize with the many other companies under the Blackstone umbrella?
RS: I think what mainly impressed Blackstone regarding our company is the fact that we have a wide range of clients that we consistently provide services to. Additionally, the Blackstone company has a wide range of investments spread amongst both hospitality and real estate, and also holds significant assets in oil and natural gas. So what I think they believe is that we will both provide strong returns on their investment while at the same time improving the efficiency of many of their portfolio companies.
FW: On the subject of winning deals and corporate governance, how do you think a company can effectively consolidate and evaluate itself after each big deal, while still keeping the momentum of success going?
RS: Looking forward to the next innovation and client is important, but it is always critical to evaluate just how success was achieved, and what could have been done better, in order to repeat that success in the future. With the addition of each new deal and client, the company is different than it was before. Therefore, we look at how our position as a technology solutions provider has shifted and improved, and plan for the future based on that.
FW: As a personal question just for fun – if you were to be a CEO in any other industry, which one would you choose and why?
RS: Oh boy – did the board tell you to ask me that question? I have worked in several industries during my career, from financial services to healthcare. Of all of these industries, the healthcare one has been one of the most unique, in the way that its different components – from providers to pharmaceuticals to medical devices come together. The complexity and scale of global healthcare today will demand revolutionary IT solutions, which makes it a very interesting sector to watch in the future.