The US-based GAVS Technologies (GAVS) is a global IT services and solutions provider. GAVS offerings are aligned with strategic technology trends to enable enterprises take advantage of bi-modal IT trend, which is all about managing current operations, transforming them through IT operation analytics automation, cloud orchestration and DevOps. Private equity player Basil Partners is a key investor, attracted by GAVS’s infrastructure offerings. This has opened Basil’s ecosystem for GAVS to expand and enlarge its offerings and operations. While the company’s operations are spread in the US, the UK and West Asia, it has a large development centre in Chennai. Sumit Ganguli, CEO, GAVS Technologies, spoke to FC on emerging trends in the industry and the company’s growth opportunities.
Can you elaborate on the GAVS journey so far?
It’s a 12-year journey so far. GAVS Technologies was promoted by two entrepreneurs from Chennai. They reached out to various companies worldwide with their idea and one of those companies was Storage Tek, which was based out of Denver Colorado in the US. Storage Tek was the leader in storage and tape drives in those days. Storage Tek was acquired by Sun Microsystems, which in turn was acquired by Oracle. As a result, if one looks at the hardware from Oracle, it will have servers from Sun Microsystems and storage devices from Storage Tek. The CIO of Storage Tek, Dan Manuels, was impressed with a supply chain product – Progress Database – that the GAVS promoters offered. Since they started working with Storage Tek, GAVS got registered in Denver as an IT services and solutions company.
Maneuls later moved over to Hunter Douglas, a leading window treatment company and GAVS also started working with that company. Subsequently, through this relationship GAVS started working with several clients in the Denver region. Thanks to their strong relationship built CIOs, they started doing lots of work around infrastructure management space.
Around 5-6 years ago, Basil Partners, a private equity fund invested in GAVS. Since then, the company started closely focusing on offering classical infrastructure management services. In 2009-10, a hospital situated in one of the poorest districts in New York, which was a $1 billion hospital and was surviving basically on aid from agencies to the tune of $700 million per annum faced a piquant situation, when 10 per cent of its aid was cut. It is to be noted that the AIDS epidemic actually started in Bronx. Suddenly, the hospital was put in a situation, where it had to carry on its activities but with 10 per cent lesser aid. It did not want to disrupt the clinical services and instead it tried to optimise its infrastructure management services. GAVS moved in and helped to bring down costs by 40 per cent. GAVS created a private cloud for the hospital and deployed 20 people in New York and 30 in Chennai. This major cost out helped the hospital retain its clinical services. Since then, we have been doing a fair amount of work in healthcare, especially with healthcare providers.
What unique value did Basil Partners saw in GAVS when they invested? How Basil’s ecosystem helped GAVS to expand its base?
Basil Partners is a private equity firm and largely focusing on IT services. It has been fairly successful with some very, very interesting portfolio companies, where they have invested and also did some re-engineering. So far, Basil Partners has invested in 17 active portfolio companies. What Basil Partners liked in GAVS – it genuinely had some very deep-rooted CIO/CXO relationships and despite being a mid-sized company had a fair presence in the US and UK and also in West Asia. Its focus was on infrastructure management space and this was one more factor that attracted Basil to GAVS. We have recently signed a multi-year contract with a leading publishing house in the US and it is a classical implementation of what Gartner calls as bi-modal IT or what Mckinsey calls as ‘two-speed’ IT. It’s a combination of what one can call as ‘Marathon and Sprint’ in running. While day-to-day activities are listed and brought under some optimisation, even while planning for transformation for the long-term. This order was signed along with a key Basil portfolio company. As a result, it is no longer a plateau approach for GAVS, but more a Keiretsu type of growth. We will be handling infrastructure management, DevOps and cloud transformation for the client.
Further, GAVS has signed one of the first SAP implementation on a Microsoft Azure cloud for a FMCG company in Asia and we will be one of the first few companies to implement SAP in the Microsoft Azure ecosystem.
Which are the verticals that GAVS is focused on at present?
Right now, we are focused on healthcare and manufacturing, besides publishing and media. These are our three focus areas. In West Asia, we are working with a leading bank, which has operations in Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Hence, in this region alone, GAVS is into banking and government sectors. Otherwise, we are not really looking at too many verticals. We want to strengthen our focus area in the chosen few.
We have a very defined focus for evolving this company into what we call – ‘enabling digital infrastructure’ space. We believe that the present IT environment is undergoing seismic shift. Even though it has not been felt in the open, the tectonic plates are getting moved underneath. One will need a partner to do the enabling of the digital transformation and there also, we will largely play in the overall digital infrastructure tran-sformation. Going forward, we will be the ‘go to’ partner on the Azure platform. Predictive Analytics is another area of focus and we are working on a strong automated testing practice. We believe, very soon, we will have a good story to sa – around the industrial IOT. We believe there is a paradigm shift and we have strongly positioned ourselves around that with predictive analytics and we are well positioned to take advantage of this changing landscape. And since it is changing, everyone including the large players are new and this is where boutique companies like us are celebrated.
The focus of GAVS seems to be more on emerging and mid-level companies?
No. Most of the orders that we are getting now are from fairly large entities. We are working with one of the large disc manufacturing company and in West Asia, we are working with one of the largest banks. Here we are competing with larger players. Recently, Everest Group has ranked GAVS quite high on their list. Its founder has said that – “GAVS packs more punch, than its weight class”. Most of our clients are $one billion – $two billion companies. Very soon, we will be working with a Fortune 5 company.
Which are the countries and regions that offer better long term growth prospects for the company? What opportunity does the Indian market offers to the company?
We continue to be bullish about the US. There is a little bit of concern around the world, largely triggered by China, and of course the low oil prices. We will continue to be in the US. We have operations in Denver, Chicago, the New York/ New Jersey area. We have a good presence in the UK too and in both these regions, we have recently recruited some senior marketing personnel to strengthen the operations and reach. We are force to reckon with in Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We definitely had plans to set up base in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We are going a little slow on that front, given the present low oil price scenario. In India, we are actually getting involved with some government projects. This was not part of our initiative, but people reached out to us. These are fairly large projects and that is where, we are focused on, when it comes to the Indian market.