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NASSCOM Product Talk with Sanjeev Rai
 

SMEs - the breeding ground of revolutionary Products


Sanjeev Rai, CEO, ARE Technologies

ARE is a front-runner Research and Development organization in the Wireless and Convergence space. It is into Technology and Product Research targeted at developing unique Wireless and Convergence Standards. Sanjeev Rai, CEO, ARE Technologies, talks about his innovative products.

Can you start by giving us a brief overview of what inspired you to get into the software product business?
ARE is a Wireless Research and Development company that develops Wireless Products. We have 2 different product lines and let me answer your questions by explaining our Products:

1) D5 - Its a Universal Frequency Universal Baseband Chip in the Wireless Embedded Products space. This leverages Nanotechnology based micro-electronics design to architect a Unified Radio and a Unified baseband on a single chip. This embedded software is meant to handle all Wireless Voice and Data calls into one device. The need for this invention was more driven by the unique characteristics of the Wireless Industry. If you take a close look at the Wireless industry, you will come across multiple standards and numerous gadgets. This model of multiple devices confuses the Wireless consumer and is the biggest hindrance to the growth of the Wireless Industry. Due to the commoditization of the Wireless market-place by the TEMs and OEMs, the consumers have been paying irrationally when there is no need to.
This need drove ARE into the Wireless Products research. Under a proprietary design algorithm & unique methodology (patent pending), ARE invented a technique that makes it feasible to incorporate all the standards together on one chip.

2) AceWP (ARE Certified Wireless Professional) - This product is for the IT and ICT Training Industry.
There is no single Training and Certification program in the world that bridges the demand-supply gap in the Wireless Skill-sets. Corporates world-wide have been struggling to fill up the Wireless positions. A typical induction costs upto $50,000 for a Wireless position. In our interaction with Industry players, we realized that this space has not been addressed by any organization in the world because of the unique characteristics of the Wireless Industry.
ARE took a decision to develop AceWP with 2 objectives in mind - first to cater to this ever-growing demand and second to provide a vehicle for the D5 launch worldwide by ensuring the availability of D5 skill-sets before the D5 launch. AceWP is the first vendor neutral Training and Certification Program in Wireless Technologies that Training companies and Corporates can leverage to upgrade their IT populace to Wireless. Offerings cover the entire Wireless domain right from Wireless Applications development to Wireless Carriers, Wireless Networking and Security to Wireless DSP, RF, Antennae and Embedded Systems. Its launching in 142 countries at over 4150 locations world-wide. For more information you can visit  www.AceWP.com
In both the cases - the inspiration was Industry's demand and acceptance

What are your product advantages and in your opinion what makes the product unique or superior from other products in your space?
1) D5 - Its the only announcement in the Wireless Convergence space so far. The proprietary ARE technology makes it unique. Moreover, with the expected price band of $ 5 to 50, it should be a great proposition to the 2 Billion consumers worldwide who have been exploited so far with the irrational commoditization. The Patenting should help protect our IP in this space.

2) AceWP - is the first and the only Vendor neutral Training and Certification Program in the Wireless space that covers the entire domain right from Wireless Applications development to Wireless Carriers, Networking, Security and Wireless DSP, RF, Antennae and Embedded Systems. Over an 80 to 120 hr. program, it provides an IT/ICT professional with 1 yr. equivalent of field experience. 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the program is Projects based. These are in-house ARE projects that are meant to impart practical know-how to professionals and developers over proprietary(patent pending) tools and Lab.

What does the product landscape look like - customer trends, upcoming technologies and competitors?
1) According to Industry experts, D5 is a revolutionary technology that is supposed to revolutionalize the way Wireless is used in our day-to-day life. With a booming Industry trend of about 2 Billion Wireless and PC Users, the Product is expected to create over $15 Billion revenue-cap. Technically, its at the high-end of the curve though Competition can't be ruled out. Sooner or later - Competition is going to pop in to this market-place. Our eco-system support will determine how aggressive we can be in the Wireless Market-place given our first mover advantage.

2) AceWP is again a first in the Industry and I see our Products rolling out in the market place as ARE Certified Wireless Professionals(AceWPs). We expect more and more AceWPs rolling out in the market place through our operations world-wide and create the brand vehicle for ARE. According to various estimates, about 600,000 Wireless professionals are required in the next 3-5 years in the US alone. A 10 to 15% capitalization of this market alone translates to over $200 million worth of revenues. For the past 5 years since we launched the initiative, people have been trying to make a product similar to this - they haven't been able to come out so far. This is a space which is gradually attracting attention. So time will say what kind of competition we are going to face. Again having the first mover advantage gives us a lead over any unforeseen competition

What are the organizational challenges and how have you addressed these challenges?
The major organizational challenges have been in the following areas:
1) Creating awareness about ARE in the IT, ICT and the Wireless Market-place has been one of the key challenges
2) R & D being a Capital intensive activity requires heavy Capitalization
3) Maintaining Quality standards during Product Development and quality support thereafter


We have been able to address these challenges using the following means:
1) ARE has partnered with established players in the Industry for launching and distributing our AceWP products in 142 countries. This launch shall further provide us with a low-cost brand-vehicle for our D5 launch.
2) ARE got funded from VCs in the past and it is looking to raise further funds to the tune of $40 Million (Pre-IPO).
3) ARE followed a mix of Six Sigma and IPD-CMM(Integrated Product development -CMM) and has been successful in maintaining the Quality standards at 3.5 Sigma.


Briefly explain the evolution of the product industry in India? In my opinion, the Products Industry in India is still evolving. The focus of the IT players like TCS and Infosys seem to have shifted to this space after realizing the revenue potential and IP strength. Success of product companies like i-Flex has a lot to do with the growing perception about the Software Products Industry. Personally, it will be interesting for me to watch the evolution of the Embedded Products Industry which in my opinion hasn't been India's focus till recently.

Indian Product Industry is at a Strategic Inflection Point at present. It will be interesting to watch the momentum of many a product companies from India in the coming decade.

In your opinion, how can India leverage the emerging opportunity in this space? By leveraging the IT and ICT skills into more diversified areas like Embedded Products, Automation Products etc... rather than sticking solely to ERPs, CRMs and Knowledge management kind of products. Every other company that I have come across are somewhere amongst these. India needs to create core IP(Intellectual Properties) that are not only difficult to create but are difficult to copy too. A lot of companies seem to have gathered in the me-too space.

Only when you have a core IP - can you leverage that to higher profitability and therefore move up the value-chain. On top of it, the focus on Quality is key to the success of this industry - quite like the Indian Software Services Industry.

Organizations like NASSCOM can help provide the direction by arranging focused groups within the Products Industry players specially the SMEs. Throughout history, the SMEs have been the breeding ground of revolutionary Products world-wide.

What can new entrants learn from your success?
Well! We do not consider ourselves to be successful so far as that term means to us (!) - so I wouldn't like to preach people what they should do. We ourselves are in the learning curve and there are many things to learn from the evolution of the Products Industry world-wide. Some of them are:
1) When you conceive your Product - make sure its Demand Driven.
2) When you develop your Product - make sure its Quality Driven.
3) When you sell your Product - make sure its Customer Driven


In your mind, how would you define leadership?
It seems to be a very generic question! Let me attempt to answer this.
1) Leadership in my opinion is to see the future before others (i.e: The Idea behind your Product)
A leader understands that-
2) Its not what you look at - Its how differently you look at things – that matters (Your Product Differentiation & Quality).
3) Its not if you have extra-ordinary people sign your musters everyday - Its how you create that "extra" out of the "ordinary" everyday - is what matters (Your Product Team & Enterprise)
4) It’s not who gives you money – It’s who you give value (repeatedly) – that matters (Your Product's Customer and Investors).
 

 

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