With a history that’s more than a hundred years old, revenues of $42.7 billion (3,583.1 billion yen for FY 2010) and a powerful base of 140,000 employees, NEC is now up for a big leap in the global IT arena. But, what is most interesting from India’s point of view is the fact that despite being involved in many critical and strategic transactions with India since 1956 in the large infrastructure and communication project space (setting up the first 2Ghz microwave communication system, a satellite earth station and an international gateway exchange for overseas communication service), the Japanese corporation opened its Indian arm in 2006 only. In an exclusive interaction with 4Ps B&M, Rajiv Bhalla explains the logic in NEC’s late entry and why he believes that their go-to-market tactic can change the game even now.
Despite maintaining a significant relationship with India since 1956, NEC opened its Indian arm only in 2006. Any specific reasons for the same?
I agree that we’ve been a laggard and a late entrant when it came to opening our Indian arm. But clearly, there has been a change in the NEC Corporations’ views and we’ve realised that to grow, we cannot depend only on advanced economies. Thus, we now have a greater focus on emerging markets like India, China, Brazil and Russia. As a matter of fact, we’ve been registering growth at double and triple digits on a year-on-year basis since the time we set foot on the Indian soil as a subsidiary. Last year, we established our biometric centre of excellence in Bangalore because we aim to leverage the Indian workforce not only to improve NEC’s internal efficiencies, but also to use it as a service entity for other business opportunities that we foresee. We have also set up a retail centre of excellence in Bangalore, which is working towards creating customised retail solutions for large format and specialty retail. So, there’s a huge amount of investment with a vivid focus that NEC has over India. I can’t really answer why NEC came to India so late, but I’ll say better late than never.
Now, how do you plan to reach out to your target audience and cover up the lost time?
We have two large divisions with us – one is the carrier network division that essentially focuses on the telecom service providers’ space, and the IT services division that consists of various IT products and solutions and services aimed at the enterprise and mid market segment. From the strategic perspective, NEC is a B2B marketing company. We clearly focus on strategic high growth verticals like education, healthcare, hospitality, public safety and security. We hope to have products that help us differentiate in the identified segments. We clearly believe that mass communication strategies for a company should have a targeted consumer focused approach. So all our marketing strategies in the segment are essentially aimed at direct marketing, customer focused events, workshops, publishing of case studies, and certain online initiatives which are keywords search based. We run an integrated marketing campaign that comprises of online activities, PR, testimonial based advertisement, events, road shows et al. In the four years that NEC has been in India, we have successfully positioned NEC as a holistic solution provider for the enterprise segment that helps the enterprise customers to improve their operational efficiencies while bringing down their total cost of operation.
You talk about a lot of customer focused events. But you rarely sponsor any of them. What is the logic?
A mass event attracts multiple brands to sponsor, and thus the exclusivity of your presence gets diluted upon other brands sharing the advertising space. Our aim in India is to have maximum returns on every rupee spent. Hence, rather than sponsoring events, we customise and host the events ourselves for our target audience, wherein with complete share of mind, we connect to our customers and convince them on our product and solution expertise in a conducive environment.
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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