Covid-19 has been able to convince the most stubborn to embrace digital: Sunil Kanchi

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January 14, 2021 2:40 AM

Covid-19 has been able to convince the most stubborn to embrace digital

Niti Aayog’s Amitabh Kant, Member of Parliament Jayant Sinha, TRAI Chairman PD Vaghela, Sequoia Capital Managing Director Rajan Anandan, Facebook India VP and MD Ajit Mohan and more will be speaking at the India Digital Summit 2021.

UST is a fast-growing digital technology company providing advanced computing and digital innovation solutions to large enterprises across the globe. It has been on an acquisitions and investments spree since last year. Even Covid-19 hasn’t slowed this. “The silver lining to the Covid-19 has been an accelerated demand for digital transformation,” says Sunil Kanchi, chief investment officer & chief information officer, UST. “We are aggressively continuing to acquire or invest in niche companies or products that add to our digital portfolio,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:

What is your overall acquisitions and investment overall strategy?
UST had made a conscious strategic decision in 2018 to accelerate its growth through inorganic acquisitions in
addition to the higher than industry average organic growth. We have invested in or acquired SeviTech Systems, Aprexo, SCM Accelerators, ComplyUSA, Contineo Health, Cogniphi Technologies, Ksubaka, SSTS/ pCloudy. The silver lining to the Covid-19 has been an accelerated demand for digital transformation. We are aggressively
continuing to acquire or invest in niche companies or products that add to our digital portfolio.

Tell us about some of the unique and interesting investments that UST has made recently. How are they going to enhance UST’s portfolio and offerings?
UST is in final stages to acquire an end-to-end healthcare payer administration, risk adjustment and medical management platform company in the US. This acquisition is strengthening our position as the top healthcare services and platform company. We are in the process of closing two more acquisitions soon which will enhance our ability to support our customers in their digital transformation.

We made some meaningful investments including into Tastry, the world’s most innovative sensory sciences company, which is teaching computers to taste—thereby identify shopper preferences and using AI/ML, analytical chemistry and patent-pending technologies, to provide the most accurate product recommendations to retail customers; into pCloudy, a next generation mobile app testing automation platform, to name a few. These acquisitions and investments are helping accelerate our customers leadership position in their respective markets. We are excited because these will enable our customers to innovate faster and operate more efficiently.

How will the global investment landscape change in a post Covid-19 world?
In the early days of the Covid-19 uncertainty, there were strong rumours of 40% reduction in values and cash flowing into investments. What we have seen is the continued strong demand for companies that drive digital transformation. Certain sectors such as cyber security, cloud, data analytics, AI/ML have had increased demand and investments have actually continued to increase.

They say, “Covid-19 is the new digital transformation officer”. As the chief information officer of UST, how do you see this change for UST and its clients?

Covid-19 has been able to convince the most stubborn of the need for change and in embracing digital transformation. UST associates have embraced this digital transformation and are in lock step in the same
journey with our customers. These last many months has seen an acceleration of this journey.

Are there any changes in customer preferences and expectations? How is UST adapting to these changes?
In the new normal, there are quite a few changes that are universally defining us and will significantly impact us for years to come. We are keeping the safety of our customers, associates and their family members as the highest priority. We were one of the first companies to enable our employees to work from anywhere and deploy tools to be productive and secure in supporting the needs of our customers. Our customers are innovating and transforming their businesses, and some have pivoted their primary offerings to the market. UST has been an integral partner in this new world.

How is UST expanding/growing in India? Do you see any investments and acquisitions in India?
I am most excited about our talent reskilling/upskilling initiative which has already benefitted 30% of our associates, during this Covid-19 timeframe. We have a dedicated programme called UST Garage Ventures that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship among UST associates and have also partnered with local ecosystems such as Nasscom 10,000 Startups and Kerala Startup Village. We invested into Cogniphi Technologies, an AI and cognitive technology company, and are integrating its innovations into our solution offerings for our global customers. We continue to look for innovative companies to invest in India and across the world.

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