“Netsol was my passion then and it continues to be my passion now”

DQW Bureau
New Update


IBM's acquisition of Bangalore-based Network Solutions last year was

big news and there were apprehensions that ran rife in the market as to what

would happen to the future of one of the biggest and most successful solution

providers in the business. But Sudhir Sarma says that his com­pany's

acquisition by IBM was a well-planned move and indicates that post-acquisition,

Netsol still works and operates like before. He also feels that many early appre­hen­sions

of the exercise have ceased to exist now. He is now happy that the company has

retained all of its custo­mers post-acquisition.

What would you say is the status of Netsol as a com­pany post the IBM

acquisition? Have there been any drastic changes in the way the company's

operations are run now?

Post-acquisition, Netsol is a 100 percent subsidiary of IBM. We are a part

of IBM India and in fact the acquisi­tion was done keeping in mind the Indian

market needs. As regards the run­ning of the company, we have not seen any

dramatic changes in the way we operate now as compared to the way we did before.

Yes, we are an IBM com­pany, but we still have a lot of independence and are

running our operations just like before. In fact, even after our acquisition we

have not lost any of our earlier custo­mers. Manpower retention within Netsol

is also a lot better now.



Sudhir Sarma, CEO, Network


You have indicated that manpower retention is better now. Does that mean

attrition has reduced considerably?

When one talks of attri­tion, we could segregate emplo­yees into two

groups-those who are here for less than two years, and those who are here for

longer. Invariably people who are here for less than two years continue to move

out. That is also because they are not here to make a career.

The other group of people who are with us for longer than two years, are the

ones that make a big difference. I must say that attrition in this group has

reduced consi­dera­bly post acquisition.


Given that attrition has reduced, have employee expectations increased?

Also since you are an IBM company, do employees look forward to better pay


Actually, yes. Employee ex­pec­tations have indeed gone up. The IBM factor

prompts them to believe that they can look forward to much higher salaries. But

the reality is that while people's expecta­tion have gone up, business has

not dramatically increased.

We are therefore trying to communicate to our emplo­yees that salary is not

the only important factor. We are now a global company and people here can look

forward to opportunities of working overseas and also get to learn a lot.

Besides manpower reten­tion, what other benefits has Netsol got post this


Our single-point focus during the entire acquisition exer­cise was to

retain our exis­ting customers. Having attai­ned that now, we have also

realized that a number of cus­­to­mer accounts of IBM and Netsol are actually

com­plementary to each other. We see very little overlap.


What this means is that there is a huge opportunity for us in terms of

business and targeting new customers. Another advantage that Net­sol has got

post-acquisition is that we are part of a global company. We now have the

capability of being able to support a number of other Indian companies who would

want to begin operations outside of India. We have access to global clients and

we could help Indian compa­nies to set up operations across different

geographies of the world.

How will you take advan­tage of the new business opportunities available

to you now?

While the opportunity to do business and grow is huge, the infrastructure

cost, as well as people costs, have in­creased. So companies, ours included,

need to focus on developing intellectual pro­perty tools that can be scaled up

easily. In order to build these tools a lot of money is needed. Being associated

with IBM places us in a good position to do that.

The need of the hour today is to work on asset-led models where tools as well

as IPR can be provided as a service to customers. There are not many players who

are working with this model. So we have a big differen­tiating factor that we

can offer to our customers.


Do you think that the growth rate of Netsol has increased after its

associa­tion with IBM?

Actually it is very early to say that now, as far as our topline growth is

concerned. After all it is just one quarter that we have passed. Probably by the

end of the year we will be in a better position to make a statement. But I am

very sure that there has been no dip in our growth post acquisition.

What is your agenda for 2006? Would you be focu­sing more on the Indian

or the global market?

We would still continue to focus on the Indian market, as we are not very

concerned about global growth now. Given that we are a global company, many of

our people would get enough oppor­tunities to work overseas.

We want to go slow in the first year, understand things, and then see how

best to change our strategies.


This fiscal, we would in­crease our focus on the service business and grow

in that space. We have already invested in IPR and tools required for that and

need to strategize on how best we can take them to market.

Using the strengths of both IBM and Netsol, we would be looking to grow

faster than the market and the next six to eight months would be very important

for us.

Acquisition seems to have brought in a lot of benefits for you. Would you

there­fore say that inorganic growth is the best way out for companies to


Let's face it, a lot of large pla­yers are in a selling mode now and are

looking at some sort of consolidation. This means that acquisitions and mergers

would continue. Yes, smaller companies will still need to build enough value to

get there.


As far as Netsol is con­cerned, we realized that we needed to grow and

expand. When we looked at the op­tions on hand, we conclu­ded that venture

capital would not work for us, since most VCs come with a specific interest to

exit. The option of an IPO would also not work, since the stock market is not

really very excited about companies like ours who specialize in differen­t


The other option we had was inorganic growth. So we decided to take the acqui­sition

path. With IBM, even post acquisition we are still able to do what we did be­fore.

In fact, as a global comp­any we can do much more now.

Asim Raina and Subbalakshmi BM in Bangalore