NTT Data, a Tokyo based global IT services company with a full-fledged venture capital arm, is eyeing investment and acquisition opportunities in the Indian start-ups ecosystem. Here, the company’s chief technology officer Kris Fitzgerald speaks to Bismah Malik on its primary focus areas in India. Excerpts:
With the Indian economy facing a downturn, how is NTT Data interested in investing in the country’s start-ups?
We look at India as a great place for couple of things: 1. We have over 20,000 employees in India. 2. India as a great source of innovation... where we bring challenges from around the world, look for the innovative solutions and bring business here.
Since half of your workforce is in India, after the Dell acquisition, are there any more deals in the offing here?
After the Dell acquisition, we are actively in the acquisition market. We also dont just buy. We have our venture company which is looking into investing in start-ups too. We had 37 companies in the (competition we held in Bengaluru) and 13 companies were shortlisted. We selected 2 winners to go to Tokyo. We also met a couple of other start-up founders and expressed our intent to come back to them, since we are working in similar spaces.
Are there any plans to expand NTT Data’s footprint across India?
We have set up our offices in Bengaluru, Chennai and Gurugram. India is a strong marketplace for us. The challenge here is that there are many companies fighting for the Indian workforce.
How do you see Indian start-up ecosystem shaping up, especially in platform-based and AI-backed enterprises?
A large chunk of start-ups that participated in the contest were AI-backed or offering platform-based services. But, what sets each one of them apart is how they will run their business model after getting the initial money. It is a huge area, with lots of companies starting up, but the challenge for them will be to be unique.
What is your view on the global data privacy debate?
We as individuals need to be proactive about ensuring the safety of our data. The governments and businesses also need to take on the onus of protecting their clients’ data. Data sharing has to be done in a transparent manner, and I am a great supporter of that.
How can tech start-ups help bring social change?
One of our challenges globally, which resonates here as well, is the provision of health-care to the underprivileged. In US and India, a large chunk of the population still has no access to doctors and medical care, though the number may be huge in the latter case. So, maybe an app that takes health-care to those with no access to it.