Covid has made companies more technology dependent; big opportunity for tech firms: IBS founder VK Mathews

As IBS software enters its 25th year, TNIE caught up with its founder and executive chairman V K Mathews on the journey so far,

Published: 20th January 2022 11:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2022 11:17 AM   |  A+A-

VK Mathew (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

KOCHI: IBS Software is undoubtedly the premier IT product company to emerge from Kerala. Founded in 1997 as a small firm at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram with 55 engineers, it has grown into a multinational corporation serving over 200 clients worldwide and employing over 3,000 professionals from 30 different nationalities. As the company enters its 25th year, TNIE caught up with its founder and executive chairman V K Mathews on the journey so far, the road ahead and the learning from the pandemic. Edited excerpts

1. Covid has disrupted and continue to disrupt businesses worldwide. What has been the learnings in the past two years? 

VK: Of course, Covid has forced us to change the way in which we were working. If you look at the IT companies, most of them could get the infrastructures right. And also set some sort of processes for their employees to work from. And I think, if we leave out the IT sector, most of the other sectors have now come back to the normal kind of work. In our company, work from home or work from anywhere has become a feasible thing. And companies have transformed and people transformed their mode of working. This is the new reality. For IT companies, 90-95% of the workforce is still working from home. That is not because that is the right model, but because there is so much more demand for talent at this point. The reason for that is because the digital transformation or the technology intensity in business has gone up. And so, it has unlocked a lot of demand. And to meet the demand, you need more people, and there is a shortage of resources for the companies.  

2. Are you suggesting that if there was no WFH flexibility, companies would have faced more attrition?

VK: Companies do not really want to cause any changes that will lead to attrition. And that's the reason why companies are still allowing people to work from home. Technology allows us to do a lot of things like study from home, medical treatment from home etc. But, not all homes have the infrastructure for providing telemedicine or imparting teaching. Technology gives us this option and opportunity. But going forward, I think we have to find the right balance. The good thing about work from home is that through this pandemic, we were able to still provide service to our customers. And I will not say work from home improves productivity. But, work from home gives flexibility, and companies can hire talent from anywhere.

3. There's a view that Covid is an opportunity for Kerala. That the concept of 'Work from Kerala' can be promoted. Your views

VK: It's a great opportunity for Kerala. But if we want to encourage companies to come to Kerala, three things have to improve. One, the government should pay attention to infrastructure. For example, today, Kerala's road infrastructure is grossly inadequate. Projects like SilverLine is very important for the state. Second, we need social infrastructure. Our people should be socially comfortable in the environment here. The third one is education. It is good that we have a lot of colleges, but at the same time, we have to make sure that the quality of education is improving. Now, digital education is opening immense opportunities. Yes, in lower classes, children should go to school. When it comes to higher classes, we can supplement it with, for instance, allowing an MIT professor, to teach or take his classes online. So there are a lot of opportunities.

4. What's the update on IBS Software's campus in Kochi Infopark?

VK: The campus is almost ready. We are doing the landscape. The facade of the main building is over. We hope that we'll be ready to start operations from the new campus when the offices return to normal working mode. And again, that depends on how Omicron spread is going to be. And about the expansion, as you know, we are a product company and hence our revenue growth doesn't depend on the employee growth. For instance, if TCS has to grow 10%, its employees have to grow by 10%. The reason is very simple. Their billing depends on the number of hours and the rates. In our case, it's not like that. So our headcount growth will not be that steep.

5: What would be the capacity of the new campus at Infopark?

VK: It should be able to accommodate about 3,500 people. Right now, we are working from three offices -- one at Infopark and two offices in SmartCity. The idea is to shift from these three offices to our new campus.

6. 2022 marks the 25th year since IBS Software's inception. Your thoughts.

VK: It's interesting that we are now in our 25th year. Yeah, we started here and then have gone global. In several areas, we have emerged leaders, like in cargo, customer relationship and loyalty management. And what Covid has done is that it has made companies aware that the future is going to be very technology-dependent and technology intense. That gives us the opportunity to pursue our business forward and achieve growth and levels. 


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