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Fri 8 Feb 2008 03:56 PM

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MindTree looks to build strategic IT consulting in the Gulf

IT and R&D consultancy aims to bring new models of partnership to CIOs in the region

IT and technology services company MindTree Consulting is increasing its focus on the UAE and the Gulf region, to expand its services and its customer base.

The company, which is jointly headquartered in Bangalore and New Jersey, this week opened a new office in the Dubai Airport Free Zone, and now intends to double its local staff to around 200 in the next twelve months.

MindTree is a provider of IT services and R&D services, with particular focus on travel and transportation, manufacturing, banking and financial services, insurance and technology. The company has over 6,000 staff globally, providing services such as consulting on business applications, technical support, application maintenance and product engineering, assurance and testing.

Arif Irfanullah, regional director and head of Middle East operations said that the company already has a strong base in the region through customers such as Emirates Airlines, Dubai World, Dubai Customs and Qapco in Qatar and commercial interior designers Havelock in Bahrain.

"MindTree has been highly successful in this region and we plan to continue to invest and expand to meet client demand," he said. "We are excited about the growth potential for the region, our business aligns well with the region and many of our best practices will apply here."

The company is keen to promote the idea of long term, strategic relationships with its customers, through an model is calls OneShore Consulting, that aims to put the partner in a more integrated role to drive business value.

Subroto Bagchi, chief operating officer of MindTree said that it is an area where he believes the region's CIOs need a better awareness of the strategic value of consultancy partners.

"I see a gap between the management understanding of top tier companies here, of how much leverage they could do by using some of the companies [in India], by changing their engagement model," he said.

"You could look at India as a cheap provider of labour, so you don't distinguish between an oil field worker and an IT worker, but what you don't realize is you are dealing with a knowledge worker, and you don't know what you missed. We find that five out of ten American or European CIOs use their partners not as vendors but as strategic partners, and drive innovation through them. In this region, it is more like two in ten.

"We need to move the CIOs to the mindset where they use partners like us to influence the revenue side and not just the cost side, influence innovation and not maintenance. The can use the same resource, from the same company, but use their partners other capabilities to open up areas," he added.

Baghci is also bullish about the prospects for R&D in the region. MindTree's R&D business focuses on development and licensing of new technologies to customers, and to working with customers on new solutions, a service that he believes could gain traction in the Middle East.

"This region has not been known for R&D, but we do not believe that in the emerging world, R&D will be the monopoly of any given region; Dubai should be, and can be and must be an R&D hub. When that happens we are ready for Dubai. We are doing a lot of work in many areas, in terms of helping companies to design complete products, all the way from concept to prototyping. That is a rich capability that we have and we would love to see this region use that capability," Bagchi said.

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