While other infotech behemoths are ruing about the adverse market conditions, CSS Corp is thriving on this adversity and quietly scripting a turnaround
These are nervous times we live in. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the $154-billion IT industry. And when things go wrong for the IT sector, which has been one of the largest organized job creators, it doesn’t take long for the workforce at large to come under pressure.
A weak growth outlook with IT firms trimming their revenue growth forecasts, stagnant employment growth, tighter performance parameters, massive layoffs, and a dented workforce confidence- the signs are ominous.
The turmoil in the industry began with the tectonic shifts being dictated by the emergence of new age technologies, change in the patterns of technology consumption and adoption, customers’ need for going digital and the growing clamor for automating business processes. And the geopolitical scenario in the US resulting in a clampdown on H1B visas is only adding to the industry woes.
On the Rebound
Happy news about the IT industry isn’t easy to come by these days. The news reports, for the most part, convey the chilling reality of the floundering industry.
But there are a precious few who thrive on adversity. A new age IT services and technology support company CSS Corp is a case in point. Undeterred by the wobbles in the larger IT industry growth story, the Milpitas headquartered CSS Corp is going forward with a confident, unhesitating tread.
There was a time, not too long ago, when CSS Corp was posting a flat growth in its revenue. But sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right. The technology company exemplifies this idea better than any of other feisty stalwarts of the IT industry in India. CSS Corp has come a long way since those days of sluggish revenue growth.
After several years of flat revenues, the IT services firm is seeing its revenues rebound. After 2-3 years of flat revenues until FY17, CSS Corp has been observing steady sequential growth since the past three quarters. It closed FY17 with a revenue of $143Mn. And with this pace, the IT services firm is targeting 12-14% growth year on year in FY18.
Information and Communications Technology company CSS Corp is a $150-million technology company owned by Swiss PE firm Partners Group, which is 2013, acquired a majority stake in CSS in a $270-million transaction, and now owns 92 percent stake.
Headquartered in the United States, CSS Corp has delivery centers in India, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Poland, and Mauritius. In India, the company is based out of Chennai and Bangalore and has a head-count of 5600 technology professionals in 16 of its global centers across the world. CSS Corp has service delivery centers at 13 locations worldwide, including India, the US, the Philippines, Poland, Mauritius, Costa Rica, and China. It recently expanded its workforce by opening new delivery centers in Costa Rica and Bangalore. The technology firm has over 140 clients, including Fortune 1000 enterprises. It is responsible for supporting 30 out of 50 telecom companies in the world
On Course for Comeback
Quite like the Phoenix, CSS Corp is rising from its own ashes. The technology firm is adapting to the altering dynamics in the industry. To ensure that it is aligned with its customer needs, business priorities, and the overall industry evolution, CSS Corp has chalked out a growth strategy.
English mathematician, computer scientist, and logician Alan Turing once said: We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done. CSS Corp has adopted it as its growth mantra.
Keeping a finger on the customer’s pulse, watching the market, shaping its future course and consolidating its position in the market. CSS Corp is doing all of that—and more.
For CSS Corp the turnaround in revenue momentum can be attributed to its laser-focused approach towards managing customer engagements through new age technologies and drive service delivery excellence through Innovation Labs. This approach has resonated well with its customers.
“Digital is the new fuel of enterprises. Our vision is to be a new age services company,” proclaims Nishikant Nigam, EVP and Chief Delivery Officer at CSS Corp.
In pursuit of this challenging target, CSS Corp created its Innovation Labs, around four quarters back. It is a 70 member team with expertise in various technologies like TensorFlow, BigData, BigTable, Hadoop. Across the teams, you will find UX Designers, Cloud & Automation Specialists, Extreme Programmers, BigData Engineers, AI & NLP Experts, Data Scientists and as well as professionals from diverse fields like linguists, behavioral researchers, and domain specialists.
“The Innovation Lab is not merely a physical entity, it is a concept which permeates across the organization. In some sense, it drives the new cultural identity of CSS Corp. Our vision is to be a new age services company and Innovation Labs is an integral part of that journey. We expect to double the capacity in the next 12 months,” states Nigam.
CSS Corp provides a range of services, including cloud, technical support and remote infrastructure It provides technical support for enterprise and consumer products, managing IT infrastructure and deploying networks.
The company is building intellectual capability in three areas such as automation of support, providing hybrid infrastructure managed services and applying analytics primarily to customer support data.
In this day and age, small means agile and that makes it easier to win. So in some sense being small helped CSS Corp be nimble in responding to its customer needs. “We operate in three distinct areas- Digital services, Cloud infrastructure services, and Technology support. These are our three main services. Each of these services is in some form or shape getting enhanced by all the new age technologies,” says Nigam.
Things appear to be straightening out dramatically for the midsized IT company. With a sincerity of purpose to continue on the growth path, CSS Corp is stepping on the pedal with some ambitious plans. The five-point agenda involves creating a flexible and nimble customer engagement model, putting in place a Digital Career Progression Framework called “Reimagine” aimed at up-skilling and cross-skilling employees in new age digital technologies, investing in Innovation Labs and new age services/IPs, forging a strong technology partnership ecosystem, and relentlessly working towards increasing the acceptance for its offerings amongst customers, advisors and industry analysts.
Acting upon this agenda with great vigor, CSS Corp is stepping on the pedal with some ambitious plans. It has dug into several business problems of its customers to figure out the solutions.
It launched a context-driven IT operations platform Contelli in December 2016. Today the company is processing more than 36 million events through this platform and 85% of those events are being processed automatically. “So, essentially, we have taken the events that are emanating from Cloud, from the virtual infrastructure, from the enterprise data center, etc. We have analyzed how these events are correlated and then we automate them so that the involvement of engineers in resolving these mundane events is reduced to a minimum and they can focus on actionable events,” shares Rahul Joshi, Head of Innovation Labs & VP at CSS Corp.
“We have been able to eliminate 85% of the events and it’s an ongoing process. We hope to do much better over the next two quarters while our analytics engine learns more from the data. It is typically used for everything which expands across your Cloud and the enterprise datacenters and a combination of both. So it is for public cloud, private cloud and for the hybrid cloud and that is the platform we have built for automation of our infrastructure operations and it is being used for 85-90% of our events,” he adds.
As a new age IT services firm, CSS Corp wants to help its customers get along with digital transformation. The result is a furious push into services focused towards digitalization and automation.
Chinese American computer scientist Andrew Ng, popularly known as the chief scientist of Baidu hit the nail on the head when he said that AI is the new electricity. It sure is. AI leads enterprises to newer business opportunities and growth avenues. Not one to be left behind, CSS Corp is banking heavily on AI-based offerings to rekindle its revenue growth.
One of the most recent creations of its Innovation Labs is a customer interface platform called Cognitive Customer Experience Platform which works as a virtual assistant platform enabling voice and text interactions for customer service. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is a highly personalized virtual assistant, which integrates with all customer channels like voice, email, chat, and website across devices, and offers context-driven, real-time support with a human-like interaction to resolve customers’ needs.
“What we have done with Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is not just omnichannel experience. We have also integrated it and made it enterprise-ready with leading CRM and ITSM providers. Right from knowledge acquisition which happens through deep learning algorithms to the resolution of customer issues real time on all the channels, we have been able to achieve this with Cognitive Customer Experience Platform over the past six months,” he explains.
Its AI platform Cognitive Customer Experience Platform won the Silver Stevie in 2017 International Business Awards where it was recognized as the best software platform.
Back with a Bang
Such innovations are a good start. To make them the rule rather than the exception, CSS Corp must carefully tailor its systems to solve specific business problems its customers now face. That’s easier said than done. The new management that took the reins of the company in September 2016 institutionalized the Innovation Lab for this very purpose. It has now become a hotbed of innovation permeating within the organization and enhancing the employee productivity by upskilling them.
“At CSS Corp, AI and Analytics are at the heart of our business strategy. We are trying to break the stereotypes in services industry through adoption of new age digital technologies that are complementary in nature. Our customer analytics services act as a catalyst for growth by enabling companies across industries to transform from traditional business models to new age service models and helps them identify new revenue streams,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp in a published media interview.
CSS Corp’s indigenous customer analytics platform, “Active Insights“, is an end-to-end solution with extensive data ingestion, analytics, and reporting capabilities. The platform is powered by AI capabilities and advanced statistical models that drive customer lifecycle management to understand customers’ intent, issues and proactively hit the target with the right recommendations and remediation.
“Customers give us their data sets and we give them insights on those data sets and leverage technologies like ’Deep Neural Networks, Machine learning’ and so on and so forth. We analyze and predict data in real-time, high velocity, low latency and batch processing modes. Active Insights offers intelligent insights about customer sentiments, buying behaviors and satisfaction scores that drive business success.We have done this with numerous customers and had partnerships with many organizations that provide this kind of information which can be construed as Metadata information. We have tied up with a leading provider of information technology in both Europe and US. We have also tied up with healthcare companies who provide this information to improve the quality of healthcare that can be provided to the patients,” states Joshi.
At the top of its game
Most of CSS Corp’s recent solutions have been incubated in their in-house labs. They are investing heavily in building pointed and niche solutions to simplify client’s complex technology ecosystems. Their investments in the cloud are enabling enterprises to adopt the right cloud strategy and allow them to seamlessly migrate data into the cloud with minimal manual intervention.
Yet another product developed indigenously by CSS Corp’s Innovation Labs is CloudMAP which acts as an entry point for clients to access new age capabilities of the organization. CSS Corp’s key cloud solutions are CloudMAP which provides Automated Cloud Migration Assessment and Planning for a specific business process or enterprise workload. It reduces migration planning time by at least 40%, CloudPATH offers simplified, industrialized and predictable method of migrating enterprise workload through refactoring, re-platforming and live workload migration. CloudPATH improves the success rate of migration by 30-60% Another offering CloudDRIVE creates operational readiness from day one in the cloud using CSS Corp’s NextGen Predictive Operations and Automation Platform for continuous optimization. It saves cloud spend by 20-25%.
“We were recognized by Forrester for our capabilities in the Cloud Migration segment. CSS Corp provides a powerful combination of automation platform and frameworks for the success of digital and cloud transformation initiatives our customers,” proclaims Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.
With a well thought out business strategy, the company is positive that it can weather the storm better than expected. The technology company is seeing a significant increase in business from existing and new customers. It has added 20 new logos in the last 12 months. Now that it is well on its way to revival, CSS Corp is targeting 12-14% growth year on year in FY18.
It’s not for nothing that adversity is called the diamond dust with which success polishes its jewels. CSS Corp has well and truly made the most of adverse circumstances to shift its focus towards revenue-generating opportunities, draw up a sustainable growth strategy and leap forward with innovative solutions.