This may well be the last piece on the World Cup in South Africa before calling the summer of 2010 a wrap, but the end of one of the greatest sporting events ever held on the African continent marks a new set of opportunities that will endure for years because of the infinite human capacity for perseverance and beating the odds.
Like many companies from Budweiser to Yingli, Mahindra Satyam was among the sponsors that helped make the World Cup 2010 possible and that in itself was a major accomplishment for the Indian systems integrator, whose fate was hanging in the balance amid an accounting scandal in early 2009.
While the accounting scandal has begun to recede with the arrest of the former chairman of Satyam for a litany of charges including inflating its assets, Tech Mahindra, a subsidiary of the $7-billion industrial company Mahindra & Mahindra that acquired Satyam in April 2009, spent much of last year stabilizing the company by overhauling its management as well as the positioning of the now-rebranded Mahindra Satyam.
With billions of people watching the month-long tournament either live or with rich media, Mahindra Satyam worked largely behind the scenes managing more than $1 billion assets, three million tickets, 250,000 accreditations, 130,000 volunteers, 1,000 vehicles, 64 matches and 10 stadiums in South Africa.
It was flawless execution running a gamut of event management applications, a reliable and scalable extranet for event organizer FIFA, as well as an assortment of integration services and complementary technologies with 100% uptime besting the performance of tech powerhouses such as IBM in the same role at high-profile events like the Olympics.
For a company that was on the brink of a downward spiral, the rebirth of Mahindra Satyam has been remarkable. One magazine headline in January 2009 even referred to Satyam’s former chairman Ramalingam Raju as India’s Madoff. For the record, Bernard Madoff’s company was a Ponzi scheme, but Satyam was doing legitimate IT integration business for hundreds of customers.
Let’s also be clear about my involvement. I was a paid speaker at a Satyam customer event in 2008. Through the years I have had the pleasure of working with a number of Satyam executives, many of whom remain loyal to the company because of their unyielding integrity and faith in its latest reincarnation. In late May 2010 I was invited by Mahindra Satyam to participate in its analyst event in Hyderabad, India, and saw first-hand the new company in action.
Since its rebirth, the IT service provider has kept many of its customers such as BASF IT Service and GlaxoSmithKline, both of which recently extended or renewed their contract with Mahindra Satyam. It has won 54 new logos and its customer count now exceeds 360. Shortly before the scandal broke, the customer count was 690. It was difficult to determine whether the decline was attributed to the scandal, the recession, or a combination of the two.
Despite the setback, many global companies have continued to express their support by relying on Mahindra Satyam to run their mission-critical applications and a long list of key functions from managing supply chain strategies and programs to operating data centers on behalf of some of the biggest telcos in the world.
Two data points suggest that Mahindra Satyam has not skipped a beat over the past year with its SLA adherence reaching 99.72% and its zero defect delivery staying at 99.77%, which is noteworthy for their consistent showing.
A director of engineering at a world-class technology company outlined the amount of testing work that Mahindra Satyam is involved in, with the latter assigning its more than 100 engineers to test tens of millions of codes regularly before new Cloud services are introduced by the former to the public.
The CIO of a major transportation company in North America said the reason to stick with Mahindra Satyam is because of its large pool of SAP experts, something that his company was not able to locate easily in terms of meeting its quality, reliability and industry-specific knowledge requirements. In recent quarters, Mahindra Satyam has won more than 22 new customers helping them manage their SAP and Oracle applications.
It’s fair to suggest that the rebirth of Mahindra Satyam is a work in progress given that every measure of its financial health is still being evaluated and cross-checked by its current auditors Deloitte and Grant Thornton. Upcoming releases of its financial results will help shore up customer confidence.
Still, there will be more changes pending. There have been talks about Tech Mahindra, which now owns 42.7% of Mahindra Satyam, will combine Mahindra Satyam into its fold creating a streamlined operation. Just last week, Sanjay Kaira, a veteran of Tech Mahindra who became its CEO last year, announced his decision to leave the company. He will be replaced by Vineet Nayyar, the current vice chairman.
During my meetings with Mahindra Satyam executives, they have reiterated their desire to restore growth now that the past is behind them. But what’s even more striking to me is that Mahindra Satyam is a microcosm of India teeming with young, bright and talented individuals who are giving everything that they have in order to bring positive change to their families and their country.
Which brings us back to South Africa where we have witnessed many young players working tirelessly and skillfully to win one game after another. Against all odds, these teams including Uruguay, Ghana and even Germany that were once considered underdogs rose to the challenge and delivered world-class performance, just like Mahindra Satyam.
By the way, Mahindra Satyam will be the IT service provider for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I can hardly wait for that to happen, watching Mahindra Satyam work quietly and methodically, but with absolute control of the game.
Tell me what you think of the World Cup, Mahindra Satyam and follow me on Twitter @appsruntheworld.