Global technology company HCL Technologies has been active in South Africa since 2009. Inside a decade it has become a key component in South Africa’s economic renaissance. What is unusual is how it has done this. HCL only signs up clients who are a good fit for its unique way of working. That approach has suited South African businesses very well.
Ashish Kumar Gupta, HCL’s Corporate Vice President and Head for Europe and Africa, has witnessed these developments at first hand. He describes the journey HCL has undertaken and the results it has delivered for South Africa’s economy and people.
We are working right across the South African private sector, from mines to financial services and telecoms, helping our South African customers leapfrog into the future and adapt to digital technology. This country is on a path that will see it transformed into a powerhouse of multiple products and services to the global economy and HCL is investing in South Africa based on the long term.
At HCL we believe in digital transformation, giving our clients strategies that allow them to remain competitive in a global digital economy. Cloud computing is a great example of this. It uses masses of remote processing power dialled up over the internet. So, our corporate clients in sectors like oil and gas gain huge efficiencies by moving all of their IT into the cloud.
Our experience of scaling up technology in large organisations means we are active participants in South Africa’s journey to sustained economic growth with a wealthier society for all. That’s what we do at HCL and we do it well.
Technology is moving into every area of South African business and that means that the country can take advantage of its unique location, superior talent base and abundance of natural resources to play an important part in Africa and the world. Take the example of mining, a huge industry in South Africa. HCL has worked with customers to create smart mines where technology is moving people out of potentially dangerous parts of the site and managing these devices from a control centre in a safer location at the site.
We are selective in our clients. Our approach is not to try and win a million customers, but to keep the customer numbers low and service them in a way that drives retention and deep relationships of mutual value to the client and HCL.
HCL has just passed the milestone of $10bn in revenues because of this model, building profound alliances with customers. You could say that we are a patient organisation. We service customers in a way they haven’t seen before and we help them to grow while HCL grows.
We use centres of excellence to spread our knowledge in specialist domains. In South Africa we have established centres of excellence for SAP for Retail and CPG and for the retail and minerals and metals sectors. And our professional expertise is on display through our digital labs scheme. This creates spaces where our customers can work with us to solve any problems they encounter.
Everything comes back to our partnership model and we never forget that this is the cornerstone of HCL’s success as a business.
South Africa’s economic prospects spell out a lot of opportunities for people and that fits with our own worldview. Our Employee First philosophy means we work with our people to make their lives as hassle free as possible. Keeping employees happy and motivated means they get the time to focus on how to promote the best interests of the client and make him successful.
We tap into that positive energy through our Ideapreneurship philosophy. This allows employees to get together and work on ideas that will improve the way we deliver services to a customer. It means going above and beyond our contractual obligations and it’s one of the things that really sets HCL apart in the technology services world.
HCL is a business with a big heart. Supporting our employees and their families matters to us. Obviously the pandemic has been tough on everyone. But the positive lesson of this tragedy is that technology is more powerful than we imagined. At HCL we have helped our staff to work from home without any dip in their productivity, we have worked to ensure the employees and their families can manage the mental health issues arising out of lockdown. Technology really can change the world for the better and our people are the living proof of that.
Technology can look like a very specialised industry. But for us it’s the big picture that counts, we take a wider view of how technology fits into society. So we work with the Safe-Hub programme in South Africa, providing quality after-school training for young people. Obviously we can contribute a lot of knowledge around digital education and we want to see these students equipped with the IT skills that South Africa needs for its growth and their personal futures.
Building up a robust and also socially aware business is a priority for HCL in any country. We always set out to be a net contributor to the host economy and to have an impact on the wider community around us.
From a personal perspective I have to say South Africa is absolutely the most stunning country. The people here are absolutely brilliant. They have the hunger and the attitude to succeed and the right infrastructure is here too. It’s a winning formula.
Our Johannesburg centre is now servicing clients across Africa and we plan to use it for European and US clients. So South Africa is a springboard for HCL, an energetic nation that opens doors to the world.
The South African economy will just get stronger and stronger and so will its people. We are currently hiring and training a lot of apprentices and we have a great staff retention rate. When South Africa’s bright young people come to work at HCL they stick around.
South Africa is a nation we believe in and we’re here for the long-term. We are convinced that the appetite for true partners in technology will only increase as the local IT sector expands. I’m very optimistic about South Africa and HCL’s part in its future.