Touching Lives in More Ways than One

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From being the largest PC manufacturer in the country, developing flight management systems for close to a dozen countries, designing medical implantable devices for pain relief and products for e-governance and financial inclusion to promoting e-procurement and bolstering New Delhi’s ties with African countries – HCL touches lives in more ways than one can imagine

From being the largest PC manufacturer in the country, developing flight management systems for close to a dozen countries, designing medical implantable devices for pain relief and products for e-governance and financial inclusion to promoting e-procurement and bolstering New Delhi’s ties with African countries – HCL touches lives in more ways than one can imagine. 

The technology behemoth, which comprises HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems and employs over 70,000 people, has come a long way since its inception notching up several firsts in last over three and a half decades. 

It was born in 1976 into a barsati (a kind of temporary shelter on roof of a house), a benevolent grandmother lent to her grandson Arjun Malhotra and his five friends in Golf Links, a posh locality in South Delhi. The friends had quit their cushy jobs to explore computing what was hitherto a virgin territory. They believed that microprocessor could change the world. Not many believed them.

But when within two years, they developed India’s first microcomputer, around the same time when Apple did it in United States of America (USA), many turned into believers. The IBM achieved the feat three years later. 

In another two years, the company went to Singapore to do business. Six years later, it became the largest IT company in the country crossing the 100,000 unit milestone in desktop PC market. In 2005 it developed a PC, which would cost only Rs 10,000. In 2008, the company introduced ‘safe state’ the launch of a 100% subsidiary to provide system integration solutions for security and surveillance. 

Two years back, it grossed business worth $ 2 billion. Today the company is worth over $ 5.5 billion, has presence in over two dozen countries and after taking over Axon in United Kingdom also holds the distinction for doing largest acquisition by an Indian IT company. It addresses close to 12 verticals ranging from banking to security to railways. It has created tools for banks, for aircrafts helping them land in zero visibility, telecommunications and even municipalities. In fact, it is the only ICT Company in India covering hardware, software, networking, telecom, education and security segments.

It is designing systems for Public Distribution System (PDS) in Madhya Pradesh and Aadhar-UID, health sector and even education sector at the centre and in the States. “We have developed 30 software products for railways, on e-governance, infrastructure etc. These would help in financial inclusion,” says Ajai Chowdhry, Chairman of HCL Infosystems and one of the founder members of the HCL. 

The Rs 10 bn PDS project, the HCL has undertaken for Madhya Pradesh government, is expected to be a watershed development as it envisages to put the entire system right from procurement to supply to delivery on internet. In fact, e-procurement is something the HCL top honchos emphasize to cut down corruption and delays in government functioning. “Singapore is buying electronically 100 per cent. This is what should be done. Why waste money on paper?” Chowdhry says. Now railway ministry has introduced e-procurement with the help of the HCL.

The HCL’s applications for retail and commercial banking has led to proliferation of banking services in urban as well as rural sectors. Since the circulation of money would ultimately help mainstream the marginalized, Chowdhry looks at it as a healthy sign for the future. It has developed host of systems including BancR, BancScanb, Retail-Lend, CallMate, FinMate, HRMate, OffMate, TracMate, TouchMate, TeleBank, Netbank, MobBank and Bank BSC. 
When it comes to Education, it has DigiSchool, K12 content and Bus Tracking. Besides, it has developed E-Analyzer for Dairy, ELP-Soft CRM, Billing and E-NMS for power sector and Solar PC and Rural Kiosk. 
On e-governance, the company has developed applications for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), municipalities and a fire tracking system. The technology giant has also marked its presence in Media & Entertainment with community radio.

The HCL has offices in 29 countries and 500 points of presence in the country. The company plans to house and incubate its global businesses in various technology hubs around the country. It took the first step in this direction in 2007 by opening the first hub in Noida. Recently Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda inaugurated its second hub in Manesar near Gurgaon. 

Bangaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Nagpur will be the next to hub HCL technology. Shiv Nadar, founder HCL and Chairman, HCL Technologies, looks to develop the technology hubs as ‘a technology source for the world.’ Nadar says not only will the Manesar hub host technology and R&D but can also ‘train 1,000 technology professionals at any given point in time.’ 

Nadar claims the formidable combination of technology and education ‘can empower lives, transform communities, societies and nations like possibly nothing else can’. 
Chowdhry hopes the hubs will take employment to tier II and III cities where it is most needed. 

In another project, which would go a long way in building India as a brand in African countries, the HCL has integrated 53 countries of Africa with India. The Prime Ministers and Presidents of all 53 countries can video conference through this application for tele-medicine and tele-education. Various hospitals and educational institutions of India are connected to this network to deliver tele-medicine and tele-education in the African countries. 
Next the company is eyeing the Middle East countries. Recently it opened a regional head office in Dubai and taken up a project for networking of government and private educational institutions there. 

In December 2010, HCL Technologies signed a multi-year contract with Purdue Pharma for end-to-end management of data centres and all remote locations of the client in United States of America. Though the financials of the deal were not disclosed, yet it would certainly lend revenue visibility for the company.

Chowdhry feels 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) will bring about generational change in e-governance provided the governments set time-frames for implementation of e-projects, develop applications and replicate, not duplicate, schemes which have ushered reforms. He cites the example of Bhoomi, an on-line project on delivery and management of land records, which has brought in transparency and accountability in Karnataka’s revenue department. 

Haryana, for once, looks all set to take advantage of presence of major IT companies like HCL, Agilent, Convergys, IBM Daksh, Educomp, Bharati and Genpact in Gurgaon and stream roll ‘large scale adoption of e-Governance systems’ in near future. Hooda says his government is planning to provide for e-filing of various returns relating to commercial taxes and labour.

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