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Trimble all set to play a big role

India region is one of the fastest growing regions for Trimble. In a tete`-a-tete´ with GIS Development, Rajan Aiyer, Managing Director and General Manager, Trimble India, tells us how and why the region is important for the company , the solutions that Trimble offers and how it intends to capitalise on the opportunities.

Steven Hagan
Rajan Aiyer
Managing Director and General Manager, Trimble India

India region is one of the fastest growing regions for Trimble. In a tete`-a-tete´ with GIS Development, Rajan Aiyer, Managing Director and General Manager, Trimble India, tells us how and why the region is important for the company , the solutions that Trimble offers and how it intends to capitalise on the opportunities.

What is the use of geospatial technology in the countries that you operate in?
The India region which includes India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan is a fast-growing region of the world where the use of geospatial technology is still in the nascent stage compared to the developed geographies. Currently, geospatial technology is primarily used by government agencies such as the departments of survey, earth sciences as well as scientific research institutions and a variety of educational institutions. Overtime, the gradual adoption of the technology by the private sector is expected to fuel the real catalyst for wide-spread, innovative usage.

Can you tell us about Trimble’s current activities in India?
Trimble is the leading provider of total technology solutions for optimising each stage of the connected workflow of our customers in a broad range of commercial markets. We accomplish this via organic growth as well as acquisitions. For instance, our acquisition of TATA Mobility Telematics in India is a good example. This acquisition enabled us to quickly provide industry-leading fleet and cargo management solutions for our Indian customers. Trimble’s activities in India generally mirror our world-wide offerings although we strive to ‘localise’ our solutions whereever needed for our customers. Survey, construction, mapping and photogrammetry, agriculture, fleet and asset management and GNSS Infrastructure solutions form the bulk of our solutions. The India region is an area of strategic focus for Trimble led by Bryn Fosburgh, Vice President. His main charter is to grow Trimble business in India in a holistic way by offering localised solutions, which are optimised for the region’s customers.

You recently said that you now want to focus your attention on offering turnkey solutions. Can you elaborate that?
As I pointed out previously, Trimble’s unique strength is offering total or turnkey solutions for each stage of the workflow continuum. Whether it is a highway/railway/building construction site, a project office, an agricultural field, or a logistics operation, there are always important hand-over points or stages where information/intelligence has to flow in a timely manner for smooth/efficient completion of the project. Trimble provides solutions to optimise the tasks at each of the stages as well as the hand-over process. This enables the customer to reduce guesswork, rework and expensive wastage, all while increasing productivity. What some of our competition is talking about now, we deliver today.

One of the major success strategies that Trimble has actively pursued over the years has been the acquisition of companies. In India, you acquired Tata AutoComp Mobility Telematics Limited (TMT). What’s coming up next? Are there any plans to acquire software companies as well?
Trimble is a financially solid, growth-oriented company with a strong vision, which has enabled the company to occupy an industry-leadership position. Strategic acquisitions (more than 50 in the past 10 years) have enabled Trimble to establish beach-head in new markets and geographies, and India is no exception. Combining our strength in hardware and systems with emerging software and application technologies enable us to distance and differentiate ourselves from competition. So software companies that fit into our strategy would be a natural fit.

You operate in very diverse regions – while Sri Lanka has just solved its insurgency problems and can now concentrate on rebuilding the country, the political stability in countries like Bangladesh and Nepal is always a matter of concern. And Bhutan enjoys a constitutional monarchy. What kind of challenges do you encounter in these regions?
You are absolutely right. The countries in the India region that we operate in have their own unique culture, language, tradition, people dynamics, economic growth patterns, socio-economic and political complications etc. Even within India, it is like a mini-continent of countries. But out of these very interesting challenges arise numerous opportunities in which Trimble intends to capitalise on by offering localised solutions that fit their workflows.

During our Trimble road shows and US trade delegation meetings with leaders of these countries, I found a common, strong desire to improve the lives of the people in a responsible, inclusive and eco-friendly way. They believe that improvements in physical infrastructure, energy, land reform, agricultural output, transportation and logistics, and healthcare are top priorities. I was part of the first US trade delegation to Nepal last week at the invitation of the US ambassador and met with several leaders including the Prime Minister and the Maoist party chairman. They all echoed a common theme of inclusive economic growth fuelled by the improvements that I spoke of earlier. The bureaucrats and technocrats envision technology solutions such as Trimble’s, to provide efficient, cost-effective, timely and minimal-waste implementation of these improvements.

Which, according to you, are the new areas/prospective sectors where Trimble will like to focus in the coming years in India, and the region?
Physical infrastructure including highways, bridges, railways including dedicated freight corridor and high-speed railway, power (generation, transmission and distribution), agriculture (water management, precision farming), mapping (corridor, aerial, HHD) and GIS, fleet and asset management, GNSS infrastructure solutions would form the key areas of focus for Trimble in India region. Industry verticals could include highways, railways, power, agriculture, transportation and logistics, forestry, education and others. In 2008, Trimble began forming a new world-wide distribution channel called SITECH to address the needs of the construction industry. In 2010, SITECH India North & East and SITECH India South & West were established to serve heavy and highway contractors involved in a range of earthmoving applications such as the construction of roads, highways, railways and airports as well as site prep for large commercial, industrial and residential projects. In addition, they offer consultative advice on construction technology solutions, customised training, data services, installation, service and technical support. With India looking to spend USD 1T in infrastructure in 12th 5-year plan and other countries focusing on vast improvements in infrastructure, SITECH would play a key role for Trimble. These initiatives would support the economic growth prospects envisioned by the respective governments.

You have been organising several road shows in India? How has been the response to these shows? When are you planning to have your next road-show and how is this year’s show going to be different from your past shows?
We organised our first road shows in India region in late 2009. In 2010, we did a road show in Sri Lanka and followed it in Bangladesh in 2011. The basic goal is to showcase Trimble’s total solutions for the various industry verticals and how they derive significant benefits. Each road show has been attended by 150-200 industry professionals. The one-day programme consists of presentations by Trimble subject-matter experts (SMEs) followed by real-life demos and interactive discussions. The road show concept has been highly successful in presenting Trimble’s complete portfolio of solutions, which is ‘more than GPS’. Based on these initial successes we plan to conduct more road shows in Indian metros as well as other countries including Nepal and Bhutan in the future. The format is expected to be similar although given the increasing number of solutions to showcase, we may extend the programmes

What is your future strategy vis-à-vis India?
As already outlined our strategy for India region is growth-oriented – to significantly increase Trimble’s presence in India. We have already mentioned a variety of industry verticals that are of interest. Growth can be organic or inorganic as the situation demands. We do believe that geospatial technologies will be a key, integrated part of India’s economic growth. With a proposed outlay of USD 1T for infrastructure investment in the next 5-year plan (2013-17), Trimble is very well positioned to be an entrenched player in this exciting phase of India region’s growth.