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Interviews

“We are one of the leading GIGW complaint website developers across India.” Sarabjit Singh, Managing Director, Akal Infosys

An Interview with Sarabjit Singh - Managing Director Akal Infosys

With a population of 1.34 billion, India is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Government commissioned Digital India initiative focuses on bringing transformation in governance and accelerate socio-economic development. This can be achieved with the application of new-age technologies like cloud, AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), blockchain etc. The digital revolution is triggering big changes in areas like e-health, e-payments, e-education, and many others.

Technology behemoths are doing their bit to contribute towards government’s Digital India aim through their technology solutions. One such organization that has been contributing to government’s digital India initiative is Akal Information Systems Ltd.

Founded in year 2000 by Mr. Sarabjit Singh, an engineering graduate with Executive MBA, Akal came into existence with one sole aim – ‘To Enable the Indian Citizen’ by using innovative and best-in class technology solutions.

We interviewed Mr. Sarabjit Singh, Managing Director, Akal Infosys, to know about his journey and experience of running the company, his thoughts on Digital India and his views on the overall state of the Indian IT sector.

1. Akal Infosys is a big name among technology service providers. What constitutes Akal Infosys and sets it apart from others?

Having derived its name from the word GOD, Akal Infosys aims to serve the higher good. This includes generating long-term value for its shareholders by delivering value to the society along the way. Therefore, we ensure that all our services and processes are designed to serve this higher good. We deliver highly proficient services at affordable costs to make them accessible to all.

This constitutes our mission statement too – to enable Indian citizens by using innovative and best-in class information technologies and solutions.

Working towards this mission, we are now a leading provider of technology solutions and services to the government – both central and state, as well as large corporates. What sets us apart from our competitors is our commitment to adopt best practices and methods. We at Akal Infosys, step into the shoes of our customers to think like them, to be able to meet their exact requirements. Our commitment does not end with selling a product, it’s just a beginning to a long term partnership with our customers. We continually improve our products and prices to offer the best competitive products.

2. Akal’s name has now become synonymous with the Indian government’s New Bharat or Digital India vision. How does this add to your vision and goal of serving the higher good for the customers or the society as a whole?

Like I said, Akal is a leading provider of technology solutions to the central and state governments. We are empaneled with various Government Ministries and Departments like Ministry of Defense, NICSI, RISL, ERNET, BECIL, RAILTEL etc.

Our mission is to enable Indian citizens with best-in class technology solutions. We work towards Indian government’s ‘New Bharat’ or ‘Digital India’ vision. Our professionalism and aptitude to deliver new generation technology through fast, efficient and cost-effective ways to our customers and stakeholders, has helped us achieve our objectives.

We are recognized due to our customer centric approach and the focus on quality. We also ensure that we are able to provide prompt support to our customers during their entire journey with us. We have over 100 support locations across India and have an experience of more than 3000 IT projects. We also possess quality certifications like ISO 9001: 2015, ISO 20000-1:2011, ISO 27001: 2013, CMMI Level 3 etc.

3. What was the motivation and idea behind starting Akal Infosys? 

The single motivation that drove inception of AKAL Infosys and keeps it going all along is to serve the higher good i.e. serving the marginalized Indian society which comprises approximately half the Indian population by using cutting edge technologies and services. And there is no way better than enabling them with the benefits from the government through the efficiently and affordably developed digital platforms.

Doing its job very well, AKAL not only serves the society but also generates long-term value for its shareholders. All of AKAL’s processes and people are aligned to serve this objective. Service offerings are designed to be proficient yet affordable and all external engagements are wired to keep the social good into account. Meshed with this spirit of service, AKAL’s innovativeness and its belief in challenging the status quo not only make AKAL a unique organization for today’s India but also an organization to vouch for, in the times to come.

4. Recently, Akal Informatics Systems Ltd. was announced as the best e-governance implementation company by ET Now – Stars of the Industry Awards for Excellence in Information Technology. Please share the experience with us.

Such awards are an indication of our best-in class services and undying commitment to bring the best for our customers. It certainly feels great when your work is recognized in front of your industry peers and customers.

But, it’s not an end. It fills us with greater responsibility to outperform our previous achievements in the years to come. Our e-governance team is always ready for new opportunities and challenges.

5. Tell us about your GIGW Compliance Solutions and Services. How is it a boon for the disabled in India?

The GIGW (Guidelines for Indian Government Websites) was formally released in 2009. These guidelines help Indian government to conform to the prerequisites of the UUU trilogy – Usable, User-Centric and Universally Accessible. GIGW makes it mandatory for all government websites to stick to international accessibility standards. Government websites are compliant to follow GIGW to make websites accessible to the disabled.

Akal Infosys is fortunate to be one of the leading GIGW complaint website developers across India. We have worked upon more than 150 government website projects, including Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology and Food Corporation of India.

We strictly follow all GIGW guidelines from the initial website development process till its end.

It is certainly a boon for the disabled in India as it allows them to access any government website that is GIGW compliant. Most of the people with disability such as blindness or low vision, learning disabilities, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, cognitive limitations, speech disabilities, photosensitivity etc. find it difficult to access government websites. Though there are assistive technologies which can help them browse internet, but their implementation is possible only when the websites conform with the International WCAG viz. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

6. What according to you is the future of e-governance in India?

E-governance signifies a standard relationship between the government and its citizens. The government under a G2C relationship is liable to provide services like healthcare, education, transportation, telecommunications and much more. And, with Digital India in full swing, government is trying to deploy more of information technology in government operations.

India is working towards e-governance since 1970. We can see the practical applications of IT in election census, computerization of government offices, e-Kranti portals, digital lockers and e-seva kendras.

India is witnessing the ICT revolution and has a wide scope for the development of e-governance. This includes introduction to advanced public utility services, e-citizenship, e-health, e-transportation, e-taxation and various other segments.

On Government to Government (G2G) front, we can see the development of e-administration, e-courts and e-police. Government also plans to provide land record copies to simplify land resource process. Election commission might also bring reforms for the purpose of advancing electoral rolls.

One of the primary development can be the increased adoption of cloud computing in government operations. Cloud certainly can help governments better manage their infrastructure backed with its features like reliability, cost efficiency, scalability, agility etc.

We are highly looking forward to the growth of e-governance in India and are willing to go that extra mile to support any government initiatives in this.

7. What are some of the gravest challenges faced by the IT firms operating in India?

Indian IT industry has a great scope in the global market. When we talk in terms of challenges being faced by the Indian IT firms, there are many. But, per me, every challenge is an opportunity for the Indian firms to innovate and explore new possibilities.

Adoption of newer technologies: Several new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Machine Learning, Internet of Things etc. are causing disruptions in the global IT sector, and India is not an exception here. I personally feel that Indian firms should accelerate the pace of adoption of such newer technologies, to be able to attain competitive position in the global market.

Skills gap: The skills gap in IT is one of the biggest challenges. However, it’s not intractable. Organizations should try to plug their skills gap with more diverse employees. With newer technologies being introduced daily, companies need to impart training to their employees. Not to mention, with the increased number of startups in India, including some of the biggest success stories like Flipkart, Oyo, Ola etc. the fight for talent is now more extreme. Most of these startups find it difficult to fill positions due to lack of skilled talent.

Finding new revenue streams: While it’s true that business models are changing dynamically, but still, the basic objective of making profit, remains the same.

Companies should never stop the process of finding and exploiting new revenue opportunities. Having said that, CIOs should not try to directly generate revenue, rather focus on driving costs out of the business and scale from a GTM (Go-to-market) perspective.

Scaling challenges: In India, startups are generally small in size. Scaling with a little money is tough for them. Even if they have money, they sometimes don’t know how to scale their business. They lack expertise to market their products internationally. They face issues in executing plans. Government must ensure that doing business is easy. I am glad that the current situations and government efforts are highly beneficial for the growth of startups in the Indian economy.

8. What will be some major IT trends according to you in the coming years, in context to the Indian market?

While there are many trends which have the ability to redefine Indian IT sector, I particularly find the following trends to be on rise:

Smart cities: There’s no doubt that as the technology becomes cheaper and more intelligent, people will try to integrate it in every aspect of society. IoT (Internet of Things) is becoming more prevalent and is helping in the development of smart cities. A smart city will make optimum utilization of all technologies and streamline them into a seamless experience for people.

Increasing role of web IT: At the speed that technology is evolving, old ways of doing things will not be in trend any more. People will go for Web IT to gain practical solutions to their problems. We can even see some a-la-carte IT solutions in the coming years, which will replace the need of full-fledged IT department in your organization. India, with the availability of reasonable labor force and talent, will be at the forefront of such development.

Cyber security: Growth in technology translates to more data that needs to be processed to get insights. But, protecting this data is foremost. With data thefts, ransomware and other cyber-attacks becoming normal, organizations will be seen spending more on protecting their data through cyber-security solutions.

Governments might place a heavy emphasis on enterprises to deploy cybersecurity solutions for the safety of customer data. It also means adoption of more secure technologies like blockchain.

Cloud computing: Cloud has been around for years now, but I still feel there’s a lot to innovate with this phenomenal technology. India might be seen investing and developing more cloud solutions over the coming years to support its data storage and mobile technology.

9. During your entire career so far, what’s one biggest entrepreneurial lesson that you have learnt?

If your product or service is top class, the customers will find you themselves.

10. What’s new at Akal Infosys this year? Any new announcement coming up?

AKAL is working on a couple of digital platforms dedicated for the Japanese markets that will change the way companies and people in both the countries collaborate and work. The platforms have potential to disrupt the market dynamics altogether. We are also planning to announce the same in few months from now with some big pomp and show. Keep your fingers crossed!

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