IT Associations News

Embracing Digital-First Business Model

Vinod Nair, Managing Director, Softline India 

With a commendable market share offering Microsoft solutions, Softline has broadened its horizons to offer Google solutions, AWS and Cybersecurity solutions such as Kaspersky and Checkpoint

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“Softline has specifically been helping early-stage startups and Unicorns for over three years in supporting their technology investments through their growth cycle with customized set of offerings and resources to step-up the game!”

Vinod Nair,
Managing Director,
Softline India


The Pandemic has forced businesses to shift to online operations and there has been a massive adoption of remote working culture and online learning, resulting in digitalisation on an unprecedented scale. Along with the shift to online has also come an unprecedented surge in demand for IT solutions and services, turning 2021 A Golden Year For IT Services Companies.

The spurt in demand has thrown open a big opportunity for IT Solutions Providers.

As the India market remains in the eye of a major digital transformation buoyed by a tech-centred Union Budget,  SME Channels embarks upon recording the voices of the who’s who among the frontline IT Solutions Providers.

In a special interaction with SME Channels, Vinod Nair, Managing Director, Softline India, reveals his organization’s strategy to leverage the growing demand for IT solutions; the key trends in the IT solutions and services market in 2022; how vertical-specific solutions have brought in greater traction for channel partners; and his vision and plans for the channel community. Edited excerpts…

There has been a significant uptick in the development of new IT products and services triggered by digital adoption and transition to cloud due to the Pandemic. How have been leveraging this hike in demand for IT solutions?   

2021 was a year of opportunity for Softline to rebuild themselves and embrace the new digital-first business model. Predicting what lies next, 2022 will bring more possibilities and challenges as organizations continue adapting to a digitally enabled future. The pandemic condensed years’ worth of technological innovation into months, leaving businesses in a race to catch up. Next-gen technologies like AI/ML, cloud computing, data science/analytics, and digital communication have created just as many challenges as opportunities.

A digital workplace is essential to increasing employee engagement, generating a high level of productivity, and building exceptional digital customer experiences. As Softline prepares to embrace this new reality, we are recreating solutions for companies with easy access to remote-ready solutions to enable business continuity, productivity, robust cloud security, modernization, etc. Also, scaling operations at a reasonable cost encourages collaboration, enhances data security, and empowers employees to deliver their best performance.

What key mega trends do you foresee in the IT solutions and services market? 

To keep pace with the changing business dynamics, we at Softline always align ourselves to the latest market trends and make significant digital investments to transform and modernize business operations. Traditional businesses are reimagining business models while adopting technologies to deliver enhanced value to consumers. We will now be focusing solutions & services such as next upswing of Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, and Analytics. These businesses are constantly aligning with the market demands.

Businesses are transforming their processes by integrating technologies such as Machine Learning, AI, and Multi Clouds. These further help in enhancing service and product quality and improves the customer experience by accelerating time to market. Effective digital transformation is when a business can embrace distributed decision-making, agile workflows, and a digitally enabled and connected workforce and culture.

What are your major Product/Services offerings?   

Softline is a leading global solutions and services provider in digital transformation and cybersecurity. The company enables, facilitates, and accelerates digital transformation for its customers’ businesses, connecting 150,000+ organizations from all sectors. With a focus on Cloud and Digital Technologies, Softline provides innovative solutions in the areas of: –

  • Cloud solutions
  • Modern hybrid infrastructure
  • Future Workplace
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
  • Modern Workplace Communication & Collaboration solutions
  • Document workflow
  • Cybersecurity solution
  • Asset management

Softline has built a strong base for its technical expertise by co-investing in a Global Delivery Center (GDC), Security Operations Center (SOC), and Microsoft Workplace Shared Services Center. Softline has specifically been helping early-stage startups and Unicorns for over three years in supporting their technology investments through their growth cycle with customized set of offerings and resources to step-up the game! Recognizing our exceptional track record we were named as a Microsoft Start-Up Factory Partner. We also are one of the only two recognized partners for HoloLens2 in India.

We have earned 17 Gold Competencies, maintained Azure Expert MSP status, and holds 9 different Microsoft Advanced Specializations. Softline India also won Microsoft Technology Partner of the Year 2021 –Security, 2 CIO Choice Awards for Application Development and Modern Workplace solutions, as well as the SME Channel Cloud Specialist Award 2021, and SME Channels Cloud Partner of India 2021. Softline’s pre-built apps on PowerApps prove that we take innovation seriously when it comes to building user-friendly apps for automating operations. Softline India is the Winner of the Microsoft ES Open Hackathon, first runner-up in Zero Trust Security Hackathon 2022 and has been recognized for creating the best employee engagement solution on Teams.

While we hold a commendable market share offering Microsoft solutions, we have broadened our horizons with the Innovation group at Softline offering Google solutions, AWS and Cybersecurity solutions such as Kaspersky and Checkpoint. Softline’s recent acquisition of Umbrella Infocare holds the status of an AWS Premier Consulting Partner & Citrix Platinum Plus Consulting Partner. Their expertise in AWS Managed Services, Migration and DevOps strengthens Softline’s existing capabilities and forms the basis for creating our global AWS Centre of Excellence (CoE).

We have achieved great success in the last year, setting up remote workplaces for 200 enterprises, totaling 10 Lac+ employees and many transformational projects including a solution rolled out for a Higher Education State Council of one of the key Indian states, a social program to level up 1, 62,000 students with digital skills from Microsoft and LinkedIn to prepare them for employment. A delivery mechanism the enables students to sign up, study, take mock tests, and get ready for exams. The solution rolled out can be replicated across all educational institutes which work in higher education throughout the country, and even globally.

Recently, AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) capabilities, cloud-enabled services, and analytics have registered remarkable growth. How have your partners benefitted from the opportunities created by these techs?  

The concept of Data Analytics has been around for a while, but it was not until recently that Big Data revolutionized the business world. The more data you have, the better insights you can gain. Some of the most popular trends in data analytics include big data, machine learning, and AI technologies. These three trends will change the way we think about business, but with that change comes many opportunities for growth for businesses involved in these areas.

Businesses across industries can benefit from using data analytics effectively. The benefits of data analytics and analytics include better decision-making, more extensive innovations, and product price optimization, among others. Let’s look at the top benefits closely:

  • Potential Risks Identification
  • Improved Decision Making
  • Focused and Targeted Promotions
  • Better Customer Service
  • Customer Acquisition and Retention
  • More Effective Marketing
  • Streamline operations

IT Solution Providers are focusing on specific verticals and have built very specific capabilities across a few verticals, which helps them differentiate. What vertical-specific solutions do you offer to ensure greater traction for channel partners?   

The key areas we focus on include enriching customer experience, enhancing employee productivity through effective collaboration & workplace automation, digitization & legacy process automation, flexibility, scalability, application modernizations, analytics & innovations through Azure cloud.

At Softline, we enable our customers with end-to-end IT solutions to accelerate efficiency, get to market faster, scale business and optimize outcomes. We range from solutions on the Microsoft platform, Cloud solutions and services, Modern hybrid infrastructure, Asset management, DITO, Future workplace, Business solution, CRM, ERP, BI, Document workflow, and Cybersecurity solutions. Our experts empower organizations of all types, sizes, and scale to thrive and grow in the digital age.

What are the major factors that are impacting the growth for the IT Solutions providers? Is cannibalization of revenue, a major challenge?

Softline’s Digital Workplace Solutions enable businesses to create a modern, highly collaborative environment for their workforce. Embedding advanced capabilities Softline’s hybrid-ready solutions enable organizations to reimagine their digital strategy for growth in 2022 and beyond.

A few influential factors are affecting the growth of IT Solutions providers. One of the essential factors is the company culture and HR policies. This permits businesses to oversee their employee relationships better and provide a more positive work environment. More, the trend of remote work is also contributing to the development of IT Solutions providers as they can have a highly productive workforce located anywhere in the world. The security trend has also been on the rise in recent years as businesses are increasingly concerned about their security standards and how best to protect their data.

There is also a growing need for a technically skilled workforce. This is because businesses are increasingly looking for solutions that address their technological needs. Finally, the rapid introduction and adoption of the latest technologies have contributed to IT Solutions providers’ growth. It allows companies to rapidly upgrade their infrastructure and meet the demands of their customers.

IT solution business is highly tech intensive. How do you upskill your partners to help them tap more into market opportunities?  

Digital innovation doesn’t always come easy. Creating an incredible digital experience for your customers requires plenty of development, designing, testing, and creating. It also means pinpointing precisely what your company needs to stand out from the crowd. That’s why a solutions partner can be invaluable – they have the insight required to build a strategy that leads straight to your end goal and the experience to help you overcome any challenges. You must work with partners aligned with your company’s mission, values, culture, and goals. Working with the partner who is not aligned can hurt your business and slow down the desired pace of growth. This is where upskilling comes in.

Have you recently made or plan to make any major investments in terms of channel expansions or product development in India and SAARC?   

Softline is a leading global solutions and services provider in digital transformation and cybersecurity, headquartered in London.

The company enables, facilitates, and accelerates digital transformation for its customers’ businesses, connecting 150,000+ organizations from all sectors with 6,000+ best-in-class IT vendors alongside its services and solutions. Softline’s growth is underpinned by its three-dimensional strategy to expand its geography, portfolio, and sales channels. Softline’s 8200 employees work in almost 60 countries throughout Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa—markets with significant growth potential. The company delivers a comprehensive range of IT solutions and is at the center of the digital transformation megatrend.

Softline Group acquired Embee Software, a leading global provider of IT solutions and services. Embee Software will continue to provide the same service level and quality you have expected since day one, but with an expanded reach around the world.

Further expanding the footprint in the Indian marketspace is our strategic acquisition of Umbrella Infocare, a Delhi based organization and their 200+ strong team offers rich and advanced skills in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Citrix solutions. Together we lay the foundation to build a global AWS Centre of Excellence (CoE) and enhance Softline’s solution capabilities for our customers in India.

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