Defiance Technologies, an IT company that has been around for decades and is part of the Hinduja Group, has just set up a regional hub in Dubai.
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Subu Subramanian, the chief executive and managing director, talks about whether companies in the Middle East are using social media to track customer feedback and why Defiance is just entering the UAE.
What IT trends are you seeing in the UAE?
We feel that organisations which have already invested in [business] applications will now plug in mobile access, to both to enter the data as well as access their reports on their mobile devices, based on iPhone, BlackBerry or iPad. It's possible now. We see this trend elsewhere in the world and we see the opportunities are opening up in this market as well. We also feel that the companies will move their applications into the cloud-based infrastructure.
You recently set up a command centre in Chennai in India that will allow companies to track customer feedback on social media. How advanced are companies in the Middle East in using social media?
Globally, many companies are … investing in it in a big way. We believe from our interactions that the trend is here, but not to the level of Europe and Japan. But we believe it will catch up very soon. We are already doing an engagement for a Kuwait-based food chain, particularly for the retail companies to give them feedback about products and services on an ongoing basis.
What kind of benefits does it offer companies?
It gives a good real-time insight into what people are talking about and thinking about the products and services of an organisation. The second thing is the next level: interaction where you can immediately respond to people's complaints. It is not just for marketing as people immediately think. It also goes into product designing, engineering and distribution, in all aspects. The challenge is more how we leverage the social media information and integrate it back into the [business]. That's where the future is.
Why has it taken Defiance so long to open in Dubai?
Our focus so far has been more in the US and Europe, India and South Africa. Now we have chosen this year to launch ourselves in the Middle East. Dubai is our first operational regional hub, and from here we will expand into other countries.
We see a good demand coming from customers from this region for our portfolio [of products]. We are also pretty strong on emerging technology solutions, like providing mobile enterprise solutions and cloud solutions.
Which countries and industries is Defiance looking to expand into here?
Primarily in terms of the industry, we're looking at manufacturing, oil and gas, banking and finance. Right now our immediate focus is the UAE. Saudi Arabia is another interest area. We have a presence there and we will expand. In Kuwait, we intend to expand. The other [countries] of interest are Qatar and Oman, but we are taking a step at a time.