“Technology is our middle name”
Voice and Data|March,2020
“Technology is our middle name”
As a passionate engineer, he considers himself fortunate to be leading a technology company at a time when digital advancement is transforming everyday lives. An alumnus of IIT Kanpur and University of California, Berkeley, he completed his PhD in Materials Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA before joining Sterlite Technologies Limited (STL) in 1995. The winner of Voice&Data Pathbreaker of the Year Award for 2019 and STL CEO Dr. Anand Agarwal shares his views with As a passionate engineer, he considers himself fortunate to be leading a technology company at a time when digital advancement is transforming everyday lives. An alumnus of IIT Kanpur and University of California, Berkeley, he completed his PhD in Materials Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA before joining Sterlite Technologies Limited (STL) in 1995. The winner of Voice&Data Pathbreaker of the Year Award for 2019 and STL CEO Dr. Anand Agarwal shares his views with Shubhendu Parth on the company’s journey, new business opportunities and Make in India. Excerpts: on the company’s journey, new business opportunities and Make in India. Excerpts:
Shubhendu Parth

V&D: STL has covered a very long ground—from being an optical communication products company to becoming a data network solutions provider. How would you describe this journey and will you follow a different growth path if you are to repeat the success again?

Anand Agarwal (AA): STL has been a dynamic company at every step of the way. When the world was thinking of information highways, we were leading with optical communications. Now that the whole world is likely to get networked and everything is becoming data, we are driving ourselves to be the leading data network innovator of the world. This has been and continues to be a fabulous and exciting journey for me. I am blessed to have been part of and architecting major portions of this journey.

The last decade was great for the company. We transformed the company from a “wire and cable manufacturer for telecom and power industries” in 2010 to “global data networks innovator” in 2020. We also scaled our fiber business from six million km in 2010 to 50 million km now—and scaled our cables business from about two million km to more than 30 million km—a 15x growth! In the meantime, we started and scaled a new power transmission infrastructure business called Sterlite Grid between 2010 and 2015, and later demerged it. We then started a new business on system integration and services in 2015, which has now scaled to over Rs 3,000 crore in less than five years. We also integrated new capabilities into the company: Elitecore for software capabilities, Metallurgica Bresciana for pan-European cabling and IDS for data centre technologies. We have also entered the Wireless and 5G space with the investment in ASOCS, a virtual RAN company in Israel and have a collaboration partnership with IIT Chennai on the 5G platform. Alongside this, we have added strong capabilities in technology, strategy, marketing, and transformation, and have strengthened our global talent across verticals and geographies.

Our customers, both in India and worldwide, have been the biggest inspiration during this disruptive journey. We have seen them bring out generations of the best technologies to deliver continuous improvements to the networks. Today the telcos, enterprises, citizen networks, and cloud companies are moving their networks from voice communications to data networks to artificial intelligence based, virtual software defined networks on the edge—the upcoming 5G—fifth-generation network. With 5G, we are getting a chance to redefine end-to-end data network solutions. And we have designed STL to be the uniquely capable company with all aspects of great access-and-edge-capable network. We are capable across wired and wireless, technology led-design and process-led robust implementation. We have the highest capability and most affordable networks for urban and rural situations, running across compute, memory and storage along with top-end connectivity.

This wide range of capabilities has been built over the last decade and it has set us up for the next decade of data network growth. This is just the beginning of the data network journey and given a chance to keep bringing positive disruption in the industry, I and everyone at STL will absolutely embrace it always.

V&D: Indian telecom and technology space today is at its most dynamically vibrant stage, witnessing an explosion in mobile data usage, upcoming 5G and associated technologies. How do you look at this from the STL business perspective?

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March,2020