Customers want value, not software
BY The Hindu | 27 February 2017
Focusing on value that software delivered has helped Take Solutions change its DNA
Though Take Solutions began as a software products company, several mid-course corrections have helped it become a life sciences player, with ambitious revenue targets for 2021. H.R. Srinivasan, vice-chairman and managing director, dwells on its plans:
You had wanted to exit the supply chain business.
It is important to understand how we came to be where we are at now. We began as a software products company in 2001 focused on the supply chain, making products that generic ERP software could not match. After the 2008 global crisis, one of our clients, a pharma major, asked us to make regulatory submissions on its behalf.
What we then realised was that the client was not looking at our software but the value that the software delivers. If we can deliver the value directly, he does not want to own the software. By the way, we now do close to 50% of that company’s regulatory submissions across about 40 countries. Once we understood the scientist’s language, we became relevant to the scientific process.
We have progressed from work in the regulatory arena to the clinical area to safety. We did not start with what we see today. It was completely different from what was envisaged first. In form, spirit and countenance. Now, we want to be a fully life sciences company. This area offers enormous opportunity for growth, is niche and has entry barriers.
If a business is profitable, why sell out?
If your margins in one business are about or below 10% and in another, they are greater than 20%, it is a no-brainer where you want to apply your capital. It is a rational, investment decision. Our compounded quarterly growth rate for life sciences has been 9% in the last 14-16 quarters.
But aren’t you better off selling the supply chain unit quickly?
Our supply chain business has 3 parts. One is 100% owned by us. Two are co-owned by partners. We are trying to find the right value. In the next couple of months, we should have something that translates to value. Two-thirds of our supply chain business may be sold.
You acquired Ecron Acunova last year. Any gaps in your offering that you would still like to fill?
We want to be a $500 million life sciences company by 2021. A global consulting firm is helping us strategise and in the implementing strategy. We have mapped out where we want to grow. While we have long offered a value proposition, now, it is a question of adding scale to what we do. Which is about 5 times the current revenue from life sciences. People confuse us for a software company. Legacy suggests we are a software company. We are working hard to see how we can reposition ourselves for this journey, not only delivering at scale but building global human capital.
Organic growth will be the larger part of our journey. When you buttress that with M&A, it makes capital sweat better. You eye M&As for many reasons: for more capacity, to access a new geography, to build new capability or new customers. If you want specialists in statistics programming for oncology, it is not available off the shelf. If we want to access Japan anew, we cannot sell there all by ourselves. Ecron got us new capability in biosimilars, a booming area. They had done 10 new studies. It is easy for them to get the eleventh. Reaching $500 million is very transformative. We have seen companies stagnate before they reach this milestone.
We don’t want to overestimate our capabilities. If we want to run faster, we need a coach – which muscles to develop, how to develop stamina…
How has synergy with Ecron impacted Take?
Ecron’s FY16 revenues were ₹116 crore. This year, they crossed ₹105 crore in 9 months. To build revenue synergies, I have to apply my sales capacity, products and solutions I have and give a consolidated offering to an Ecron customer. This year, Ecron will see 30% organic growth, much higher than its earlier growth rate.