By Vignesh Anantharaj , ,
In the summer of 2004, four friends decided to build an organization with a humble idea to serve with integrity and innovation. Bitten by the growth bug, the company grew by 8,311 percent from 2005-2008 with an aggressive approach to simplicity and smartness.
Today ProKarma, an IT and BPO solutions provider, has come a long way from a four man group to twenty offices worldwide, with 150 customers spanning three continents who consider the firm as a part of their team rather than a vendor.
"We have deliberately tried to create a flat organization where people work by objectives instead of titles. It is an open door policy," says Vivek Kumar, President of ProKarma. It would be impossible to relate such a statement from the President of a large company. It is usually inconceivable for an institution with 1500+ employees to sustain a horizontal organizational strategy without affecting productivity. But the exception to the case is ProKarma, whose employees are a passionate and rare bunch of individuals who almost always function autonomously with a keen focus on respect, empowerment, humility and passion which they have inculcated as their creed rather than their rules.
Business + Life = A Test Match
Co-headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska and Portland, Oregon; ProKarma was founded in 2004 by Vivek Kumar, Jeff Miller, Vijay Ijju and Manish Mehta with a desire to create a world class organization with an unobstructed view of how to go about it. “We believe that business is a test match and not a T20 game. You have to be patient, meticulous and have endurance to survive and thrive in a fast changing world. Our integrity, passion, compassion and ability to adapt make us who we are,” says Vivek, whose methods of management are as effective as they are unorthodox.
Having taken their chances at scoring sixes and fours and succeeding, the firm has procured its stay at the crease ball by ball with clever and smart-risk taking play. The successes have been incarnated in their ownership of trust with over 150 customers worldwide. The company caters to Argentina, Chile, Peru, Spain and over 27 states in the U.S. With delivery centers in Portland, Denver, Omaha, Hyderabad, Chennai and Buenos Aires, they consider customers as a part of a brotherhood rather than a client base.
EAM-Together Everybody Achieves More
ProKarma has been able to grow in a way that has allowed the employees to keep the nimbleness and agility to pursue new opportunities while maintaining resiliency during economic downturn. Having taken risks with successful outcomes, the company has incorporated an ability to pursue, balance and execute a wide range of projects on a global scale and support community-related causes and organizations outside of work with the same passion and focus.
Hence the team has built a reputation from their customers for not only being a Vendor but a co-leader and a prominent team member of the clients.
"To understand the man, you must first walk a mile in his moccasin." says a North American Indian Proverb. The company is a personification of this proverb in the way they treat clients.
Here are some quotes from ProKarma’s clients:
"One of the things that make ProKarma stand out from the rest is their ability to co-lead. They take ownership in our issues and co-lead initiatives with us, and which has led to an active partnership," says one customer that has been working with ProKarma for over 5 years.
"ProKarma is a valuable partner in our overall growth strategy and their unrelenting commitment to excellence is unparalleled."
"ProKarma is not just a technology partner for us, they are an equal member of our team," said another customer who has been working with ProKarma for the last two years. "They deliver leadership and strategic guidance that have helped us make the right decisions at the right time to be successful."
ProKarma is a strong believer that customers come first and Partnerships are the corner stone of their existence. This is the simplest of unwritten rules that are followed by every employee of the company. Understanding that there is a fine line between being a Vendor and a Partner, associates work passionately to be a partner at all levels of the client’s business. "We strive to understand our customers business before we try to understand their technologies. We strive to be an extension of customer's IT department. We are not afraid to admit our mistakes and work day and night to correct and improve," the words of Jeff Miller, CMO of ProKarma are self explanatory.
Be disruptive, not disrupted
With the world today in a disruptive phase, Vivek believes that ten years from now kids will not know what a DVD player is, CIO’s may not have any infrastructure in-house, there will be over five billion internet users and supercomputers can simulate the human brain. With technology accelerating at such a fast pace and many company heads recognizing that young new comers will in sometime add the same value as seasoned software engineers with 15 years of experience, it is only imperative that innovations which seem magical today will project a boring scenario tomorrow.
Usually a disruptive technology is difficult to recognize. As Clayton M. Christensen, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, points out after extensive case studies, "It is often entirely rational for incumbent companies to ignore disruptive innovations, since they compare so badly with existing technologies or products, and the deceptively small market available for a disruptive innovation is often very small compared to the market for the established technology."
But ProKarma knows that giving just the right amount of attention to Disruptive Technologies would be ideal, as too much application of it could lead to huge losses and too little would lead to missing the technology wave. So the formula is a combination of time trusted methodologies combined with foreseeable trends to create solutions and products that benefit the layman in the most simplistic and smartest ways.
Cultivate unorthodox knowledge
The company offers a broad range of IT services, prominently providing application development, application maintenance and support, packaged software implementation, infrastructure management services, architecture planning, migration and testing services. The unorthodox knowledge and experience spans multiple computing platforms and technologies, which enable the company to address a range of business needs and to function as a virtual extension of its clients’ IT departments. In this regard the Global Delivery Framework (GDF) was devised to extend services.
"The GDF leverages the thought leadership of our senior strategists and practitioners to support our clients and focuses on transforming our clients’ business processes to provide enhanced customer value and operating efficiency," says Vijay Ijju, CTO of the firm.
The GDF was formulated by Vijay and his team to facilitate ProKarma to adapt to any scope or business need by combining a distillation of industry’s best practices, standardized tools, resource expertise and geographic reach leading to promising consistency, transparency and quality practices with every engagement.
The company also boasts of the ability to augur the future technological trends owing to their workforce’s hunger to metamorphose according to the needs of the IT platforms. The recognition was only obvious and came in the form of an inclusion as a Global Services 100 Provider in 2012.
Innovation by design
With growth curves at a steady 90 degree angle, the company started making investments in Mobility at a very early stage and has come a long way since providing a Blackberry based app for the FIFA World Cup, South Africa. Since then, the company has assisted a large number of customers worldwide in embracing mobility in the enterprise. The leverage was given by the strength in building extremely complex custom web applications and a focus on process to develop and deploy equally complex mobile applications.
The applications built by ProKarma are used every day by millions of individuals. When someone remotely opens the door of one of most popular cars in the world via their iPhones or makes a reservation at a restaurant on their Android device, there is ProKarma’s innovation subtlety written all over the scenarios. That is innovation with mind-numbing simplicity.
The company’s innovative BPO services are relied upon by clients to eliminate financial stress in the utility and telecom investments. In addition to providing standard analytic data, the platform’s utility budgeting/forecasting functionality, weather-normalized reporting functionality and benchmarking capabilities enable clients to effectively track and manage utility spending on an ongoing basis.
The Utility expense management and Telecom expense management services cater to a variety of U.S. customers. The offerings are built on proprietary platforms developed by the company. "What sets us apart is the perfect combination of process (delivered by our amazing associates) and technology, making us one of top five service providers in these areas," says Anand Ijju, ProKarma’s EVP of BPO Services.
Tapping into the future of technology
Speaking of new technologies, HTML5 has grown to be a hot space to look out for in the coming years. With HTML5 providing detailed processing models to encourage more interoperable implementations along with introducing markup and application programming interfaces (APIs) for complex web applications, it is no surprise that the organization recognized HTML5 as a heavy investment option. HTML5 is also considered a potential candidate for cross-platform mobile applications. With India poised at the knife’s edge of a gigantic mobile revolution, it is just an implement and watch situation for companies like ProKarma before the contrivance rides the Mobile revolutionary wave revving up the Indian and the global economy.
DIYA- Lighting up lives
Over the last decade, ProKarma has been active in various social causes and organizations to give back to the communities in which they live and work. ProKarma lives by the adopted Mantra "You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give".
DIYA, a wholly volunteer based group within the company has been immersed in helping orphanages, disabled, and old age homes over the past few years. The team was actively involved during the Andhra Floods and recently distributed 10,000 notebooks to underprivileged children. ProKarma has been involved in humanitarian work by adopting families in need for the holidays, participating in food drives and taking an active stance to give back to the communities to prove that the extraordinary amount of privilege endowed upon the firm has not gone unnoticed.
The privileges have been earned by the employees’ hard work throughout the year and as recognition for their never ending contribution, the company emphasizes on a precise work-life- play balance as they are aware of the fact that all work and no play made Jack a dull boy. The ProKarma Premier League cricket tournament is a key highlight of the various sports events conducted in India. The global workforce is brought together for a range of fun contests all through the 12 months.
Acquisitions to pave the road ahead
The organic growth drivers include a comprehensive two-pronged strategy of growing the existing customer base with deeper account penetration while simultaneously building a new customer base in order to diversify the firm’s portfolio.
However, ProKarma believes that growth opportunities exist in the fragmented market in which operations are done to expand the businesses through selective strategic acquisitions. The company knows that acquisitions will enable to expand service offerings and offer integrated services to existing clients and prospects more rapidly.
In 2010, ProKarma acquired a majority stake in abc Consulting SA to strengthen the SAP Solution offerings and offer near shore services to clients. Mobile assets from Mobilepeople, a Denmark based company, were also acquired to enhance the mobility offerings of the company, now looking forward to ride bigger waves in 2013.
"The goal is to be a top provider to each of our strategic clients and be a valuable partner. We invest heavily in new technologies such as Enterprise Mobility and HTML5 through our Centers of Excellence," says Vijay, whose words prove that for ProKarma destiny has not been a matter of chance, but a matter of choice.