Piyush Pant is vice president of strategic markets at MetricStream, a Palo Alto-headquartered governance, risk and compliance (GRC) firm which was listed as a Deloitte Technology Fast 50 company last year. In October, MetricStream invested $25 million in Bangalore, India’s IT powerhouse, where it has a large chunk of its business. And while the city’s infrastructure may currently be struggling to keep up with its international tenants’ demand, Pant claims that it’s perfect for MetricStream’s unique workforce demands.
How active is MetricStream in India?
We are a global company, headquartered in Silicon Valley, and we’re using India to power some of the most crucial elements of our product development, and sales and marketing strategy. We base a large percentage of our innovation and R&D in Bangalore. And it’s largely driven by the availability of the right level of engineering skill, the English language capabilities, and the capability to scale – because the rate of growth we are seeing in our market requires our ability to scale out the underlying engineering and R&D capabilities proportionally.
India, for us, is not only a good hub of talent, but also a place where we have found that scaling is an advantage, because of the constant availability of fresh talent on the market and the general growth.
Also what we have found, is that for an international market, it’s also a good location to run elements of marketing, which is at the crossroads of business and technology. India – and Bangalore in particular – is a great base for this.
Other areas – Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad in particular – have begun to grow in terms of their tech industry infrastructure and investment. But Bangalore is still streets ahead. Why is that so?
Bangalore has been a good location because of a combination of factors. One is that, in terms of climate it’s favorable compared to other parts of India which can have extreme weather. It’s a place where, if you have multinational teams, it’s easier that elsewhere. A few years ago, when the infrastructure wasn’t so stretched in Bangalore, it was a good place to set up operations because there was a high availability of manpower; the quality of graduates was high; and the English skills in the local market were good.
There was also encouragement to attract foreign companies, all of which have made it favorable. In the NCR (National Capital Region: the area around capital city Delhi) and the north, those things are now happening. But again, if you look at places near Delhi, they tend to be very hot and challenging for western employees.
That allowed Bangalore to become established as a hub for companies which had gone there, in the past ten to fifteen years. Then, as companies were settling there it led to the establishment of an ecosystem, so pretty much the same dynamics as some places in the US or UK, where you get a cluster of companies that interact with each other, a little bit of a venture capital industry, which creates the space for startups to be created, and an energy in the environment that serves as a precedent. That’s what has happened in Bangalore, and it has led to the creation of this as the predominant hub.
What has also happened, is that Bangalore’s infrastructure has got more and more stretched. If you’ve been there recently after a gap of a few years you will have seen the amount of growth, and its impact on infrastructure. People have now realized that the demand for infrastructure has outstripped the need for a single location – so you’re seeing the emergence of hubs in other places.
Is there anything about governance, risk and compliance (GRC) that lends itself to Bangalore’s infrastructure?
I’d say yes. If you look at the GRC area, it involves two or three things that need a certain kind of skill set to tackle. The nature of risks facing companies are changing all the time. There are regulations to look at, cyber security breach risks, and so forth. In order to create software for that changing environment, to measure and quantify risk, it needs people with strong foundations in technology – but also strong backgrounds in the commercial elements of a business. And in a place where you have these come together, you have a very skilled workforce able to adapt to a changing environment.
For us, most of our software is aimed at chief risk officers, and executives in companies, who want to improve governance. Therefore the skill set we need for the people who construct the software is multidimensional, and part of the reason why we can lead the industry like we do, is because of our ability to tap the local workforce on both levels.
How do you think that India is reacting to the increasingly globalized technology industry?
I think there has been a general movement in the right direction, in terms of the steps taken recently to make the environment more action-oriented and faster in terms of decision-making, rather than focussing on process. It’s clearly a positive.
In such a fast-moving sector as GRC, are there any hurdles you see approaching?
I wouldn’t say hurdles, but there are certainly areas where it is possible there could be a shortage of skills. For example, one of the key areas the industry need skills in, is data science. Because if you look at the amount of data that is being generated in businesses these days – because of the level of automation and use of more technology – it’s very important to have people skilled in data analysis.
At the moment, if I look globally, that’s one of the skills that is in short supply. We tend to find it quite readily in Bangalore. But if you’re asking me what these upcoming challenges will be, I would say that if the growth rate continues we will need India or Bangalore to continue to provide a steady stream of these people. Globally, there aren’t enough people who know the subject well enough.