Nepali Times
"This is where you are, and this is where you want to be."

Lavanya Rastogi is the CEO of Value One, an integrated value chain multinational involved in consulting, outsourcing, technology and systems integration. It recently established office in Nepal, its 14th. Rastogi talks to Nepali Times about what attracted the company to Nepal and the challenges it faces here.

What does Value One actually do?
Value One's vision is simple. We deliver world class technology solutions with end-to-end delivery capabilities, spanning telecommunications, and the education, government and NGO sectors. We have over 250,000 users globally, and we are one of the few companies worldwide which acts at all levels of the value chain whether in R&D, services, next level of the product, technology, consulting, systems integration and training.

But why Nepal?
We look at Nepal as a beautiful tourist destination, never as a business destination. The Nepal market is just getting started, so business opportunities here are great. There is the right amount of raw talent but there are no local service suppliers. We can use IT for the progress of the country, not only as a tool to help businesses but also as a business itself.

To give a concrete example.
For example, RNAC might want to have a web-based customer-to-management relation, but they don't have a company that will offer them the right management solution to do that. Most of the IT companies here work excellently for small projects, but can't support projects like completely automating your provident fund department.

So what are the challenges Nepali businesses face?
It's complicated. We found good entrepreneurs, but they lack the longterm experience and vision to drive Nepal towards greater exposure and IT usage. They all agree IT is important, but they are lagging behind. The companies that tried to take the leadership advantage didn't have proper vendors, so they failed, burning their fingers. Now they're scared to try it again.

How do you intend to approach this?
We want to adopt the preferred partner approach. We want to help organisations at different levels of maturity in adapting the IT systems realise what they can do with IT. We are initially working with banks, educational institutions, service sector companies, helping them be more competitive and improve the quality of their services through IT. We tell our clients two things: this is where you are, this is where you want to be.

Other obstacles?
There are three primary challenges. First, the approach of Nepali business organisations is still a private owner driven approach, not a professional managed approach. Second, they've tried to adapt IT and had bad experiences in the past. Their impression is IT does not work and computerisation is very difficult and expensive. Third, is the availability of good technical manpower.

How do you solve these problems?
We're not only looking at Nepal as an opportunity. We're looking at Nepal as a responsibility to help people see what is possible if they adapt technology. We want to give people the exposure of competition and offer to hold their hand through it.

Doesn't that create dependency?
Yes. Hand holding can sometimes create a permanent dependency so systems only work if we're around. But we need to create three types of capabilities in organisations. One is process capability where ad hoc systems are streamlined. Processes are documented, people are trained in processes to follow to improve their work efficiencies. Second is to build people capability of accountants, clerk, customer service reps, managers, auditors, teachers educated in IT fundamentals. Third, is to create the IT systems capability. Finally, we do it all within a timeframe and hand over the system.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)