Ketan Barai reigned as what he called himself as ‘Surgeon of Networking’ for past two decades in the Indian IT industry. Barai, MD of KayBee IT Solutions was Cisco’s first Tier 2 reseller in India and held the number one partner position for 3COM in the country from 1997 to 2003. He is now into networking of a different kind.
Barai is actively involved in HR services of tech executives across distributors, vendors and partners of IT industry. The man who made millions as a SI in the nineties is now empowering IT executives to do the same. And, in turn, ensure that IT companies hire the best talented executives. With PC resellers entering networking business by the day, it makes little sense to invest more in SI (Systems Integration) business today, he says.
Last year, Barai realized his long-term business relationships in the IT market were ripe enough to be nurtured for a new business venture. “I have been recommending IT executives to distributors and vendors on a friendly note since a decade or so,” he informs. Barai sensed an opportunity to monetize his IT experience and domain expertise and launched KayBee HR Consultancy (a division of KayBee IT solutions).
Formed in January 2012, the company has placed middle and top management executives across dozen odd IT vendors and distributors across different Indian cities. “Close to 3000 plus jobs change hands including addition of new jobs in IT channel space. If we can capture 5 percent of this job pie in next 12 to 18 months, it would be a profitable achievement,” says an optimistic Barai.
HR versus SI
With market goodwill and a brand name in itself, Ketan Barai is synonymous with KayBee. Staying connected with IT world was the prime intention for the foray into HR business, he says.
In early 2011, KayBee realized that it was not worth investing into SI business amidst dwindling profit margins, growing vendor targets and intense market competition. “Many new vendors were flooding the market with large number of partners leading to under cutting of prices. The rise in manpower costs, attrition woes, and training and certification investments just ate into the revenues,” he says.
Today, most partners cannot practically invest with different vendors across various technologies and manage healthy bottom lines.” An enterprise customer today expects you to be one stop shop for all technologies. They want the number one technology at the least possible rate with impeccable SLAs.
Barai, who was into real estate business since 2004, decided to pursue it fulltime. But he soon realized that he was not needed to put in more that 10 to 12 hours a week on an average. “My core strength was IT and with time on my hand, I decided to nurture my relationships in the market,” he says. And that is when KayBee HR Consultancy was born.
Compare business models of HR with SI and Barai replies, “It provides a platform for different things including manpower resources without heavy investment and sales target pressures (as in SI business). Scalability and Margins are the huge driving factors in this business vis-à-vis SI business.
KayBee IT Solutions is not exiting traditional SI business but there is no race to hunt for new enterprise customers since April 2011. “We outsource project orders of existing customers through competent channel partners. We are not investing anymore in manpower, training, etc., in the SI business.”
What’s the USP?
KayBee HR Consultancy would soon be launching a web portal to facilitate manpower recruitment in IT field. “A distinct change from existing e-commerce job sites will be the confidentiality of the employer and employee. No names will be displayed but at the backend there will be seamless communication between two sides.”
“Having worked in the IT market since two decades, I have the knowledge and expertise to find the right candidate for the right job at the right company. That is my USP against other HR consultancy firms to execute the ‘right match making’. The motto is to help the industry grow with right kind of pool of talent,” states Barai.
Besides charging a nominal fee to the employer, Barai personally does a due diligence about a candidate’s resume in terms of the basic profile, market feedback and his or her goodwill in the market. “Been in the industry, I have a fair sense of judgment about the candidate’s perception in the market, which might not be reflected in the resume at times.” A follow up is done through a conference call with employer and employee. After many checks and balances, the candidate is recommended as per Barai.
Big ‘Profitable’ Plans
At present, KayBee HR Consultancy is conducting placements of pre-sales and sales people across the IT companies but there is plan to extend it to technical employees too.
“No risks only rewards” is how Barai describes this new business venture.
“The investment was minimal as I introduced my foray into HR through emails and social networking site to my contact lists. We would however indulge in marketing and advertising activities soon,” he says.
Attrition is a huge problem across all industries and IT world is no different. The fervent movement of IT executives across middle and top management means more business for HR firms like KayBee HR Consultancy. However Barai maintains, “I have always invested in relationships in my life and the business was always incidental.”
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