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MindTree incubates employees' idea to launch new business

Bibhu Ranjan Mishra  |  Bangalore 

Launches Digital Surveillance unit with hope of making it $50-mn business in five years

Seldom does a company approach employees for ideas which can generate millions of dollar for its business. Also, many a times, ideas, what employees might be thinking as innovative, are buried due to lack of support and funding.

But MindTree, a mid-tier information (IT) services company, has not only invited its employees to become part of its growth plans by coming out innovative ideas, but also provided necessary infrastructure to convert these ideas into business.

The Bangalore-based company, which aims to achieve $1 billion revenue by 2014, has seen the first success of its internal programme, ‘5/50’, by setting up ‘Digital Surveillance’ business incubating one of those ideas.

As a part of ‘Vision 2020’ plan devised last year, MindTree had launched 5/50. The programme aims at incubating five innovative ideas, which have the potential of becoming $50-million business each in five years, from employees.

“Ultimately, the key challenge is how do we create the environment of a start-up within a larger company to help incubating such ideas. It consists of several elements — one is giving the flexibility to people to think, then supporting them to ensure that they address the unanswered part of it, and finally how to fund these ideas so that they come out with breakthrough solutions,” said Krishnakumar Natarajan, chief executive officer and managing director of MindTree.

The company said the idea behind the launching of digital surveillance business came from a group of employees after the 9/11 incident, when there were few Indian suppliers to cater to the homeland security. This is, in fact, the time when the Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) launched its New Millennium Indian Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) to fund innovative technologies that will take India into global map.

MindTree leveraged this opportunity and proposed the idea, which was selected by CSIR. MindTree also got initial funding at a ‘concessional rate of interest’ from CSIR to develop the digital surveillance platform.

Today, while the newly-launched business has already bagged a client, Bangalore City Traffic Police, many other cities have shown interest in its traffic management solution. Many Indian system integrators which provide digital surveillance products, using the platform and software of global firms like Bosch or Honeywell, are understood to be in talks with MindTree for the software platform, which is ready-to-brand.

Using MindTree’s encoding and digital stitching algorithm for digital surveillance, the Bangalore Traffic Police has deployed digital cameras at vital points in the city. Other than taking the videos of traffic violators, the system will help police to accurately access the registration numbers of vehicles, link it up with database and automatically send challans (fine) to offenders.

Since the Bangalore Traffic Police project was a proof of concept for MindTree, the company built the solution on its own, instead of taking the help of any system integrator to build the hardware elements. MindTree is working with various system integrators to built ready-to-brand digital surveillance solutions to cater to different sectors.

“If the customer is a bank and they want to deploy a solution to monitor human movement in a certain area in the bank in the night, we can built the system using our platform and software. The system will ensure that if there is any human movement in this restricted area, other than alerting the concerned authorities, it will also generate auto SMSes, e-mail or voice mails to them,” said Natarajan.

MindTree has already selected Hyderabad-based public sector undertaking Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) as one of its system integrators for the digital surveillance products. It is also in the process of roping in a few others. “We have already launched the platform, and are bidding for multiple projects with system integrators like ECIL. The SI partners can now take our platform and software components, put their brand and sell to customers,” Natarajan added.

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First Published: Tue, August 24 2010. 00:41 IST