Teradata is an American company that provides analytic data solutions, including integrated data warehousing, big data analytics and business applications. Recently, Teradata’s Chief Technology Officer, Stephen A. Brobst, spoke to a few journalists in Karachi. Stephen is a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, which is a board comprised of 12 experts. The board gives recommendations on prospects for American investments that will improve citizens’ standard of life.
He mentioned when Teradata was moving its business to explore Pakistan’s potential, it was not a popular step supported by everyone within the company. Many were opposed to it for obvious reasons of Pakistan’s insecure environment for foreign investors. Much has to do with how Pakistan is perceived abroad as well as lack of measures by the government to attract foreign investors.
Teradata is a foreign company that came to invest in Pakistan on its own without any incentives from the government. Stephen said that:
“I was one of the people pushing for (investing in Pakistan). Everybody was running to India, which is bigger and certainly more advanced technologically. But Pakistanis are more agile with technology compared to Indians.”
Having this kind of confidence in Pakistan’s potential is just the attitude that the country needs from foreign investors who realize the real opportunity that lies in bringing business to Pakistan as it is a two-way route with both sides benefiting. It seems quite impossible for a company to benefit when times are constraint for financial growth and economic status of Pakistan. But Stephen has a different view on it too. He said not to confuse Teradata’s revenue growth with that of its clients.
“When the times get tough, they need analytics even more, adding the years following the global financial crisis, which wreaked havoc on big banks, were Teradata’s best growth years as far as its clients from financial services are concerned.”
Furthermore he explains,
“When everything is going well, nobody has to do anything different. It’s when the times are tough, they need to get smarter. And to get smarter, you need data. So tough times are generally good for our business.”
When Teradata first came to Pakistan, one of its first clients was the Pakistan government itself. Teradata helped the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) in establishing its data repository for citizens. Now data from NADRA is helping government authorities and intelligence agencies to monitor matters of security concerns.
When asked about data’s application in improving life standards especially regarding healthcare sector, Stephen regrets the insufficient healthcare data in both Pakistan and the United States. To provide better healthcare, sufficient data has to be supplied and companies like Teradata should be made use of.
Now Terdata has a staff of some 500 people with offices in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. Its clients include telecom companies, major banks, airlines and beverage companies. Teradata claims that any company in Pakistan that has many customers and large data to manage, it is safe to assume that it is all being handled by Terdata. Stephen says that they target only large companies, that is why there implementations are only in tens and not hundreds.
However, when a journalist asked how much revenue does Teradata generates from its business in Pakistan, the CTO refused to answer. The data that has been made public says that Teradata earned global revenue of $2.3 billion in 2011 from its businesses in 42 countries. For Afghanistan and Bangladesh, operations are conducted from within Pakistan by Teradata. Their next target is to operate for Sri Lanka from Pakistan, thus keeping its regional operational base in Pakistan and making it stronger.