An Interview with Mr. George Savvides

By Syed Ali Azfar Rizvi
June 02 - 08, 2003



"The success of our organization is only meaningful when customers are truly utilizing the systems and receiving value for their investments." George Savvides, Regional Director, NCR.

The dynamic George Savvides is Regional Director of NCR for the Middle East and Africa region. He manages a region extending to 42 countries and has been involved in pioneering technologies in the Middle East and Africa region since 1978. On a recent visit to Pakistan, in order to explore future opportunities in IT, he talked about the future of IT in Pakistan and NCR's role in the arena.

Q: Do you feel that the economic environment in Pakistan, particularly with regard to the corporate sector, is conducive to the long-term success of your company's products here?

A: NCR has a long history in Pakistan since 1951 and has introduced new technologies early on to the country. Three to four years ago, NCR decided to renew its commitment to Pakistan, foreseeing a turnaround of the economy. Indeed these beliefs have been accurate and we have been successful in placing our advanced technological and business solutions to key customers in all industries. These solutions have significantly benefited our customers in knowing better their businesses and their clients. They can now take informed decisions, as they are able to analyze the historical information that is stored in a kind of warehouse, understand the different behavior patterns and predict future directions based on these facts. Our customers have started seeing a quick return on their investments, while at the same time offering better services to customers and treating each client as their only client. We are currently way ahead of any other company in offering local expertise in all the solutions we are marketing. So much so that the Center of Expertise of NCR Pakistan has become the implementation arm for all solutions and projects undertaken within the entire Middle East and Africa countries. This unparalleled local expertise together with our state-of-the-the-art solutions is putting us well ahead of competitive offerings. Therefore, the long-term success of our company's products has given us the foundation for success that is already built.

Q: In your opinion, is the state of the banking industry in Pakistan adequate to sustain the growth of your banking-related products?



A: Very much so. Big strides can be taken by banks to introduce new technologies, offer better and timely service to their clients by knowing them better and offering them personalized and more meaningful products and services. In the banking industry, NCR has been a long time leader in the automated teller machines, in item processing and in data warehousing and customer relationship management solutions. The number of ATM machines in the country is still insignificant by international statistics. In the data warehousing and customer relationship management areas, a few banks in the country have already started to benefit and get a competitive advantage from the technological power offered by the solutions.

Q: Which of your specialized product categories do you believe has the greatest potential in Pakistan?

A: The truth is that all our products can offer significant benefits to customers. However, in Pakistan as in the rest of the world, we have seen a tremendous demand for our data warehousing and customer relationship management solutions, not only because of their uniqueness, but also for providing timely analysis of the enterprise information for accurate management decision-making. The quick return on investment for these solutions together with the qualitative benefits and competitive differentiation they provide make purchasing of them quite straight forward.

Q: What is the potential of data warehousing in the country and how do you feel it can be exploited?

A: Data warehousing solutions become increasingly important, as the amount of information gets greater. Pakistan's sheer size makes data warehousing extremely necessary. This size also requires the power of parallel systems as well as a database architect for the purpose of analyzing huge chunks of data. NCR uniquely offers this power through its parallel systems and Teradata, which is a parallel database engine, appropriately named for its ability to manage terabytes of information ("tera" stands for a thousand trillion units or 1012) NCR is a leader in the number of data warehouses greater than 1 terabyte of information. Already NCR has a number of large data warehouses in Pakistan and this number is growing at a fast pace. The customers can bear tremendous benefits from data warehousing in all aspects of their business no matter what their size. The application is only limited by one's imagination or innovation.



Q: To what extent are NCR's education programs tailored to meet the needs of the Pakistani economy, as opposed to being generalized for the world?

A: With the introduction of new technologies, NCR localizes the education programs in order to prepare the customers and it professionals to take advantage of their benefits. To this end, last year NCR began its University Program where we have entered into agreements with leading universities in Pakistan to help them set up and offer curricula around data warehousing. Around 350 students have taken these courses. When these students graduate, they will be ready to provide expertise to our customers and to other organizations. Another program that was offered last year was the Teradata Certification Program that provides the ability for students and any other interested people to certify themselves on these technologies. So far 200 have gone through the certification program.

Q: During your visit, you have planned several meetings with government officials. What objectives were/are you hoping to achieve and were your meetings fruitful?

A: In all my frequent visits to Pakistan, I spent most of my time meeting customers and prospects. I have met with government officials and have listened to their programs and initiatives while I have given them an update of our company's progress in the Pakistani market. It was satisfying to continue to see that our solutions offer significant value and are being expanded to provide more benefits. The success of our organization is only meaningful when customers are truly utilizing the systems and receive the value for their investments. So all the meetings were quite reassuring.

Q: As one of the few IT multinationals promoting the cause of information technology in Pakistan, what do you feel has been the success of NCR's initiatives in Pakistan?

A: NCR is committed to all the markets it serves. To this end, we release to Pakistan the latest technologies simultaneously with other countries and assure that the local resources are well trained and ready to provide dedicated support at the time of availability. We have created in Pakistan a Center of Expertise for the Middle East and Africa region comprised currently of 35 professionals, taking advantage of the high standard and caliber of the available resources in the country. The significant expertise of the local resources, that differentiates us from other multinationals, has helped us in securing a good number of high profile companies who have already seen the proof of our claims. These companies are now excellent references and can vouch for NCR's proven capabilities in all the solutions within our portfolio. NCR Pakistan has enjoyed manifold growth in revenues since it has introduced its latest suite of data warehousing and customer relationship solutions in the country.