CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Siby Vadakekkara, Chairman and CEO, Marlabs
Interviewer: Briefly share about the inception of the company and how far its journey has been in India and other markets.
Marlabs was founded in 1996 as an application development & maintenance firm with a focus on healthcare. We have undergone significant transformations over the past twenty-six years, to where we are today, positioning ourselves as a key digital solutions provider by blending design, deep tech engineering with a layer of consulting. To accomplish the outcomes that deliver economic value to our clients, we leverage global talent with a culture of continuous learning and innovation.
Initially established in New Jersey, USA, Marlabs has expanded its presence globally, including multiple offices in India, along with locations in Germany, Canada, and most recently in Brazil.
Throughout our journey, Marlabs has catered to a diverse range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, startups, and mid-sized businesses, across various industries such as healthcare, Lifesciences, financial services, and manufacturing. Our strong focus on research and development has allowed us to develop differentiated capabilities in areas like AI/ML, IOT, automation, CX etc. enabling us to power innovative solutions for our clients.
Our journey toward becoming a digital solutions provider is driven by our flagship in Divergence™. Divergence™ is Marlabs’ digital innovation brand and ecosystem, which provides the digital, industry, and tech advisory services to build digital strategies for our clients as well as drive the best ideas that would get them from ideation to MVP at high speed and low risk.
Interviewer: How is Marlabs adapting to the changing technological landscape, and what steps is the company taking to stay ahead of the curve?
At Marlabs, we understand how essential it can be to stay at the forefront of the rapidly evolving technological landscape. Our motto is ‘driving digital agility,’ and that applies to both our internal practice as well as the work we do for our clients.
First, we have made significant investments in research and development (R&D) to identify new trends and technologies that can enable us to provide unique solutions for future opportunities and challenges. Our recently launched 37,000-sq-ft Experience Center in Bangalore serves as a collaborative hub for showcasing innovative technologies and exploring sustainable solutions (link).
Second, we prioritize continuous learning and skills enhancement for our employees. Through collaborations with leading academic institutions and technology businesses, we foster strong industry–academia relationships and spot young talent early on. Our commitment to talent development was recognized when we received the Talent Transformation Award 2023, with Martians having completed 3,345 learning hours, 917 course enrolments, and 389 course completions—a utilization at the rate of 89% of our licenses as against an average of 70% in the technology industry.
Third, we adopt a design-led technological approach, combining design thinking, agile methodology, and deep-tech expertise to deliver focused and efficient solutions. By incubating new technologies and applying them to real-world scenarios, we ensure our offerings remain cutting-edge. For example, we have developed a computer vision-based solution called Intelligent Text Extractor for recognizing and extracting text from scanned documents.
Lastly, we foster a culture of innovation, encouraging our staff to think differently and explore new technologies and methodologies. This has led to the creation of AI-powered chatbot platforms and other innovative solutions that enhance customer service and engagement. Our commitment to innovation has been acknowledged by Zinnov, positioning us as a “Leader” in the Zinnov Zones Engineering R&D 2022 ratings, among small and medium service providers.
Interviewer: What new technologies is Marlabs exploring, and how will they impact the company’s offerings and capabilities?
We view technology as an enabler rather than an end goal in itself. Our focus has always been on leveraging emerging technologies to enable our clients to respond to their business needs with agility. Our recent tech initiatives include utilizing ChatGPT for documentation and several other use cases in the digital product development process. We have an internal initiative to leverage GitHub copilot and competing tools to enhance developer productivity. Multiple initiatives around using open-source tools and inbuilt accelerators to maximize time to value for our customers.
By investing in emerging technologies, we position ourselves as a leader in digital transformation, empowering our clients to achieve their business objectives. These technologies allow us to offer innovative solutions and differentiate ourselves from competitors. For example, in a post-COVID scenario, we have helped organizations reduce their tech debt and accelerate their digital efforts, especially in customer experience and cybersecurity.
Interviewer: Can you discuss Marlabs’ plans for accessing new markets for growth? How do you identify potential markets, and what criteria do you use to evaluate their potential?
Marlabs is committed to expanding its global footprint and forming strategic partnerships with companies that can facilitate market entry and deliver value to our clients. With offices in the United States, Canada, India, Germany, and Brazil, we have already established a strong global presence.
To identify potential markets, we conduct thorough market research and analysis, identifying emerging trends and evaluating customer demand for our services. We consider where we can leverage our strengths in digital transformation, cloud computing, data analytics, and AI/ML above all else.
With these criteria in mind, our most recent strategic acquisition involved acquiring Monitora Soluções Tecnológicas. The acquisition will enable Marlabs to access new markets for growth, offering near-shore capabilities to clients while deepening technology capabilities.
Interviewer: How important is research and development to Marlabs’ strategy, and how does the company allocate resources to support R&D initiatives?
Research and development (R&D) play a pivotal role in Marlabs’ strategy as we strive to stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving technology landscape. We allocate significant resources to R&D to develop new technologies, enhance existing products and services, and improve the overall customer experience.
We have a dedicated team of experts focusing on R&D initiatives across various areas, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, and blockchain. To stay updated with the latest advancements, we collaborate with leading academic institutions and research organizations. Our recent recognition as the recipient of the Talent Transformation Award 2023 underscores our commitment to talent development.
Resource allocation for R&D initiatives is prioritized based on their potential impact on company growth and customer value. We invest in infrastructure, software, and hardware resources to support these initiatives and follow a rigorous evaluation process to select the most promising projects.
Interviewer: Can you share any specific examples of how Marlabs has successfully deepened its technology capabilities or accessed new markets in the past?
Marlabs has leveraged various strategies, including acquisitions, partnerships, investments, and talent diversification, to deepen our technology capabilities and access new markets.
For example, our acquisition of Extentor Tquila, a niche Salesforce implementation company in 2015, expanded our capabilities in Salesforce and opened up an array of new logos and revenue streams.
Additionally, our recent acquisition of Monitora, a Brazil-based digital solutions company, allows us to access new markets in LATAM and tap into rich technology talent while diversifying our offerings.
Furthermore, strategic partnerships with leading companies like Salesforce, Tricentis, Infor, and UI Path have enabled us to offer augmented tech capabilities and win new clients across industries. We provide a strong go-to-market with these institutions; coupled with our investments in leadership and technology hires, we can attest to our continuous growth along with a deepening of technological capability.
The company also prides itself in strengthening its organizational tech capabilities through proven courses on reputed platforms such as Coursera. In fact, in May 2023, Marlabs LLC won Coursera’s Talent Transformation Award 2023 – India.
Looking ahead, what are Marlabs’ goals and priorities for the next few years in terms of technology capabilities and market expansion?
Our primary goal is to be a world-class digital service provider with a strong focus on the mid-market segment. We aim to acquire companies that complement our solutions and invest in people, learning, and capabilities across a broad spectrum of technologies.
Our focus is on solving business problems by blending technology and creativity. To achieve this, we have been investing in diverse skill sets, including design thinkers, statisticians, and professionals with domain experience in healthcare and life sciences. By approaching challenges with a business mindset, we aim to become true partners to our clients.
In terms of market expansion, we will continue to evaluate potential markets based on market size, growth rate, competitive landscape, regulatory environment, and cultural factors. We will also consider factors such as talent availability, infrastructure, and technology resources, as well as local business ecosystems and partnerships.
All in all, our goals and priorities revolve around delivering innovative solutions, providing exceptional customer experiences, and driving sustainable growth in the ever-changing technology landscape.