Ad-Hoc Information Management Policy is redundant today: Hitesh Gupta, Iron Mountain

We empower CIOs to build an end-to-end information management strategy in a data-driven world, says Hitesh Gupta, Managing Director, Iron Mountain India.

Heaps of data flowing across companies often makes storage management a nightmare for CIOs and IT managers. Iron Mountain helps them store, protect and manage information assets of their organizations. “The end-to-end information management policy needs more awareness than the prevalent ad-hoc approach across most industries in India, says Hitesh Gupta, Managing Director ,Iron Mountain India.

Excerpts from Interview.

Iron Mountain claims to be a leader in the space of information management. What are your key differentiators?

In this information management industry, we cater to customers with solutions for an end-to-end life cycle of a document. Right from sourcing of the document till the shredding or destruction of the document we are with the customers. That sets us apart from the competition as we provide the services in a structured way to store the document in a secured environment. We provide physical storage solutions along with digitization, document management, data hosting, and storage management.

It’s a very small industry (competing with our entire portfolio) with two major global players. Iron Mountain completed the acquisition of major competitor Recall in mid-2016 to strengthen global footprint, open up new markets and enhance service delivery. The second competitor today reportedly does one tenth of the present Iron Mountain business.

Does Iron Mountain provide solutions that are predominantly software based or do you dabble in hardware appliances also?

Around eighty to ninety per cent of our revenues come from the storage solutions. Besides being a software solutions company, our solutions are also physical in nature through our 1200 plus warehouses across the globe. When we store the information for organizations, it is an end to end indexing of the document including location of the document, warehouse storing it and other details.

Sometimes our customers require digitization and sometimes they require work-flow solutions (wherein we compete with IT/ITES companies). For most customers wanting end-to-end solutions from logistics of document to scanning and related solutions, we lead that space.

It is often said: People, Process and Technology. For us it is: People, Process, Technology and Real Estate.

With extensive data across companies, it is impossible for companies to store each document forever. How does Iron Mountain justify TCO of its paper shredding business to the companies?

The real benefit for the CIOs or the country managers of the companies is to save on the real estate cost ( which is becoming expensive by the day). Our best practices of managing the data in a secured way is a positive with users too. There are regulatory requirements in BSFI segment that require complete security of the information provided in a structured way of retrieving the information by our solutions. 

BSFI sector in India has regulatory requirements to keep records for eight to ten years in a physical state. Many MNCs, big corporates and big banks are using our secured shredding which is not cutting the paper process like other companies provide. We do this in a way that you can’t even read the information on the shredded paper. The paper shredding business is around five percent of the total revenue of the business, but we foresee larger growth in the future.

How much of the information do companies want to keep on premise in this cloud era?

Physical storage generally gets stored in the vendor’s premises. That’s the value for money as the real estate is very expensive. We have the in house scalability which is the key issue and now we manage that for our customers. The physical storage I see globally is getting outsourced which is a cloud based storage, but it varies as per customer’s requirement. We are basically not a digital storage company as there are bigger OEM companies who address that domain.

We have a benefit of real estate as the main pillar of our business. It is often said: People, Processes and Technology. For us it is: People, Processes, Technology and Real Estate. Iron Mountain’s real estate network (including datacenters) comprises more than 85 million square feet across more than 1,400 facilities in 45 countries dedicated to protecting and preserving the information of its customers. 

Any best practices for CIOs and their IT teams on their information management strategy?

It is more vertical based and need based in nature in India for our business. Hence the opportunity is big. Few CIOs understand the document information management well. For example in public sector and manufacturing sector, they have not been up there yet. More awareness and evangelism is needed from technology companies as a ecosystem. We recommend the companies to have their own information management policies in place. Many times, companies just take ad-hoc decisions to store the records.

CIOs should have an information management policy in terms of record management policies and work with vendors who understand their company’s business processes. For pharma industry it is clinical storage while KYC documents for BFSI require a different policy. Banking’s mortgage documents need different life cycle solutions. CIOs need to understand that fact and accordingly engage with a specific vendor for their critical needs and industry need.

What is the definite plan to have a dominance in Indian market? What route do you take, direct, indirect or both?

In India we have been operating from 14 major hubs covering ninety percent of the banking sector. Indian business is always the core of our business including the three companies we acquired in the last two years. We also have some acquisition plans to help us cover almost ninety percent of the geography in India over the next eighteen months.

Around 80% of our business comes from the existing customers and 20% business comes from new sales. In this business the direct relations work much better. To serve some customers we partner with big ITES companies and big IT conglomerates. We do work with tier II channel for our back office processing channels or we outsource some large contracts or some RFPs to them.

Which verticals are the early adopters for Iron Mountain solutions in India? Are SMEs on your radar?

Almost sixty percent of our private segment business comes from BSFI sector in India as they generally have heaps of important documents. Manufacturing segment contributes 10 to 15 percent of our business. We cater to healthcare, energy, entertainment, FMCG too. In the public sector (central and state governments) we cater to insurance, central government department, tax authorities though not extensively. The current government’s focus makes us believe public sector as the next big thing.

The major demand is majorly from large corporate but medium sized companies have their requirements for end-to-end document life cycle including work-flow policy, scanning and storage solutions. At present, 30% of customers come from small scale enterprises in India. We have a well-entrenched expansion plan to become number one in India in next couple of years from the present number two.