Sudhir Kunder – Transformative Leadership in the Digital Connectivity Landscape

DE-CIX India | Sudhir Kunder - Transformative Leadership in the Digital Connectivity Landscape | The Enterprise World

The telecommunications and data center services industry has witnessed a remarkable evolution. Over the years, the industry has undergone dynamic changes driven by technological advancements, growing connectivity needs, and the proliferation of digital services. Furthermore, the surge in internet usage has fueled the demand for efficient and secure data transmission. 

As technology continues to advance and businesses increasingly rely on digital infrastructure, the scope for companies operating in this market remains extensive and crucial. However, what holds even greater significance is the role of the individuals steering these companies. They are the ones responsible for timely analysis of market opportunities and effectively marketing the right products and services to meet the needs of customers. 

One such leader is Sudhir Kunder, the Chief Business Officer at DE-CIX India, who has played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of this market. With exceptional leadership skills, he has been instrumental in steering this globally recognised brand to its current position in the Indian market.

In an Executive Conversation with The Enterprise World, Mr. Sudhir unfolds his journey of perpetual excellence, attained through dedication, passion, and most important of all – hard work. Let us dive in this insightful conversation. 

First things first, this has been a great pleasure to talk to you regarding DE-CIX’ founding and the journey. But before we explore that, can you start by shedding light on your professional journey? 

Over the course of my professional journey spanning thirty years, I’ve had the privilege of immersing myself in a multitude of industries, including Telecommunications, FMCG, Retail, and ICT. This expansive tenure has allowed me to function in various roles within esteemed organisations like Hoechst Schering Agrevo, Tata Communications, Tata Teleservices, Bharti Airtel, and Sify Technologies. My journey has been a tapestry woven with diverse responsibilities, P&L management, business operations, marketing, sales, and strategic partnerships. 

A journey alongside some of the most distinguished names of the country must have surely garnered you with accolades. Could you quickly share a few of your key achievements?

Reflecting on my journey, a number of notable accomplishments come to mind. These accomplishments include leading cross-functional teams to not only meet but exceed performance targets, fostering a collaborative culture, and cultivating long-term client relationships. Furthermore, my significant role in forging impactful collaborations that have broadened our operational horizons has played a critical role in our growth trajectory. 

Recent accomplishments

Our network had significant issues at the beginning of 2020, but we made significant improvements by prioritising and controlling the Transport layers. These efforts accelerated the availability of our services to customers throughout India, which ultimately increased our business due to service dependability. 

It was a significant challenge to bring Telco Partners onto our interconnection platform in the Indian ecosystem. We not only overcame these challenges, but they are now subscribing to our DirectCLOUD services through White Labelled Solution, resulting in a thriving business.

DE-CIX India has reached significant milestones and received recognition for its exceptional efficiency and significant contribution to the digital transformation endeavors of Enterprises, SMEs, SMBs, Telcos, and DC Partners. We introduced a work culture that encourages collaboration, trust, respect, accountability, and flexibility, creating an environment in which employees can thrive.

Within a short span of 24 months, starting on January’ 20, DE-CIX India became the Largest Interconnection Platform in the country. It focuses on delivering high-quality interconnection services and operates multiple Carrier and Data-Centre Neutral Exchanges. In the same period DE-CIX Mumbai, in particular, has emerged as the No. 1 Interconnection Platform amongst 153 exchanges in 29 countries across the Asia Pacific Region. This unassailable lead has been maintained for the past 29 months since July 21 thereby becoming a critical, crucial, catalyst for any Data Centres accelerated success and making them a magnet for National and International Customer.

DE-CIX India has achieved unprecedented growth in key critical economic metrics over the past four years, which serves as evidence of astute strategic acumen.

  • #RevenueGrowth: Experienced an extraordinary surge of 1XXX% in Revenues.
  • #EBITAIncrease: Achieved an impressive 7XX% increase in EBITA.
  • #DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) Improvement: Witnessed a substantial 630% improvement in Days Sales Outstanding.
  • #NewAcquisitions: Outstanding growth with an 870% increase in new acquisitions.

As a result of these efforts, market demand for DE-CIX India services has increased. Multitudes of Government, Private Organisations, MNC and many other notable organisations have benefited from DE-CIX’s DirectCLOUD and Peering services, which have been enabled and delivered.

The collective tapestry of multi business exposure has not only equipped me with a panoramic view of the corporate terrain but has also profoundly shaped my leadership philosophy. The amalgamation of these diverse encounters has undeniably been a driving force in moulding my approach to leadership.

We are sure, behind these accomplishments, your leadership has played a key role. And building on that, can you tell us more about your team and how have you mentored them to undertake some of the biggest roles in your organisation?

My approach to employee management is founded on the principles of empowerment and appreciation. I believe that people are the most important asset. This has enhanced my ability to collaborate with team members and stakeholders, as well as make difficult decisions. The distinctiveness of our team is derived from the wide range of skills possessed by its members, as well as their shared dedication to the achievement of our organisational objectives.

The cultivation of an innovative culture is facilitated by various strategies, such as promoting professional development through training initiatives, fostering open communication, and establishing a flat hierarchy within the organisation. We were able to achieve multifold growth year on year, especially during the first 36 months, without adding any additional manpower.

Coming to DE-CIX, please tell us about the company.

DE-CIX India, an integral part of the global DE-CIX International, has embarked on a remarkable five-year journey since its inception. As India’s Largest Interconnection Platform, DE-CIX India has played a pivotal role in revolutionising the digital landscape of the nation. 

Established in 2018, DE-CIX India set out with a vision to create a robust Interconnection ecosystem that would facilitate seamless and efficient Interconnection Services. The organisation worked tirelessly to lay a strong foundation, forging strategic partnerships with major network providers, data centers, ISPs, OTT players, DNS root servers, and content delivery networks (CDNs), social media networks, and national and international telecom networks.

As the country’s first legally compliant interconnection platform, DE-CIX India has been at the forefront of facilitating India’s ISP segments digital transformation endeavours. By offering a neutral, carrier-agnostic platform, DE-CIX India has fostered a vibrant digital ecosystem, enabling diverse stakeholders to connect, exchange data, and accelerate their digital initiatives.

The organisation’s best-in-class infrastructure and advanced Interconnection services have empowered businesses to optimise their network performance, reduce latency, and enhance user experience, as well as served a wide range of industries, including Healthcare, EdTech, Fintech, Entertainment, Gaming, Manufacturing and Distribution, Agriculture, and many more.

Over the last five years, DE-CIX India has effectively expanded its operations in key cities across the country, including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. In December 2019, we had 74 active customers. However, through consistent and dedicated efforts, we were able to successfully expand our network to 607 connected networks by December 2023. This is an unprecedented spike in customer on boarding at the global level.  

Establishing a strong presence in the country, and then taking it global must have posed you with numerous challenges. Can you tell us what some of those challenges were? 

In the beginning stages of DE-CIX India, one of the primary goals was to educate the Indian market on the significance of the interconnection platform and the service differentiators that a Global organisation like DE-CIX brings in. This was a defining characteristic of this stage. Significant initial challenges included establishing trust, successfully communicating our unique selling proposition, managing the transport layer, and getting data centre stakeholders to understand and appreciate the catalyistic role that DE-CIX plays in the growth of not only the economy but their businesses as well.

Paving way from these challenges, what would you say was the point that triggered the growth of the company? With it, could you also share some growth charts here? 

The pivotal moment in our trajectory of growth occurred when Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), Over-The-Top (OTT) Players, and Data Center (DC) Partners acknowledged the crucial need for a strong Interconnection Ecosystem to efficiently manage the increasing volume of internet traffic. The increasing demand for digital services has led to a heightened importance of our obligation to facilitate efficient and secure data transmission, thereby fostering the adoption and growth of these services.

However, one of the most significant aspects that triggered the company’s growth was our ability to quickly improve our network infrastructure in line with global standards between Dec’19 to Feb’20.

We observed exponential growth, but it is important to note that once this acceleration began, it has continued unabated not only on the revenue front, but also in terms of customer acquisitions. 

Pivoting to the products and services of the company, could you elaborate on it?

Our services simplify the connectivity between networks, which reduces latency and boosts internet speed by facilitating Fast, Robust, Reliable, Resilient and Secure Network. Users will have a much immensely better experience when interacting with this platform online because of how easily large amounts of data can be transferred between them.

DE-CIX India offers a unique set of services under the Interconnection Platform, which facilitates Internet Exchange, Cloud Exchange and Microsoft Azure Peering Services to coexist on a Single Access Port. 

DE-CIX has strategically located all of its Points of Presence (PoPs) within the Data Center Ecosystem. Customers benefit greatly from this, both locally and internationally. As a result, Reliability, Robustness, Resilience, Security, and Compliance are accomplished.

When a client begins working with our team of Experts, he receives assistance at every stage of the Life Cycle Process, including need prioritisation, education, feedback, and consultation in the selection of ecosystem vendors/partners, guidance on buying decisions, onboarding, continuous development, and advocacy for cutting-edge technologies.

Our hallmark lies in our unwavering commitment to delivering the highest service quality. We prioritise stringent security measures to safeguard data exchange and extensive network coverage, ensuring effective audience reach. Our agility in adapting to evolving market needs further sets us apart.

Building on this, how do you plan on taking the company a step further?

Like any forward-thinking business leader, I work on Customer Delight and Customer First approaches to determine a company’s path to service expansion and improvement through a combination of market analysis, technological advancements, customer feedback, and strategic planning. 

To begin, I keep a close eye on the changing landscape of Interconnection Platform and Data-Center services in India, keeping an eye on emerging trends, regulatory changes, and competitive dynamics. This analysis assists me in identifying potential market gaps and areas where their services could be improved or expanded.

Secondly, technological advancements are critical. I intend to facilitate the investments to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to reshape the data exchange and connectivity landscape. Staying technologically relevant is a key driver of their expansion, whether it’s implementing faster connections, adopting more secure protocols, or exploring innovations like edge PoP deployment and last but not the least Cloud Connectivity Solution across spectrum of SME, SMB and Enterprises.

Customer feedback is an invaluable compass for their development. I gain insights into areas where their services can be refined or diversified by actively engaging with our existing clients and listening to their needs and pain points. This could include streamlining processes, introducing new service tiers, or addressing emerging connectivity requirements expressed by customers.

Over the past two years, we have consistently worked towards influencing transport layer providers to optimise IPLC prices from 3.25 USD per Mb to 90 cents – 1.20 USD per Mb, achieving a significant decrease in the total cost of operations and facilitating the availability of our services to a multitude of customers across the SARRC region.

DE-CIX’s foray has caused a significant disruption in the Bangladesh market. Meanwhile, other telcos have also recognised the potential in Nepal due to our intensified focus on these two regions, which have resulted in their integration into the existing system. 

3rd and 4th providers have already launched their services in Nepal, and soon they will also be available in Bangladesh.

Finally, our journey to improve services is guided by a comprehensive approach that includes market analysis, technological innovation, customer feedback, and strategic decision-making. This comprehensive strategy enables us to navigate India’s ever-changing connectivity services landscape while providing value to our customers and maintaining their competitive edge.

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