‘Analytical industry is poised to grow by more than 18 percent in India’

‘Analytical industry is poised to grow by more than 18 percent in India’

The analytical industry in India today is highly competitive and growing in double digits. Though very few players have been able to make a mark, Waters is one amongst them who stands apart from the rest. K V Venugopalan, President, Waters India, shares his views in conversation with Arshiya Khan

In the highly competitive analytical industry market, what are the critical success factors for manufacturers?

Technology leadership, customer intimacy and price are probably the three most important criteria for any company to be successful in the analytical industry (AI). Waters is certainly acknowledged as the technology leader in this industry besides being the pioneer and market leader in the area of separation sciences. With our focus on providing better than industry standard support to all our customers with a mission to make our customers successful, we are poised to be the most successful company in this industry for many more years to come.

In most allied industries, global players have distributors in emerging countries like China and India, who supply and service local markets. Is this true of AI market as well? If not, what is the business model?

The model of having distributors is fast changing in the AI. Today most global players are operating directly in India and probably in China too. Besides having very good market knowledge, keen understanding of our customer’s application requirements and deep technical expertise is essential to be successful in this industry and the only way to achieve that is by having highly qualified, experienced and committed field force which is probably possible only through a direct operation.

Advancement in technology has revolutionised the life sciences industry, how do you foresee the growth of the AI market and how will Waters contribute to the same?

AI is poised to grow by more than 18 percent in India this year and the growth story could continue for many more years. Pioneering a connected portfolio of separations science, laboratory information management, mass spectrometry and thermal analysis, Waters technology breakthroughs and laboratory solutions provide an enduring platform for customer success.

What are the major trends in separation technology? What are the challenges of separation technology market on a global scenario?

The trends are based on the challenges of our customers which are getting tougher by the day. Tighter regulatory compliance, productivity and cost concerns, time to market, tight labour market, lab space concerns, etc are some of the challenges being faced increasingly by our customers. Instrument companies who can address these concerns satisfactorily will also gain the confidence of the customers and their business.

How huge is the separations science market and where does Waters stand in terms of ranking? Tell us about the business strategy of the company.

The separations science market including mass spectrometry is approximately $6 billion globally and Waters enjoy approximately 24 percent market share.

Focusing on providing business advantages to our customers and helping them overcome business challenges forms the fundamental of our business strategy. This includes helping them improve productivity and reduce costs, defend intellectual property at the same time make scientific information more accessible across the enterprise, streamline regulatory process, etc are some of our area of expertise.

Who are the major global players in this industry competing with local players and what is their strategy?

In the area of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry there are no major local players, at the same time most global players are represented in India either directly or through distributors.

How does Waters take the technology further?

In our industry, Waters is considered to be the technology leader and customer success is our mission. When a product reaches the declining stage of its life cycle most companies stop investing in R&D and optimise the manufacturing process to sell it as a commodity at a cheaper price. Except for Waters, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) would also have reached that stage at a great cost to global healthcare, environment and water quality. We continued our investment in R&D and introduced Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC), which has revolutionised the separations market. Today all our customers can obtain superior results, much faster and at a fraction of the cost using UPLC. Keen understanding of our customers with purposeful innovation that makes meaningful impact to their business is what differentiates Waters from others in this industry.

Analytical solutions require considerable continuous investment. How do you then convince your clients to go in for an upgrade?

Our objective is to create business advantage to all our customers hence we only propose those products and services that help our customers overcome business challenges and create business advantage. Once we are able to show that the benefits of our proposed solution far outweighs the cost of the solution, customers see value and agree to our proposals.

What strategies has the company deployed to build brand loyalty and customer satisfaction?

Customer success is our mission. Waters creates business advantages for laboratory dependent organisations by delivering practical and sustainable scientific innovation through keen understanding of our customers concerns and challenges. Since most scientific instruments are highly sophisticated and support intensive, providing superior support is essential to ensure customer success. We achieve that by hiring highly qualified and experienced professionals, training them and deploying them as close to the customers as possible.

Your company recently won the award for Global Services Delivery and Technical Support, what were the parameters for judging this award and what does it signify for the consumer?

Waters received the 2008 ACE Award for achievement in customer excellence. The award is given by an independent survey firm Customer SAT in recognition of high customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customer SAT surveyed Waters’ new and continuing customers globally throughout the year on all aspects of their relationships with Waters, such as quality of repair, time to service and technical competency. Customer SAT also analysed Waters’ rigorous feedback and performance monitoring processes designed to meet customer expectations. This clearly reflects the customer’s confidence in Waters and in our ability to create business advantage for their operations.

What are your future plans in terms of investments (in India), which areas, expansions, and product launches?

This question about investments in India is very interesting and probably keenly watched in the media these days. Waters Corporation is the first company in the AI that started investments in India way back in 1988 by forming a joint venture. We are also the first company to start manufacturing operations in India and acquired 100 percent ownership of the company in 1998. With regular investments for the past 20 years for building infrastructure and manpower, we can proudly claim that Waters is ahead of competition that have started their highly published investments only for the past couple of years. We continued our investments and set up a centre of excellence in Bangalore in 2007 and also regional application labs at Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Waters will be introducing Xevo, a high resolution, high sensitivity Triple quadruple mass spectrometer in the Indian market during September 2008 besides continuing our promotional activities on UPLC, Synapt High definition Mass Spectrometer and various other high technology products.

arshiya.khan@expressindia.com