25 years on, the best is yet to come, says V. K. Mathews

IBS Software, which is celebrating its silver jubilee milestone this month, has been closely working with some of the leading airlines in the world to manage their mission-critical operations

by

Issac John

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V. K. Mathews, founder and executive chairman of IBS Software, believes that his company’s commitment to innovate and re-engineer customers’ businesses using next-generation technology has been critical in scripting its success story as a game-changer in the travel technology sector.
V. K. Mathews, founder and executive chairman of IBS Software, believes that his company’s commitment to innovate and re-engineer customers’ businesses using next-generation technology has been critical in scripting its success story as a game-changer in the travel technology sector.

Published: Mon 3 Oct 2022, 6:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Oct 2022, 6:43 PM

IBS Software, a leading technology solutions provider for the global travel sector, expects to further consolidate its business operations in the Middle East as it embarks on the next 25 years of journey.

The Dubai-based founder and executive chairman of IBS Software, V. K. Mathews, who started his entrepreneurial journey a quarter-century ago after a long stint with Emirates Group in its IT division, believes that his company’s commitment to innovate and re-engineer customers’ businesses using next-generation technology has been critical in scripting its success story as a game-changer in the travel technology sector.


The travel technology giant, which is celebrating its silver jubilee milestone this month, has been closely working with some of the leading airlines in the world, including those in the Middle East, helping them to manage their mission-critical operations.

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Mathews speaks about the evolution of the company as an innovative technology solutions provider that could “redefine the travel, transportation, and logistics industry business.”


He shares his aspirations going forward, insisting that “the best is yet to come.”

Most leading airlines in the Middle East are your customers. Can you explain the kind of services that you offer to them?

The Middle East has been an important market for IBS right from the beginning. Almost all major airlines in this region use our software platforms to manage their mission-critical operation. Our systems power cargo management, passenger reservation & loyalty programme, crew optimization & tracking, and fleet planning to ensure optimal business operations and passenger experiences.

IBS Software is celebrating its silver jubilee this month. Is this a deeply satisfying milestone for you?

Yes, indeed fulfilling. A significant landmark too, considering that the travel industry badly needed the support of modern technologies to innovate and transform, but there weren’t real options available. We were determined to plug this gap by becoming an enterprise SaaS software company for the travel industry. One reason for our longevity is the single-minded focus on our core purpose – ‘redefine the travel business.’ Technologies and systems will change, but the need for our customers to stay ahead of the competition will not. For this, we help them innovate and re-engineer their businesses using the next gen technology. Our strategy is to help them achieve their business goals by improving revenue and market share, optimizing the cost of operation, enhancing efficiency, and providing a differentiated experience for their customers. I look back at what IBS Software has contributed to the travel industry over the past 25 years with immense pride and satisfaction. But I believe that our best is yet to come.

What prompted you to become an entrepreneur?

I never dreamt of being an entrepreneur after I graduated from IIT Kanpur. But the world of technology fascinated me, and in my first job, I was teaching defence personnel how to use computer technology. From there, I transitioned to the travel industry by working first with Air India and then with the Emirates Group in their IT divisions for over 15 years. This brought me closer to the challenges facing the industry. While airlines were early adopters of technology, they did not invest enough to keep pace with the rapidly changing digital landscape. Consequently, airlines were saddled with inflexible legacy systems over time which held the industry back. It became very clear to me that for airlines to compete and succeed they would need to be more agile by adopting advanced technologies. This was when I decided to start my own venture.

How has the journey been so far?

IBS Software was confronted with huge challenges in the initial phase. In the first few years came the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, the economic slow-down post 9/11, and the spread of the SAARS virus. All this affected the airline industry, setting us back. But once the external circumstances improved, we slowly gained market traction and invested significantly in R&D to improve our offerings. We also made seven strategic acquisitions in the US, Canada, Europe, and India enhancing our domain expertise, widening our product portfolio, and increasing our leadership bandwidth. We created highly valuable software assets, nurtured a world-class team, and earned the trust of the industry by delivering on our commitments.

Where is IBS Software now?

Although the technology for the airline industry is our mainstay, we have forayed into other areas of travel & transportation, including the hospitality business, the cruise industry, and logistics for upstream oil & gas exploration and production. Today, we serve over 200 clients worldwide, which include some of the biggest airlines, busiest airports, top oil & gas companies, leading cruise lines, and renowned hotel groups in the world. IBS’ business operation spreads across all geographies, employing over 3,500 professionals from 30 nationalities. Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity company, is an investor in IBS Software.

You said your mainstay is the airline industry. How prominent are you in this domain?

IBS Software employs a platform-based SaaS service model to comprehensively address the technology needs of the airline industry, including airline passenger services, cargo and logistics operations, flight and crew operations, airport operations, and aircraft maintenance engineering. Today, no other single enterprise in the world offers the range of IT products to the aviation industry as IBS Software. Our innovative solutions are used by over 50 airlines including 10 of the 15 largest in the world. We are technology leaders for the global air cargo operations and passenger loyalty management.

What role do you envisage for technology in the airline industry going forward?

Most businesses are evolving into technology businesses, meaning that for companies to survive and succeed they must use technology more intensely than before. The pandemic has only accelerated this trend. The airline industry is no different. In a digitally connected world of thousands of travel suppliers and billions of consumers, the business focus is shifting from the supply side to the demand side. Travel companies will have to personalise their offerings to give the consumers what they want rather than what they have. As the industry recovers from the pandemic and pent-up demand manifests, there is a need to make travel better than just safer. All of these mean that the role of technology is becoming more prominent in the airline industry than ever before. Going forward, the value of an enterprise will tilt more towards digital assets than physical assets. In other words, digital assets will become as important if not more important than physical assets. Clearly, the success of travel companies will depend on increasing the technology intensity in businesses to drive innovation.

– issacjohn@khlaeejtimes.com



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