Quantitative IT Strategy Building
by Irene Kim
TechStrategyLabs, founded by Managing Partner Sumitro Sarkar in 2007, is an executive advisory firm that differentiates itself by using quantitative techniques and applied research to address complex IT challenges, including IT rationalization, restructuring, pricing, go-to-market strategy, and valuation of technology startups. Serving corporate IT executives, independent software vendors, and VCs, it helps clients to formulate strategies based on sound economic and financial analysis.
TechStrategyLabs’ approach enables IT stakeholders to address their business leaders’ concerns purely from an economic perspective. “If I’m a CIO for a firm,” says Sarkar, “how do I apportion my budget between tactical, ‘keep-the-lights-on’ initiatives, and strategic investments that help to achieve sustainable growth while responding to changing market demands, external pressures from competition, and internal cost pressures?”
A conventional consultant, says Sarkar, gathers data and generates a stack of spreadsheets. Sarkar’s firm uses economic and financial models based on conceptually sound premises to formulate solutions, enabling clients to create “a balanced portfolio of IT initiatives that maximizes their overall strategic value and also addresses the tactical needs of the corporation.”
Sarkar had substantial support from Johnson in launching his startup: Professors Vithala Rao, David Weinbaum, and Larry Robinson are senior advisors, and Professor Sanjay Sood was instrumental in branding initiatives. Sarkar also brought fellow Johnson alumni Christian Fulmino, MBA ’07 (E), and Samarpal Singh Bhatia, MBA ’06 (E), onto his initial management team.
The firm is steadily gaining traction as it proves its value to clients, and in 2011, it opened an analytics lab and business hub in India for Asian clients. Early progress wasn’t so smooth, however. The company partnered with a sales-development organization to grow its client base, but quickly found the partnership flawed; the incentives of the companies weren’t aligned. Sarkar cautions other startups to ensure that prospective partners are in line with one’s strategy and charter.