Started back in 1994 with the vision to make every business a smart business CompuLynx the retail solutions provider moved to digital identity over a period of time. Currently, the organization has two very distinct areas of business operations: one is a vertical i.e. Retail and the other horizontal i.e. Digital Identity which spans across all verticals including Banking, NGO, Education and Government with over 400 loyal customers in about 36 countries and offices in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kampala, Dares Salam and Dubai.
The company always strives to innovate in its own space. It has been recognized for its sustainable innovations in ICT Innovation and Social Equity and Poverty Reduction award by the Kenya Vision 2030. CompuLynx continually innovates in its core activity i.e. software product development; alongside delivering hardware products and services so that it is an end –end provider in every project.
Ground Breaking Retail Solutions
CompuLynx’s flagship product is its Retail Software Suite i.e. CORE and NEXX, a cloud retail ERP. The company’s investment in this product development is more than 1000 man hours of experience of Retail technology. In the arena of Digital Identity, CompuLynx is amongst the pioneers in commercializing biometrics by replacing passwords with fingerprints; otherwise biometrics and fingerprints were only used by various government agencies. Since the deployment, CompuLynx has made several strides in the biometrics arena. The organization has deployed projects using fingerprints, iris and face recognition for leading Banks, Insurance companies, Universities, NGO’s, Retail chains and County Governments. Currently, the company is testing voice as part of biometric technology deployment.
A Massively Experienced Leader
Sailesh Savani is the founder and CEO of CompuLynx Ltd. He has more than three decades’ of experience in business technology; evolving from a programmer to a technology specialist and now a Techpreneur, playing strategic roles in development and deployment of end-to-end solutions in various domains including:
- Retail and Customer Loyalty
- Smart Cards and Digital (biometric) Identity
Under his leadership, CompuLynx has expanded its product offering and grown from a two-man operations to a 150+ people enterprise spread in Africa, UAE and Asia Pacific servicing 400+ customers in over 36 countries. Sailesh has spearheaded several innovative technology development initiatives including:
- Development of innovative application for POS in Retail Ÿ Application of Smart Cards in wildlife park access & paymentsfirst of its kind in Africa
- Customer Loyalty programs based on Smart Card
- Application of Biometric Technology to replace passwords in business applications
- Development of Biometric and Smart Card based campus card solution
- Development of Biometric and Smart Card based Humanitarian Aid & Relief Benefits distribution for NGOs
Sailesh was also named as the Emerging Entrepreneur Winner and Finalist of the Year 2015 by Ernst & Young.
Locally Based – Globally Aligned
When it comes to challenges, CompuLynx is always competing with global players. Also the company believes the other challenge is that of investment that one needs to make in technology solutions development in order to continue to be on top of its game. The organization has to really match up against global players in order to become the customer’s provider of choice. To give the confidence to the buyer that it is as good as any global player is a challenge. And CompuLynx doesn’t always win that game. However, where the customer is looking for cost effective solutions without compromising quality, speed and agility, Compulynx ends up being the customers’ preferred partner.
For customers’ needs, CompuLynx locally understands new local challenges and nuances better, and its cost of deployment is much lower compared to the competitors. Further, CompuLynx is locally based yet globally aligned. Being locally based gives it the advantage of being right at the customers’ doorstep, to support and respond to any support need that requires a consultant or engineer to be on site within a shorter period of time. Being globally aligned avails the customer the advantage of global trends and best practices embedded into the solutions the Compulynx deploys for its customers.
From investment perspective, the organization has changed its model from Capex to Opex. So the company is moving its solutions to the cloud where the customers don’t have to purchase software upfront but paying a licensing fee over a period of time. This is a better proposition for the customers, and in alignment with what Global providers are offering.
Tackling Multiple Challenges
- When asked about what key challenges does the business face, the CEO had very positive remarks to make Attracting & Retaining talent in technology, lack of experienced and skilled resources: CompuLynx develops its solutions locally and in the course of the journey, the company has faced challenges in retaining good people particularly in technology side of the business. Most of its employees get poached by larger companies like Telco’s and Banks. While this disrupts CompuLynx’s ability to have continued delivery of services, the CEO takes pride in the fact that its employees are ending up in larger organizations to pursue better career paths. “we are effectively the talent training ground for larger organizations, and we have no problems with that”, said the CEO.The organization is addressing this by creating a pool of resources that it can access both in-country and off-shore by outsourcing a team so as to mitigate the risk of unavailability of staff at any given time.
- Cash flow challenge and political turmoil: The East African region having gone through elections in different countries in the past two years has developed a great deal of economic uncertainty. Governments cutting down on spend has a ripple effect and has hurt businesses across the region in form of strained cash flows, plateaued growth coupled with increase in cost of operation. Compulynx believes that its resilience has been tested in the tough times (that have already passed) and is now ready to roll as the economies begin to recover.
- Access to affordable capital: CompuLynx, like any other medium sized enterprise in the region, is faced with limited access to affordable capital that will catalyze its growth. It is currently on expensive debt capital from local banks. Besides, shareholders continue to invest their own capital and savings into the business.
Sustaining Competency and Future Roadmap
CompuLynx believes, innovation is the hallmark of its existence, and it will continue to help the company sustain. Also the company believes it has been fortunate enough that most of its customers have embraced its innovations till date. This accords CompuLynx the impetus to continue to grow and continue to invest in innovation. However, as is the case with every new product, there are many instances where the company has invested in product development which eventually never saw the light of the day. “You develop something that (you think) is innovative, and the market does not accept it. So you go back and start making new investments, new developments and new innovation. Such instances do not deter us from continuing to think of new product ideas and solutions that will help Solve Real Business Problems in a Smarter Way”
When it comes to the future, the company will continuously innovate and invest in technology of the future including Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – Technology that will impact Lives and Businesses alike, Whereas CompuLynx market share is mostly in East African countries where it is actively selling its products, the company believes it has an enormous potential to grow into other African markets, especially the Sub-Saharan region.
To support its growth strategy, CompuLynx will engage with private strategic investors who will bring new thinking into the business and provide access to the new markets through their valuable networks.
The company has been serving private and public sector clients across Africa, UAE and the Middle East providing solutions such as retail technology, digital identity management, as well as fraud and loss prevention products raising its group revenues to US Dollars 10 million in Fy18.
Compulynx’s Digital Identity unit, which mainly uses biometric technology, boasts a rich list of customers such as the World Food Programme (WFP), The Border Consortium (Thailand), University of Dar es Salaam, Kenya’s Equity, Family and StanChart banks, Orient Bank Uganda, and CRDB Bank Tanzania.
The Retail Technology division has helped transform several retail enterprises of all sizes from Large to Medium to Small and Micro retailers across several formats of retail including Supermarkets, Hypermarkets, Grocery, Pharmacy, Apparel, Fashion Accessories, Telco Retail as well as neighborhood and convenience stores.