HARMAN India: Making Waves In Car-Infotainment Space

With a workforce of 8,600 people, the India wing forms the largest employee base for HARMAN.

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Finding Fortune 500 HARMAN International, estimated to be a $6.9 billion company, deals in connected technological products for automakers and lifestyle audio worldwide. With a workforce of 8,600 people, the India wing forms the largest employee base for HARMAN. Pradeep Chaudhary, country manager, HARMAN India, reveals more

How has HARMAN India contributed to the overall growth story of HARMAN International?

We have large development centers across seven cities, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai, Coimbatore and Hyderabad; a manufacturing facility and a Car Lab in Pune. Recently, we have also setup "Centre of Competence', R&D unit, for our lifestyle audio business division in Bengaluru in August 2016. In 2015, HARMAN India was one of the top contributors of IDRs and patents for the company, globally. The R&D team from the connected cars business division, in particular, has played a significant role, which has recently designed cost-friendly, Saras and Nalanda -- two connected cars' platforms. Bangalore and Pune centers produce solutions for original equipment manufacturers, like TATA Motors, Volkswagen and Fiat.

The team in India also develops algorithms and software for sound mixing during large events, which includes The Grammy awards. To top it off, intelligent algorithms for "cloud-based applications' and "Internet of Things' are also written here.

What are your thoughts on Make in India?

The "Make in India' initiative fits perfectly well with HARMAN India's growth plan. We have invested $10M in building a manufacturing plant in Pune that specializes in advanced navigation, intuitive user interfaces, integrated audio, device connectivity, cyber security and connected safety. This plant employs more than 180 people and has a production capacity of 400,000 car sets per annum.
We have generated successful innovations in emerging markets and then exported that knowledge and innovations to the developed countries. Determined to build a low-cost design and manufacturing platform, we made radical changes in key areas. The team set an ambitious goal to create products, whose functionality would resemble existing infotainment systems, but at half the price and one-third the cost.

Who all form the institutional clients of HARMAN India?

With leading brands as clients, such as AKG, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson and Revel, HARMAN India is highly respected by audiophiles, musicians. Under "lifestyle audio and professional audio solution', globally, 80 per cent of recording studios are enabled by HARMAN. 66 per cent of the cinemas worldwide use HARMAN products. In India, Wonderla's (amusement parks) and Kingdom of Dreams and 80 per cent of cinema halls use HARMAN products. We have our systems in nearly 100 AIR broadcast stations across the country. Our products, meant for public announcement, are running successfully at the Bengaluru International Airport, Tirupati Airport, Gurgaon Metro Station, and the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

Under-connected car business, more than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and connected car systems. Moreover, our services power billions of mobile devices and systems, those are connected, integrated and secure across all platforms, from work and home to car and mobile. Which all Indian auto manufacturers have you tied up with so far?

We assemble "Connected Cars' solutions for OEMs, such as TATA Motors, Fiat and Volkswagen. These intelligent and cutting edge solutions have more features at a lower cost. Our team has achieved this by simplifying the software and migrating to more open-source software technologies, which allowed us to reduce memory footprint and perform better. Is HARMAN planning to work with start-ups in areas of innovation or any other?

We are open to the idea. Some young minds from several start-ups are creating path breaking innovations and we will be happy to work with them. Currently, we are evaluating on the kinds of association which can boost our business goals.

What's your current distribution model in India?

In India, we have partnered with Sahil International for all our lifestyle products and with Dev electronics for our professional range.How many exclusive showrooms HARMAN has in India?

As of now, we have nine JBL and six HARMAN/Kardon stores across India. We are always planning on expanding our presence.

What are your expansion plans for the Indian market?

Our CEO says, "India looks to be becoming the centre of HARMAN's growing ambitions!" HARMAN India was launched in 2009 and has been at the core of our innovations and transformation, from a hardware-focused company to a software and services-driven business.

At present, we are investing in a few key areas in India– we are developing world-class R&D centers and scaling up manufacturing capabilities for our "Connected Car and Connected Services' business. We recently launched the "Centre of Competence' for lifestyle audio in India. The new CoC will focus on developing robust and scalable software solutions for the company's consumer and car audio business. We are also looking at expanding our retail and online presence and increasing our services footprint for our lifestyle and professional audio unit.

HARMAN is eager to tap into exciting opportunities that the India market has to offer, from talent to technologies to consumer markets, and looks forward to being a part of the country's social and commercial growth journey.

Which are the new products to be launched this festive season?

We have recently announced the launch of two new products in our lifestyle audio category- the HK Go+ Play Mini and the JBL Clip 2.

(As told to Nishi Kumari)

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