Bharti Airtel Ltd, the country’s largest private sector telecom operator, is diversifying into information technology business.It plans to offer software applications on a pay-per-use model to small and medium businesses (SMBs) and enterprises.Bharti is in talks with large global software vendors such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Google and Jamcracker to offer different applications on a pay-per-use or software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, said Mr Jai Menon, Group Chief Information Officer, Bharti Enterprises. “SMBs are yet to adopt IT for transformation and we see a huge potential,” Mr Menon said. Bharti already has a partnership with Microsoft that offers hosted messaging and collaboration solutions for SMBs.“The SaaS offering would be rolled out in a quarter or two,” Mr Menon said, adding that the company had been planning to get into the IT business for over two years. Getting ready Bharti is investing in upgrading its network infrastructure and expanding data centres to power its IT initiatives. “SMBs are looking at IT solutions that increase their revenue and Bharti may need different skill sets at the front-end to sell IT applications on the SaaS model,” said Mr Pari Natarajan, CEO of the Bangalore-based Zinnov Management Consulting Pvt Ltd. Leveraging its countrywide infrastructure of backbone network and data centres, Bharti aims to play the role of “CIO in the cloud” for the SMBs. By offering the services of a CIO on a virtual basis, Bharti aims to support the CIO requirements of SMBs, as they normally do not have one due to reasons such as affordability and complexities. “We plan to provide IT applications without being a systems integrator,” Mr Menon said. Bharti has partnerships with IBM and Wipro and expects to leverage them. With improving connectivity and awareness, SaaS, as a software delivery model, is gaining momentum in India.