Kamlaksha Rama Naik, better known as K.R. Naik, is an Indian industrial engineer, and an IT networking industry veteran with close to five decades of experience. He is widely regarded as the Father of India’s IT networking industry for playing a key role in creating the IT networking market and the surrounding channel ecosystem in India.
Over the years, he has pioneered several new businesses and distribution models as early as 1990, when IT was a nascent industry, and the concept of an IT distribution channel was just conceived. He is credited for giving India its first indigenous IT networking company – Smartlink Network Systems Ltd., which has been a local manufacturing success story for over three decades, Mr. Naik has been instrumental in introducing global IT brands like Cisco, D-Link, Foundry, Lanner, and Gigabyte in India, besides having his manufacturing and R&D operations. In 1993 he started new manufacturing unit in Goa under Smartlink. Then in 1995 he entered into a joint venture with a multinational – D-Link Corporation and the name changed to ‘D-Link India’, with a manufacturing facility in Goa and a corporate office in Mumbai.
Further, he introduced the Digilink brand of passive networking (Structured Cabling Systems). Riding on the back of a strong domestic growth curve in 2008, and a formal demerger with the JV partner resulted in changing name back to Smartlink and sharpening its focus further on its Indian brand Digilink and other businesses. In 2009, he introduced the Digisol Indian brand under active networking products. Mr. Naik was born in Karwar, Karnataka on 19th November 1947.
He completed his schooling in Karwar and later shifted to Mumbai. He is a mechanical engineer with a P.G. Diploma in Industrial Engineering and Licentiate in Plastic Engineering. He did a Business Management course from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute in Mumbai, which was sponsored by IBM. He began his IT career at IBM’s manufacturing plant in 1969 at Mumbai, starting as a Mainframe Peripheral Assembly Engineer, and thereafter worked in various departments, including product design and development. In 1977, he contributed significantly to the development of an indigenous line printer at the ‘Big Blue’ center.
He worked to develop indigenous computer peripheral parts of plastic and metal until IBM closed its Indian operation in 1978. After IBM closed down, he joined ORG System Ltd. wherein he was one of the 6 team members who developed the first indigenous line printers with a speed of 1000+ lines per minute.
In 1984, Mr. Naik founded his own company, Virtual Computer Pvt. Ltd., and was among the first to import a wave-soldering machine to manufacture printed circuit boards of PCs. Then he formed the new company Smartlink in Goa to expand manufacturing using SMT Line in 1993, Later, Smartlink had a joint venture with D-Link Corporation Taiwan in 1995, and the name changed to ‘D-Link India’. In 2009, when D-Link parted ways as a separate products trading company, his company name changed back to Smartlink, and has remained ever since. Naik holds the position of Executive Chairman in the company. He is also the Chairman and Founder of his own brand company Digisol Systems. Mr. Naik is a former President of the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT).