2013 Now

Voice&Data - - EDITORIAL - <ibrahima@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in>

At a time when it is more im­por­tant to know what is go­ing to hap­pen to­mor­row and how do we gear up, 3 year and 5 year term per­spec­tives are less im­por­tant. To­day, ev­ery­body wants to know what will 2013 be like.

A re­cent con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by NASSCOM brought out some very in­ter­est­ing di­rec­tions for the ICT in­dus­try for the new year. Be­fore I be­gin, let me share the con­fer­ence mood on a more fun­da­men­tal ques­tion that is on ev­ery­body’s mind to­day. Good to see that all the speak­ers—in­dus­try CEOs; large, medium and small CIOs; con­sul­tants, trade bod­ies—all agreed that mar­ket sen­ti­ments to­day are much more pos­i­tive than last year, and hence growth will be bet­ter. The gues­ti­mates ranged from 9-17% im­prove­ment in ICT spend in 2013. This is not bad, and I think is a good rea­son to cheer.

Coming back to key rec­om­men­da­tion of the NASSCOM con­fer­ence in terms of 2013 fo­cus. The first point, that also got al­most unan­i­mous sup­port from all at­ten­dees, was about the rapidly chang­ing cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions. Phile cus­tomers will be­come more de­mand­ing, they will ask for in­te­grated and holis­tic so­lu­tions in­stead of sep­a­rate IT, ser­vices, and con­sult­ing. Pric­ing and cost ar­bi­trage will once again be­come crit­i­cal. ICT pur­chase and out­sourc­ing will now be CEO level de­ci­sions. Large ac­count man­age­ment and devel­op­ment will be crit­i­cal. Cloud, so­cial net­work­ing, BYOD and other such trends will gain mo­men­tum.

The sec­ond was about the need for ITIITeS com­pa­nies to shift their game and fo­cus on choos­ing the right growth ver­ti­cals, have an in­te­grated so­lu­tion suite. Be­sides In­dia, the good growth mar­kets will be China, Turkey, Brazil, ASEAN na­tions, and South Africa. I am sure there are many more. The smart com­pa­nies will seize the op­por­tu­nity to build sub­sidiaries in th­ese mar­kets, and en­cour­age lo­cal lead­er­ship to drive it. Shift­ing gear will also hap­pen if we start pro­mot­ing and cel­e­brat­ing in­no­va­tion, and po­si­tion In­dia in a big way as a prob­lem solver, and not just a cheap la­bor coun­try.

The last fo­cus for 2013, but not the least, is skill build­ing. Things like in­te­grated of­fer­ing, in­no­va­tion, ad­dress­ing new mar­kets, key ac­count man­age­ment etc, will hap­pen not just like that. In­dia, in­clud­ing its in­dus­try, academia and the government will have to work closely to make this hap­pen. In­dia will have to scale up and com­pete on skills.

One hopes that most of this pos­i­tiv­ity is not coming just from the few busi­ness friendly lib­er­al­iza­tion an­nounce­ments made by the government in the last cou­ple of weeks. The fact is that re­forms will not mean much un­less struc­tural weak­nesses in in­sti­tu­tions and their sys­tems are ad­dressed. Ru­pees’ weak­ness could con­tinue in the coming year. Ex­ports slow­down con­tin­ues, and we could even see pro­tec­tion­ism from a few coun­tries. The 2014 gen­eral elec­tions in In­dia could add to the un­cer­tainty.

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