Sunday, November 18, 2007

How IT companies can succeed in India?

In my previous blog I expressed things for the IT companies of Indian origin and headquartered in India. Here I share what I feel other companies who are interested in doing business for/ in Indian market.

Cost sensitivity
Whether you like it or not; many smaller Indian businesses who form a big volume of the Indian IT consumption do not like to pay as much for the software as what it costs today. They do not mind paying for hardware but general tempo is that software should come cheap or for free. I am not putting blame on them; but trying to analyze why is that the case. First, majority of business software readily available today is made outside India. Quite naturally, it would be catering more to the needs and operating environment of the businesses outside India. If such software fails to deliver value, why would any business want to pay hefty sum just for some conveniences or partial needs addressed? There cannot be any shortcut to address this but to tailor make products for the Indian market. This may mean:
  1. cutting unnecessary features: Windows Starter Edition by Microsoft is an example
  2. or re-design to take into account the market specific needs: EN3500 'First Made in India Router' by BA Systems is a good example.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How Indian IT companies can thrive?

Conventional wisdom says that the companies that have been successful in their domestic market only flourish in the global markets. Take any successful company and you will find this to be true. The way Indian IT service provider companies have grown may be an exception to this. The question is for how long that can continue in the future?

The Indian service providers have proven themselves beyond doubt in terms of cost, agility and quality advantages. All the while they have also been sensitive to external factors such as INR-USD conversion rate, increasing cost of of doing business in India, talent acquisition and retention and the turning into a commodity business as a result of domestic competition catching up and offering more or less the same level of services. Ask anyone from these service providers how customers cleverly position one provider against another to get the best deals on a continued basis! It is fierce.

Though offering services has been their main business and expertise, in my personal opinion, these businesses and any other Indian company should explore the following to continue stellar growth:

Invent the domestic market:

Agreed, the market was almost non-existent until recently when IT is being adopted by Indian businesses and government. Innovation lies in creating and fueling this market by understanding the unique needs instead of making the market/ masses to adopt to the technology that is not designed or meant for them. Lead ideas to users instead of hoping to lead customers to existing technology. As an example, few years ago in one of my jobs I had proposed creating a peripheral device that can recognize hand-written scripts. Such a device could be connected to any computing host that needs human input using standard interfaces such as Bluetooth or USB. It can replace standard 101-key keyboards. It can also dub as a touch-pad for the mouse pointer. This would make computers more accessible and acceptable for a majority of Indian mass who either do not know English script or are comfortable using their native script for communication. The same product can be successful even outside India where non-English script is preferred. Similar could be applied to creating solutions for Indian needs. Web based matrimonial sites is an example of successful innovative service offering using technology. Indians have succeeded in creating multiple startup companies. So there is no doubt now that they cannot think creative.

Create niche:

Quality levels and ability to communicate effectively in English seem to be one unique selling points for Indian companies so far. Competition will catch up some day—it's only a matter of time. In my opinion, it is better to be extremely good at doing a chosen few things instead of trying to provide everything with lower expertise and quality and always trying to catch up. Only then these businesses can think of customers considering them as consulting firms higher in the value chain. Jack of all trades approach dilutes individual focus of employees. It renders them not good for anything and lower levels of job satisfaction.