Posted by: Manjeet Krpalani on February 13, 2008
Nasscom’s annual conference held in Bombay has become a must-go event for people in the business. Over the years, it has attracted not just people in the tech business in India and globally, but recently, customers have begun showing up at the conference.
Usually, the buzz is about India and how great it is in the global IT space.
This year, the buzz was different: it was about how India has grown complacent and how it could lose its place in the global IT space.
Truly, Indian tech companies have done very well for themselves, but with all their business focused on exports, they have not thought about the domestic market – which has been stolen from under their noses by companies like IBM, EDS and Accenture. These companies value India as a market, not just as a source of cheap talent.
The mood of the conference seemed to have been sensed by the rather unusual but dazzling trio of keynote speakers to inaugurate the conference: Ginni Rometty, head of IBM’s global business services, which brings in about 18% of IBM’s revenues; Anand Mahindra, chief executive of tractor and tech producer Mahindra & Mahindra; and Nandan Nilekani, co-chairman of Infosys Technologies.
Mahindra got straight to the point, talking about the great first step the industry took to create the remote global outsourcing model, but that Indian companies had to reinvent themselves beyond exports and look to local business. IBM’s Ginny Rometty explained how important it was for companies to innovate, to stay alive and keep talent. Pockets of expertise are growing around the world thanks to outsourcing, she said, and “companies in these countries need to train their employees to be global citizens.”
By the time Nandan Nilekani began to speak, he had little choice but to defend his industry – and how much it has helped India and its democracy over the years.
Agreed, India has become more electronic than it ever was, but it was the country’s entrepreneurs which made the take off happen, not India’s tech companies per se.