Is the IT – BPO industry in India headed for a disruption? We have been debating this more often these days since we have been challenged by an uncertain business and economic environment that no one seems to be able to predict. Never before have we read news reports in continuous succession that go from one end of the euphoric spectrum to a gloomy end at another. People are confused. What’s going on? Are things headed south for a good long time or are they in a short term wait and watch mode? Is it specific to the IT industry or is it a reflection of the larger economic scenario? Are there pockets within the IT industry that are effected or is it the entire sector?
We have spawned an industry where not everything is easily replicable. Our knowledge base built over the years is our exclusive building block for next level of market offerings. Creative application of this knowledge on standardized processes and platforms is what will create differentiated services and products. It’s time to reorient.
Another thing – Stop thinking cost arbitrage, stop thinking few concentrated markets. Think about new ways of bringing value to mass markets at a global level. What we are saying is that instead of a geographical approach, we look at our markets in terms of offerings. These may be services, products or a combination of both. Decide locations not for purpose of deriving lower costs but for offering higher value.
The domestic markets are so ready and a perfect ground to launch path-breaking solutions in a demanding environment. Retail, Utilities, Healthcare are industries just waiting to lap up exciting offerings provided they show increasing value with augmenting scale. India is truly a market that demands inclusive approach for any success.
Outsourcing as a trend will continue to increase. Don’t confuse it with offshoring. Both have overlapping considerations but very distinctive reasons for existence and ecosystems for value-add. Neither of them have been unique to the IT industry nor was the IT industry a trailblazer for these. Outsourcing is done to increase productivity and enhance value, offshoring brings economies of scale for commoditized work and cost benefits. We have been market led so far while employing both models. We need to redefine our competitive edge for long-term growth and that should define how we leverage these models.
All of these are pointing towards an urgent need to reinvent ourselves. Unpromisingly, our market led evolution has shown scant evidence of that realization. That’s because we’re so horse blinkered on immediate results that reinvention/ innovation/ creating market disruption have been fallback options instead of those that one should be riding on. Problem is not the people. We have some of the finest. SME’s and entrepreneurs have already jumped in to take the lead in creating products that the new world of SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics & Cloud) is beginning to take notice of. It’s time the segment leaders showed more enterprise in charting new directions and ingenuity in channelizing their resources. Of all the industry advantages that would accrue with this shift, most transformational would be the creation of exciting opportunities. The sector has attracted some of the smartest, high energy and ingenious people in the country in the last decade and restricting their potential to mediocrity for lack of vision would be the greatest casualty.