The India Union budget of 2011 was recently presented by Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee and India Inc. has largely hailed it. The Indian economy is on the rebound and the IT industry; the firebrand of modern technological India will experience substantial growth in near future. There is a talent war in the industry and every IT company worth its name is doing everything possible to hook up good talent that will set the company apart in the highly competitive global IT market place.
Leaders of the IT industry seem to agree on one point as regards to the overall changes taking place in the Indian IT industry: that the Indian IT industry is at an inflection point.
To take on the new challenges offered by the tectonic shift in how IT manages business in general, the Indian IT majors seem to have plans in place, although each one’s different from the other. Some companies are investing in developing new service models, some in developing new product offering, creating new technology platforms and some reorganizing their internal company structure. For instance, Cognizant has invested in creating a Cognizant 2.0 platform and Wipro has recently made structural changes to its management. Some players are also expanding in sectors other than there core strength such as healthcare and hospitality, besides strengthening their presence in the tradition banking, financial services and insurance.
Having said that, it is also worth taking note that there are three opportunity areas around which the entire growth plan of the India IT sector has been centred i.e. mobile, social media and cloud computing. But there is a missing piece, a fourth thing that Indian IT companies ought to think of, if there were to take their clout in the global IT scenario to the next level. Before I elaborate on that, let us take a quick look at the three areas of focus.
Mobile doesn’t only mean cell phones and smart phones, but other mobile computing devices such as tablets, slates, e-readers etc. This space is proliferating. In addition to the existing leading brands such as iPhones, Blackberry, Nokia, Samsung, etc. the space is getting innovation challenges from operating system makers such as Google’s Android. Not to mention the smart apps which seem to be hot selling products on the applications’ market-place. Mobile games are attaining new dimensions and there all companies seem to want the share of the pie, from tiny tech star-ups in Bangalore to Japanese gaming giants.
A different set of mobile devices that hasn’t caught the attention of the mainstream media is smart healthcare devices. Microsoft is also developing softwares (Ex. Microsoft HealthVault) that run on or integrate with such devices.
Mobile computing is in and the IT companies will have to have products/services around mobile computing.
Here’s the fun and equally challenging part! There is abundant literature on the web around this subject and within this blog post, I don’t have much to add. But some of the commonly faced challenges are around control, measurement, and monetization. Even after having so much content around the topic, companies are grappling with getting social media right.
I will be putting up some presentations and frameworks shortly to take a dig at grasping the entire picture. Social media is huge and there are many types of software trying to support the social media ecosystem. These software ranges from content dissemination, to content filtering, to large enterprise level analytics systems such as Google Analytics, Radian6, Webtrends, Omniture etc.
Going forward, companies who understand social media better than others, who develop capabilities to handle enterprise level social media marketing efforts, monitor-measure-optimize them and link them to revenue and ROI, will have the edge.
Famous New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, in his classic book “The World is Flat”, mentions 10 flatteners that shaped the global economy in the past 15 years or so.
I would insist that Cloud Computing is also a flattener. Cloud computing removes all the capital investment barriers by eliminating the huge costs for installing IT infrastructure for small and medium business, levels the playing field by changing the costing model to a utility based one and making scalability a matter of hours than a matter of corporate level broad meetings. Large global IT conglomerate including Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc. have invested in the technology.
Needless to say, Indian IT companies that develop expertise around enabling cloud applications for small and medium enterprises, establish smart and dynamic workforce around cloud implementations and reduce costs by rapidly progressing along the learning curves, will win in the long run.
Companies that have capabilities in one of more areas from the above, or ideally all the three will thrive in the market.
There is a fourth thing without which, any advance in the above by any IT company in India, however big and technologically capable, will not succeed. And that is “Digital Marketing”.
The Indian IT sector will not succeed if it doesn’t market itself brilliantly well.
Why did I mention only digital here? Because in the coming years, there will be no marketing without digital marketing. All marketing will have a strong digital component; at least as far the IT industry is concerned. In any case, we don’t know of many Indian IT companies that succeeded by doing TV commercials.
Good digital marketing doesn’t limit itself to only to good product demos and classy looking PowerPoint presentations. It encompasses all that and goes well beyond enchanting Prezis, engaging webinars, case studies, blogs, white papers, social media apps, industry events, framework, research papers etc. The secret lies in articulation. The Indian IT industry needs market managers who can articulate well, irrespective of the format.
Another valuable skill these marketing managers should have is knowledge of international marketing, global business management expertise and exposure to diverse cultures. An international business MBA would come in handy. Articulation should also be augmented by meaningful conversation, engagement, enchantment and long term relationship building ability. Indian IT managers should be able to talk as comfortably about Charlie Sheen’s last quote and US healthcare policy as about their outsourcing expertise coding strength. They should know as much about Groupon and Angry Birds as they know about backwaters of Kerala or the Mysore Palace. This new marketers should be as expert bloggers about new ideas in marketing as they are experts in nitty-gritties of Cricket.
Have any thoughts? Please comment on this post. I would love to hear from you.