Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom



Meet three bright entrepreneurs, all with substantial experience in the US and stars in their eyes as they build software organizations that have everything an entrepreneur or even a VC would love to see–a great value proposition, an excellent team and a clear P2P (path to profitability). Chirag’s firm Net4Nuts has established a firm base in the wireless space with an excellent framework supported by a services group that can deliver state-of-the-art solutions anywhere in the world. Saumil and his Netsquare team are a force to reckon with in the area of information security and their focus on research, training, and consulting has won them international laurels. And Kaushal has quickly ramped up a true BPO outfit–Motif–to over 300 people with marquee customers and a vibrant team that has tasted success and is raring for growth.

“It will not be long before ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ becomes a reality, at least for the IT industry”

Ganesh
Natarajan

One would expect to find this trio in Silicon Valley or in any of the known heartlands of Indian entrepreneurship, but hold your breath, all three and indeed a dozen or so of their brethren are building their companies in a state not long ago ravaged by earthquakes, floods and riots–Gujarat! In the city of Ahmedabad, a quiet revolution is taking place and it will not be long before the excellent human resources, infrastructure and global connectivity catches the eyes of the investor. 

The development of IT in smaller towns is truly a welcome development and as Nasscom spreads its wings across the country, there will be opportunities galore for cities and towns with the right mix of entrepreneurial commitment, academic involvement and government support. Recently, a seminar organized by the CII’s IT and BPO forum in Mumbai on the challenges facing the BPO sector showed that the attrition levels in the big cities are assuming alarming proportions and while the rapid development of campuses in cities like Pune, Mangalore and Trivandrum may take some of the load off the major metros, it will need a dozen or more new destinations like Indore, Ahmedabad and
Gwalior. 

As a related point, John McCarthy, research chief at Forrester Research, in a discussion in Mumbai predicted that it was only the war for talent and the challenge of moving from “bums on seats” call centers to true process migration that could challenge India’s march to supremacy in global BPO. Reiterating his much discussed prediction that 3.3 million US services jobs would move offshore by 2015, McCarthy also maintained that India could and should get 70% of the offshore jobs, though the countries which would share the 30% might undergo some change. What unites a lot of countries, he said, is their common awe and fear of
Nasscom–interesting thought!

What does all this mean for industry planners, insourcing managers of multinationals and, of course, the CEOs of India’s software industry? Three learnings; first, that there are life forms stirring beyond the traditional industry destinations–the rapid scaling of WNS in provincial Nashik is a case in point. Second, one has to look beyond the obvious means of hiring, training and retaining talent. And third, the industry has to come closer together to avoid needless internal competition, price-cutting and poaching to develop and expand the base of resources and technology. In fact, this may be a good time for even the
industry associations to come together and develop a common agenda with the states and academic institutions.

Finally, back to the story of the young Gujarat entrepreneurs, what was particularly heartening to the Nasscom group which
invaded the state for the SME forum launch was the warmth with which the “Spot the Star” event was embraced by the fledgling IT community. As one entrepreneur put it, Nasscom’s role in putting India on the global map has been well recognized but this grassroots work will build a truly integrated community across the country that will prove to be the real strength of Indian IT in the years to come.

The author is deputy chairman & managing director of Zensar Technologies and chairman of Nasscom’s SME Forum for Western India
By Ganesh Natarajan

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