Every year, Indian IT gets together to introspect, discuss, analyze and
listen to the pundits talk about the state of the world of Information
Technology, particularly software. The NASSCOM event, made famous over the years
with the participation of international think tanks and the who's who of the
Indian software industry was embellished further this year by the participation
of Fortune 500 CIOs like Brad Boston of CISCO Systems and CEOs from major
corporations like HSBC. What made NASSCOM 2005 truly remarkable were three
unconnected yet interconnected events.
First: the NASSCOM Awards for globally successful professionals. Three
of the five recipients-from Siemens, HSBC and Shinzhei Bank-were personally
present to receive the awards. The best acceptance speech was that of Carly
Fiorina, whose passion, charisma and love for India came through on video and
mesmerised the large gathering, It was, of course, rather ironic and not a
little tragic that three hours before the awards were announced, the lady had
received marching orders from her Board of Directors in the USA.
Second: the grand finale to the NASSCOM Innovation Initiative for
2004-05 where a nation wide search for innovation among India's emerging
companies saw six outstanding companies make presentations to a packed hall-demonstrating
that through the range and diversity of their innovations, the third wave of
Indian software success had surely been born at this event. Speaker after
speaker echoed the vibrancy and optimism of this new breed of entrepreneurs who
are catching the imagination of the country and the world by their ability to
think out of the box. Innovation is taking firm roots in the country, but as
Prof Gupta rightly pointed out, it will take open minds and a willingness to
step out of the comfort zone of predictable ITO and BPO services for the roots
to result in strong saplings and trees, and, finally, fruits.
The piece de resistance of the event, for all of us, was the scintillating
hour long interaction through video conference with the President of India, Dr
Abdul Kalam. He made a powerful Power Point presentation, replete with
statistics and analysis, that served to motivate and inspire all of us to dream
bigger. His exhortation to the industry CEOs to rise above such small goals as
$50 bn, which would be less that 4% of the global IT market, and aspire to
capture at least 15%, his outstanding views on a range of innovative horizons
like tele education and strategic defence and scientific partnerships between
government and Industry-all this served to lift the mood of an already
enthusiastic conference to stratospheric levels.
Where is the connection between these three landmark events, you may ask!
First, in the fact that innovation is in the air, whether in the NASSCOM track
or threading through the President's speech or the honouring of CEOs like
Craig Barrett of Intel. Second, the future of Indian IT can be bright only if
every company does not struggle to achieve better sameness and instead innovates-in
products, services and frameworks, to make a real difference. Then and only then
can the industry move into a third wave of growth, meet the President's
aspirational challenge of double digit market and opportunity share, and
hopefully put some of today's young and struggling entrepreneurs on the awards
list of future NASSCOM events.
The author is deputy chairman and managing director of Zensar Technologies
and chairman of Nasscom's SME Forum for Western India Ganesh