Pathbreakers of the World Unite

DQI Bureau
New Update

At the annual Oscar Awards of the IT industry, which is what the Dataquest

Awards have become known as, the Pathbreaker Award given to the very original

Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala was only one of the recognitions awarded to three

outstanding trendsetters. At a time when the industry is truly at a cross road

seeking new avenues for growth and profitability, the recognition of path

breaking achievements in an industry that for too long has chased "better

sameness" was truly a welcome step.


Take a look at the two other significant award winners of the evening–Deepak

Puri of Moser Baer as IT Man of the Year and the inimitable Prof Vijay Bhatkar

for Lifetime Achievement. Mr Puri spoke of his experience with a financial

analyst whose comment on Moser Baer’s ambitions in the early years was

"Where angels fear to tread, fools rush in," a statement that he was

to rue later as Moser Baer grew from strength to strength. And Prof Bhatkar gave

a new clarion call to the ICT industry–to have revenues of a trillion dollars

by the year 2020 employing 10 million people and setting new standards for the

entire world.

“Abdul Kalam suggests that the

nation can use its core competence in IT, natural resources and human resources to

become a knowledge superpower by 2020”



This is the stuff that worthy dreams and vision are made of, and with never

before optimism pervading all industry sectors and the general feeling amongst

the Software Exports community that 2004-05 will see a return to the days of

significant revenue and profit growth, there does not seem to be any landmark

that is too difficult to achieve. Writing on "Igniting India’s mind"

in the annual issue of a weekly magazine, President Abdul Kalam suggests that

the nation can use its core competence in IT, natural resources and human

resources to become a knowledge superpower by 2020. And his confidence is echoed

today by young and old. Sipping coffee at the house of a seventy year old in

Adyar, Chennai a couple of weeks ago, I was amazed to hear his conviction that

after a hundred and fifty years of subjugation by colonial forces and a

misplaced faith in a socialistic model of development, India would show the

world in the next fifty years that it has what it takes to become the modern age

Takshasila to the world, the true fountainhead of knowledge and skills in areas

ranging from Information Technology to all scientific and artistic frontiers. So

whether it is Mr Balasubramanian in Chennai or millions of Gates wannabes all

over small town India, the appetite to succeed has now been whetted by the

success stories across companies and industry sectors and the Indian juggernaut

is truly rolling!


A word of caution would not be out of place, however. Like the amazing second

day collapse of the Indian cricket team in Melbourne after a stunning Adelaide

victory and a wonderful first day’s batting, it doesn’t take much to derail

this optimism. Even as an improving geopolitical climate, a great monsoon and

the revival of global spending has brought about this optimism, there are

factors within our own companies that can weaken our capabilities. The all too

obvious ones like attrition and infrastructure apart, many companies may fall by

the wayside by being too opportunistic and trying to grab every business that

exists rather than focus on building core capabilities in chosen areas. The

Wiersema Tracy model of making a choice between Customer Intimacy, Operational

Excellence and Product Innovation is a good starting point for charting out an

organisation strategy with the Software exports industry itself presenting

several case studies to underline this theory.

And finally, what made the evening sparkle at the DQ Awards ceremony was a

simple statement made by last year’s DQ Man of the Year, Sunil Bharti Mittal

in his speech. Commenting on compere Rini Khanna’s admonition to keep cell

phones off during the function, he promised to keep his speech short to ensure

that the cell phones could start ringing all over again, adding revenues to the

industry and of course to Airtel. Talk about single minded focus on corporate

success—there couldn’t be a better example!

Ganesh Natarajan

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