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September - 2007 - issue > Cover Feature
Indias potential lies in her IT reaching out to the masses
Narayana Murthy
Saturday, June 28, 2008
It was with the dawning of the Y2K problem that the West woke up to the potential of Indian IT. In itself, the Y2K crunch did not involve much of a complexity; it was something that had to be completed within a certain time period. Every corporation needed it badly. At the time, there were perhaps 100-125 Fortune 500 companies working with Indian service providers; the Y2K made almost all 500 of them embrace the Indian service providers.

In that lay Indian IT industry’s biggest turning point. The mass influx of global clients’ services to Indian companies created the basic foundation in raising the awareness of the commitment, hard work, and the smartness of the Indian IT force in global business circles. At around the same time, the internet revolution made way for many more jobs to move to India; work in that sphere was very high-tech and advanced. It enhanced the technological caliber of the Indian IT executives and provided them exposure to complex problems.

We have since leveraged this situation quite successfully; with Y2K providing us the channel to global MNCs, we started using our expertise in high-tech areas and advanced applications to cross-sell other services to them, and became their long-term partner. That has been the primary contributor in helping us reach where we are today.

Looking ahead
I envision the per capita revenue productivity of the Indian IT professionals to quadruple; from $50,000 per year now to about $200,000. But that will only come about when we move up the value chain and work on more and more of end-to-end solutions for our clients. It is necessary to bring in new ideas and develop new models improve productivity and reduce costs, while remaining focused on the business.

Secondly, I want the Indian software industry to become so well-known that the CIOs of Fortune 500 companies would hand over $100million to $200 million projects to Indian firms with ease.

Also, Indian firms need to become more and more multicultural; the office of an Indian IT company should be a potboiler of varied nationalities, cultures, religions and language. This, combined with an atmosphere of utmost courtesy, dignity and healthy competition, will help add greater value to customers.

Most important of all though, we should work towards helping India become a force to reckon globally by leveraging on IT. We need to play a big role in governance and all firms must work towards bringing out effective e-governance applications. There is also a huge need to design applications in local languages. This would include ones that could be used by small and medium enterprises, as also voice-activated applications that could be used by the 350 million Indians who are still illiterate, and the 150 million who are barely literate. For computers to make a significant difference to the lives of these illiterates and barely-literates, voice inputs and outputs are very important.

I would end on the note that in many respects, we need to emulate our neighbor across the Himalayas—China. That country has done wonderful work in terms of creating a large number of jobs, and good infrastructure. They have enhanced their exports significantly and have also produced 2600 PhDs in the last year alone.

It is time we too followed suit. Coupled with those attributes and our exploits in IT, we could very well become the next superpower.

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