Indian IT's cost advantage has eroded and five of the top 10 IT employers in India today are multinationals including IBM, Accenture and Capgemini.
Edition:November 8, 2015
Indian software companies may not be reporting the 25 to 30 per cent growth rates they had witnessed a few years ago - and probably will never again - but they are still making rapid strides on the back of innovation, improved revenue productivity and by investing heavily in technology such as automation and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Lobby group National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) estimates that the Indian IT industry is worth $146 billion, including exports of $98 billion, in 2014/15 - clocking year-on-year growth of 13 per cent. In 2015/16 it is expected to grow between 12 and 14 per cent.
According to B.V.R. Mohan Reddy, founder and Executive Chairman, Cyient, an IT services provider for the engineering and aerospace industries, though the current growth rate looks a little bit tepid compared to what it was five years ago, it is coming on a significantly larger base and amid challenging market conditions.
Nasscom says the industry would touch $225 billion by 2020 and $350 billion by 2025.
Reddy, who is also the Chairman of Nasscom, says IT companies are fast adapting to the changing market needs and tapping newer segments to stay ahead of the curve. The pack is being led by Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, HCL and Tech Mahindra.
The move of global IT majors towards automation, cloud, digital and software as a service (SaaS), was seen as a threat to the Indian IT services industry. However, the Indian companies were quick to react and have invested substantially on innovation, building intellectual property, platforms, and using artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to deliver value. And now they are evolving more as solutions providers to ensure business outcomes, moving out of the shadows of the lift-and-shift model - taking and executing orders at lower cost.
For instance, India's largest IT services exporter TCS unveiled its AI platform 'Ignio' in June 2015 as a standalone product, as well as a bundled offering with its other services. The second largest player Infosys unveiled 'Aikido', its umbrella offering in August. It would encompass design thinking, platforms and knowledge-based IT services. Similar initiatives have been undertaken by most companies, big and small, in the Indian IT industry.
Indian technology companies have so far been compared to ducks floating on water - while the surface may seem calm they are pedalling furiously to glide smoothly. "Indian companies are now changing tremendously to adapt to challenges happening due to marketplace shifts and changing needs of customers. I am confident that the Indian IT sector has the talent and expertise to continue innovating and delivering value," says Reddy.
Sudin Apte, Research Director and CEO of IT services advisory firm Offshore Insights, however, is not quite sure. "The Indian IT sector might grow in high single digits for the next three to five years. While the smart ones are investing and moving ahead of the curve, there is considerable pain for others. In Nasscom's top 50 Indian companies there are several who have no reason to exist. We will not see too many mergers and acquisitions as promoters will cling on for various reasons. Several of them are me-too companies," says Apte, adding that Indian IT's cost advantage has eroded and five of the top 10 IT employers in India today are multinationals including IBM, Accenture and Capgemini.
Apte further argues that delinking headcount growth from revenue growth was forced on Indian firms by clients demanding automation in areas such as application maintenance, testing and infrastructure management. "TCS might have employed 300,000 people to get to $13 billion in size. The next 50 per cent growth on their current base, that is, to reach $20 billion in revenues, they may add just one-third of that number of people."
Reddy agrees: "If it took 3.1 million employees to generate $100 billion revenues for the industry, Nasscom estimates that the next $100 billion is likely to take only 1.8 million." He, however, adds that fears that Indian IT will not be able to sustain growth are uncalled for. "I have heard it before. We were told that after the Y2K work, it was the end of the road for us. After the dot-com bust in 2001 we were told the same thing. During the global economic meltdown in 2008, similar stuff was said. Indian IT is mature, innovative and delivers true value. This is why we expect it to continue to grow."
The results of anticipating marketplace shifts and investing ahead of the curve are seen in the results of the likes of TCS and Cognizant, which have grown faster than their peers.
Says Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO, Greyhound Research, another IT research and advisory firm: "While we might churn out lakhs of engineers every year, most of them are unemployable. Shifts in technology landscape means that even existing employees need to be reskilled in emerging technologies. Not all employees might be able to make the transition. Ability to attract and retain talent is going to be key." He sites efforts by Infosys to train its employees in design thinking.
Reddy though sounds upbeat and bullish: "The best days of Indian IT are ahead. As long as the global economy does well, Indian IT will always find ways and means to serve the needs of its customers."
Industry revenues (including ecommerce) estimated to grow by 13% in FY2015, to aggregate USD 146 Billion.
Industry a net hirer, adding ~2,30,000 employees in FY15; focus on skill over scale, embedded non-linearity - 7% employee growth corresponding to 13% revenue growth
Digital Disruptions creating new opportunities- Digital accounting for 12-14% of industry revenues
Product engineering solutions fastest growing export revenue segment at 13.2%
Industry building competencies through acquisitions, collaboration and partnerships- industry M&A in excess of USD 5.3 Billion in FY2015
Rapid growing product and startup ecosystem redefining innovation- 3100+ startups, 4th largest startup hub in the world
Government investments in technology of USD 26 Billion in FY2015 driving domestic market
Digitization, internet of things, agile entrepreneurial ecosystem, improving business environment and many other such trends were revealed at the release of the NASSCOM Strategic Review 2015 at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. The press conference was addressed by Mr. R Chandrasekaran, Chairman, NASSCOM, Mr. BVR Mohan Reddy, Vice Chairman, NASSCOM and Mr. R Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM, before the commencement of the annual India Leadership Forum.
The current fiscal year FY2015 brought in overall optimism for the Indian IT-BPM industry and is expected to meet guidance for the year in constant currency. The industry continued to evolve over the year and prioritized on enhancing efficiency, enabling transformation and agility and partnering for digital initiatives. Aggregate industry revenues for FY2015 are estimated at USD 146 billion.
FY2015 is expected to see the export market at ~USD 100 billion, recording a 13.1 percent growth in constant currency over last year. Growth in reported currency is estimated at 12.3%. ER&D and product development segment is the fastest growing at 13.2 per cent, driven by higher value-added solutions from existing players and expansion of the GIC landscape. Digital solutions around SMAC – upgrading legacy systems to be SMAC enabled, greater demand for ERP, CRM, mobility and user experience technologies is driving growth in IT services. Infrastructure outsourcing and software testing segment also outpaced the industry growth rate. The BPM sector is being driven by greater automation, expanding omni-channel presence, application of analytics across entire value chain, etc.
The year also witnessed hyper-growth in the technology start-up and product landscape and India is already ranked as the 4th largest startup hub in the world with over 3100 startups in the country.
Exports to USA, the largest market grew above industry average, aided by an economic revival and higher technology adoption. Demand from Europe remained strong during the first half of the year, but softened during the second half due to currency movements and economic challenges. Manufacturing, utilities and retail growth remained strong as clients increase discretionary spend on customer experience, digital, analytics, ERP updates and improving overall efficiency.
The Indian IT-BPM sector continues to be one of the largest employers in the country directly employing nearly 3.5 million professionals, adding over 2,30,000 employees.
Mr. R Chandrasekaran, Chairman, NASSCOM, said, “We are delighted with the robust growth demonstrated by the industry during the current fiscal year. The industry today has a very diverse landscape which is constantly evolving and fuelling growth for the industry. Digital also became main stream during the year, with industry increasingly investing in digitized solutions to drive future growth opportunities. Interestingly digital solutions in the year accounted for 12-14% of the industry revenues. NASSCOM will continue to work with its members to build capabilities within the country and position India as an ideal global digital hub, leveraging technology for transformation and driving innovation across domains.”
The domestic IT-BPM market is rapidly approaching the USD 50 billion mark. In FY2015, the market is expected to be a little over USD 48 billion, an annual growth of 14 per cent. This is faster than the average industry growth, and is largely being driven by the booming eCommerce segment. Stable government with a technology focused growth agenda is further boosting technology adoption in the domestic market
“India is jumping the technology maturity curve and is emerging as a digital economy.The recent announcements by the Government on Digital India, Make in India, Skilling India are creating a renewed thrust on the domestic market. NASSCOM will continue to partners with diverse industry sectors and related government departments to enable technology adoption for key challenges faced by the country.” said Mr. R. Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM.
In FY2016, NASSCOM expects the industry to add revenues of USD 20 billion to the existing industry revenues of USD 146 billion. Export revenues for FY2016 is projected to grow by 12 to 14% and reach USD 110-112 bn. Domestic revenues (including ecommerce) for the same period will grow at a rate of 15-17% percent and is expected to reach USD 55-57 billion during the year.
Mr. BVR Mohan Reddy, Vice Chairman, NASSCOM said “The future looks very promising as the IT-BPM industry is gearing itself well to next phase of challenges. Digitization, disruptive technologies and innovation will fuel growth with new opportunities in the years ahead. NASSCOM will work with its members to showcase India as a destination of high value globalized solutions which are transformative and innovative. The fast growing technology start-up sector will further drive innovation in the country”.
Says Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO, Greyhound Research, another IT research and advisory firm: "While we might churn out lakhs of engineers every year, most of them are unemployable. Shifts in technology landscape means that even existing employees need to be reskilled in emerging technologies. Not all employees might be able to make the transition."
Well the Economy is worrying according to Mr. Rajan for the next year. Just in, the India economy forecast 2016 stating the factors leading to collapse in economy for 2016. Please share your thoughts on this.