IT conclave held at IIT Kanpur

Some of the other personalities who made their presence felt include Mr Jyotirmoy Banerji , Assistant Vice President, Computer Science Corporation(CSC), Mr. Sanjiv Bakshi ,SAP Lead, IBM, Mr. Samir Shukla, Lead Consultant, BristleCone, Dr. Veena Bansal, Faculty, Industrial and Management Engineering, IIT Kanpur and Dr.Jayanta Chatterjee, Faculty, Industrial and Management Engineering, IIT Kanpur.

The event took off on an auspicious note with Dr. Kripa Shanker, Deputy Director, IIT Kanpur and Dr.R.R.K.Sharma, Head of Department, Industrial and Management Engineering, lighting the lamp.

Mr.Ramakanth Desai started off by speaking on ‘IT Service Delivery-Paradigm shift’
Mr.Desai traced the initial days of outsourcing when cost arbitrage was the key leverage that Indian IT firms had, after which the roles have been gradually redefined with Indian IT firms breaking the big deal barriers. It is expected that IT revenues (export) would be approximately 60 billion dollars by 2010.

He then shifted focus to the poster child of the IT sector-the BPO industry. With a compounded annual growth rate of close to 50%, it is on the steady growth path. As on 2005, there were 410 players in India and the numbers are steadily increasing. Despite all this the BPO industry still faces certain challenges such as data security and protectionist regulations in various countries. Another segment that Mr. Desai spoke on was R&D; outsourcing, which has been growing at a CAGR of 30% per annum and is expected that it will reap revenues of close $8 billion by 2010.

The classic dilemma facing the Indian IT landscape is the dichotomy between choosing high value versus high volume. Increasingly there is a need to balance between the two.
Another issue that emerged is the dearth of talent availability. Despite the large numbers of graduates being churned out there is still a large unmet demand due to unemployability of the graduates passing out of Indian colleges. Mr. Desai recommended that there be 10-15 centres of excellence to churn out trained professionals.

Mr. Desai also highlighted the challenges to get large deals- quoting low contacts in boardrooms of big companies, and minimal interactions with the CFOs and CEOs.
He went on to reinforce that joint ventures and Mergers and acquisitions were the way to grow.

The next speaker for the day was Mr. Jayant Krishna who focused on the topic “Creating a global mindset for Indian managers for a vibrant outsourcing industry.”
Building on the theme built up by Mr. Desai, Mr. Krishna went on to talk about the Indian outsourcing industry. The Indian software and ITES industry is a 30 billion business, it is expected to touch 90 billion by 2010.It is expected grow at a rate of 25-30% per annum.
Mr.Krishna spoke about how the web has enabled more firms to access a global audience, and technology has made distances meaningless. He also threw light on another aspect of outsourcing- the effect it has on jobs of the people in the home countries of the companies that outsource business processes.

The focus is now shifting from routine to strategic outsourcing. For companies to survive in today’s business scenario it is quintessential for them to deliver strategic advantages beyond merely cost arbitrage.
While India has emerged as the outsourcing destination of choice, it has other countries like China running close. Mr. Krishna spoke of how China has turned the cards in their favor through their aggressive English language improvement drives.
He also brought out the various loop holes prevalent in the Indian system. He said many a times foreign clients found Indians to culturally insensitive and lacking a holistic approach. He stressed on the need for Indians to develop cultural sensitivities and to learn to work seamlessly with the non Indian Global employees.

Mr Krishna then went on to talk about the changing global economy, and the need to understand the complexity and the need to prepare to adapt to uncertain environment.
The paradigms are fast changing from product and services centric to ‘experience solutions’.
Mr Krishna also on talked about the conditions under which a company must outsource- Companies must retain their core competencies and outsource peripheral businesses.
Mr. Krishna identified a global mindset, workability with diverse backgrounds among many others as the key ingredients to make a successful next generation global manager.

Our next speaker, Mr. Jyotirmoy Banerji spoke on ‘Project Management-The Key to Success in the IT Industry’.
A unifying theme in the entire conclave was the concurrence of the speakers on the importance of mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Banerji too stressed that this was an inescapable part of the changing face of global business.
The internet revolution has created waves of change in the way business is conducted; Indian software companies are giving tough competition to their bigger western competitors by posing as low end disrupters by offering a significant cost advantage.
According to Mr.Banerji, the context of project management determines what actions present what results. Project management is a unique balance of arts and sciences. Project success is achieving equilibrium in cost, schedule and quality, and creating a win-win situation for both the customer and the IT company.

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Mr.Sanjiv Bakshi was the next speaker. He spoke about ‘IT-A strategic tool for increasing business competitiveness’.
Mr, Bakshi started off on a highly interactive note involving the audience and coming to a consensus on basic management definitions of strategy, tool, business competitiveness, and information technology.
He then went to take two classic Indian examples-one wherein Information technology had made a significant difference and one wherein IT had no role to play.
His first example was the Indian Railways that has seen a quantum leap from being a loss making organization to a profit making one in a short span of 2 years.
He went on to show how incorporation of IT into the railway systems, facilitating e-ticket, computerized reservations etc has contributed in this turnaround. On the other hand the dabbawalas, known for their highly efficient supply chain, who have been awarded the six sigma certification use very little of high IT applications in their operations. He cited this as an institution that had found a place among multinational corporations to be awarded a six-sigma certification without any highbrow technology involved.

Having posed these two classic examples Mr.Bakshi went on to define how ‘business competitiveness’ is measured. The first step is to get the right people to do the right job, secondly it is important to face and accept brutal facts, and then he drew an analogy of a hedgehog where in it walls itself of all dangers. Apart from these discipline and technology acceleration are indispensable.

The next speaker was Dr.Veena Bansal who chose to speak about Corruption, India and IT. Dr. Bansal’s speech presented another critical viewpoint about Information technology. India is ranked 45/ 49 countries on honesty of officials. She stated that a large reason for this was the lack of punishment, the state of the economy and poverty.
Dr Bansal then went on to define the role of IT in improving this situation citing e-governance, and effective information dissemination, through media –citing the tehelka scandal as a classic case.
Her speech was focused largely on the passport application process were corruption is rampant. She quoted e-seva, a service for filling passport application and other services as a classic example. Its focus is more customer centric than conventional systems sparing the customer a lot of inconvenience.

The next speaker was Mr.Samir Shukla- who spoke on ‘Enterprise Application Implementation: A Consultant’s Perspective.’
Mr Shukla started by defining the business process life cycle and spoke in depth about how service oriented architecture would be the future of ERP. Rather than a monolithic organization, the industry is moving towards smaller split solutions. This enables in creating flexible solutions. For corporates to effectively carry this out top management guidance and support is essential.

The conclave concluded with a valedictory address by Dr Jayanta Chatterjee, Professor , IME department and former President of Allen Bradley (A wholly owned subsidiary of Rockwell automation).Dr Chatterji deftly summarized the speeches delivered through the course of the day, and added that India should now move its focus from IT outsourcing to higher up the value chain in order to sustain its growth curve.

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