Prashant's Weblog
Random Brain "Droppings" of yet another software engineer

Saturday, February 25, 2006

IT in India - How long will the party last?

After a long wait got a chance to borrow and read Thomas Friedman's "The world is flat - A brief history of the globalize world in the 21st century" from my company library. In this book Friedman narrates about the reasons that have flattened the world, thus providing a level platform for all the people to compete. He goes on to explain the phenomenon of "outsourcing" and also gives some amazing anecdotes. Have to say, it was an awesome read.

The other day was pondering about Friedman's thoughts and was trying to relate them with what I see in and around Bangalore. I have few questions that are still kinda nagging in my head...How long will the "IT" party last for India? Is India's dependence on IT a good sign? Wow questions galore...

If we happen to see other countries that have achieved/maintained the type of growth India has achieved, each have made a mark for themselves in a specific fields. For example China has enviable manufacturing/Infrastructure setup, Japanese has excelled in time management, JIT manufacturing, Technology to miniaturize, Robotics, excellent management practices and their extraordinary ability to work hard etc..

In case of India, we have excelled in writing software code. So far so good..Given some kind of technical specifications, we have all the necessary infrastructure in Human resource, computers, LAN/WAN connections(and google of course :) ), I can vouch, no body can write software code that works(I am not at all talking about efficient code), better than we do. But if someone comes up with a 3D model of aircraft part and asks us to manufacture it, do we have the infrastructure to manufacture it? No we don’t and that's what concerns me. Tomorrow government of Lesotho decides to dig up the country and lay optical fibers and then borrow few computers, then we have a competitor who can do the same job, if not better, as most of us do and worse, they will do it at a cost much lesser that ours.

So the point I am trying to make is, I feel software coding or most of the IT work we are currently doing are "easily transition able". Anywhere in the world, you collect few average intelligence guys and along with some training, force six sigma practices down there throat, they will write as good a code as we do. So if we have to sustain the growth we are seeing now, the growth we are bragging so much about, then I feel just focusing on IT will not get you the results. We need to develop capabilities that cannot be "easily transitioned". By that I mean we need to develop centers of manufacturing excellence and world-class software products. Overnight they can move PL/SQL procedure coding from India to Lesotho , but they can't ask it to develop an aircraft part overnight or they can't ask it to develop an EAI products over night, as it needs infrastructure that cannot be built quickly. I am not saying ignore IT altogether, but in IT we need to plan for evolving from just being service providers(which can be transitioned to anyone) to country that produces world-class software products, which will generate continuous revenue. We need products like SAP, Windows or Adobe developed in India.

I hope India produces another Microsoft and if it does I hope I will be the Bill's clone :)


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