Data Centers

Outsourcing: Nasscom offers snapshot of the state of IT services

Indian tech body's Mumbai event spotlights the IT agenda...

Indian IT body Nasscom's annual conference has grown into one of the most important annual conferences focused on IT services, says Mark Kobayashi-Hillary.

That's it. Indian IT body Nasscom's annual three-day shindig is over. I had some terrible jet lag all last week, so the evenings were more about sleeping than partying. But I managed to attend the HCL CEO dinner on the final night and found myself drinking in the Hyatt garden with Louis Hall of Aviva - the company's director of supply management.

Every Nasscom event brings me a number of entertaining conversations, including the one about real music with Professor Phil Taylor of Strathclyde University - an expert on labour markets and classic punk.

I've interacted with dozens of people over the past three days and recorded interviews with about 20 senior executives, with around half of those being the CEO of their company. It has been a useful snapshot of just what is going on in the IT services business right now.

The sun has set on this year's Nasscom conference in Mumbai, with new key tech trends very much in evidence

The sun has set on this year's Nasscom conference in Mumbai, with new key tech trends very much in evidence
Photo: Quellijn Knuvelder

And after all those meetings and conversations in corridors, the summary of the event - in my humble opinion - is:

  • The role of the CIO is shifting to one of IT governance and guidance, rather than procurement and specification of systems. The decisions over which systems to use will be taken directly by the business.
  • There is strong optimism about the pipeline available for IT services. The Indian industry grew 23 per cent last year, suggesting that the green shoots of recovery they talked about a year ago have become a reality.
  • The cloud is now a major delivery platform being used by several companies to deliver real services - it's no longer a concept on a PowerPoint deck.
  • The industry is maturing - particularly the Indian companies - to the extent that clients are asking many suppliers for agenda-setting advice, rather than just executing project after project.
  • Innovation in IT is starting to be driven by more than just cost - there can be other reasons to try innovating within a service.

I was excited to find a representative of the Brazilian government at the conference, given my recent move to Brazil, and I asked him why I couldn't see any Brazilian firms or delegates in the audience. He explained that the government has just started ramping up as the new president came into office at the start of the year.

People are still taking up posts, so any IT firms looking for help to jet over to a conference in India would not have found anyone at the inn, had they asked. So, the public sector works the same everywhere, then.

That's it for another year. The leadership forum hosted by Nasscom has grown into one of the most important annual conferences focused on IT services. Despite the problems with the venue this year, it was still a great event and I'm looking forward to a return trip next year.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of Who Moved my Job? and Global Services. He lectures at London South Bank University.

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