In the initial days of the Indian IT (software) industry, it was led by a few pioneers like TCS and Patni Computers. During those days, majority of the work done by the Indian software companies used to be “bottom of pyramid” kind of work, with lots of focus on resource augmentation, both onsite and offshore. This is where the term “body-shopping” gained prominence.
Over the next 10-15 years, through the dot com boom and bust, and subsequent economic slowdown, the Indian IT industry gained prominence as it moved up the value chain. We now have product development companies as well as organisations competing in the SI and Consulting space with the likes of the IBMs and Accentures. During the mid-nineties, software analysts and engineers were a new breed of highly paid resources in the country and were in huge demand. However, as the industry boomed through the late nineties, the scarcity of software professionals drove a lot of activity in the form of customised academic courses and private training institutes. It used to be joked in the corridors of some of these companies that ‘Trespassers will be recruited”.
In a specific part of Bangalore (Koramangla), which was the hub of all these activities, every other building housed an IT venture. During those early days, lot of evangelisation had taken place and IT was positioned as an enabler for driving growth and differentiation, although there were still questions around the actual ROI of this industry. However, things have changed and IT has become an important function in any organisation – companies have started looking beyond the near term ROI of its IT function. IT has become the platform to compete and survive, though it is scarcely a differentiator anymore.
In contrast, the Analytics industry started in early part of this century and has gathered steam only 3-4 years back. Just like IT, initial engagements were more skewed towards doing one-off projects for clients, and needed a lot of evangelisation. The question of ROI is asked in almost every conversation with clients. However, as the concept of Analytics and BIG Data has gained popularity over time, this has become the “new” IT industry. More and more organisations are trying to create stories around Analytics and Big Data. Some of the skewness experienced during mid and late nineties with IT seems to be back with respect to Analytics. There is a huge demand for Analytics resources, which is currently scarce in India. Analytics companies are mushrooming all around, not only in India but in other parts of the world also.
We have also seen that academic courses focussed around Big Data and Analytics are being introduced in universities and colleges and are becoming increasing popular with young professionals and students. At the same time, there are private training institutes providing various training courses and certifications, some of which have become industry standard and well accepted. The questions of ROI are still a very commonly discussed topic, and at times become a roadblock because of the increasing focus on near term ROI. However in future, just like IT, Analytics will become a platform for competition and survival for organisations, and no longer be part of discriminatory budgets. Also, one should expect a phase of consolidation in the industry, after this initial euphoria has died down and resources becoming more readily available.