HCL is the fifth-largest India-centric IT service provider in terms of revenue (after TCS, Infosys, Cognizant, and Wipro). While it only derived about 15% of its global fiscal 2012 revenues from markets outside of Europe and the US — slightly lower than the four larger Indian firms — HCL has built a strong base in Asia and now boasts more than 300 customers served by more than 8,000 employees. I recently attended HCL’s Asian analyst event in Sydney; below are some key reasons why I believe that you should consider HCL on your shortlist of systems integrators (SIs) and outsourcing providers:
Flexibility. When I asked some of HCL’s Australian, ASEAN, and Indian clients what characterizes HCL’s approach to managing client relationships and delivering projects, most mentioned “flexibility” and “HCL is easy to work with,” particularly during the transition phase in outsourcing contracts.
Co-innovation focus. HCL’s Asia growth strategy is both focused (on a limited number of vertical and horizontals) and pragmatic. Starting small with staff augmentation deals, the company invests in relationships to develop its presence and its expertise with its clients’ challenges — 2% of the revenue generated from clients is reinvested in the engagement as an innovation budget.
Local commitments. HCL has increased its regional presence via local management and delivery capabilities and local partners, including universities like Singapore Management University; IT companies like Lippo Group in Indonesia; and government, such as its work on the Mobility Lab initiative for EDB in Singapore.
While working on my recently published report, The Cloud-Driven Evolution Of Asian Tech Distributors, the tech vendors and distributors I interviewed drew parallels between telcos and tech distributors, both of which sell cloud-based solutions. However, during further discussion, the friction and competitiveness between the two quickly became apparent. So why should they compete when they can exploit each other’s resources and pursue joint go-to-market initiatives? By partnering, each can focus on doing what it does best to meet customer needs.
Telcos’ reach, ready infrastructure and existing customer bases provide a solid cloud foundation:
Back-end infrastructure. Telcos’ robust network and data center infrastructure is critical to setting up and delivering cloud-based services swiftly and without massive additional investment. Moreover, their businesses are well-suited to annuity models.
An existing base of enterprise customers. Although telcos aren’t considered a strategic enterprise provider in most instances, their access to a large base of qualified enterprise accounts and existing relationships potentially provides a very good foundation for cloud solution sales.
I spent last week in Tokyo, Japan. Given that an increasing number of our clients are eyeing Japan’s eCommerce market, I thought it would be interesting to share some observations from my trip. Local business perception is that the economy is struggling and will persist to struggle, but robust activity on the street and our most recent Asia Pacific Forecast belie that. There is clearly potential for growth in the market, but changes need to be made before that can happen. Based on my observations, the key inhibitors are:
Low adoption of English in the business world. Japanese is the primary language used to conduct business in Japan. Understandable in the world’s third-largest economy. Many understand English, few are comfortable using it in a professional setting. This issue makes it hard for broader penetration globally across eBusiness. A notable exception is maverick Rakuten where employees are required to have strong English language skills.
Retail is aggressive but mostly single channel in focus. Companies I talked to are trying to understand cross-touchpoint attribution, but there is little evidence of multichannel sales in those stores. BIC Camera, one of the largest consumer electronics chains in Tokyo, for example, offers an enormous selection without the option to purchase across different channels.
In their Asia Pacific Tech Market Outlook For 2012 report, Andrew Bartels and Frederic Giron show that government and business IT spending in the emerging markets of Asia (including China, India, and the ASEAN countries) will reach US$180 billion in 2012, growing by roughly 13% over 2011. While emerging Asia’s IT spending is surging this year, economic obligations in the developed markets of North America, Europe, and Japan will ensure continued austerity — and limited IT spending growth. In other words, emerging Asia is clearly a lucrative region of opportunities for US, European, Japanese, and South Korean vendors looking for new sources of growth to offset lower business prospects in their home markets.
Asia is a region of highly disparate countries, with regulatory complexity, cultural differences, and a limited pool of skilled resources. These barriers to entry and expansion will compel vendors to look beyond organic growth, which is simply too time-intensive. Instead, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of local/regional incumbents with local know-how, skills, and client relationships will increasingly be a strategic imperative for vendors targeting emerging Asia. I’ve highlighted some examples from the Indian market below, but I foresee similar trends in the overall ICT sector throughout emerging Asia:
After years of looking at how the online markets of Asia Pacific are emerging from an online shopping perspective, we are thrilled to announce our first online retail forecast for China, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia.* Some findings from the forecast:
Japan still takes the top spot in the region. Japan retains its dominance in the region with some $45 billion in online retail sales this year. Indeed, while China’s combined B2C and C2C spending surpasses B2C spending in Japan, Japan is still the leader in traditional online retail sales. And despite the fact that online consumers in Japan are purchasing across a wide variety of categories, some category purchases like beauty have shifted online in Japan in a way they have not in the US or Europe.
China’s growth rates will propel it ahead of Japan in the very near future. China’s combined B2C and C2C sales — the two are nearly impossible to separate** — are poised to reach $49 billion in 2010. China’s CAGR will be double that of the US, Western Europe and Japan, and it’s clear that China will be the eCommerce market most likely to rival that of the US.
Australia’s robust growth will be driven by an increasingly vibrant online retail sector. The online marketplace in Australia is marked today by a large number of cross-border transactions, but there is growing momentum among local players. Though less than half the size of the online retail markets in Japan and China, Australia’s growth rates are slightly higher than those of Japan and its US and Western European counterparts.
I just returned home from a trip to Bangkok and Bhutan. Civil unrest in Bangkok kept me from wandering as much as I would have liked. I had a lot of opportunity in Bhutan, however, to wander about and talk to people. As a bit of a background, Bhutan is a land-locked country bordered mostly by India to the south and China to the north. Much of the northern portion where we traveled is covered by mountains, so wireless is the primary infrastructure for communications. The average annual income is about $1,300, so they are not a wealthy nation. They've only been allowed access to TV and the Internet for about 10 years.
A consumer brand might argue that in a country where the annual income is only $1,300 and little infrastructure exists for the import of goods, there isn't much point in marketing -- let alone a digital marketing strategy that includes mobile. Countries like these are opening up, however, and their wealth is growing. Personal care products and Coca-Cola was on the shelves in most of the small shops we passed. In a country where cell phones certainly outnumber PCs and cellular connections (even if prepaid) must outnumber fixed, mobile has to be part of the mix.
Teenagers had cell phones. One of my guides had a Nokia N73 and the other had a Nokia Xpress Music. These aren't dumb or cheap text-only phones. They have high-resolution screens and are capable of music, videos and Internet. (My guide was checking and posting to Facebook DAILY.) Monks had cell phones. Women selling vegetables in open-air markets had cell phones.