With a weakening economy, skyrocketing food prices, and an attrition rate of around 14%, Indian CIOs’ biggest worry is increasing the salaries of their IT staff. Data from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013, indicates that 71% of Indian CIOs will increase their spending on IT staff salaries and benefits in 2014 — tops in the Asia Pacific region (figure below).
In return for the increase in staff salaries, Indian CIOs will face two challenges:
Increased pressure from CEOs to contribute to the company’s top line.By 2016, 70% of Indian CIOs will report to CEOs. As the boundary between IT and business blurs further, CEOs will get more directly involved in business-led technology discussions as a means to differentiate their organization and drive business growth. They’ll look for new technology capabilities to respond to customer needs better, faster, and cheaper — and won’t be satisfied with an IT organization that merely keeps the lights on.
The need to retool their IT teams. All too often, IT lacks business-oriented communication skills and team members rarely or never share business knowledge with each other. IT staff continue to be order-takers. The biggest challenge for CIOs today is how to make their technical people more business-savvy; this problem will only get more difficult as pressure from the business increases.
I’m currently in the process of wrapping up a report on midmarket IT budgets and spending trends in India for the 2013-2014 fiscal year (April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014). For this report, we collected extensive data from 430 midmarket businesses (those with 400 to 2,500 employees) in the country to examine IT and business priorities among IT decision-makers. In addition to analyzing spending plans across standard IT categories (software, hardware, and services), we also analyze the likely impact on IT spending of key initiatives, including computing, mobility, and big data.
Despite increasing economic and political uncertainties in India, our survey found that midmarket companies are continuing to invest in IT to drive competitive differentiation. Our survey also signaled a changing attitude among Indian midmarket companies who are increasingly viewing IT as a means to better engage digitally enabled constituents. This is fueling a fundamental shift in the way Indian midmarket firms interact with customers. Here are some key highlights from the report:
The majority of Indian midmarket firms will increase IT spending in 2013-2014. Among all the companies surveyed, 61% of firms surveyed expect to increase their spending on IT by 5% to 10% in the current fiscal year. New IT initiatives and expansion of capacity will contribute to an increase in IT capital budgets as the current fiscal year’s budget is evenly split between new IT initiatives and expansion of existing capacity to better support growth initiatives. The need to modernize infrastructure and improve business applications to grow business will drive hardware and software spending from Indian midmarket firms.
On February 28, 2013, India (as part of its 2013-2014 budget) announced that it would increase the excise duty on mobile phones costing more than $36 to 6%, up from the current level of 1%. Forrester believes that this increase will not affect the mobile industry in India very much because:
Sub-$100 smartphones will trigger new kinds of competition in the market. As high-end mobile phones get more expensive, Forrester predicts that smartphones costing less than $100 will be in much greater demand. Moreover, handset manufacturers will absorb a large portion of the price increase to sustain their sales.
Explosive mobile Internet growth. With increasing urbanization and improving per capita income, more people will begin to use the Internet, and the use of smartphones will rise quickly. We forecast that the mobile Internet user base in India will grow by more than 30% year-on-year over the next five years.
Addicted social media youngsters. With more than 61 million Facebook users, India ranks as Facebook’s third-largest audience in the world after the US and Brazil. Half of these users are between 18 and 24 years of age, and the majority of them use their mobile phones to connect to the world.
Rapid eCommerce growth complementing the mobile sector. Forrester estimates that eCommerce revenues in India will increase more than fivefold by 2016, jumping from US$1.6 billion in 2012 to US$8.8 billion in 2016. Mobile-friendly sites from various players and eCommerce website aggregators will help accelerate mobile Internet adoption.
Data from the Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, Q4 2012 highlights the increasing gap between CIOs and business decision-makers (BDMs) in India — a gap that originates in misaligned perspectives. The rapid rise of social media, cloud computing, and mobility in India has started to significantly affect how organizations do business in the country. Business leaders’ use of consumer technology has changed their expectations of how enterprise IT should be harnessed. They increasingly seek to use technology in innovative ways in order to gain a competitive edge and drive business growth. However, most CIOs are still caught in the old world of focusing exclusively on IT budgets and project delivery performance issues:
I recently spoke with a few CIOs in India to explore their views on the reasons behind this misalignment. When I shared data from the chart above and asked their opinions on the insights, some interesting findings that came out:
There are many “heads of IT” and few “business technology (BT) CIOs” in India. One CIO from a large auto manufacturing firm mentioned that a majority of CIOs in India are actually “IT heads” who think and act mainly from an IT perspective. Even worse, their thinking is generally very hardware-centric. This CIO’s opinion is in sync with my recent report highlighting the fact that Indian CIOs are at risk of losing business credibility (and eventually their jobs) if they do not improve their understanding of BT.
As 2012 came to a close, we studied the financial position of many CISOs and asked about their expectations for 2013. Unsurprisingly, it was apparent that 2012 was another difficult year and that CISOs had been keeping their belts tight once again. When compared with the other IT departments, however, it became clear that this budgetary flat-line actually represented quite a success, as 2012 had seen most other teams face further cutbacks and spending restrictions.
When we looked ahead to 2013, we saw the usual hopeful optimism from the CISOs – proving once again that any allegation of a correlation between ‘pessimists’ and ‘security professionals’ is complete nonsense. It was interesting, however, to note a marked difference in attitudes dependent upon which side of the Atlantic the respondent was located. Put simply, North American based CISOs had a much more buoyant view of security related finances in 2013 than their European peers.
The Indian government announced its 2012-2013 budget on March 16, 2012. While the announced budget does not contain direct incentives to promote the domestic ICT industry, there will be adequate indirect opportunities for vendors to explore. The excise duty will increase from 10% to 12%; this will have a marginal impact on the sale of PCs (desktops, laptops, and tablets), but the government’s focus on improving infrastructure, creating efficient delivery mechanisms, and improving e-governance will provide substantial indirect opportunities to IT vendors.
The latest budget aims to achieve long-term and inclusive growth for the economy and is in sync with my upcoming report, “India’s 12th National Five-Year Plan (2012-2017) Provides Massive ICT Opportunities.” The report answers questions such as why and how technology will act as a key enabler for the Indian government to achieve its growth target.
The 2012-2013 budget will provide adequate ICT opportunities for vendors, such as:
Packaged and industry-specific applications, e-governance, mobile apps, and analytics will support the strong need for sustainable revenue sources to fund investments. A common problem that India faces today is the significant imbalance between expenditures and revenues. The budget categorically highlights the need to deliver more with existing resources; we will witness increased demand for packaged and industry-specific applications, e-governance, and mobile apps to help generate sustainable revenue to fund investments. Also, the outlay for e-governance projects will increase by 210%, from the equivalent of US$62 million to US$192 million; applications from software vendors for e-governance initiatives will present some of the most exciting opportunities in India. And the government will use various analytical tools to improve revenue sources and take corrective actions by identifying gaps.