Forrester just published its “India Tech Market Outlook: 2014” report; here’s a summary. We expect the Indian economy to start recovering from the tough situation it faced in 2013. It will start picking up (albeit at a slower rate) in 2014 thanks to good monsoons, an uptick in exports due to the weakening of the rupee, and huge infrastructure projects in public transportation, housing, agriculture, and farming that we expect to take off once a new central government is in place. As a result, we’ve marginally increased our 2014 forecast from 7.4% to 8% in local currency. But the biggest threat to India’s economic outlook is political instability after the national elections, which could have a long-term economic impact.
The three most important highlights from the report:
Customer obsession will take center stage for technology spending. The increasing demands of digital customers are redefining business. Recent Forrsights data indicates that Indian CIOs’ top business priority is to address the rising expectations of customers and improve customer satisfaction; 87% consider it a high or critical priority. Business leaders want to leverage technology to better engage digitally enabled constituents, fundamentally shifting how firms interact with customers.
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.
Telstra’s recent FY13 earnings announcement recorded a strong showing of its Network Application and Services (NAS) division, which saw a 17.7 per cent increase in revenue to A$1.5 billion from the previous year. Its international business delivered a combined Global Connectivity and NAS revenue of A$566 million, or a growth of 11.4 per cent from the previous year. Telstra also plans to continue to build out its NAS division, particularly in Asia.
What It Means
A beneficiary of the NAS investment is Telstra Global, nestled under its International division, offering network connectivity and services to enterprises in Asia. In my recent report, I argued that Telstra Global is a well-placed partner for medium-size to large companies in sectors like transportation and logistics, shipping, manufacturing, and professional services looking to expand their operations out from Hong Kong, Australia, and Singapore into Southeast Asia and China. While this looks rosy, there are areas that require closer attention:
The US Bureau of Economic Analysis released its preliminary report on second quarter 2013 US GDP, along with both major revisions to US economic data over the past 50 years, and minor revisions to the data on US business investment in information technology goods and services. Here are my key takeaways from the report, and its implications for the US tech market.
US real GDP growth in Q2 2013 came in better than expected. The 1.7% growth at an annual rate from Q1 2013 was in line with our projection of 1.9%, but better than what many economists had been forecasting. Growth rates in Q4 2012 and Q1 2013 were revised down to 0.1% and 1.1%, respectively, from the earlier 0.4% and 2.5%. These revisions indicate that the end of the payroll tax reductions, the higher tax rates for high-income people, and the Federal budget cuts from sequester did take a toll on economic growth, with government consumption declining in Q4 2012, Q1 2013, and Q2 2013, and business investment in factories and offices falling in Q1 2013. But consumer spending has been solid, with growth of 1.8% in Q2 2013, 2.3% in Q1 2013, and 1.7% in Q2 2013. Business investment in equipment, which softened to just 1.6% growth in Q1 2013, improved to 6.8% growth in Q2 2013. And housing continues to be a growth engine for the US economy, with double digit growth rates in residential investment in the past four quarters, and improving home prices boosting consumer confidence and spending.
The continued economic viability of software development in India, whether by independent software vendors (ISVs) or “captive” business units, depends less on pure labor arbitrage and more on delivering time-to-market advantage for clients. The pressure of meeting business expectations demands that software firms harness creative capability wherever they can find it. The increased focus on Business Technology innovation and customer experience over mere cost savings presents both a threat and an opportunity to software configuration and development business units (BUs) in India.This is the key finding from my just-published report.
Forrester developed its software innovation assessment workbook to assess software innovation capability of firms. We provided this tool to members of NASSCOM (the industry association for the IT BPO sector in India), comprising both ISVs and captive development BUs in India, and surveyed them to assess the most important process, organizational, cultural, geographical, and staffing practices that promote software innovation. We also interviewed a dozen selected respondents in greater depth to better understand how innovation capability contributes to business success in India. We found evidence of widespread adoption of the practices correlated with software innovation capability, helping to drive a rapidly changing role for Indian business in the global software supply chain.
Innovators in India that were engaged in software development and configuration received high scores for many of the practices that drive effective innovation. They demonstrated strength in:
Listening to the voice of the customer
Making the development process more iterative and responsive
“Hello, I’m J. P. Gownder, and I serve Infrastructure and Operations professionals!” That’s my new greeting to Forrester’s clients. (I borrowed – aka “stole” – this opening line from my excellent colleague, Laura Ramos, who recently rejoined the Forrester analyst ranks herself).
After eight years in a variety of roles at Forrester, I’ve joined the Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) team as a Vice President and Principal Analyst. I’ll be collaborating with analyst colleagues (please see below) on I&O’s forthcoming Workforce Enablement Playbook. I&O pros face the constant challenge of empowering their companies’ workers with devices and services to make them successful in their jobs… as well as navigating the growing challenge of employees who choose to bring their own technology to work instead.
More specifically, I’ll be researching at least five issues pertinent to I&O pros:
Business leaders have revenue growth first and foremost on their minds. On average, 70% of these business leaders place a high or critical priority on revenue growth, customer acquisition and retention, and addressing rising customer experience expectations for 2013. Our data suggests business leaders are 50% more likely to identify these as critical initiatives than they do margin improvement or reducing operating costs. Growth and customer experience improvement take business priority.
Thirty software product members of NASSCOM, the industry association for the IT BPO sector in India, announced that they would form a group to expand the software ecosystem in India: the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table, or iSPIRT. The key driver behind this development appears to be NASSCOM’s limited focus on software product companies in India. iSPIRT plans to:
Convert ideas into policy proposals to take to government stakeholders
Enable product startups to discuss issues through a dedicated platform (productnation.in)
Create awareness for the adoption of software products within the Indian SMB sector
Work with NASSCOM and other industry associations to provide a platform for product start-ups
The 2013 New Year has begun with the removal from the global tech market outlook of one risk, that of the US economy going over the fiscal cliff. On New Year's day, the US House of Representatives followed the lead of the US Senate and passed a bill that extends existing tax rates for households with $450,000 or less in income, extends unemployment insurance benefits for 2 million Americans, and renews tax credits for child care, college tuition, and renewable energy production, as well as delaying for two months the automatic spending cuts. While it also allowed Social Security payroll taxes to rise by 2 percentage points — thereby raising the tax burden on poor and middle class people — and did not increase the federal debt ceiling or address entitlement spending, the last-minute compromise does mean that the US tech market no longer has to worry, for now, about big increases in taxes and cuts in spending pushing the US economy into recession.