Bharti Airtel Finally Says “Yes” To IBM — But With Caveats

All the speculations on whether IBM will get a renewal of its landmark contract with Bharti Airtel, largest telecom operator in India, have finally come to an end. Yesterday, IBM announced that Bharti Airtel has extended the agreement to manage latter’s infrastructure and application services over the next five years. The key highlights:

  • Although the deal value was not disclosed, Forrester estimates it at between $600 million and $700 million spread across five years.
  • The tenure of the contract has been reduced from 10 years to five.
  • Bharti Airtel plans to build in-house tech capabilities and expand its partner ecosystem as part of its new IT vision.
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India's Tech Market Will Grow 8% In 2014

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.
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What Indian CIOs Can Learn From The Delhi Assembly Elections

Disclaimer: I am not a political analyst, and this post is not intended to promote any political party.

December 8 was an historic day for Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which arose from the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare a year ago, achieved a spectacular result in Delhi’s assembly elections — one far beyond anyone’s expectations. The party won 39% of the total assembly seats, sending Congress (which is India’s oldest party and had ruled Delhi for the past 15 years) plummeting to third place.

AAP’s rapid rise and strong showing highlight a fundamental shift in India’s political system toward citizen engagement and empowerment, especially in urban and semiurban areas. In particular, India’s youth are ready to take risks to realize their hopes and aspirations. About 350,000 18- and 19-year-olds have recently joined the voter rolls and saw in AAP the possibility to change the existing political system. And AAP was in tune with them, putting volunteers to work on social media platforms to connect with citizens on issues like corruption.

Indian CIOs should sit up and take heed, because just as empowered citizens can disrupt traditional politics, digitally empowered customers will disrupt businesses in every industry. Forrester calls this the age of the customer, and we define it as:

A 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.

You must prepare to deal with this disruption and understand what you must do to make your organization customer-obsessed:

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India Technology Market 2014 Predictions

By Sudhanshu Bhandari and Manish Bahl

India is going through a tough time: Poor policy, delayed reforms, the free fall of the rupee against major currencies, multibillion-dollar scams, and political gridlock are all negatively affecting the country’s growth. However, we anticipate the Indian economy will start picking up — albeit at a slower rate — in 2014, mainly due to good monsoons, improving exports, and huge infrastructure projects that should launch once a new central government is in place.

Forrester’s Asia Pacific (AP) analyst team has just published its 2014 technology predictions report. What top trends will be critical to the Indian market?

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CIO Crisis Alert: India Will Lead Asia Pacific IT Salary Increases In 2014

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.
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Indian CIOs Must Adopt A Dual Technology Management Agenda To Win In The Age Of The Customer

Digitally empowered customers are forcing firms to redefine their engagement model to survive in the age of the customer. Data from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013, indicates that Indian CIOs’ top business priority is to address the rising expectations of customers and improve customer satisfaction; 87% of them told us that it is a high or critical priority.

                                                               

Indian business leaders’ attitudes are changing; increasingly, they view IT as a means to better engage digitally enabled constituents, and this is fueling a fundamental shift in the way firms interact with customers. Business leaders expect their CIOs to contribute to business growth by winning and retaining customers. But targeting the customer experience requires IT organizations to radically shift focus. CIOs must alter governance processes, job descriptions, IT performance metrics, and even the culture of the technology management organization.

Forrester recently published Technology Management In The Age Of The Customer, which highlights how empowered customers are disrupting every industry and CIOs need to adapt tech management to these rapid changes. To meet this objective, CIOs must broaden their tech management priorities and carry two agendas:

  1. Managing infrastructure management and internal operations, which we call “IT.”
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Indian CIOs Must Prepare To Take Advantage Of Global Technology M&A Trends

Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed the acquisition of 28 software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) firms globally, compared with only 13 IT services or BPO firms (see the figure below). The Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Survey, Q4 2012 indicated that 67% of business decision-makers in India planned to increase their department’s spending on SaaS and other as-a-service offerings in 2013 through the IT organization. Anticipating the market’s growing shift to the cloud, large enterprise software players like Oracle and SAP are acquiring SaaS-based products and solutions (Taleo, Ariba, SuccessFactors, etc.) to help them shift their business model to meet the growing market preference for SaaS subscription software over traditional licensed software products.

 

CIOs in India must capitalize on this gradual global shift in M&A — away from pure IT services and toward cloud-based services — in order to fundamentally shift the way IT is delivered in their organizations. CIOs should adopt a three-pronged strategy to gain full advantage of global technology M&A trends:

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Big Data Is On The Rise In India’s Midmarket — But Without Clear Business Outcomes

As part of the research for my upcoming report on midmarket IT budgets in India, we collected responses on big data adoption trends and maturity levels from 430 midmarket businesses (those with 400 to 2,500 employees) in the country. Our research shows that around 35% of Indian midmarket firms plan to invest in big data technologies and solutions in the coming one to two years, but we also found that many of them focus on reducing costs (30%) or optimizing asset utilization (25%) as the business outcomes expected. Moreover, only 8% of midmarket CIOs who plan to invest in big data have a projected or proven ROI for their big data investments — showing that many Indian organizations are getting caught up in big data hype.

India’s weakening economic conditions have put tremendous pressure on businesses to be more competitive and drive growth. As competition in the midmarket increases, business leaders will expect new IT capabilities to respond to customer needs better, faster, and cheaper. The pressure is now firmly on CIOs to deliver clear business outcomes on their big data investments. Our survey and my discussions with Indian CIOs have led me to the following recommendations for midmarket CIOs investing in big data:

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Build Or Colocate? The ROI Of Data Center Facilities In India

Many Indian CIOs and their infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams are in the market for a new data center as their existing data centers are running low on space, power, and cooling capacity. Forrester finds that data growth, virtualization, and consolidation are the main culprits behind these capacity challenges in India. For instance:

  • Data growth increases data center storage investments. Forrester estimates that storage consumes somewhere between 5% and 15% of the total power consumed in the data center and that the volume of data is growing by 30% to 50% per year.
  • Virtualization drives higher-density infrastructure architecture. Organizations face pressure to support more extreme compute densities and experiment with new infrastructure architectures.
  • Data center consolidation puts more pressure on centralized facilities. Per Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Survey, Q4 2012, consolidating IT infrastructure was a critical or high priority for nearly 70% of Indian IT decision-makers. This means more power, cooling, and space for centralized sites.
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Midmarket IT Spending In India: Rising Customer Expectations Drive Change

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.
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