NASSCOM Restructures Itself For 2020 Vision: A Step In The Right Direction, But Long Road Ahead

On March 4, 2013, NASSCOM, the industry association for the IT BPO sector in India, announced a restructuring plan to help realize its goal of India becoming a $300 billion industry by 2020. The restructuring plan is based on an independent committee’s recommendations, chaired by Infosys cofounder N.R. Narayana Murthy. Key highlights from the announcement:

  • Realignment of the NASSCOM structure into seven verticals (IT services, business process management, global in-house centers, engineering and R&D services, Internet and mobile, products, and domestic market) and five enablers (global trade, policy advocacy, outreach, skills and talent,  and regional connect).
  • Executive Council to be reconstituted to have adequate representation from the seven identified verticals
  • Formation of various councils, including national vertical councils, country councils in key markets, and strengthened regional councils to address local issues.
  • Set up five centers of excellence in five years for software engineering, emerging technologies, vertical solutions, eCommerce, service excellence, and governance.
  • Facilitate 100,000 certifications in specialist skills and domain areas.

It is evident from the announcements, which will be implemented in a phased manner, that NASSCOM is trying to strengthen its role at all levels of government and the private sector while addressing the concerns of its members. Forrester welcomes the restructuring plan from NASSCOM, as it will help the industry body strengthen its role within as well as outside of India. The more participatory model will provide the following benefits:

  • Bring greater transparency to the system, as members can actively participate through various councils.
  • Empower members by allowing them to contribute actively in the decision-making process at various levels.
  • Strengthen the interaction with key stakeholders through workshops.
  • Realign the institutional system within NASSCOM to decentralize power and elevate knowledge-sharing.

The committee has provided a 10,000-foot view to NASSCOM; now the industry body needs to ensure that it executes the vision well. I believe that NASSCOM must focus most immediately on the following key tasks to ensure that its 2020 vision stays on track:

  • Strengthen the system within NASSCOM by defining and empowering the key roles and responsibilities of people involved in execution and recruiting leaders from the private sector to head the identified verticals.
  • Develop a continuous monitoring mechanism to perform a reality check on the status of goal attainment against key milestones.
  • Provide strong integration between the seven verticals to avoid silos working independently, which can lead to competition and inefficient overlaps.
  • Prioritize verticals to achieve its goals in a timely manner; after all, there is only so much NASSCOM can do with existing resources.
  • Ensure that capacity-building is taken seriously and is not just cosmetic.

The participatory approach announced by NASSCOM looks and sounds great, but now the hard work begins. Of greatest importance is that the right set of people are involved and empowered at all levels. The restructuring will be a radical change for NASSCOM; it needs to ensure that in addition to bringing in the right leaders, a mind shift of its own people takes place and a strong monitoring mechanism in place to ensure its vision is successfully executed. What’s your view on NASSCOM’s restructuring plan?