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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Sharp Decline of The Indian Rupee Drives CIO Focus on Business Outcomes

On August 6, 2013, the Indian rupee plunged to a record low of INR61.80 to 1USD. In fact, since January 2013, the Indian rupee has depreciated by 10% against USD and is expected to slide further as India is challenged by political gridlock, serious infrastructure bottlenecks, and decreased investor confidence, all of which are contributing to a slowdown in economic growth. The declining rupee leads directly to increases in the cost of doing business, which has risen by 8-10% over the past year.

The difficult economic landscape has forced Indian firms to look for new and innovative ways to grow their businesses, create efficiencies, and improve responsiveness. This is driving changes in how Indian business leaders view technology – with many increasingly viewing technology as a far more critical means to differentiate their organizations and drive business growth. The pressure is now firmly on CIOs to deliver technology-led business outcomes for their organizations. To exploit this opportunity, CIOs should do the following:

Develop a ‘business outcomes’ matrix and map existing and planned technology projects against it to build credibility with business leaders: ROI templates are generally developed to gain approvals and are typically limited to cost savings, but very few CIOs actually link their IT spending to clearly defined business outcomes. Define what business outcome means to your organization (e.g., increase in sales, revenue, customer acquisition, customer satisfaction to name few) and map each of your projects against the matrix to prioritize those with greatest business outcomes. This will help CIOs win buy-in from business stakeholders on project funding and priorities, while ensuring that IT is viewed as an equal and capable business partner.

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Master Tomorrow’s Business Outcomes With Forrester’s Summit For CIOs: India 2013

Our research shows that 70% of Indian CIOs or top IT executives will report to CEOs or the senior-most executives in their organizations by the end of 2016. As the boundary between IT and business further blurs, successful CEOs must get more directly involved in business-led technology discussions as a means to differentiate their organization, drive business growth and measure technology success by the business outcomes it delivers. This is driving a fundamental shift in the CIO role as it moves from classic "plan, build, run" cycle management to a business outcome oriented, customer obsessed leadership position. With this backdrop, Forrester holds its second series of CIO summit across Asia Pacific in August and September; the India summit is scheduled for September 3 in Mumbai and the theme of the summit is “Mastering Tomorrow’s Business Outcomes”.

We have an action-packed agenda for the India summit with great mix of Forrester analysts (Dane Anderson, Nigel Fenwick, Bobby Cameron, and Duncan Jones) and industry keynote speakers (Arun Gupta,Chief Information Officer, Cipla; Ram Medury,Vice President, Head of IT, ICICI Lombard; Rajeev Seoni, Chief Information Officer, Ernst & Young). Throughout the day, we will have interactive discussions on how digitally-empowered customers are creating urgency for change by redefining how business is won and what role CIOs can master to digitally disrupt their markets by applying technology to deliver targeted customer value faster, better, and cheaper for potential business outcomes. 

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70% of Indian CIOs Will Report Into CEOs By 2016

I recently analyzed 60 companies in India to understand the CIO reporting structure and the key projects that these organizations are focused on. Some interesting findings from this exercise:

  • Currently, 40% of Indian CIOs or top IT executives report to CEOs or the senior-most person (president, managing director, etc.) in their organization. Among the other 60%, most report to CFOs (35%), followed by COOs, group CIOs, and chief sales officers.
  • CIOs who report to CEOs tend to have a 30% higher IT budget than CIOs who report to CFOs, COOs, or group CIOs.
  • Projects led by CIOs not reporting directly to the CEO focus primarily on reducing IT costs and aligning IT to the business; these projects are typically measured in terms of cost savings.
  • Projects led by CIOs reporting directly to the CEO are more likely to focus on customer acquisition and retention and measured more in terms of business outcomes for the organization.
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Threats And Opportunities For Software Innovation In India

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
  • Developing organizationwide best practices
  • Shaping the culture
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The Battle For The Indian Banking Industry Will Soon Intensify, And Big Data Will Decide Who Wins

 

On February 22, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), an institution that supervises and regulates India’s financial sector, announced guidelines allowing corporations to enter the banking sector. Private companies, public-sector groups, and nonbanking financial firms will all be eligible to apply for a banking license. We expect RBI to start issuing new bank licenses by early 2014.

RBI guidelines state that companies receiving a banking license must open at least 25% of their branches in rural areas. Despite this guideline, I believe that new entrants will primarily target the same urban and semi-urban customers that existing banks target. The reason is simple: These are the most profitable customers. This helps explain why 85% of rural bank branches in India belong to public banks; it’s simply not an attractive market for private banks.

What it means for current Indian banking CIOs: Leverage big data to grow your business or prepare to be left behind.

As competition increases, businesses will expect new IT capabilities to understand and respond to customer needs better, faster, and cheaper. Banking CIOs who embrace this change will adopt big data technologies and become true business partners. The ones who don’t will be bypassed by new entrants (when they come to play) using big data approaches and internal data from whatever market they’re currently in to analyze the banking market. These new entrants will likely influence customer preferences, question existing assumptions, and look for ways to disrupt the market. I recommend that current Indian banking CIOs:

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