Last week, I wrote about five hard truths facing Infosys after two bad quarters, essentially arguing that it had some of its old advantages as an employer as well as service provider in the global marketplace for IT services. The bigger question is not of India, because India’s IT future is secure as a hotbed of teeming programmers and developers with global firms such as Google, IBM and Accenture finding a second home here.
What is more critical is that of home-grown IT service providers. It must be said that the difference between Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro and Infosys is now more a matter of degree, and a year is enough for any of these companies to catch up each other.
So, the question is, what next for these companies?
Taking a leaf from Bollywood, which seems to be full of sequels these days, such as Jism 2 and Gangs of Wasseypur 2, it might pay for the world’s IT superpower to listen to the world’s most frenetic film industry. Here are five lessons, which, in true filmy style, I might call “takes”. My column, then, is a sequel to last week.
Take 1: Script first, actors later: Recent Bollywood hits have been led by directors, not superstars. India’s IT industry must learn to reward business model innovations not just for its clients, but for itself. Like each director has his/her own niche or specialisation, a clearer focus on its own strengths might work better.
Take 2 : Don’t confuse producers with movies: Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Motion Pictures has produced the pure mass entertainer The Dirty Picture, but it also produced Dibakar Banerjee’s Love, Sex aur Dhokha — a serious, niche arthouse film. They had different actors, different styles of promotion, and different themes — and budgets. For Indian IT, there should be a similar separation between high-end consulting and low-priced coding/solutions in managing teams and workflows.
Take 3: Don’t act weird in the name of innovation: This lesson comes from Ram Gopal Varma, who turned ultra-creative, but is no longer famous for hits. His version of Sholay was a box-office disaster. People love a Rohit Shetty, with his predictable comedies to a predictable audience, delivered with style and hype.
Take 4: Partner California — Anil Ambani’s Reliance ADAG is now an equal partner of Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio. Hollywood is in California. So is the Silicon Valley. Guess where is the difference? There is a difference between a 50% partner and a service provider.
Take 5: Find local stories — Bollywood is now making animation movies on Hanuman and Ganesha. Domestic IT and e-governance are to Indian IT the equivalents of a Superman or a Batman.
Indians understand Indian culture better, right?