To remain relevant, Indian IT companies really need to think anew

Unless Indian information technology (IT) companies innovate and diversify, their very existence may be under threat, given the bouquet of low-end services and software development, which they offer. Most industry biggies have conceded that the golden phase of the IT industry in India may have come to a virtual end. A lot needs to be done if it is to be restored to its glory.
India’s second largest software and services export behemoth, Infosys made a firm beginning to redefine itself under the leadership of its chief executive officer, Vishal Sikka. Notwithstanding the fact that Sikka came under tremendous fire from the software services major’s promoters, he seems to have found the sense of purpose, defining not just his personal role, but also the company’s standing globally.
The driverless golf cart designed by the company’s Mysore facility in conjunction with IIT New Delhi, gives a fair idea of what Infosys under Sikka is capable of. The driverless golf cart built indigenously and capable of sensing its environment and navigation without human input, could be the beginning for Infosys to chart a new path and take on their western peers.
Advanced control systems based on new technologies to help the cart navigate paths, road signage and obstacles could open up possibilities for huge integration with the automobile industry in India to provide new mobility solutions globally.
Interestingly, the 10 per cent addition to Infosys revenues in the quarter ending June 2017, have come from new projects developed over the last two years and include platforms like Nia, Skava, Edge and Panaya. Infosys seems to betting big on Nia, the platform to help its clients embrace artificial intelligence and transform their businesses. Sikka’s commitment to new artificial intelligence technologies and generation analytics makes the future for Infosys brighter vis-à-vis its domestic competitors. Given the stress in new hiring faced by the IT industry across Europe and USA, India is bound to lose out on these lucrative markets in case new skills are not imparted. Restrictive regimes with new curbs on visas and minimum pay limits have made the going tough not just for Infosys, but even its bigger competitors like TCS. While healthy competition between companies like TCS and Infosys is welcome, top Indian IT players may have to combine their strengths in certain core areas like artificial intelligence and robotics to systematically push up the Indian stakes globally. For instance, TCS is hugely into artificial intelligence-related projects with investment, human resources and infrastructure. There’s no harm in these companies identifying collaborative ideas on which projects could be developed to cut costs, eliminate duplication and make their products and services competitive in terms of prices and quality. These collaborations will naturally have to extend industry wide in India to achieve economies of scale. The Indian government has till date pursued a policy of keeping IT innovations at an arms length. Perhaps, it’s time for the Modi government to invest public resources and leverage public infrastructure for developing new technologies. As a quid pro quo, IT biggies will have to consider evolving know-how in an effort to find solutions for day-to-day life problems for common people. It is also instructive to remember that the IT industry alone should not individually fight for survival. Instead, all stakeholders must come together to make India the flag-bearer in innovations and Nextgen technologies.