Reinventing Nasscom: The IT industry lobby needs to lead from the front, 14 Feb

The Economic Times

The brand of the Indian IT industry and its official face Nasscom, is perhaps the only entity whose worth is higher than that of Brand India itself. Indian IT industry is perhaps one of the few in the world that has almost zero competition, globally.

Nasscom must move from being just a lobbying association to one that spearheads a holistic transformational agenda for the industry as a whole. Nasscom's unparalleled success has also sown the seeds of its own failure. How adeptly it tackles these will shape Nasscom's future.

The six key challenges are: one, with ever-rising expectations, the industry is unable to grow as fast as was predicted and the challenge is for both, growing the size of the IT pie itself, and taking away larger slices of it for India. Two, to meet the huge related challenge of talent development.

Three, to bridge the growing disengagement with parts of the 'real' India. Four, to win over increasingly hostile governments, both at home and abroad. Five, to become relevant to all parts of the IT value chain, and six, to create an ecosystem that will foster entrepreneurship akin to what software technology parks (STP) did for the IT industry in its early years.

First, it is almost a given that with the exception of issues pertaining to immigration or visas and protectionism abroad, and tax and policy issues at home, the Big 5 in the industry can do whatever Nasscom can do, sometimes even better.

Nasscom, buttressed by significant supporting funding from government of India, successfully thwarted attempts by the US industry to pass a law making it mandatory to hire 50% onsite labour from US nationals only. This was a much-cherished moment. However, a lot more remains to be done.

The smaller players in the IT industry complain that Nasscom doesn't bother much about them and access to markets is critical for them. US small and medium enterprises (SME) have repeatedly sought access to Indian IT expertise. It doesn't take rocket science for Nasscom to design a portal, which will establish simultaneous, equitable link between access to new opportunities and all the IT companies in India, at once.

Second, the quality of technical education in India leaves much to be desired. For the Indian IT industry to increase the size of the global IT pie, it must move from being a reactive problem-solver to a proactive problem-definer. To do this, Nasscom alone can bring the engineering and business schools of India and overseas on to a common platform, in conjunction with the education and IT ministries of India, to transform the curriculum to meet this need of tomorrow.