Resilience and riding the tailwinds will be key

Against this backdrop, Indian IT recorded positive revenue growth, increasing by 6% quarter-on-quarter and it was the highest sequential growth since Q1FY17. T

By UB Pravin Rao

When we published the NASSCOM Strategic Review in February and coined the term “Techade” to imagine what the next ten years would be like, little did we know that it would be an understatement. Three months into remote working and we had industry leaders such as Satya Nadella proclaiming that digital adoption had increased manifold (in a matter of months) which would have otherwise taken two years or longer. And, this upward trajectory will only grow steeper.

Indian IT serves 90% of Fortune 500 companies including mission-critical processes that have zero tolerance for latency. Literally, within a matter of days, 95% of the 4.4 million IT workforce shifted to remote working which in itself is mind-boggling statistics. NASSCOM along with the industry worked with various governments (centre, state & local bodies), policy-makers, and end-clients to enable this massive shift while remaining obsessively focussed on business continuity. In turn, well-deserved plaudits were earned. A Feedback Insights-survey in May revealed that 95% of the clients were happy with the way the Indian IT industry responded to the crisis.

It was the precursor to what would then come to be known as the new/next normal. Nine months down the line, I am certain that the hybrid model is here to stay. In the September quarter, the global growth trajectory and technology spend growth remained muted, albeit with minimal improvement over the earlier period.

Against this backdrop, Indian IT recorded positive revenue growth, increasing by 6% quarter-on-quarter and it was the highest sequential growth since Q1FY17. The sequential digital revenue growth was nearly double at11.3%. And the share of digital as a part of the total revenue stood at 46.9%.

Buoyed by extensive digitalisation particularly through the adoption of cloud, collaborative workplace technologies, mobility, and cybersecurity, the road to recovery has been laid. Our CEO Pulse Survey indicated that more than two-thirds of Indian tech companies expect FY21 to be largely centred around recovery and restart. Digital transformation is the topmost priority and in a highly connected world that will remain largely contactless for the foreseeable future, it will reveal itself to greatly impact business models, customer experience, operations, and employee experience.

The recent DoT announcement for OSPs has made things much easier for companies to adopt work from anywhere as a long-term solution. The Indian tech sector can pioneer this model at scale. In a hyper-digital economy where in-person communication is greatly reduced, trust, I would say, is the single-most-important currency. The four cornerstones of trust remain firm— competence, reliability, integrity, and empathy. Employers trusting their employees (and vice-versa); end-customers trusting their solution providers, individuals trusting organisations with their data; businesses putting their faith in governments to do the right things, etc. are all prominent dimensions. In a VUCA++ world, people only want to interact and do business with entities they can trust.

The year 2020 was when leadership communication increased manifold. Every leader I spoke to had one thing to say—they were communicating much more than earlier. Digital channels and collaborative workplace tools made it infinitely easier, and most importantly, it was also about ensuring mental wellness was discussed as a key focus area.

How is 2021 likely to be? All that I have mentioned earlier will stand in good stead but it will also be about resilience, pivoting quickly to capture new opportunities, and riding the tailwinds. Talent employed in web and mobile, cloud, AI and Big Data analytics will form a major chunk of the future digital talent pool—almost 80%. Companies would secure chances of doing well if they invest in these foundational technologies.

2021 and beyond will also be about co-creation, being flexible about hiring talent from Tier III locations and gig workers, and bringing in a lot more diversity that remote working provides. Finally, I will say, the human angle needs to come through very powerfully. Even innovation has to be centred around humans and we have to be prepared to ask if it’s making lives any better. The one common thing I saw in this crisis in great leaders is empathy. In a complex business environment, it is okay to not have all the answers and those leaders who are able to say so will emerge stronger and earn greater trust from their stakeholders.

The best practices adopted in 2020 will continue into the next year and I remain confident that the Indian tech sector will build upon the ‘Think Digital Think India’ vision!

The writer is chairman, Nasscom

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