Enterprises welcome software solutions from Indian vendors, finally. It has been a very interesting, and mixed at best, three-decade journey for software product developers within India. It is my endeavor to outline this journey.
Year 1988: I was interacting with a reputed engineering company, helping them decide on project management software. A well-known international magazine had reviewed and published an article on project management software. I was pleasantly surprised to find “INSTAPLAN” in this list, a project management software product from India. In 1989, when I started my business, one of the first products I signed up for was developed in Goa, a product that generated code for xbase development platform, named AUTOCODE. Soon after, I signed up for my first security software product, PROTECTOR PLUS, developed in Bangalore. None of these products survive today. While I have mentioned only three products, there were many other Indian software products, particularly in the domains of Security and Business Applications.
The size of Indian software industry was quite miniscule in those days. Logically, then, the Indian software product developers should have thrived and multiplied over these three decades with growth in economy. But that did not happen. It would be beyond the scope of this article to delve deep into the reasons. But briefly, the main reasons could be attributed to (a) inability of Indian software vendors to keep pace with technology changes; (b) massive onslaught of international products due to opening up of the economy and reduced import duties and local taxes; (c) huge mismatch in financial investments in marketing and distribution between Indian and international vendors; and (d) clear preference by overwhelming number of Enterprise IT decision makers for international products vis-à-vis Indian products.
From the late nineties to the first decade of this century, the industry came to be dominated completely by International products, be it the infrastructure space, or the business applications space. Only a few Indian software / IT product companies grew, mainly in the business applications space (Accounting, ERP, CRM and such), and a few in enterprise security space. In the face of such an environment, a few dared to invest in new software products. Fortunately, one of the key requirements, finance, was now more easily available to such bright start-ups, thanks to the venture capitalists.
Good news. We now have several products providing solutions for IT infrastructure management, security and business applications. Many of these IT solutions are maturing to a stage where they are confidently competing with international brands, not only in India, but also internationally.
Better news. Indian CXOs and CIOs are now way more open to solutions bred in India. While many CIOs even today look for international endorsements (such as Gartner report), many are also more confident of Indian vendors, trusting their internal evaluation processes.
One such area where I have seen many products doing impressive amount of work is infrastructure and application monitoring. Even five years back, you would have hardly found any mature product developed in India for network monitoring, application monitoring, asset management and helpdesk. Today, there are several products, with a good number of customers under their belt. They are giving a run for money to the well-established and expensive international brands.
In a recent case, an enterprise customer replaced an international product they were using (one of the top products as per Gartner’s report) for network monitoring, with a product developed in India. The customer saw three clear advantages:
- Product Roadmap: The customer could get much better understanding of product roadmap and could also discuss wish list. This was pleasantly different from their earlier interactions with representatives of international brands, where the main interaction was about transaction.
- RoI: The Indian products are with a new approach, entirely created by one team, with a modern interface. The international brands have mostly grown through acquisition route. As a result, many of their solutions are piecemeal, requiring procurement of multiple modules which are often not well integrated in a single console. Lack of integration implies loss of co-relation. International products are also more expensive in most cases. Better pricing, lower cost of administration and better services give a far higher Return on Investments.
- Ease of doing business: The Indian vendors have simpler pricing policies and support escalation is right here in India. Prices do not fluctuate based on exchange rate, and at times vendors show greater commercial flexibility. This helps enterprise customers procure Indian products with greater ease.
Similarly, I have seen products developed in India for asset management, helpdesk, application monitoring, log analysis, ERP, CRM, network security and many such solution areas succeed in competing against international brands. Many are stepping out of India to make their presence felt globally. I hope more Indian CXOs and CIOs will look to Indian IT vendors with greater openness and trust, and help our brands win in India and abroad. It is also my firm belief that we will see multifold IT products launched from India in coming years, thanks to the success of the current bunch. That is a bright future for India and Indians.
About the Author
Biren Shah is the Managing Director of Adit Microsys Pvt. Ltd. and Mehfil Mastee Events Pvt. Ltd. He is an entrepreneur with experience of over three decades. He holds BE (Hons) from BITS, Pilani and has completed his PG Diploma in Industrial Engineering from NITIE and MBA, Case Western Reserve University, USA. He has a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry.