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a             to succeed if it has a
              clear understanding
              start-up can markets
              of its target only hope
              and challenges. In fact,
competition might prove to be one
of the biggest stumbling blocks
                                         services pie. So, whether it adopts a
                                         strategy to take on its competitors or
                                         chooses the right space to be in, it
                                         is important for a start-up to know
                                         whether its greatest challengers are
                                         its Indian counterparts or overseas
                                         firms in China and emerging areas
                                                                                  (and a living) for themselves in the
                                                                                  process-Aadil Bandukwala, chief
                                                                                  evangelist, Leading Minds & Talent
                                                                                  Onions; Gurudev R Goud, vice
                                                                                  president-business    development,
                                                                                  KTwo Technology Solutions; Nirmal
                                                                                  Shah, vice president, Global Delivery,
in its road to success. Given that       like Brazil.                             Tescra; and Vihang Kathe, director,
we live and work in a 'Bat' world,          In a bid to help Indian   IT start-   International Business Consulting.
competition is no longer limited to      ups navigate their way through
what we see around us. It extends to     intense competition and emerge           Who poses the greatest
unseen   IT start-ups and established    winners, we present the view of          challenge?
firms in other countries, battling for   some panellists who have stood up           Kathe's experience suggests that
a slice of the global tech products/     to competition and made a name           competition varies depending on each



                                                                                  i.i;.   I www.itmagz.comIDECEMBER   2008   I   41
behind Indian and Romanian firms
     Q)    niche of the IT sector. For instance,
                                                                                                                      "It is the overall
     o     he explains, "If you are competing                          in terms of talent, technology and
                                                                                                                     value that counts,
     o     for an ERP implementation for SAP,                          skills. He feels that these advantages
                                                                                                                       irresQective of.
     '>    ~~      'S~~~~~~~~       ".~~~    ~~ "'-~~~~              ""'m~~~~.~~...~~"-~'-~~
                                                                                                '..~'-~"-~~'-
      CD    companies like Infosys, Wipro, TCS                          agencies in India and Romania bag                    ,her you are
            or HCL. However, if you are looking                         60 per cent of the work outsourced            competing against
            for niche storage solutions, expect                         by the US and the United Kingdom.
                competition from US companies                            Other countries rapidly catching up
                                                                                                                     a fellow local player
                like EMC, HP or IBM. My firm is                          in this sector are Malaysia, Israel,
                                                                                                                      or an international
j,              engaged in the storage, server and                       Bangladesh and Macedonia.                                   player/·
            .network security solutions sectors.                            According to Shah, Indian
                The greatest competition            we face is           counterparts   as well as firms in
                from large MNCs operating in this                        Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Hungary and
                space-firms   from countries like                        Mexico, comprise the competition
                the US, Israel and Russia that are                       faced by Indian tech endeavours.
                strong in the security segment and                       Goud, however, is of the view that
                companies like Dell, IBM and HP                          the biggest competition    for Indian IT
                that have a sound presence in storage/                   start-ups comes from within India,
                server, technology."                                     although some Chinese firms rule
                    Bandukwala seconds this. His                         the roost in the 'buy cheap, use and
                                

                ~nteractive Internet agenC:y,Leading                     throw' product category!                   Nirmal Shah, vice president, Global Delivery, Tescra
                Minds, faces great competition from
                similar firms in India and Romania.                      Advantage India                            developers wouldn't mind clocking
                This is because Internet start-ups in                       Evidently, the challenge has two        in a few extra hours after their
                China and Brazil, for instance, are far                  dimensions and necessitates tech           routine schedule to help design a
                                                                         start-ups to have eyes'in front as         project. Web developers usually
                    "In order to cater                                   well as at the back of their heads to      code, and design is not their forte.
                    to larger volumes,                                   make their presence felt in a tough        However, in India, you will find a
                                                                         market. But do Indian techies have         lot of Web developers who know
                 firms just need
                                    , the inherent skills to help them deal                                         their design like the back of their
             to focus on offering     with the intra-country competition                                            hands. They don't mind working
           products/services of an and price wars that Bandukwala feels                                             late hours simply because they have
           equivalent 'quality at a are becoming a frequent occurrence?                                             the drive, the zeal and the passion
                                          He himself believes that clients
             oomDetitive price."                                                                                    to create that magical product in the
                                                                         nowadays want a relial':>le,quick and      promised timeline.
                                                                         efficient partner. "If a start-up can          Against overseas competition,
                                                                         build and leverage on these three          Shah cites maturity,            a better
                                                                         core competencies (of being reliable,      understanding          of processes, delivery
                                                                         quick and efficient) other than its        models and technological depth and
                                                                         technological expertise, it will never     breadth as the major advantages
                                                                         run out of business, no matter what        that Indian       companies         possess.
                                                                         price it quotes," he advises.              "Barring (very) few examples,
                                                                             Further, Bandukwala points out         IT vendors from other emerging
                                                                         that India boasts of an abundance          nations are really small players and
                                                                         of 'flexible' talent and passion,          sometimes        just a rag-tag bunch of
                                                                         an otherwise scarce resource, as a         techies running          a garage operation.
                Gurudev R Goud, vice president-business                  huge advantage. He elucidates his          Scale is definitely against them at
                development. KTwo Technology solutions                   point with an example: typical Web         this point in time," he says.



           42         I   DECEMBER 2008   I www.itmagz.comli.    "t.
Adding value to Brand India                 ''Tech start-ups need                                              at a lower price, as being a key
                                                                                                                                                                CD
    Goud believes Indian techies'
                                               to develop world                                                factor for enabling starr-ups to                 <
skills in Web 2.0, WiMAX,                                                                                      survive in markets.                              o
embedded technology focusing
on the design of low-powered and
                                              class products that
                                               may be marketed                                                 Don't get bypassed by ,_
                                                                                                                                                                o
                                                                                                                                                                CD
high-performance devices, and the            not only in India but                                             'local' companies      ,,"
convergence of automotive, medical            across the world."                                                   No discussion about competition
and consumer electronics, are far                                                                              would be complete without
superior to the overseas competition.                                                                          mention of the clients' perception of
Nevertheless, he stresses that Indian                                                                          competing local and international
IT professionals need training on                                                                              players. When an Indian tech firm is
how to present and market their                                                                                pitted against an overseas firm, which
skills. "We have it in us but need                                                                             one is more likely to win by virtue of
world-class presentation, business                                                                             its country of origin? Further, if two
communication and PR skills," he                                                                               local players compete, what are the
advises. On a larger scale, he feels                                                                           key factors that influence a potential
the Indian IT industry should take                                                                             client?
inspiration from the Korean and                                                                                    .Bandukwala feels that when it
the Swiss ecosystem, and organise                                                                              comes to the Internet platform,
itself likewise to nurture talent and                                                                          clients usually don't bother about
promote innovation.                        Vihang   Kathe, director,   International   Business   Consulting   the location of an agency or partner.
     Kathe mentions India's prioritising                                                                       "They are only very particular about
value-based entrepreneurship as            things up fast~r" A start-up can                                    the ability to understand, tweak,
its greatest strength, which should        carve a niche for itself very quickly                               customise, build and scale the
ideally be nourished with government       if it focuses in the right direction,"                              technology they need and to deliver it
support. He says, "The Indian              advises Shah, as he shares how his                                  in a decent timeframe. If these can be
management principles emphasise            firm co-exists with the big boys                                    matched, more often than not, even
providing value for money products/        of the Indian IT industry, and                                      price is not a barrier," he says.
solutions to end-customers. In             actually gets to do some cutting-                                       Shah too stresses th(! importance
keeping with this tradition, tech          edge work that they don't.                                          of delivering value. "It is the Qverall
start-ups need to develop world class          Goud agrees. Citing Skype,                                      value that counts, irrespective of
products that may be marketed not          YouTube and Orkut as the best                                       whether you are competing against a
only in India but across the world."       examples of how starr-ups have                                      fellow local player or an international
                                           given established biggies a run for                                 player," he says. And what adds to a
Expand your footprint                      their money, he says, "Every start-                                 firm's value in this local versus foreign
     If value-based entrepreneurship       up's mantra must be to 'give value.'                                debate? Apparently, a lot of weight is
is stressed, even a start-up can hope      Don't worry if your way forward                                     placed on the firm's local presence in
to gain a foothold in a market             is blocked by a big player because                                  its potential clients' city of operations.
where an older player is already well      at the end of the day, people                                       Shah explains: "We are headquartered
established. "Start-ups must see           respect the value they derive from                                  in the US and some of our clients feel
value in not competing on price,           a producr/service. Besides, market                                  more comfortable when they know
but overall value. If you show value,      leaders usually overlook a few key                                  we are a 'local' company. We have
you are bound to get more business         points like service quality, customer                               lost some bids because we did not
and take that bit away from the            loyalty or price. A new firm can use                                have a presence in a particular city
competition. In fact, although large       these omissions to its advantage."                                  or state. The bias, if there is any, is
companies drive the IT industry,               Kathe sees the ability to                                       for someone to be local to the client's
smaller start-ups are agile and have       provide niche solutions modelled                                    city. If they don't have that bias,
the advantage of being able to pick        on the offerings of large players                                   they usually don't much care about



                                                                                                               i.t.   I www.itmagz.comIDEcEMBER   2008 I   43

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Taking On The Competition.Pdf

  • 1. a to succeed if it has a clear understanding start-up can markets of its target only hope and challenges. In fact, competition might prove to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks services pie. So, whether it adopts a strategy to take on its competitors or chooses the right space to be in, it is important for a start-up to know whether its greatest challengers are its Indian counterparts or overseas firms in China and emerging areas (and a living) for themselves in the process-Aadil Bandukwala, chief evangelist, Leading Minds & Talent Onions; Gurudev R Goud, vice president-business development, KTwo Technology Solutions; Nirmal Shah, vice president, Global Delivery, in its road to success. Given that like Brazil. Tescra; and Vihang Kathe, director, we live and work in a 'Bat' world, In a bid to help Indian IT start- International Business Consulting. competition is no longer limited to ups navigate their way through what we see around us. It extends to intense competition and emerge Who poses the greatest unseen IT start-ups and established winners, we present the view of challenge? firms in other countries, battling for some panellists who have stood up Kathe's experience suggests that a slice of the global tech products/ to competition and made a name competition varies depending on each i.i;. I www.itmagz.comIDECEMBER 2008 I 41
  • 2. behind Indian and Romanian firms Q) niche of the IT sector. For instance, "It is the overall o he explains, "If you are competing in terms of talent, technology and value that counts, o for an ERP implementation for SAP, skills. He feels that these advantages irresQective of. '> ~~ 'S~~~~~~~~ ".~~~ ~~ "'-~~~~ ""'m~~~~.~~...~~"-~'-~~ '..~'-~"-~~'- CD companies like Infosys, Wipro, TCS agencies in India and Romania bag ,her you are or HCL. However, if you are looking 60 per cent of the work outsourced competing against for niche storage solutions, expect by the US and the United Kingdom. competition from US companies Other countries rapidly catching up a fellow local player like EMC, HP or IBM. My firm is in this sector are Malaysia, Israel, or an international j, engaged in the storage, server and Bangladesh and Macedonia. player/· .network security solutions sectors. According to Shah, Indian The greatest competition we face is counterparts as well as firms in from large MNCs operating in this Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Hungary and space-firms from countries like Mexico, comprise the competition the US, Israel and Russia that are faced by Indian tech endeavours. strong in the security segment and Goud, however, is of the view that companies like Dell, IBM and HP the biggest competition for Indian IT that have a sound presence in storage/ start-ups comes from within India, server, technology." although some Chinese firms rule Bandukwala seconds this. His the roost in the 'buy cheap, use and ~nteractive Internet agenC:y,Leading throw' product category! Nirmal Shah, vice president, Global Delivery, Tescra Minds, faces great competition from similar firms in India and Romania. Advantage India developers wouldn't mind clocking This is because Internet start-ups in Evidently, the challenge has two in a few extra hours after their China and Brazil, for instance, are far dimensions and necessitates tech routine schedule to help design a start-ups to have eyes'in front as project. Web developers usually "In order to cater well as at the back of their heads to code, and design is not their forte. to larger volumes, make their presence felt in a tough However, in India, you will find a market. But do Indian techies have lot of Web developers who know firms just need , the inherent skills to help them deal their design like the back of their to focus on offering with the intra-country competition hands. They don't mind working products/services of an and price wars that Bandukwala feels late hours simply because they have equivalent 'quality at a are becoming a frequent occurrence? the drive, the zeal and the passion He himself believes that clients oomDetitive price." to create that magical product in the nowadays want a relial':>le,quick and promised timeline. efficient partner. "If a start-up can Against overseas competition, build and leverage on these three Shah cites maturity, a better core competencies (of being reliable, understanding of processes, delivery quick and efficient) other than its models and technological depth and technological expertise, it will never breadth as the major advantages run out of business, no matter what that Indian companies possess. price it quotes," he advises. "Barring (very) few examples, Further, Bandukwala points out IT vendors from other emerging that India boasts of an abundance nations are really small players and of 'flexible' talent and passion, sometimes just a rag-tag bunch of an otherwise scarce resource, as a techies running a garage operation. Gurudev R Goud, vice president-business huge advantage. He elucidates his Scale is definitely against them at development. KTwo Technology solutions point with an example: typical Web this point in time," he says. 42 I DECEMBER 2008 I www.itmagz.comli. "t.
  • 3. Adding value to Brand India ''Tech start-ups need at a lower price, as being a key CD Goud believes Indian techies' to develop world factor for enabling starr-ups to < skills in Web 2.0, WiMAX, survive in markets. o embedded technology focusing on the design of low-powered and class products that may be marketed Don't get bypassed by ,_ o CD high-performance devices, and the not only in India but 'local' companies ,," convergence of automotive, medical across the world." No discussion about competition and consumer electronics, are far would be complete without superior to the overseas competition. mention of the clients' perception of Nevertheless, he stresses that Indian competing local and international IT professionals need training on players. When an Indian tech firm is how to present and market their pitted against an overseas firm, which skills. "We have it in us but need one is more likely to win by virtue of world-class presentation, business its country of origin? Further, if two communication and PR skills," he local players compete, what are the advises. On a larger scale, he feels key factors that influence a potential the Indian IT industry should take client? inspiration from the Korean and .Bandukwala feels that when it the Swiss ecosystem, and organise comes to the Internet platform, itself likewise to nurture talent and clients usually don't bother about promote innovation. Vihang Kathe, director, International Business Consulting the location of an agency or partner. Kathe mentions India's prioritising "They are only very particular about value-based entrepreneurship as things up fast~r" A start-up can the ability to understand, tweak, its greatest strength, which should carve a niche for itself very quickly customise, build and scale the ideally be nourished with government if it focuses in the right direction," technology they need and to deliver it support. He says, "The Indian advises Shah, as he shares how his in a decent timeframe. If these can be management principles emphasise firm co-exists with the big boys matched, more often than not, even providing value for money products/ of the Indian IT industry, and price is not a barrier," he says. solutions to end-customers. In actually gets to do some cutting- Shah too stresses th(! importance keeping with this tradition, tech edge work that they don't. of delivering value. "It is the Qverall start-ups need to develop world class Goud agrees. Citing Skype, value that counts, irrespective of products that may be marketed not YouTube and Orkut as the best whether you are competing against a only in India but across the world." examples of how starr-ups have fellow local player or an international given established biggies a run for player," he says. And what adds to a Expand your footprint their money, he says, "Every start- firm's value in this local versus foreign If value-based entrepreneurship up's mantra must be to 'give value.' debate? Apparently, a lot of weight is is stressed, even a start-up can hope Don't worry if your way forward placed on the firm's local presence in to gain a foothold in a market is blocked by a big player because its potential clients' city of operations. where an older player is already well at the end of the day, people Shah explains: "We are headquartered established. "Start-ups must see respect the value they derive from in the US and some of our clients feel value in not competing on price, a producr/service. Besides, market more comfortable when they know but overall value. If you show value, leaders usually overlook a few key we are a 'local' company. We have you are bound to get more business points like service quality, customer lost some bids because we did not and take that bit away from the loyalty or price. A new firm can use have a presence in a particular city competition. In fact, although large these omissions to its advantage." or state. The bias, if there is any, is companies drive the IT industry, Kathe sees the ability to for someone to be local to the client's smaller start-ups are agile and have provide niche solutions modelled city. If they don't have that bias, the advantage of being able to pick on the offerings of large players they usually don't much care about i.t. I www.itmagz.comIDEcEMBER 2008 I 43