Thursday, May 18, 2006

Finally, companies in the IT Industry are spending on branding!

Over the past 20 years, the story of the Indian IT industry and their success has been quite phenomenal - the IT big boys got a lot of publicity and international recognition for doing the donkey-work outsourced here pretty well. They've all been riding this wave and haven't really needed to spend a lot on marketing and high visibility in the past. But it looks like all this is going to change:

The Economic Times reports that the Indian IT big guys want to take on their western counterparts - IBM, Accenture and others who get the cream of the contracts.

Also the brand recall at the CXO level of Indian IT companies is not at the same level as with global corporations like HP, Microsoft, Accenture, EDS, Cisco, Dell and others. Though CXOs are aware of India as a hot destination for offshoring IT tasks, they aren't able to easily recall names of top vendors including HCL Technologies, Satyam Computer Systems, Infosys, Wipro, Patni and others. This is what IT majors want to change now. So what is Infosys doing to get eye balls. The company's global marketing head Srinivas Uppaluri told ET that as routine campaigns may not help, Infosys is targeting a focused group of 100,000. We have to do community building and events to get a better mind share among CXOs, he said.

According to Global Services, "Branding" has now suddenly become quite important (on a different scale) to Wipro, Infosys, TCS and Satyam. So not only should we expect much bigger marketing budgets and more diverse media plans (Mindtree is projected to spend Rs. 5 Crores this year), we will also see the side effects of these campaigns on brand India; For better or worse? Only time will tell.

Is outsourcing finally getting commoditized? In that case, of course, price and brand are the only two variables that matter. Indian companies have so far played the price card, which, of course, has a lower limit. So now, they feel, it is time to do something about the brand.

My only concern is that if they start getting more publicly visible, then they'll also have to pull up their socks in the 'incompetence' and 'inefficient' departments. Too many people who don't have the experience, intelligence or capabilities to do what they're supposed to do already litter these companies like ticks on a dog. But other than that, this could only mean good things for the Indian IT industry - for by spending oodles of moolah on marketing, and brand building, the big boys will also indirectly help the other small and medium sized companies here who accept outsourced development work.

In other unrelated news, it seems that the "Database of Indian IT Employees" is going to happen after all. I recently wrote about a concern I had about a move by NASSCOM and the Indian IT industry to register the country's employees in a biometric database, accessible to companies worldwide. Well it looks like it's going to happen, and the employees in the IT industry are not going to have a say in forming the privacy policy.

... The Indian IT industry has declared that all employees will have to register on its biometric database, so it can assure its Western clients that their customers' personal data will be protected....
NASSCOM vice president Sunil Mehta said: "The SRO would subscribe that all members would have all their employees registered in the registry. Mehta said the rules governing the use of employee data had been drawn up in a joint effort by NASSCOM, NSDL and industry. He said it was likely the guidelines would not be published. Employees' considerations had been taken into account by consulting lawyers, he said. "They don't have a union, but we did focus group discussions to attain their views," Mehta added.

I think now is a good time for people working in the IT and ITES sectors in India to form a union. It's amazing that over 950,000 people in India seemingly don't give a damn about their personal information.