Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Q&A: Most Indians think that IT in US thrives only because of smart Indian techies in US. Truth is that in a project, plan is of US managers. Isn't it?

Here is an interesting question that came up in an online forum. Most Indians think that IT in US thrives only because of smart Indian techies in US. Truth is that in a project, plan is of US managers. Isn't it?


Fascinating question. As an Indian American who has worked in IT/IS across industries in over a dozen countries in three continents, I think I can try to answer this one. But before I respond, let us refer to a legend Sugar in the Milk: A Parsi Kitchen Story
“There are many legends of how the Parsis were allowed to settle in India. The priestly leaders were brought before the local ruler, Jadi or Jadhav Rana, who presented them with a vessel "brimful" of milk to signify that the surrounding lands could not possibly accommodate any more people. The Parsi head priest responded by slipping some sugar into the milk to signify how the strangers would enrich the local community without displacing them. They would dissolve into life like sugar dissolves in the milk, sweetening the society but not unsettling it.”

At the risk of oversimplifying American IT, here is my2cents:
IT/IS enabling corporate America - Corporate sector includes companies ranging from fortune 500 to small-businesses need IT systems and platforms.
  • Many companies in a wide range of industries - Insurance, Healthcare Telcom, Banking, Finance, brokerage etc etc - had large IT systems and platforms going back several decades. Many of these IT systems go back decades before Indian IT and offshoring took off.
  • Smaller businesses manage with homegrown systems, platforms and increasingly SaaS systems
IT/IS in American Government :
  • American governments- federal and state governments, government bodies, DOD, Department of Energy (science), NASA, research bodies etc spend billions on IT. Some of it sourced from vendors and system integrator and much of it developed and integrated in-house.
  • Indians and Indian IT has a tenuous link to this sector
IT/IS in Startups and Silicon Valley:
  • Indians are visible and leading startups in Silicon Valley, and in other tech belts. However, the talent pool in the sector is not Indian alone, but rather global in nature
  • Startups that have grown beyond unicorn into Global 200 firms, including Microsoft and Google have CEOs of Indian origin. Most of these are global companies drawing on a global talent pool. Indians alone can’t claim credit here.
IT/IS in other sectors: Story is similar to that of corporate and government sectors
I don’t wish to undermine the contribution of Indians to IT in America since I too have been a part of the journey. However, just like in the Parsi legend, it is hard for one to know the provenance of “IT in US” just by a cursory look.
Bottomline: Indians certainly have sweetened the milk but it is not Indians alone.

I authored the popular book “Offshoring IT Services” more than a decade ago.