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Ten Takeaways on the State of Software Development Industry in India - Based on RadioOne Interview with TPS Oberoi

Tejinder Pal Singh Oberoi, Executive Director Cygnet Infotech, was interviewed by RadioOne as part of the Vibrant Gujarat Rising series. The interview touched a number of topics close to the heart of Indian IT sector, with special focus on software development industry. Here’s a look at some of the most important insights.

1. Ubiquity of Software Development: Responding to RJ Bhumika’s question on the position of software development in the IT industry, Mr. Oberoi said,

“Software sector occupies an important space in the IT industry. Whether it is the applications that you are running on your phone or the applications that you are running on your desktop, or the browsing that you do, it has software sector playing a role. So whatever your experience, the hardware is dead if the software is not there. So, virtually every piece of device, has some kind of software which will give it life.”

2. Why is Cygnet a Software Development Company: “Why did you choose to build a company focusing on software development, instead of BPO, KPO or other IT sectors?” Answering the questions, Mr. Oberoi said,

“Software is more interesting, more challenging. BPO is more of a process industry: you have a certain amount of tasks that you execute and deliver. Software development is more creative. You create something and then it functions on your machine. We wanted something more tangible, to do something which has more engineering, more life – in terms of building software on which processors can run. For example, a BPO process will probably need a software at the backend…So, we wanted to be one level higher up on the delivery chain.”

“We already had an alternate business where we were trying to create a lot of engineering practices in terms of trying to implement certain accounting software, which brought us much closer to the industry. And we were able to do certain developments, and then we decided why not a go-to-market strategy have and launch a full-fledged company. IT was booming. Though it was year 2000 in which we started and we found out way out doing web application for customers, doing solutions for customers, learning on the way.”

3. Building a Software Development Company:   RJ Bhumika asked Mr. Oberoi whether starting a software development company was a risky endeavor, and if a large capital was needed and what kind of attitude it takes to start one.

“You need a lot of intellectual capital. Intellectual capital means people who are willing to put their mind into it, people who are creative, people who can create solutions out of intangible things like software, people who want to deliver a solution or a convenience, using technology. If you think on these lines, yes, you can create a software company.” “Starting a software development company is not a risky venture as long as you are ready to invest two years of your time. At the end of the day, it is all about passion. How strongly you believe in your passion: we see some students who do their final year projects with us and then go all out and start their own company. And we have seen people who prefer to grow in professional careers... so it is all about individual’s passion in business. If he has an idea, and he would like to risk, any time is good time.”

4. Challenges for IT Startups:   How do you start making profit as an IT firm that has just started and what challenges do you face?

“What happens initially is that for a few months, you have larger salaries to pay – more than the amount of business you have. Over time, you keep acquiring customers. And you keep meeting your costs, and you have to keep innovating. You have to keep your eyes on how the industry is changing. Because IT is a very fast changing industry. So you have to keep adopting new technologies. You have to keep investing into talent which has new technologies. And keep adapting to your customers’ requirements. And keep surviving them, while you are looking for new customers.” Mr. Oberoi answered.

5. Career as a Software Developer:   Answering questions about the cost of hiring developers and the life of software developers, Mr. Oberoi responded:

“Software industry definitely pays a higher salary than other industries around. It is cushy and you work in air-conditioned offices, good bandwidth access, and despite being confined to a room, you are still connected to a lot of people on the Internet. It has its own pains also in that that all the time you have to virtually stay sitting and working. But it’s an interesting field.”

 6. Future of IT Developers:   Responding to a question about the large IT talent India has and whether we our industries can absorb the workforce, Mr. Oberoi said:

“Indian talent’s biggest competition is Indian talent. This industry changes very fast. So, if the existing talent doesn’t update, the new people who are coming up will take their jobs – the younger talent will take the senior talent’s job.”

“But, if you look, Indian implementation of IT is still in nascent stage. If you see, eGovernance is coming up, but lots needs to be done. If you look at our industries, they still need to implement a lot of IT. So, if applications and businesses are developed, we still need a lot of IT resources and we have the capacity to consume what we produce. Today, we are producing for other markets, but the potential is surely there to produce and consume for our markets.”

7. Getting Business in the IT World:   How does an IT company get business? Do customers approach you, or do you have to find them?

“You have to find customers. We went out with innovative ideas, we went out with prototypes, we did samples for customers. And we were able to win their trust. If I look at my customer base today, I am growing because my customers have stayed with me. I have reinvented my company for them. Even the first offshore customer I acquired is still my customer,” Mr. Oberoi explained.

8. India in the IT World:   Indians are known around the world for their IT talent. What’s your take on India’s position and future in IT globally? Would you say Indians are the motherboard of global IT industry?

“Indians are an integral part of the software industry. I wouldn’t say they are the motherboard, but they are definitely a lot of peripherals, or some part of the CPU. Indians have taken the easier route to development – the thinking process, primarily in software development, is still concentrated in the US. On the Hardware perspective, Koreans, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese have taken larger share of the market. We have missed the thought leadership – we have simply been the executors.”

“We are a part of team with the thought process everywhere; the processes cannot be completed without us, but there are hardly any companies in India that can say have a big brand name like Intel. We have lot of operator companies – like Wipro, Infosys, TCS, HCL – they have done huge projects, large processing activities, but not on the leadership or thought leadership level.”

9. Impact of Make in India on Indian IT:   How will the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign benefit the Indian IT industry?

“IT Industry already believes in it. If you look at all the biggies in the world they come to India to produce their software – they have their workshops in India, this is one industry that actually believes ‘Make in India.’ But it will help us all because it will give us a clear focus, if we are able to add some thought leadership to it, we will have a position which will be much stronger than we are today.”

10. R&D in Cygnet:   Does Cygnet invest in R&D? Do you do product innovation?

“We have two pet products that have come out of our R&D efforts over the last few years. One is m1-Order. This product converts print media advertisements into revenue generating sales for retailers. You can use your m1-Order mobile app to scan the print media ad and place an order directly with the merchant. Let’s say you have a local, next-door retailer and he leaves a pamphlet with you. So, all you need to do is pick up your phone, scan it and he’ll receive the order in the form of email or on his dashboard.”

“The other product is TestingWhiz. It’s a software testing tool. While developing web apps, you feel the need for automation testing. When you have a website and lot of database entries, you want to continuously keep checking it – we call it regression testing. This is an automation tool for regression testing. Generally, the tools are very complex, but this tool is very simple and easy to use and implement.” To listen to the whole interview, click on the below links:

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