That’s it for another year. I’m back in London and NASSCOM 2008 is just a memory, though the content on this blog has ensured that it will be rather more enduring than most conferences. It was a really enjoyable trip for me as NASSCOM itself was as exciting as usual and I had been in the Philippines for a few days immediately before arriving in Mumbai.
I think the subject everyone wanted to talk about this year was the US economic slowdown as a result of the sub-prime credit crisis. This was not even on the radar last year and has gradually snowballed into a topic that every company is now worried about. However, some of the experts I spoke to were quite dismissive of how badly it will affect the technology and service sector in India. Some even just brushed it aside, saying that there are so many great opportunities it would be crazy to worry about this. Several other industry experts came up with a similar view, though with differing reasons – the general consensus view was that the growth and opportunities for India are so strong at present that even a slowdown in the US won’t disturb growth.
Several Indian tech companies have watched their share price decline dramatically in the past year, as profits have been squeezed by the unfavourable dollar / rupee exchange rate. This was also a major topic of conversation at NASSCOM this year. What if it gets worse? What will the companies do about their share price and valuation? I know myself that several Indian companies are now casting aside any extraneous expense and battening down the hatches in advance of their next quarterly earning figures.
I’m inclined to shake my head at some of this behaviour. In a growing market with new customers being acquired by all the major tech firms, it seems everyone gets the jitters because of what the market is going to do to their share price in the next 12 weeks. It will take some brave leaders to ride out the present concern over foreign exchange, but surely the industry has got to start taking a longer-term view than the investors? Or am I missing something?
The government has been generally praised for their proposed changes to the IT Act, though some of the reluctance to extend tax breaks further into the future has been criticised. Perhaps India will need to see some major investors open shop in other Asian locations such as the Philippines before they reconsider their tax policies.
As always, topics such as innovation, partnership, and collaboration have been batted around. I don’t think I learned anything new, but there was a feeling that some companies are moving beyond just the usual lip service to these topics. The KPMG analysis of KPO for example was a welcome examination of what is really needed to enter into this area of the market – a wake up call really for those who keep repeating that they are ‘moving up the value chain’…
It has been a useful and enjoyable conference though. NASSCOM captures the mood of the industry in India and sets the agenda for the year ahead. Though there are a few concerns about global services at present, the view in Mumbai this year was that the opportunities far outweigh possibility for clouds on the horizon. See you in Mumbai next year for NASSCOM 2009!
My final thoughts: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oljRZNJuSAE