Why You Need an India Strategy Now

Taj Mahal in sunset light, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

By Priti Dadlani

An India strategy is central to the business plan of every technology company operating on a global scale today.

Why? India has attractive demographics for starters. In Forbes latest List of the Best Countries for Business, India was ranked Number 98 (out of 145 nations).

 “India has capitalized on its large educated English-speaking population to become a major exporter of information technology services, business outsourcing services, and software workers,” says the Forbes article.

India is home to some of the world’s largest outsourcing companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro and Infosys. All of the world’s leading technology companies – Cisco, Intel and Qualcomm – are also firmly ensconced in India

These companies are clients of Huntech Consultants, Inc. The global recruitment firm is headquartered in Toronto and sources candidates from all over the world for computer engineering jobs, including India.

Huntech CEO Raj Dadlani explains why his company often extends its search for top quality semiconductor and electronics/computer engineering professionals to India.

“This is a very mobile workforce and many have received their advanced training/degrees in the U.S. and those with H1B visas will relocate back to the U.S. to work.  In fact, we just helped to relocate a senior Sharepoint Developer working in Bangalore to our client Qualcomm in San Diego.  Likewise, we also have well-trained Indian engineers working for technology heavyweights in the Bay area like Samsung, looking to relocate back to their Indian roots.”

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Where Is The Top City To Spot Tech Talent, reinforces Dadlani’s rationale.

The WSJ article cites a new study by LinkedIn that found of the top five cities where technology professionals moved to last year, four were in India: Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai. San Francisco was fifth.

Of the more than 60,000 new residents who moved to Bangalore last year 44 per cent had technology skills (software infrastructure and programming skills), while 31 per cent of 90,000 new residents to San Francisco did, according to LinkedIn.

“This data validates how strategically important India is to companies around the world,” Nishant Rao, country manager for LinkedIn in India, told WSJ. “It is also very telling of where the talent for technology, which is generally scarce, reside,” he said.

“It is hard to find tech talent in the Bay Area,” said Mr. Rao. Also, the high cost of living and rising rental costs make it tough for new talent to live in the city, he said.

The business case for an India strategy is compelling, says Guatam Chikermane who lists 7 Reasons to Do Business in India:

  1. Where else? China and India have the fastest growing economies in the world. As a democracy, India will be easier for entrepreneurs to comprehend.
  2. Government is back at the wheel.
  3. Inflation is beginning to moderate.
  4. The cost of (borrowing) money will come down.
  5. Business-friendly laws will be enacted.
  6. Workers are ready.
  7. Markets are ready to explode.

India was the only emerging economy among the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) not to suffer a downgrade by The International Monetary Fund this year. India retained its growth rate of 5.4 per cent, and has a projected growth rate of 6.4% next year. By comparison, Canada and the U.S. have projected growth rates of 2.5 and 3.5 per cent respectively.

The IMF’s upgrade of India was based largely on the country’s election results in May. The new prime minister, Narendra Modi is seen as progressive and pro-business. He’s also active on social media where he regularly connects with constituents to share his views. Modi has five million followers on Twitter and comes second (after U.S. President Barack Obama) as the most popular politician on Facebook with about 19 million “likes.”

Facebook is betting big on India, according to this article, For Facebook, As India Goes So Goes the World.

With 100 million active users, India is Facebook’s second largest market after the U.S. But those 100 million users represent only 8 per cent of the Indian population so the potential for growth is huge. India is poised to have the most Facebook users on the planet by the end of this year.

Facebook is developing a mobile strategy for India because 84 per cent of users there access the site almost entirely through their smartphones.

“India has the potential to become the largest economy in the world” and most of the growth will be spurred by small and medium businesses, said Facebook’s  chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who met with Modi on her recent visit to India.

According to Mint, Facebook is targeting India’s online advertising market by signing more partnerships and is in the process of monetizing its business there after bringing 900,000 small and medium businesses online.

Twitter, on the other hand, appears to be lagging behind in India with only 33 million users. In his article, Why Twitter Needs India, Misiek Piskorski, a fellow at Harvard Business School, offers suggestions for Twitter to grow its user base in India, including offering free 24/7 advertising on key broadcast media.

Do you have an India strategy? Why or why not?