For a while, the annual Leadership Forum in Mumbai was the IT equivalent of a pilgrimage to Mecca – you had to go at least once in your career. But, last week’s event came and went without a whimper.
It has been evolving in the vendors who show up. Used to mostly be Indian vendors – this year the sponsors had names like Accenture, Atos, CSC and Steria. The audience is global – Chinese, Irish, New Zealanders networking with customers accustomed to global delivery. Mercifully, there are many more non-stops to India from most places in the world.
What has not evolved much is the content at the event. Each year, the underlying theme is how great outsourcing is, how innovative, without acknowledging that real innovation is happening at places like Amazon and GE and salesforce.com, not in the outsourcing world. Indian politicians pitch how wonderful the country is, but avoiding substantive discussion on infrastructure or inflationary issues. In that sense, the gathering is incestuous, and risks losing its stature in industry events.
Nasscom could learn from two of its leading members, Cognizant and HCL . Both run events, Community and Unstructure that are unafraid to drift in innovative directions. More importantly, they allow customers plenty to time to mingle and relax, without being bombarded by constant selling. It’s tough to stay awake in an outsourcing pitch even when Larry Ellison is coming up next – it certainly is when you are jetlagged and have had a couple of Kingfishers!