As Nasscom kicks off its flagship Leadership Forum event in Mumbai and seeing the vendors and analysts presenting, I am reminded of a meeting with a group of outsourcing execs last year. I asked them who they thought was their fastest growing competitor. Several US, European and Indian firms were mentioned. When I mentioned Foxconn and GE, the group was puzzled.
Foxconn assembles the iPhones and iPads most of them had. It has over a million employees in China alone. GE provides data centric services to customers around its plane engines, scanners, turbines. These are captive products outside service providers can only dream of accessing as data sources
In fairness, Product Engineering and the Internet of Things are not yet a major focus for most outsourcers. Most of their focus is still in the corporate office and the data center.
But even there new players keep emerging from left field.
- In the data center, everyone talks about Amazon. But two software vendors, Microsoft and Oracle are starting to be major Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers. Most major outsourcers have shown little appetite to invest in capex for cloud computing.
- In the exciting new world of Big Data and advanced analytics, players like Mu Sigma and BGI have already scaled to thousands of staff in India and China respectively. They are not traditional outsourcers (BGI focuses on genomic analysis) but are showing clients there is a potentially different staffing model – MasterCard is a client of and an investor in Mu Sigma. Even more interesting is Kaggle’s crowdsourced data scientist model.
- Mobile apps – just compare the well stocked shelves of the Apple iOS and Google Android stores to that in the SAP mobile store. And the major outsourcers are absent in the former, and more aligned with the latter.
- Social marketing - Many outsourcers are working out from their CIO relationships to get to marketing budgets. There they find digital Agencies like LBi are already known to most major brands and are positioning themselves as “We’re experts in SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing, usability and multi-signal search.”
- Even in the once reliable ERP services marketplace, the changes are dramatic.
I am not in Mumbai this week but I would have liked to have seen where the Richter scale at the Nasscom event shows these seismic movements in the outsourcing industry.