The Indian technology industry got its start running call centers and doing low-level IT work for western firms. Then, in the 2000s, it started taking on higher level IT tasks, offering management consulting services, and performing sophisticated R&D. Now there is another transition happening, one far more significant: a transition to development of innovative technology products. Instead of providing IT services as the big outsourcing companies do, a new breed of start-ups is developing high-value products based on intellectual property.
The Indian IT industry group NASSCOM estimated that in 2013, the country’s software product revenues totaled $1.64 billion. It forecasts that this will grow to $11 billion per year by 2015.
It is surprising to see the changes that are powering the new transition: its tech workers are leaving high-paying jobs in IT services, and kids out of school are ignoring social taboos against failure and defying marriage customs to become entrepreneurs. A few Americans are also joining the fray, starting their ventures in India rather than in Silicon Valley.
But why are workers paid highly in an industry that does lucrative contract work for multinationals jumping ship? It’s the same dynamic as you observe in the United States. Entrepreneurs start their companies when they are, on average, 39 years of age. They have 10 to 15 years of work experience and ideas for products that solve real customer problems; they get tired of working for jerk bosses, and they want to build wealth before they retire. So they defy their fear of failure and take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
India’s outsourcing industry is about 20 years old and has hundreds of thousands of workers with 10 to 15 years of experience and ideas for innovative products. There are dozens of tech service industry workers who had become entrepreneurs. Surprisingly high proportions were not developing products for their former customers, but are instead looking forward to solve India’s problems.
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The Great Indian IT Boom