Friday, May 31, 2013

The TCS Story.. and beyond - Book by Ramadorai

This is part autobiography, part company history and part the story of India itself since Ramadorai and TCS had played a pioneering role in paving the way for India's reincarnation as an IT powerhouse.

Ramadorai narrates his personal life and growth candidly with his charateristic humility and down to earth self-effacing manner. Born in a  Tamil Brahmin bureaucrat family, he imbibes the traditional virtues such as simplicity, discipline, hard working habit, obedience of seniors and commitment to work and the institution. He goes to US for higher studies after which he gets a job there. But he comes back to India to join the newly formed computer company of Tata in 1972 as Assistant Systems Programmer and Analyst. He marries a girl chosen by his family from the same Brahmin community. He is posted as the first resident TCS manager with the challenging job of getting contracts from American companies who had no idea of TCS or Indian software capability in those days. Even the Tata president in US, Mr Naval Mody discouraged  him strongly saying that there was no way to set up a business in the US for an Indian company like TCS. Ramadorai learnt the skill of sales and marketing quickly moving beyond his technical competence. While modest in personal life, Ramadorai was audacious in taking business risks and trying new ventures. Every contract was an unprecedented learning experience and there was no previous models for him to follow. Most of the journey was in untrodden path. He and TCS paved the way, as the Spanish poem says

Caminante, no hay camino
se hace camino, al andar

oh traveller, there is no way here
you make the way as you walk

What was the origin of the Indian software industry? Ramadorai says that it was born, not by any grand design but by an accident of history. When the Indian government allowed TCS to import a mainframe computer, they put a condition that the company should export and earn twice the dollar cost of the machine in five years since India was short of foreign exchange those days. TCS went to US to earn dollars by offering software services. The rest is history.

Ramadorai started work under Kohli, a typical Indian boss known for his strictness and authoritarian style of dealing with subordinates. While describing Kohli as his mentor, Ramadorai chose a different model of leadership. He became a team leader listening and delegating to others, encouraging colleagues to express themselves and taking decisions by consensus. His successful work and leadership qualities took him to the corner office as CEO from 1996 to 2009. He made TCS as the number one IT company of India and a respected global player. He planned properly and transparently for his succession by identifying and mentoring Chandrasekaran to take over from him in an orderly manner. This is a practical illustration of what TCS says in its logo "Experience Certainty"

The story of TCS is equally exciting. It was started as a data processing unit and later became subcontractor and service provider to the American and British computer companes. TCS had tough time in India during the " Licence Raj" and had tougher time convincing their American clients that an Indian company could do IT work at that time when the country had only a few computers imported despite the stringent customs and foreign exchange restrictions. Whatever TCS did in its evolution was path-breaking and they had played a critical role in establishing the credentials of Indian talents and companies globally. Even more remarkable is the fact that they pulled off the IT success within the value system and tradition of Tatas. As Tata employees, they played by the book and did everything properly and correctly. TCS is an example of building a global company in an Indian way with young Indians hungry to learn and succeed with little resources but lot of ambition and creativity.

The story of TCS is also the story of the New India in a way. Today India is perceived and admired by the world as a formidable IT powerhouse. TCS can claim credit for laying the foundation for this new paradigm and image of India. The success of TCS opened the doors for other Indian IT companies   and inspired  thousands of young Indians to have a new dream, new life, new confidence and self esteem.

When Indian companies were shy about entering Latin America on the ground that distance and languages were barriers, TCS succeeded in the region by turning the two so-called barriers into advantages. TCS has created a new 12x12 business model in which their Latin American staff work for 12 hours in the same time zone of US and pass on the work to Indians for the remaining 12 hours. Besides in English, TCS gets work done in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German, making use of the European ancestry of most Latin Americans. Ramadorai says, " We saw Latin America as a testing ground for our strategy in the emerging markets". Today, TCS employs over 8000 Latin Americans in nine Latin American countries and is targetting ten percent of its global revenue from the region. The success of TCS has opened the doors two dozen other Indian IT companies to enter Latin America.

With his firm belief in " Technology as the enabler of development" Ramadorai advocates that technology  could be used smartly and cost-efficiently to solve many problems of India. He has a vision for India and has clear ideas to deal with issues such as health care and education. It is good that the Government of India has taken advantage of his expertise and has made him as Advisor to the Prime Minister on the National Skills Development Council, with the rank of a cabinet minister.

The story of Ramdorai is an inspiration to the new Indian IT Generation. It teaches them that they do not have to imitate or go overboard to change their accent while dealing with the western clients. While Ramadorai did astounding work for TCS taking risks and pulling off audacious feats, he has remained true to his personal nature as a simple person with firm attachment to family, friends and Indian traditional values. He admits, "I was extremely shy and that shyness has stayed with me. But I have become better at hiding it, over the years." He used to do brainstorming with his colleagues over coffee or lunch during weekends at his residence making his colleagues feel at home and bonding with them. He says,"Sharing information (with speed) with colleagues became an obsession with me". This makes him distinct among many other CEOS who keep information with themselves due to their personal insecurity and to make themselves indispensable.

Ramadorai has been an inspiration to me too. He says, " I like to answer every mail I get within twenty four hours". He acknowledges that he learnt this discipline of prompt response from Nani Palkhiwala. Ramadorai is in my mailing list of hundreds of people to whom I circulate copies of my articles and blog postings on Latin America regularly as BCC. Invariably, he is the first one to respond immediately or within 24 hours, saying, " Thanks and regards". Sometimes he will make comments on the contents or ask me for further information. He should be receiving thousands of mails every day. But still he has time to read and respond to my stories on Latin America which are of peripheral interest to him.  He is so well organised and disciplined and has time for everything and everyone.  His time for replies to emails is in the morning by 5 am.

Photo: Ramadorai speaking at the inaguration of the new TCS office in Buenos Aires on 15 September 2009

Photo: Meeting with Argentine President Christina Fernandez

The moral of the story of TCS and Ramadorai for the promising young IT generation of India:

- IT does not have to mean just individual success such as those of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.  The story of Ramadorai and TCS is an alternative example of institutional success. Ramadorai succeeded within the framework of TCS which evolved in the tradition and value system of the Tatas.

- Ramadorai changed and transformed TCS and Indian image but this success has not changed his life style, core values and essential Indianness. He has the best combination of what India offers in spirit and what the West offers in business professionalism.

And there is one for the CEOs too. Ramadorai ends the book with his own quote, " A CEO should be judged not just by what he built but more importantly by what he leaves behind for his successors to build upon".

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A cycle, a dream come true and a reconnection to the village..

Disappointment and disapproval marked the faces of my mother, my brother and the neighbours in the village when I announced my intention to buy a cycle.  They expected me to buy a fancy foreign car, after having retired from the Foreign Service. Against the resistance of everyone, I have bought the cycle and drive around the village, confirming their suspicion that after such long years of being out of India I have become out of touch and out of fashion...

I am the odd guy who goes around leisurely and purposelessly in a cycle while the others zoom around in TVS, Bajaj, and Hero Honda motor bikes giving me a curious look and exchanging jokes and comments.

They do not know the real secret behind my obsession for this acquisition. Buying a cycle is fulfilling a childhood dream for me. When I was a kid, I wanted a cycle to go to school and college. But I could not afford one, Not a big deal.. None of my friends had cycle in those days. We walked to the school three kms to the west for six years and three kms east to the college for four years. 

Now that I have my own cycle, I go around every day morning for 2-3 hours covering about 20 kms. I discover many nooks and corners of the villages around. I feel reconnected to the land which has provided livelihhood to my ancestors and even now to my brother who cultivates about ten acres. When I pass by the kids who walk to the school with dreams in their eyes, I turn nostalgic.  When I see the kids working in the fields or grazing the cattle, I feel lucky that I had escaped to a world of magical realism thanks to the accidental entry into the diplomatic service.  

I have found a few scenic cycle routes. There is the MOPAM circuit passing through Mangudi, Oovanoor, Pullambadi, Anandapuram ( I surprised my brother with the name of this tiny hamlet of a dozen adobe huts- He did not know) and Mullal. The other circuit is STAPS - Sembarai, Thinniyam, Anbil, Poondi and Sengraiyur. I am determined to discover more such routes during my next trip to the village.

The routes are picturesque with fields of rice, sugarcane, bananas, cotton, corn, sesame seeds and coconut farms. Palm and tamarind trees are on either side of the road in some places. There are streams and rivers and of course, Kollidam, the biggest river, although there is no water since it is summer now. Peacocks dart from one side to the other part of the road near Nandhiar river. 

Here are some pictures of the scenic routes:

Cotton field between Mangudi and Oovanoor..

Mud road from Oovanoor to Mullal..

Rest Stop- coconut, banana, mango and lemon trees..

Sugar cane fields with coconut trees around

The routes have several textures.. mud, gravel, stones, tar and just walking paths in some places. Here is one semi tar and gravel road..

Temples are there at many street corners and roadsides. Here is a roadside temple known as Ponninji Ariyanar Koil in Mullal

Tamarind trees forming a beautiful canopy and giving shade to the cyclist..

The lonely rider...

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The US elections - as seen from India

This article was published in " Open Democracy" on 1 November 2012.

The US elections - as seen from India

In India, people are amused and puzzled, depressed and disinterested and occasionally inspired by the long and loud, colorful and typical American show that goes by the name of the presidential election. 
Indians are used to Bollywood films with predictable storylines evoking the entire range of emotions with lots of laughs and tears. We see the US elections as longer versions of such movies, produced by money and media, spin doctors and vested interests.
Indians are amused by the two-years of non-stop talk shows, turns and twists, farce and entertainment. Two out of the four years of the presidential term is consumed by the primaries and the campaign, forgetting the important long term national interests - such a waste of energy, resources and time. Issues such as Obama's birthplace and religion, raised by some right wing elements, are simply laughable.
Indians are puzzled by the electoral system, which is so difficult to understand. The electoral college vote prevailing over the popular vote and the holding of elections on a working day instead of a weekend do not make sense.  Indians are perplexed by the American obsession for issues such as abortion and same-sex relationships. They are amazed by the strength of the gun lobby despite the hundreds of killings of innocent people in high schools and college campus and shopping centers caused by the free availability of guns. 
Indians are frustrated with their own political leaders and parties who sacrifice national interests for the sake of winning elections by pandering to narrow communitarian and group interests. They are depressed by the fact that even in a mature democracy like the US, the Democrats and the Republicans make similar style decisions. 
Obama's victory in the last election was an inspiration for India's large and diverse democracy. The fact that an inexperienced, young middle class African-American outsider could challenge the system and win the election to become the President renewed the confidence in the authenticity of the American democratic system. The bottom-up grassroots mobilization of support using the power of Internet by Obama was remarkable. 
One of the election issues which directly concerns India is outsourcing. Indians are surprised by the American noise against the outsourcing of services (mostly in IT and finance) to India, in contrast to a timid silence on the larger issue of outsourcing of manufacturing to China and Mexico. The large scale and irreversible shifting of American manufacturing has cost the country millions of jobs, in contrast to the loss of just a few thousand jobs through outsourcing to India. The wholesale shifting of American manufacturing to China has hollowed out the American industry in the long term and has led to a big loss of intellectual property, technology and the whole ecosystem of component makers, suppliers and service providers. Yet Americans seem to know what sectors of service are outsourced to India but they have no idea about what products are made in US even though everything from iPhone to toys are now assembled in China. The Fourth of July and Christmas are more celebrated by the Chinese manufacturers of fireworks and gift items than by the American consumers. 
Ultimately, Indians are somewhat indifferent to the US elections since they know that, no matter who wins, the policies will remain the same in most areas. Presidents come and go. But the lobbies are permanent. Indians are used to a predictable American policy towards India: Democratic presidents repeat the rhetorical solidarity between the biggest democracies but are insensitive to India's concerns on security, terrorism, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. Republicans presidents, on the other hand, see the opportunities for business in India and are willing to accommodate India's interests, overlooking ideological differences. The most recent example of this was President Bush's initiative to sign the Nuclear Agreement with India and the dilution of the spirit of the Agreement by the Obama administration. 
In the past, the American election was the most watched show in the global theatre. Not anymore. Now the Chinese leadership transition is watched with equal interest here in India if not yet in the rest of the world. The US has lost its global supremacy in political, economic and technological fields while China is steadily and resolutely gaining strategic space. The pity is that the Democrats and Republicans focus more on hurting each other and polarizing the society rather than addressing the fundamental causes of the continuing decline of US leadership.
This article is part of the 'How it looks from here' openDemocracy feature on the 2012 US elections. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Snow Golf in the ¨End of the World¨

Snow Golf Tournament... when I saw the news, I said ...Oops.
I thought.. hmmm.. there are golfers crazier than me. When I reached the golf course today, there were 43 more crazy golfers.

It was the 4th time the Snow Golf tournament was organised in Cerro Castor ski resort. It is in Ushuaia, the southernmost city and also called as End of the World (Fin del Mundo).

The golf course had 9 holes at the base of the ski resort. There was one five par while the rest were par 3 and par4 for a total of 30. The Green was compact snow with a blue coloured circle around.
Here I am with Juan Carlos Begue, the owner of the ski resort

Twenty out of the 44 players were from Buenos Aires while the rest were from the End of the World. There was even a women´s foursome. In Ushuaia there is a 9 hole course which is open in summer.
The snowgolfers listening to the instructions and rules by the pro.

The Snow Golf advisory said
- dont put heavy jackets which will hinder the swing
-put on snowboard shoes
-coloured balls would be given by the organisers
-bring half a set with maximum of 7 clubs including putter.

We used tees on the fairway, which was compacted and was fairly narrow. Either side of the fairway was rough and there teeing up was not allowed. In the rough one has to blast it out like a sand shot. One can bring it to the fairway but with one stroke penalty. If one is unlucky the ball would fall into the snow and disappear under. In that case one can drop another ball and play with one stroke penalty.

It was a Lugunada tournament, which means best score of the four players in each hole. I started off with a par at the 220 yard first hole and birdied the 270 yard. I had two more pars and my partners also contributed. We had a total of 4 under. Hmm... we came fourth. The winners played 7 under...the second and third position went to those who did 5 under.

There was water hazard in two holes with a stream running to catch the sliced balls. Here it is...

The ball does not run on the snow, obviously. So one has to hit a high ball and play a longer club. Even while putting, one has to hit the ball hard. If not, it will get slowed down and get turned to right and left.

Golfers are known for craziness. I had played in a desert golf course in Libya where the fairway was all sand. The ball would fall on the sand and disappear. We used mats or tees to hit the ball on the sand. I had played at 42 degrees centigrade in Delhi Golf club. Someone commented that I was able to withstand the hot sun due to the thick skin developed in the course of thirty years of government service..
Prize distribution ceremony..

Today we were lucky with the weather. It was a sunny and beautiful day with a maximum of 9 degree centigrade. I was worried about the fierce Patagonian wind which could pierce through one´s skin, flesh and bones. Fortunately the wind started only towards the end of the game and it was mercifully mild.
After the game we had wines from the Fin del Mundo winery from Patagonia followed by a lunch in which they served the delicious Patagonian lamb.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Anna: The Life and Times of C.N. Annadurai by R. Kannan

This was the book ( published in February 2010 ) which accompanied me through the train journeys from Frankfurt - Prague – Krakow-Belgrade-Thessalonika- Athens last month.
It is the biography of Anna, who has transformed the politics and society of Tamilnadu as a politician, thinker, reformer and writer. Anna developed a brand new politics of brotherhood with his Thambis ( younger brother) and inspired a whole new crop of leaders, writers and the masses. He combined astutely politics with literature, films and newspapers and awakened the tamil society, reformed it and lead the movement to power peacefully and democratically. His leagcy continues in the form of rule of his Thambis and the irreversible changes in the Tamil society. Anna was inspired by Periyar´s call for reforms of the society and fight against injustice and superstitions. Anna went beyond Periyar, mobilised the masses, took to the path of elctoral politics and captured political power. After this, Anna realised the need for building bridges with New Delhi and saw a better future for Tamils within the framework of India, shedding his earlier calls for a separate Dravida Naadu and Tamilnadu. At the same time he resolutely fought against the imposition of Hindi and thereby saved the whole country from Hindi fanatics who had the potential to break up the country. If Tamilnadu is doing well as a state and Tamils are shining in IT and in the coalition governments at the centre, the credit for this goes to Anna who laid the foundation and set the course of progress and new mindset.

Author Kannan has put the evolution of Anna as a leader in the context of the politics and other leaders at that time. Periyar was, of course, the greatest influence on Anna as well as in Tamil society in that period. While Anna started as a loyal disciple of Periyar, it was ineveitable that Anna had to move away from his mentor and start DMK. Periyar never wanted to become chief minister or aspired to any such position of power and would not let others. He was always a kind of anarchist and activist fighting for his radical beliefs outside the government system. Periyar´s eccentricities and rigid unrealistic approach to many political issues limited Dravidar Kazhagam´s growth.

Kannan describes the situation of Congress party which was feudal and did not take Anna and his Thambis seriously. Rajaji who rose to national level politics and fame played his hands wrongly and left the field for DMK to capitalise on his mistakes.

Kannan has given an objective narration and comments on all the players and parties– brahmins, non-brahmins, actors, congresswalas, Periyar, Anna, Kamaraj and Rajaji. He has quoted the comments of all the parties and let the readers judge them. He has let the writings and quotes of Anna and his adversaries speak for themselves. This is remarkable for a Tamil author. Most of the views and comments about Anna or for that matter any of the Tamil leaders are partial, emotional and subjective. I was surprised by the caustic and rabid remarks of Jayakanthan on DMK leaders calling them as Porukkis ( loafers). I am an admirer of Jayakanthan as a innovative writer and thinker and I am surprised even he has succumbed to partiality blatantly. Kannan has successfully managed to overcome this Tamil weakness of extremes …hero worship and demonisation of opponents.

I wish more such objective and neutral books are written in English on Periyar, MGR, Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha, Kamaraj and Rajaji. This will help the world to have a proper understanding of the Tamil society. Foreigners get confused by the giant cut-outs in Mount Road, the filmi politics, the contents and hollowness of kumudam and anandavikatan and the culture of Amma, Anna and Thambis. The books need to be translated in Hindi to educate those northeners who condenscendingly call all those beyond vindhyas as Madrasis.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

America’s Real Dream Team...article by Tom Friedman

I am reproducing below the article by Thomas Friedman in Newyork Times of 20 March. He is one of my favourite American writers sparkling with new theories, ideas and most importantly showing respect for Indians and others...The current article shows the new reality and new hope for Indians...

Went to a big Washington dinner last week. You know the kind: Large hall; black ties; long dresses. But this was no ordinary dinner. There were 40 guests of honor. So here’s my Sunday news quiz: I’ll give you the names of most of the honorees, and you tell me what dinner I was at. Ready?

Linda Zhou, Alice Wei Zhao, Lori Ying, Angela Yu-Yun Yeung, Lynnelle Lin Ye, Kevin Young Xu, Benjamin Chang Sun, Jane Yoonhae Suh, Katheryn Cheng Shi, Sunanda Sharma, Sarine Gayaneh Shahmirian, Arjun Ranganath Puranik, Raman Venkat Nelakant, Akhil Mathew, Paul Masih Das, David Chienyun Liu, Elisa Bisi Lin, Yifan Li, Lanair Amaad Lett, Ruoyi Jiang, Otana Agape Jakpor, Peter Danming Hu, Yale Wang Fan, Yuval Yaacov Calev, Levent Alpoge, John Vincenzo Capodilupo and Namrata Anand.
No, sorry, it was not a dinner of the China-India Friendship League. Give up?
O.K. All these kids are American high school students. They were the majority of the 40 finalists in the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search, which, through a national contest, identifies and honors the top math and science high school students in America, based on their solutions to scientific problems. The awards dinner was Tuesday, and, as you can see from the above list, most finalists hailed from immigrant families, largely from Asia.
Indeed, if you need any more convincing about the virtues of immigration, just come to the Intel science finals. I am a pro-immigration fanatic. I think keeping a constant flow of legal immigrants into our country — whether they wear blue collars or lab coats — is the key to keeping us ahead of China. Because when you mix all of these energetic, high-aspiring people with a democratic system and free markets, magic happens. If we hope to keep that magic, we need immigration reform that guarantees that we will always attract and retain, in an orderly fashion, the world’s first-round aspirational and intellectual draft choices.
This isn’t complicated. In today’s wired world, the most important economic competition is no longer between countries or companies. The most important economic competition is actually between you and your own imagination. Because what your kids imagine, they can now act on farther, faster, cheaper than ever before — as individuals. Today, just about everything is becoming a commodity, except imagination, except the ability to spark new ideas.
If I just have the spark of an idea now, I can get a designer in Taiwan to design it. I can get a factory in China to produce a prototype. I can get a factory in Vietnam to mass manufacture it. I can use to handle fulfillment. I can use to find someone to do my logo and manage my backroom. And I can do all this at incredibly low prices. The one thing that is not a commodity and never will be is that spark of an idea. And this Intel dinner was all about our best sparklers.
Before the dinner started, each contestant stood by a storyboard explaining their specific project. Namrata Anand, a 17-year-old from the Harker School in California, patiently explained to me her research, which used spectral analysis and other data to expose information about the chemical enrichment history of “Andromeda Galaxy.” I did not understand a word she said, but I sure caught the gleam in her eye.
My favorite chat, though, was with Amanda Alonzo, a 30-year-old biology teacher at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif. She had taught two of the finalists. When I asked her the secret, she said it was the resources provided by her school, extremely “supportive parents” and a grant from Intel that let her spend part of each day inspiring and preparing students to enter this contest. Then she told me this: Local San Jose realtors are running ads in newspapers in China and India telling potential immigrants to “buy a home” in her Lynbrook school district because it produced “two Intel science winners.”
Seriously, ESPN or MTV should broadcast the Intel finals live. All of the 40 finalists are introduced, with little stories about their lives and aspirations. Then the winners of the nine best projects are announced. And finally, with great drama, the overall winner of the $100,000 award for the best project of the 40 is identified. This year it was Erika Alden DeBenedictis of New Mexico for developing a software navigation system that would enable spacecraft to more efficiently “travel through the solar system.” After her name was called, she was swarmed by her fellow competitor-geeks.
Gotta say, it was the most inspiring evening I’ve had in D.C. in 20 years. It left me thinking, “If we can just get a few things right — immigration, education standards, bandwidth, fiscal policy — maybe we’ll be O.K.” It left me feeling that maybe Alice Wei Zhao of North High School in Sheboygan, Wis., chosen by her fellow finalists to be their spokeswoman, was right when she told the audience: “Don’t sweat about the problems our generation will have to deal with. Believe me, our future is in good hands.”
As long as we don’t shut our doors.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The new age of innovation – book by CK Prahalad and MS Krishnan

Prahalad had caught my attention with his other book ¨Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid¨, which was an eye opener for me. His innovative connection of business profits to emancipation of poor people is brilliant. I had also listened to his lecture in India and I was fascinated by his cool and calm approach to the high decibel world of business management. I was therefore keen to read this new book on innovation.

As I had anticipated, the book has new insights and ideas for the new stage of business these days. Business has been transformed from firm and product centric approaches. Earlier the companies produced what they believed the consumers needed. The Model T car by Ford Motors was the best example. Ford said that the consumers coould choose any colour as long as it was black. Now the consumers have got on to the driving seat as copilots. They cocreate value and look at products as a personalised experience. To cater to this emerging trend, the companies need to be more innovative and deploy their technology assets towards this new value of cocreation. Even when producing for millions of customers, the companies need to create platforms for the customers to cocreate their own experiences. For this, the companies need not go in for acquiring new assets of technology and talents. There is no need for firms to own all the resource bases they need. They should simply have the capacity to access the vast global network of resources. They should focus on how to access and influence them rather than ownership and control. They should also make use of the new copilots. This is the message of this book.

Here are some of the interesting things I found in the book:

Consumers are increasingly becoming a source of competence. They offer advice, suggestions, new concepts and evaluation of existing products.

Foresight, not hindsight, is of value in this time of fast changing competitive environment. Experience of the past is becoming less and less relevant. This means that the business process and analytics should be flexible and dynamic to anticipate trends in technology and consumer trends.

Digitisation, connectivity and globalisation have radically altered the nature of the firms and have impacted even traditional industries such as education, insurance, healthcare, automobiles and footwear.

An example of cocreation of value by customers is TutorVista, a company which gives online tuition to thousands of students. In this business model, the students decide the teacher, timings and pace of tuition as suitable to them. Even shoe and shirt companies have started providing platforms for customer driven production. The customer goes to the shop and gives the measurement which goes to the factory and products are made as per the exact measurement of the customer and his choice of design and colour. The customer does not have to be disappointed with the limited standard size of seven or eight. Even a tyre company is offering tyre as a service in the longterm rather than as a one time sale. They monitor the tyre wear and tear through sensors and advise the driver and the fleet owner. Fedex allows the consumer to be a part of the operations experience by sharing its databases and applications so that individual consumers can track their packagaes. This inspires more confidence in the consumers besides saving the expenditure on call centres to answer the anxious enquiries for Fedex which handles six million packages a day. UPS which handles 15 million packages a day has developed an ICT system for picking up packages in a customer friendly way and moving the trucks efficiently.

The need for innovative business process and ICT for success is evident from the example of Walmart. The core elements and strategic assets of this giant corporation which delivers value for money to 100 million customers in a week through its global supply chain are its business process and ICT capability with its 500 terrabytes database.

ICICI bank in India which started operations as late as 1995 has become a leading player in India by the use of technology. It has created a trading platform, the third largest in the world, which is used by the customers to buy and sell stocks. It records 300,000 to as much as one million transactions per day. The Bank also innovated new business process for rural banking, microfinancing, internet banking and for remittance by non-resident Indians. ICICI uses only very few packaged applications and customises most of the applications. For example it has customised even ATMs for rural markets

The new emerging companies from India and China have a significant advantage over established large companies from US and Europe, which have inherited large and old systems. The big US corporations use over 70 percent of the IT budget for maintenance of legacy applications and only less tahn 20 percent for innovation. In contrast, ICICI bank of India uses 80 percent of its IT budegt for innovation while spending only 20 percent on maintaenance. This means that the new companies can grow very fast, leveraging new technologies and business processing while the biggies like GM and Cargill are bogged down with their baggage of the past.

The technology and business process innovation are not only for the corporations but also helps rural development in India. The best example of this is the eChoupal centres established in the villages by ITC. These centres help the farmers to know the prices, weather and trends of the markets and enable them to make the right decisions about growing crops and getting the best price for their produce. This is a challenging and rewarding work for ITC and Ramco, the IT company since they had to design a system for easy use by the villagers of India speaking different languages. This experience gives a unique advantage to the Indian companies who can simply repeat the business process to multinational companies operating in many markets.

The growing importance of business process and technology for corporate success is good news for India. This opens up more opportunities for Indian IT companies which are going up in the value chain of BPO business. It is no surprise that TCS is the technology partner of Ferrari for its next version of racing car. The R and D team of this project has a total of 52 out of which 23 are TCS techies, most of whom work onsite at Maranello, Italy. Ferrari is leveraging TCS´s resources in multiple domains including enterpriseIT, vehicle elctronics and aerodynamics. Lenova, the Chinese computer company does its global marketing from Bangalore using the Indian professionals of O and M. This Indian hub supports marketing in 25 languages in 60 countries.

It is not only the lower cost of India but the large pool of skills and competence of the Indians which are being increasingly leveraged by multinatinal corporatins to remain globally competitive. For example, Honeywell the aerospace and automation controlls company has a R and D unit in India which carries the complete responsibility for new products from concept to market. The business rationale for this unit has shifted from cost saving to new products and business development.

The Indian firms have also outgrown their original approach to a total cost arbitrage- based business model. Innovation, anlytics, enterpreneurship and domestic opportunity are the new mantras of Indian IT companies.

In this book Prahalad and Krishnan have not only shown the way for global corporations to suceed through new innovations but have also highlighted the competitive advantage of the Indian companies to grow faster. This makes the Indians to believe strongly in the new projections about India becoming a global economic and technological power.