China could be the biggest threat to India in next five years, positioning itself as the lowest-cost manpower supplier in the IT sector by 2015, according to Mr Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies.
“I believe it (China) is the biggest threat in the next five years that we are going to face…So India will have to up its game,” he told reporters on sidelines of ‘Directions’, the company’s annual town hall.
Terming China, as both “threat and opportunity”, Mr Nayar said that India will have to find alternate “differentiators” than the ones it currently has. Despite issues of language and the purported inability to scale-up, China has sharpened its technological and innovation edge, he added.
“Look at the technology companies from China…how does that fit in with the assumption that they (China) do not understand English or technology. They are producing cutting edge technology at a price which is lower than everyone else,” he said.
By 2015, Mr Nayar said, China will be the lowest cost manpower supplier in IT sector to the world
I wonder how he did his forecast. Did he do a time series analysis using a software, did he peer into his crystal ball, or did he spend a lot of time brainstorming with his strategic macro economic team on Chinese threat.
China has various advantages over India (and in fact the US)-
1) Big pool of reliable scientific manpower
2) State funded education in higher studies and STEM
3) Increasing exposure with the West-English speaking is no longer an issue. Almost 50 % of Grad Students in the US in STEM and certain sectors are Chinese and they not only retain fraternal ties with the motherland- they often remain un-assimilated with American Culture mainstream. or they have a separate interaction with fellow American Chinese and seperate with American Americans.
Chinese suffer from some disadvantages in software-
1) Communism Perception- Just because the Govt is communist and likes to confront US once a year (and India twice a month)- is no excuse for the hapless Chinese startup guy to lose out on software outsourcing contracts. unfortunately there have been reported cases where sneak codes have been inserted in code deliverables for American partners, just like American companies are forced to work with DoD (especially in software, embedded chips and telecom)
If you have 10000 lines of code delivered by your Chinese partner, how sure are you of going through each line of code for each sub routine or call procedure.
2) English- Chinese accent is like Chinese cooking. Unique- many Chinese are unable to master the different style of English even after years (derived from Latin and Indo European class of languages)
Sales jobs tend to go to American trained Chinese or to Westerners.
In Indian software companies, accent is a lesser problem.
The biggest threat to Indian software in 5 years is actually Indian software itself- Can it evolve and mature to a product based model from a service only model.
Can Indian software partner with Chinese companies and maybe teach the Indian government why friendship is more profitable than envy and suspicion. If the US and China can trade enormously despite annual tensions, why cant Indian services do the same- if they lose this opportunity, US companies will likely bypass them and create the same GE/McKinsey style backoffices that started the Indian offshoring phenomenon.
3) Lastly- what did the poor American grad student do to deserve that even if devotes years to study STEM (and being called a Geek and Nerd) his job will get outsourced to India or China (if not now- in his 30s or worse in his 40s). Talk to any middle aged IT chap in the US who is middle class- and India and China would figure in why he still worries about his overpriced mortgage.
Unless the US wants only Twitter and Facebook as dominant technologies in the 21 st century.