Friday, September 30, 2011

ECM In India - Again

I am recently back from a pretty remarkable week working out of our Delhi office with my colleagues Apoorv and Sanjeev. Remarkable in that though I have been to India many times before, there is clearly a groundswell of change underway, and its major change at that. Hence I am excited that we are investing in our business there, and am looking forward to working more directly with buyers of technology in the future.

So what is this change? Well it comes in a number of different ways, firstly India is in and of itself an emerging market for content technologies, and one that in some regards is jumping ahead of western countries, by passing the PC and Laptop world and leaping straight to the mobile handset. The mobile consumer market is frankly years ahead of anything one sees in the US. In the enterprise the change is equally revolutionary but maybe less sexy and obvious. India is, if nothing else a huge bureaucracy on a scale and complexity that would have stumped Kafka. It's not just Government and the public sector, but it spreads to corporate organizations and is in large part a result of both embedded cultural and historical factors, important to note is that much if not most of this huge bureaucracy is paper based.

Yet a strengthening middle class, and an influx of former ex-pats from the UK and US are driving change. You can see it in the US style shopping malls that seem to be popping up on every corner, and the impatience of folk of doing things the 'traditional' way. To highlight all this, during the past week I was privileged to watch and experience the Anna Hazare led protest against corruption, a protest that though focused on rampant and often blatant corruption, goes deeper. It is not for me to take sides (though hopefully we are all against corruption) but I can be a casual observer. It goes to the heart of the problem in India, that old institutions and ways of working, simply don't work any longer, and people are impatient for change.

In my own remit of research (Document Management) it was confirmed to me that imaging and capture along with associated business process management (including Case Management) are hot topics and look certain to grow substantially. This is a trend that is not limited to India, but the potential for growth is more likely more extreme there. Furthermore I have little doubt that in such a rich media savvy nation that the demand for DAM (Digital Asset Management) will also grow substantially there over the next couple of years.

However, tied to all this potential is the very real problem of immature and overly burdensome procurement practices for IT. Though India is surging ahead in some areas of technology and there is surely an appetite to do so more in future. Plus there is the dominance of Indian system integrators such as TCS, Sapient, and Infosys in the world of IT,there can be no doubt that India has a surfeit of tech skills and knowledge. But in terms of thorough product selection and buyer driven procurement processes I don't think India is there yet, nor it should be said in many cases are firms in the US or Europe. Yet my hope is that Real Story Group can in some small way help contribute to this situation in the coming years.

To the visitor India seems to change slowly, you see visuals from the car and street that look unchanged in millennia, yet at the same time India seldom does things by halves and I think buyers there are going to take content technologies in some new, dramatic and exciting directions over the next few years, going from laggard to cutting edge in the blink of an eye.