The Emergence of Software Babus

By Akhil Agarwal, Having been in the IT services industry for close to 2 decades now, there are some interesting trends that I have noticed consistently. Everywhere I look around, I see groups of extremely intelligent people all driven towards achieving process excellence in the IT fraternity. However, the focus always seems to be more on adhering  to the PROCESS that on driving INNOVATION or thinking out-of-the-box to challenge the normal. Over the past decade, as India has repeatedly impressed the world by its flawless delivery, we in the outsourcing arena have given rise to a generation of software babus. Our new age software babus, though highly educated and adept with technology, are focused mainly on adherence of policies & procedures that can lead to impeccable delivery, and tend to lose their focus on innovation & conceptualizing new ideas.

In the last 7-10 years, most people in IT services have condensed creativity because of the simple reason of  being “process followers”. While I believe that is a very important tenet for quality delivery, I feel that cannot be the driver for fostering growth in this industry. Seeing our counterparts in the West, there’s a plethora of companies that have focused on creativity, driven innovation continuously and have been extremely successful with sustained profits year-on-year. What makes them different?  I see them driving process excellence, but with the flexibility to squeze in out-of-the-box thinking, and therefore giving way to innovative products, creating new markets and staying future proof.

This is where I feel our software babus have to move towards to position India as a IT thought leader for the future. Talking of babus, the  word was originally used as a term of respect and later on it took on to represent somewhat bureaucratic/process centric nature of an individual.

I believe the same situation exists into the core of our IT business delivery – Well respected individuals in the society but becoming more and more process oriented and bureaucratic . This is perhaps the reason why India is still looked upon as a ‘stong implementor’ in both the outsourcing and the technology industry, and not a mentor for driving innovation and change.

Don’t take me wrong, I think it’s time we break the mould, identify and challenge the existing,  in order to devise a course for future success. And it can’t start with the business alone, it has to be engrained into our culture and that calls for a fundamental shift in lots of things – starting from our education system, the way we look at employment, rewards & recognition and a strong push from Industry bodies to propogate the change to the outside world. The vision should not only be Incredible India as a destination, but Innovative India as a value proposition for the world.

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