• Sapphire

Challenges in Development of Innovative Products in India

Webinar, Incubation Hub, HBTU Kanpur, July 2020

Mamta Swaroop

Director, Sapphire Application Integrators Pvt. Ltd.



(Indian IT Industry Perspective)

90s till 2005 – Our initial journey

  • Energetic youths coming from middle class families chose Software as their dream field

A degree alone was a guarantee to a good job

Even NIIT, APTECH Diplomas were rewarded well

  • Ever high demand was keeping the graduates optimistic

With year 2000 approaching near, Y2K issue fuelled the demand further

Andhra Pradesh recorded huge number of migrations to US and European countries

  • Indians were part of testing teams, busy debugging and trouble shooting

Routine jobs were paying back in Dollars

Settled in comfort zones, we didn’t bother to sharpen our skills

  • Private players were getting established in Technical Education sector

Setting up of 5-8 Technical Colleges in mid-size cities was becoming a norm

Not-so-equipped Private Education Factories supplied unemployable engineers

  • Then came the DotCom phase followed by a major bubble burst

A few years later 9/11 transpired

Demand was low, Supply was high - Honeymoon period of IT Industry was over


2005 - 2010

  • Acumen of individuals, their employability was tested more rigorously

  • Indian IT Services Companies (TCS, Infy, Wipro, HCL) made global presence

  • We were –

- fixing issues,

- offering support services,

- running IDCs (India Development Center) of the big multinationals,

- and releasing new product versions for our Clients

  • We were well established as Service Providers

  • Our engineers were no longer debugging somebody else’s code

  • We were part of Design teams, Research teams of the Biggies

- Google,

- Apple,

- Microsoft,

- Cisco….

  • But our own Product Roadmaps were almost empty


2010 onwards

  • Advent of 3G and Smart Phones created a new market –

- the OTT space

  • A new type of Products emerged

  • World was innovating – Movies online, Bank online, Socialize online, Games online

  • And India followed!

- Ola,

- PayTM,

- Flipkart,

- Wynk,

- Zomato,

- RedBus …


What stopped us in pre-OTT era / Why innovations fail in other domains

  • Mindset

  • Licenses

  • Regulations

  • Inter-dependencies

  • Huge time to Market

  • Research was never given a priority

  • Heavy Investments & associated Risks

  • Domain knowledge (IT Industry specific problem)

  • Fear of making a break-even before a complete break down

  • Academia and Industry collaborations were either missing or not fruitful

What changed post OTT

  • Lesser restrictions due to absence of frameworks and guidelines

  • Product Roadmaps were more manageable

  • Technology empowered Innovators

  • Less time to market

  • Low investments

  • Lower risk

Current situation

  • Government has right Policies in place

  • Technical Institutes have Incubation centers

  • Product Companies are coming up, but their scale is small

  • We need big employers like TCS, Wipro in Product space too

  • Service provider companies too are innovating in order to survive

  • Start early: a fearless youth, a premier college & industry guidance – is the right combo

  • Innovation can happen at various levels – design, implementation, delivery, sales, after sales support

  • Urban students are more aware about the opportunities around them but Rural potential still remains untapped

Timing of this discussion is very apt, with Chinese products moving out, with a lot of focus on Aatm-Nirbhar Bharat, we hope to see India taking over soon, in all the spaces not just the mobile apps.

Best Wishes!!

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