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Indian startups have potential to be world-class organisations: Nasscom chief Rishad Premji

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Startups in India will see substantial growth over the next decade and many of them will turn into world-class organisations to lead the next phase of building “brand India” in a broader technology landscape, Nasscom Chairman Rishad Premji said. Premji, Chief Strategy Officer and Member of the Board at Indian IT services giant Wipro, called for enhancing the lens beyond just thinking and looking at the IT services landscape, but also to focus on other ecosystems of capabilities that are thriving in the country. He expressed optimism over the future of the startup ecosystem in the country.

“India has over 5,000 startups today. I think over the next 8-10 years that number will grow substantially and many of them will be world-class organisations with world-class products, creating world-class employability and value and recognition and be the next phase in many ways of continuing to build brand India from a broader technology landscape. We should evolve our thinking just from the traditional IT services story to the broader technology story,” Premji said.

On the outlook for the Indian IT industry, Premji said he is “very hopeful.” He cited a report titled ‘Perspective 2025: Shaping the Digital Revolution’ by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) which said the Indian technology and services industry is on track to reach its goal of US$ 200-225 billion in revenues by 2020 and may even touch US$ 350 billion by 2025. Premji said this “implicitly suggests” double digit growth over the next seven-eight years.

“I am quite hopeful that if we do many things right, one of which is the skilling piece. There is huge opportunity for the industry not only to survive but to thrive over the next 8-10 years,” he said.

Premji noted that there is a dearth of technical talent everywhere in the world today and India is a large producer of technical talent, with a million engineers graduating every year in the country. “Even if you assume half of those are employable, there are still 500,000 engineers every year and if you can channelise them correctly, you are still a huge source of talent,” he said.

He asserted that talent still is a big differentiator in the technology landscape. “I am hugely optimistic and hugely hopeful in terms of the opportunities that lie ahead for the technology industry, in the country. With companies globally moving towards a new phase of digital transformation, the industry is sitting on the cusp of transformation, which is the digitalisation of organisations,” Premji commented.

“The year 2018-19 is a moment of some acceleration and pivot where customers are moving from experimentation and prototyping around digitalisation to industrial scaling. That presents a huge amount of opportunity globally for technology service providers and certainly Indian service providers as well. All of us in the IT services industry globally are gearing up to participate in that opportunity,” he said.

Premji stressed that a major implication and enabler to participate in that opportunity is the right capability and talent. “So skilling is a big focus for all organisations. Companies must now reskill and up-skill existing workforce in the industry. It is equally important that they then have the opportunity to demonstrate, enhance those skills through practical application. We have got to think very closely about the intersection between new-age technologies and their usefulness to business. Innovating in technology on a stand-alone basis may not be useful to customers. instead, how one can apply Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain to useful scenarios for business is of paramount importance now,” he added.

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