Mumbai: Indian information technology, or IT, service providers are sharpening their focus on providing mobility solutions to clients as laptops, smartphones and tablets become more popular than desktop personal computers, or PCs, in the workplace.
The biggest driver of worldwide IT spending in 2013 will be the smart mobile devices category—smartphones, tablets, eReaders—which will grow by almost 20% in 2013 and generate nearly 57% of the industry’s overall growth, according to a November 2012 report by research firm International Data Corp. (IDC).
Worldwide IT expenditure in calendar year 2013 is expected to exceed $2.1 trillion, up 5.7% from 2012, the report added.
Comparing the growth of mobile devices with that of the human population, a 15 February Forrester Research Inc. report estimated there were 7.3 billion devices in the world in 2012 compared with just under 7 billion people, according to the World Bank.
The Forrester report also ranked Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), Infosys Ltd, Wipro Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd and Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. as leaders in providing mobility solutions along with multinational companies such as Accenture Inc., International Business Machines Corp., or, IBM and Atos SA.
But Infosys, along with IBM and Accenture, emerged as leader in providing a broad spectrum of mobile solutions to clients, while others such as Wipro, Cognizant, HCL Technologies and TCS “have built some productized IP (intellectual property) and solutions, started to pioneer new and innovative pricing models but not to the same degree as some of their peers who are ahead in these areas”, the report said.
Earlier, when Indian IT services companies went to a client such as a bank, a retailer or a manufacturing company, they pitched for infrastructure or SAP support solutions, said Sundararaman Viswanathan, engagement manager, Zinnov Management Consulting, adding the landscape has changed with customers wanting mobility solutions.
“So from talking about just how they can deliver back-end services, Indian service providers are talking about offering solutions like ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and HR (human resources) on mobile devices,” he said.
India’s second largest software services exporter Infosys, for instance, has been toying with a Kinect-based retail store product catalogue solution to help retail shoppers with “virtual dressing rooms” where they can view a simulation on a digital screen of how the clothes will look (capable of producing 75 different looks), including size and fit, according to a spokesperson.
Kinect was originally conceived as a gaming controller by Microsoft Corp. but has found applications in many sectors including retail since it has sensors, a camera, microphone and an accelerometer.
Another case is that of Infosys’ WalletEdge Platform being used by India’s largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel Ltd, which rolled out the mobile money service across India on 23 February 2012.
The service enables Airtel Money customers to make cashless payments and settlements through their mobile phones.
Industry estimates suggest each of the top five Indian IT companies have at least 1,500-2,000 people working on enterprise mobility.
TCS, for instance, announced the opening of a facility in the US (Santa Clara) on 31 January 2012 to serve as the headquarters for its mobility solutions unit and other upcoming technologies.
HCL Technologies Ltd, too, has a focused mobility Centre of Excellence (CoE) team to provide mobility solutions quickly to clients and solutions that improve productivity.
“We clearly articulated our mobility strategy to deliver return on investment. For instance, we won’t take up a project just to develop an app,” said Naresh Nagarajan, senior vice-president, enterprise transformation services, HCL Technologies. The company provides solutions across five key verticals—retail banking, insurance, airlines, healthcare and packaged goods.
He said HCL Technologies’ mobility solution for an unnamed retailer enabled it “to improve efficiencies in dispatch and tracking by 15% and achieving 95% on-time deliveries”.
Sowri S. Krishnan, vice- president, mobility, at Cognizant, said, “Enterprises have realized that mobility is no longer an option, but rather a critical business requirement. We foresee a significant increase in IT budget towards mobility spends, reflecting the growing interest in bring your own device (BYOD) schemes. Cognizant Mobility is among the fastest growing practices in Cognizant.”
He added the company has chalked out a strategy around creating products and IP and partnering with telecom companies.
Infosys’ investments in enterprise mobility are ahead of market demand and disproportionate to the current share of revenue, according to Anup Uppadhayay, the company’s vice-president and head of enterprise mobility.
It has partnered with digital media company Tangerine Digital (owned by To The New). Puneet Johar, managing director of To the New, said that while his company collaborates with IT companies to deliver “consumer-side solutions...in some cases, IT services compete with us”.
Vishwanath Alluri, founder and chief executive officer of mobility solutions provider IMImobile Pvt. Ltd, corroborated that IT companies are approaching his firm to partner in offering “competitive mobile solutions”.
Analysts and industry experts pointed out that while enterprises in the retail and banking industries have been early adopters of mobile technology to improve customer experience, other sectors such as manufacturing, energy and utilities are fast catching up.