Criticism from product firms as Nasscom picks executive council
Mar 22, 2013 (Mint - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
BANGALORE/NEW DELHI -- Nasscom has picked the 18 members of its executive council, all of them from domestic and international software services companies and none from product makers, which experts argue is likely to reinforce the latter's contention that their interests are not a key focus area for the lobby group.
Rishad Premji, son of Wipro Ltd's billionaire founder and chairman Azim Premji, Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik, and Mindtree Ltd chief executive Krishnakumar Natarajan were among the industry executives elected to Nasscom's highest decision-making body, the grouping said in an email on Thursday.
Executives from Accenture Plc., Alcatel-Lucent SA, Capgemini, Cisco Systems Inc., Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., Dell Inc., Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., International Business Machines Corp., Infosys Ltd, Infotech Enterprises Ltd, Larsen and Toubro Ltd, NIIT Ltd, Quatrro Global Services Pvt. Ltd and Mahindra Satyam were also chosen to the council.
"At a time when Nasscom has said that one of its new focus areas is e-commerce, they should have included one of the major Indian e-commerce players," said Manish Bahl, vice-president and country manager at Forrester Research. "If they had included some domestic product companies, there would have been a good mix of hardware, software, products and services companies in the council."
"As predicted, only big companies are there. No small company or Indian product company made it," said an industry official who didn't want to be named.
The new members will serve until 2015.
More than 580 members voted for candidates of their choice, over 70% of them being small and medium companies that are members of Nasscom, the industry body said in an email. "To ensure representation for different industry segments, the executive council will nominate six members in the next few weeks," it added.
Som Mittal, president of Nasscom, said it was the members who made the decision. "Just because mostly large companies are on the council doesn't mean that issues of small enterprises would not be taken up," he said, citing the example of the recent 10,000 start-up programme conceived by the Nasscom council.
Bahl of Forrester Research argued that this decision will create more friction between Nasscom and local product companies. "There will be more unhappiness from the products side," he said. "With the current mix on the council, addressing the issues and concerns of the product companies will be like a mirage. The executive council should not end up working as a silo organization."
Prompted by criticism from small software product firms that Nasscom tends to favour the interests of the larger software services companies, the grouping last year appointed a seven-member committee led by Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy to recommend ways to restructure the association.
Earlier in March, the committee said it would expand its focus areas to include Internet and mobile content, software products and the domestic IT market. This, Murthy said, will help the Indian IT industry achieve $300 billion (around Rs.16 trillion today) in revenue by 2020.
Murthy also said Nasscom would expand its membership to include 3,000 new companies and set up five centres of excellence over five years to focus on areas such as e-commerce and software engineering.
In February, some 30 software product firms, including accounting software maker Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd, along with several product veterans such as former head of Yahoo Inc.'s research and development facility Sharad Sharma and mobile advertising firm InMobi founder Naveen Tewari, formed a separate forum called the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table, or iSpirt.
While dwarfed in size by the $76 billion software exports sector, Indian product start-ups have been growing -- from $113 million in revenue in 1999-2000 to almost $2 billion in 2011-2012.
Experts say that while the Nasscom executive council has been adequately represented on the software services side with a good mix of Tier 1 and Tier II companies, domestic product companies and e-commerce firms such as Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd should also have been included.
Trying to represent all interests is difficult, said Tewari of InMobi. "Nasscom has a big mandate -- a lot of things come under their umbrella. They have to do justice to the entire spectrum of the industry and this decision probably is right for the mandate of Nasscom. I'd be doing the same thing if I were in their shoes," Tewari said in a phone interview.
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