Imagine the situation a few years hence. If demand in India rises to 10 million computers a year, then just our software spend on Microsofts Windows and Office will be USD 4 billion (Rs 20,000 crores) per annum. (Microsofts profit margins run at 80-85%. Little wonder then that Microsoft is prepared to gift us USD 400 million now to hardcode its Windows and Office into our schools.) Add to that the spend on new hardware, when we could have done with the older, refurbished desktops, and our technology import bill is likely to exceed USD 8 billion (Rs 40,000 crores).
This is fine if we have no alternatives. But the issue is that there are alternatives available today, which we are not considering. And we like to think of ourselves as an IT Superpower. India needs to think its technology priorities again: Either we create a nation of pirates or we use cost-effective alternatives today. Or we pray for an exchange rate of 1 USD = Rs 10. The choice is ours.
Considering that the Indian BFSI industry is one of the largest tech spenders, it needs to show the way in adopting alternative technologies. The near-term is not going to be easy. No path away from the normal is. But this is the one industry which has the clout to make a difference and create a ripple effect across the rest of India.
The need of the hour is for Indian banks, especially the smaller and medium-sized banks, to co-operate on adopting the TIC as their base platform. This will help conserve significant amounts of capital which can be spent in branch expansion and providing additional services. With a lower but deeper technology spend, they will be able to compete better with the bigger players.
In fact, the mantra for these banks should be a computer on every desktop for every employee. Basic applications like email and instant messaging do not work if half the organisation has it, and the other half does not. By making technology at their heart, these generation next banks will level the playing field, and then can use their localised presence to create value-added services for their customers.
As we look ahead, it is useful to keep these words by our President Abdul Kalam in mind: The most unfortunate thing is that India still seems to believe in proprietary solutions. Further spread of IT which is influencing the daily life of individuals would have a devastating effect on the lives of society due to any small shift in the business practice involving these proprietary solutions. It is precisely for these reasons open source software need to be built which would be cost effective for the entire society. In India, open source code software will have to come and stay in a big way for the benefit of our billion people.”
TECH TALK An Affordable Alternative Technology Architecture for Indias BFSI Industry+T