Friday, August 05, 2005

The Corporate Caterpillar

It has been almost 2 months since I joined an IT company from campus. And all of it has been spent in training. Of and on, we have had sessions from various practice heads too, on varied topics like the IT industry in general, the organization, the practice units, the type of projects, and the kind of work we fresh MBAs, who have been hired as functional consultants, are expected to do. Most of it has been very enlightening, as well has humbling.

One of the intriguing insights presented to us during one of the sessions dealt with how rapid technological progress is redefining business paradigms. 20 years back, a company’s IT strategy was governed by business needs. Back then, companies searched for the technology which could best support their business model. Today, it is IT which is defining how business is done. Present day companies are trying to find a business model which makes best use of the latest technology. RFID, eProcurement, Online and Mobile Banking etc. are technology driven business initiatives. Today, no functional consultant can afford to be oblivious to technology. You never know where the next big idea springs form.

The story of the journey of Indian IT is no less fascinating. From microcosmic beginnings in the 80s, to the multi-billion dollar status it enjoys now, Indian IT industry has done more than just generate foreign exchange and employment for the country. It has redefined the image of our country in the eyes of the world, as well as revolutionalised business models of IT companies worldwide. Today, even IT superpowers like IBM and Accunture have realised the advantages of concepts like GDM, and are following the path adopted by Indian IT. Indian IT has survived downturns like the dotcom bust, and the outsourcing backlash (when clients insisted that Indian IT companies do not mention their names in their client lists), and emerged with such strength that clients now feel proud to be associated with them. While global giants like Accenture and EDS are now trying to penetrate down the value chain; from business and IT consulting, to IT implementation, the next challenge for Indian IT is to do the opposite; move up from IT implementation to IT consulting, and finally to business consulting.

The biggest misconception egoistic MBAs like us carry with us is that we are functional gurus. We should only be asked to concoct strategic level functional formulations, and not get into any level of technical nitty-gritty. But as one of the practice heads explained, being a functional person does not mean knowing the difference between “Procure-to-Pay” and “Order-to-Cash” (something which any ordinary software engineer can learn in a week), it means understanding a client’s business in such detail that you can speak his language, understand his business problems, and suggest solutions for the same. Functional expertise involves speaking at the same wavelength, to a C-band executive, who has been working in the industry for decades. Something which will take us years to achieve.
While a software project life cycle typically moves from project scoping to design, to implementation, and finally to support; a functional consulting career will follow exactly the opposite cycle, i.e. support, implementation, design, scoping. So, during the initial stages of our careers, one should be well prepared to get his hands dirty, and start the learning process bottom up.

“I aim for the sky.. But I have lots to learn.. before I can fly”
P.S.- The term “Corporate Caterpillar” was coined by one of the most creative creatures in our NITIE batch, Alex Joseph

5 comments:

the_new_cloud said...

Do wash your hands after they get dirty...:-D.. And if u find time then do wash the rest of the parts of ur body too...:-D
Happy friendship day..

chaos said...

quite true...
and those who try to jump up the ladder a bit too fast... they either rise too high or fall too soon... (the probability of latter is way too high) :D

Nikhil Kulkarni said...

hmm... even I learnt a lot about how useless or rather insufficient our MBA is in terms of functional knowledge ...
But man .... business still drives the IT needs of the organisation .. atleast thats what I learnt in KPMG ...
No one seems to be spending more than reqd on IT .. of course the competition is causing them to adopt new techs fatser than they would otherwise have ...

Shubham said...

2nikhil..

I think that now, companies have reached a level of maturity related to their IT strategy and IT spending.. One one side, they are careful not to make massive investments into new technologies just for the sake of it, and on the other side, they are also constantly looking at technology enabled ways of business improvement..

so, i think we can now expect better returns on IT investments from companies, as compared to 4 5 years back..

yudi said...

are tum baba se lad nahee saktee
he can debate on anything :))