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Where Software is King: IT in India

A recent speaking tour through Asia has left me convinced that India will be the world leader in software development within fifteen years. India's core advantage is well-known: the country has an enormous pool of low-priced but talented and well-trained people.

What's less well known is a more recent advantage: the rise of a pervasive IT culture. With the possible exception of cricket, software is what most excites Indians today. It's impossible not to be impressed by how mainstream software development is in Indian culture. The Times of India, a major national daily newspaper, runs large ads on page three promoting training in C# and ASP.NET. Banners hang from lampposts in Mumbai (the former Bombay) for courses in Java and J2EE. Hotel bookshops are full of serious technical and technology business books. IT is hip—everybody wants to be in software.

InfoSys, India's largest publicly-held software company, has a campus in Bangalore, the heart of India's Silicon Valley. The complex is reminiscent of Microsoft's Redmond campus, right down to the numbered buildings and flocks of casually-dressed twenty-something developers. InfoSys hired somewhere over 4,000 developers last year, chosen from some 400,000 resumes the company had received that year—all engineers.

Many large organizations in North America and Europe have turned to India for help in completing development projects. The big savings are in people. An experienced developer in India might make a quarter of what an equivalent developer in America would be paid. Since salaries make up such a large percentage of development projects, Indian firms can present an impressive cost advantage.

The scarcest resource in the world today isn't gold or silver—it's competent software developers. Whatever temporary setbacks exist at the moment, India's future as a capital of IT looks bright. In a connected and competitive world, talented, trained, capable developers won't sit idle for long. And right now, India has a culture that's producing more of them than anyplace else.

About the Author

David Chappell is principal at Chappell & Associates, an education and consulting firm focused on enterprise software technologies. He can be reached via E-mail at david@davidchappell.com.

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