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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Indian tech landscape no longer defined by metros: IBM ISA managing director Sandip Patel

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As part of its growth plans and efforts to leverage diversity, IBM is expanding into emerging cities and is partnering with the government, industry, and academia, according to
Sandip Patel, managing director of IBM ISA. In an interview, Patel says the technology firm is looking to drive part of its global delivery and R&D out of cities such as Hyderabad, Gandhinagar, Mysuru, Coimbatore and Kochi.
Edited excerpts:

What kind of expansion are you looking at in emerging cities, and what is driving this for the company?

The expansion into what we’re now calling emerging cities or emerging clusters is very much a part of our core strategy, and part of our growth plans as well. The Indian technology landscape is no longer defined by metros; we need to leverage diversity, which will be integral to our success in what we are now calling the ‘techade’ in India.
There is a lot of expansion across these emerging cities, both in terms of skill development and talent availability, as well as the economic development in these locations.
Our endeavour when we go into a particular city isn’t just to open a new centre, or create a pool of talent that just sits in an emerging city; our objective is to create an ecosystem for developing skilled talent in that region, and build an ecosystem that is core to our business.

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This is something we’d started thinking about even pre-Covid, and one of the filters that we look for is availability of talent and infrastructure that will enable us to build new skills that are relevant to our business. We also look for partners who have started to build in that part of the country, which enables us to continue to build on top of that.
The final thing that we look at is if we can make it easier for our employees to live in that region — in terms of residential areas and other amenities, making it easier for people to commute to work, to live and operate in a growing, thriving community in that space.

What is the expansion strategy you’re following?

By drawing on the skills and talent available in different pockets of the country, we’re able to build a stronger base for developing and delivering our next generation of solutions, as well as how we develop and do a lot of our research, software development, systems engineering, for clients around the world and in India.

It also gives us a first-mover advantage in terms of acquiring talent, particularly in areas where some of this talent is growing.

We’ve embarked on a very robust expansion strategy; we are continuing to grow our global delivery and also our R&D, which includes our software labs, systems labs, and research labs. And we are targeting our diverse hiring growth plan across all of our key businesses in India, as well as scaling our university hiring.

We continue to invest in early professional hires and their development. We recently announced the IBM India software lab in Gandhinagar. We also created a centre in Hyderabad for our business process operations. We have 11 client innovation centres, including the recently opened ones in Bhubaneshwar, Mysuru, Coimbatore, and Kochi.

How are you focusing on upskilling in these regions?

As we expand to emerging regions, creating the ecosystem for skilling is a concerted effort that’s needed over the long term.

When we go into these emerging locations, we very closely partner with the government, industry and academia to see how we can skill the next generation of technologists. We have committed to skilling about 30 million people globally by 2030.

We have also committed to skilling with a focus on underserved areas like the Northeast, amongst others. Whilst we already have programmes that we are running in places like Nagaland, Kumaon, Uttarakhand, there are several other areas that we could look at as well.

The government is also keen to fast-track areas like Tirupati, Anantapur, and others, which have a talent pool that needs to be cultivated. We are working with the government to focus on areas that they are looking to develop in terms of infrastructure and human resources.

What are the skillsets that you’re looking to invest in?

We’re looking to invest in a wide spectrum of technology skills — all the way from very deep software development and engineering skills, to skills in systems/hardware engineering, AI, security, and sustainability software in India.

We also have a very large services delivery organisation, which serves both India and our clients around the world. For that we would need technical skills, or application development skills — for instance, SAP and other applications on the cloud.

We have very large skill practices around cloud migrations for many of our business partners, such as Azure, AWS and others, as well.



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