The Need for Visible Action is Driving Nasscom: KK Natarajan

The industry body’s new chairman Krishnakumar Natarajan tells NS Ramnath how it plans to reinvent itself in order to stay relevant

Published: Jun 20, 2013 06:03:27 AM IST
Updated: Jun 15, 2013 08:17:34 AM IST
The Need for Visible Action is Driving Nasscom: KK Natarajan

Krishnakumar Natarajan
Designation: Co-founder, CEO & managing director of Mindtree; chairman of Nasscom
Education: BE in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering, Chennai; MBA in marketing and systems from XLRI, Jamshedpur

Q. As the IT sector matures, Nasscom is increasingly being seen as irrelevant…
If you look at health care or IT, there is a move towards specialisation. We didn’t have specialities like paediatric cardiology before. Now we have them. Same with IT. More and more customers are demanding specialised services. Specialists bring in specific skills and in-depth knowledge, so end results can be guaranteed. I believe a more focussed industry association brings these strengths to the table: Build knowledge base, do policy advocacy and help in creating the ecosystem.

Q. Despite this focus, Nasscom has been off the mark in industry projections. Didn’t it pay enough attention to new growth areas?
I see it in two contexts. For the first 15 years, Nasscom members and stakeholders were homogenous. Their value propositions were identical. In fact, we used to joke that if you take a corporate presentation made by any IT company and remove the name, they will almost be the same. In this context, Nasscom did a good job. It helped in promoting STPI [Software Technology Parks of India], building Brand India and whatever element of policy influence in major markets [besides providing a platform for companies].

In areas such as engineering and R&D services, and business process management, Nasscom started working much before they became big. Organisationally, it’s true that we could have done more in areas such as software products and mobile. The new federated structure of Nasscom will address that. We have already launched Nasscom Product Council. There will be more in the coming days.

Q. Nasscom has been talking about change for long. What’s different now?
One, obviously, is the realisation that there is a need for visible action. Ten thousand startups, which are a part of the Product Council, is a step towards that. The structure is now different. It’s federated and different industry councils will play a major role.

Q. Do you have the manpower to take on more work?
Volunteerism has always been an important part of Nasscom. Now I believe there are more people who want to give back to the industry. That will help. There will be other initiatives. For example, we are rolling out Nasscom fellowships where people take a sabbatical from the parent company and work at Nasscom. We are also working out an arrangement by which a company would recruit from the campus, and they [recruits] would spend the first two years in Nasscom before they go to parent companies.

Q.  Any specific metrics you will be tracking to see the impact of these changes?
Our overarching goal is to make Nasscom the most admired industry body globally in the next three years. Right now, there is no Malcolm Baldrige [an award which recognises US organisations for performance excellence] for association. We are trying to get some external help to get that. We want to improve our satisfaction rating. We don’t know what the satisfaction levels are right now. We will start measuring that. We will also look at the industry growth and the number of new entrepreneurs we generate.

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(This story appears in the 28 June, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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