Strong consulting arms boost Indian IT and BPO services

06 October 2015

Infosys and Wipro, two large Indian outsourcing concerns, have struggled to reel in big fish clients for their consulting arms in recent years. Recent research finds that outsourcing firms that leverage their well-developed consulting practices are set to be winners in the battle to cross-sell solutions to big international clients. The firms have therefore sought to transform their consulting practice, with a keen eye on best practice at Cognizant Technology Solutions.

The Cognizant approach

Cognizant Technology Solutions is one of the larger consulting deliverers in the IT ecosystem. The firm claims to have perfected an operational model for leveraging IT outsourcing and consulting practices. “We have created a unique and highly operating successful model that you could say is the magic sauce behind Cognizant recording massive numbers for the last five years,” explains Mark Livingston, Executive Vice-President of Consulting at Cognizant.

Since 2008, under the guidance of Livingston, the firm has grown its practice from a footprint of 1,000 consultants to a practice of more than 5,400, with many of the new hires acquired from EY and Deloitte. The firm pioneered the ‘three-in-a-box’ approach, which sees at least one consultant, one client partner and one delivery director operative for each large client. The client partner provides operations management, while the consultant seeks to identify potential improvements to business operations. The three are, according to Sandy Gopalan, Vice-President of Consulting at Teaneck, New Jersey-based Cognizant, “[…] tied to the hip.”

Strong consulting arms boost Indian IT and BPO services

According to Livingstone, the strategic approach provides clients with the right mix of strategy and implementation for their potential needs. He remarks that: “Our consulting practice is not standalone. In our model, consultants are more like software delivery sales guys. It’s a matrix model where the consultancy organisation reports to the vertical in the business and reports to me. So it’s aligned with delivery and we go jointly to market.”

Digital growth

In recent years, the demand for technology driven solutions for business problems, as well as the development of analytics and forms of social media continues to drive consultant demand, a recent Source study found. It has been this demand – and Cognizant’s adequate solution – that has propelled its strong growth. “Strategy without technology is no strategy at all. Now as digital becomes default, clients are simply not buying strategy alone from top-tier consultancies. Every great idea has to have technology as a backbone. This explains how we win in more than 70% of times competing against the top consulting firms. So we are using consulting to help accelerate growth of delivery (of our technology offerings) because we can implement the idea, we can quickly develop a prototype, using design thinking and other things and that is what has helped us,” says Livingston.

Cognizant,Infosys, Wipro, TCS

Catching up

Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro each built consulting practices to provide advice to large enterprises worldwide about opportunities to simplify their technology and business operations with Indian business services. Their consulting expertise as well as Indian hosted IT outsourcing would provide competition to the more expensive services of consulting giants. With the increased demand for digital, as well as the need to provide clear consulting advice to potential clients, Indian IT suppliers are seeking to strengthen their positions.

Infosys for instance, is reorganising its consulting practice by merging its Swiss consulting unit Lodestone with its consulting practice, and has – following Cognizant’s success – bound 100 of the firm’s consultants to the management of 200 of its largest clients. The hope of this integration is to develop a new way of working that will bring about a $20 billion giant by 2020. So far the strategy has managed to increase business by 5.7% from the firm’s top clients.Wipro is also playing catch-up. According to the firm’s Chief Operating Officer Abid Ali Neemuchwala, the consulting practice will have three distinct foci: business operations consulting, IT strategy and operations and organisational change management. TCS too is repositioning itself, making the key move to provide business consulting services as part of its wider IT services packages.

Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm, comments: “However, as IT service firms mature, they realise that this [business consulting] is a key driver for future deals. The firm which can service a client with more of their offerings will win in the next three to five years.”


Public and private innovation are driving India's substantial digital economy

01 April 2019

New analysis from global management consultancy McKinsey & Company has reinforced what many experts have been indicating in recent times, that India is amongst the largest digital economies in the world. On a number of metrics, India is second only to China in terms of digital consumption.

The analysis comes against the backdrop of reports from a number of major consulting firms about India’s rapidly digitalising economy. In 2017, the Boston Consulting Group placed India’s population of online users at approximately 400 million, and predicted that it would reach 850 million by 2025.

Since then, experts have focused on what the emergence of such a large digital market means for various sectors, and how they are likely to grow and evolve in this context. McKinsey’s latest study offers a comparative analysis of India’s digital market against other major economies in the world.

India's global digital position

The highlight of the report is the role that the Aadhaar initiative from the Indian government has played in the development of this digital economy. Aadhaar was launched in 2009, and is essentially a digital identity mechanism that has registered as many as 1.2 billion people in accordance with their biometric information. 

The presence of such a digital identity has spelled growth for a number of other sectors that have fed off of this substantial database. The digital banking segment is one example. By the start of last year – nine years after the introduction of Aadhaar, nearly 900 million bank accounts were linked to Aadhaar information.

Not only does this represent monumental growth over less than a decade, but the number also nearly doubled since the previous year, when the number of linked bank accounts stood at just under 400 million. The digital identity database generated under Aadhaar has grown into the largest of its kind in the world.

Global digital adopters

The report attributes the overall digital growth in the country to a number of other government initiatives as well, including the Goods and Services Tax that was established in 2013, and has created a unified and harmonized database for over 10 million firms that pay indirect tax to the government.

Consequences of this expansion in the digital sphere have spread far beyond the sectors most directly affected, and India has become the second largest digital economy in the world behind only China on a number of metrics. These include the number of application downloads as well as the number of wireless phone subscribers.

The latter has been the result of the Reliance Jio initiative, which has tremendously increased the accessibility of mobile data by offering extremely cheap data plans across the urban and rural landscape. The number of internet subscribers has also grown to the second largest in the world as a result, currently at 560 million according to McKinsey.

Falling data prices in India

Increased prosperity has also led to a boom in the number of smartphones being purchased in India, currently at nearly 355 million in India, behind only China. The same global position is applicable when comparing the volume of social media engagement in India. Alongside government initiatives, the report attributes this scenario to innovation in the private sector as well.

“Global and local digital businesses have recognized the opportunity in India and are creating services tailored to its consumers and unique operating conditions. Media companies are making content available in India’s 22 official languages, for example,” says the report.