A.T. Kearney's India head elaborates on the country's economic scenario

01 May 2018 Consultancy.in 4 min. read
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Following the consultancy's celebration of 20 years in India last year, A.T. Kearney’s country head Vikas Kaushal has provided insight into some of the major market trends that can be seen in India today, including digitalisation of back-end operations, growth of the oil sector, and scarcity of proper talent management.

The combination of a boom in the number of local firms and an influx of investment from the biggest consultancies across the world has driven the value of the Indian management consulting market to approximately $12 billion.

One firm that has been a major part of this growth is international management consultancy A.T. Kearney, which first established its presence in India in 1997 with an office in New Delhi. Senior executives at the firm are well-versed in the Indian economic scenario, and are in a strong position to capitalise at this pivotal time in global markets.

Earlier this year, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Managing Partner and Chairman of A.T. Kearney Global Johan Aurik offered his perspective on India, praising the current administration’s pro-business policies, and the resultant ease of investing and doing business in the country. Aurik also, however, identified the lag in the manufacturing sector and overall business environment compared to the developed world.

A.T.Kearney’s current head of India operations, Vikas Kaushal, has now offered a more internal perspective on the economic scenario in India. Kaushal has been with the firm for 18 out of its 20 years in operation in India, starting at the relatively lower rungs, and eventually ascending through the position of Partner to become Managing Director and Country Head.

Perhaps the biggest and most talked-about trend in the Indian market currently is the digitalisation of the economy. Nearly 850 million people are expected to be online by 2025, and a variety of sectors are working actively towards meeting the demand that this trend is likely to generate.

Vikas Kaushal, Managing Director - AT Kearney

From A.T. Kearney’s perspective, this thriving digital environment should not only be capitalised upon through matching domestic demand, but should also be leveraged to act as an international centre for innovation and development. According to Kaushal, “digital and analytics” are the primary areas of focus for A.T. Kearney India, having established centres of excellence for global back office operations for both domains in India.

Pockets of opportunity

Nevertheless, there remains a long way to go before businesses realise the true potential of digital applications, not only in the Indian market, but also internationally. According to Kaushal, heavy manufacturing industries across the world have large repositories of data that is recorded on a daily basis, but is neither mined nor analytically leveraged.

Generating the appropriate response to this scenario, and enabling a disruptive strategy to profit from the transition of back-end operations to the digital sphere, is the broad area of business that the consulting world, including A.T. Kearney, is likely to gravitate towards over the next few years.

Within the digital domain, Kaushal paints a promising picture for India, which is substantiated by the rapid increase in the digital arena in recent months from some of the biggest firms across the world.

However, things aren’t running as smoothly in some of the other domains. Talent management is one area, for instance, where Indian companies are struggling, particularly with respect to finding and placing professionals in the right space at the right time. Outdated and redundant business processes are other areas where Kaushal sees room for improvement.

In more specific terms, the oil and gas sector in India is one to watch out for over the next few years, given the country’s position as one of the largest consumers of oil in the world, and the expectation of this demand to only grow in the near future. As a result, international players in the oil industry are now formulating entry strategies for the Indian market.

When asked about whether renewable energy could help feed some of this energy demand in India, Kaushal acknowledged the merit and potential of alternative sources of energy for the long-term, but expressed doubt about their effectiveness in the short term, given that fuel is currently used for industrial scale transportation in India, where the levels of consumption are too high to be matched by alternative fuels at their current capacity.