A confluence of adversities is at play. They include an appreciating rupee that is cutting into earnings, a severe shortage of qualified talent at home, and a cap on H-1B worker visas to the U.S., along with pre-2008 election protectionism threats.
On top of that, there is the end of preferential industry tax benefits at home and the growing success of multinational competitors such as Accenture and IBM on Indian turf. Perhaps most challenging for the Indian players is the pressing need to move up the ladder into business consulting, a domain that companies such as IBM have dominated for decades. Indian outsourcing firms need to invest heavily to secure a position in this arena, and that will erode their fat profits, at least in the short term.For the first time, industry insiders are asking: Is the outsourcing game over for Bangalore? “The Indian IT companies have had an unusually long run in profits and growth,” says Siddharth Pai, partner and managing director of global tech advisory TPI Advisory Services India. But that is “an anomaly”, he adds. “As they mature, they cannot expect the same kinds of returns.”
It is healthy that industry insiders are beginning to worry about the issue. Nothing is more dangerous than cocky management teams. For investors, though, there still needs to be an adjustment to the risks that growth will not be what it used to be.