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Commentary

IT In India Is Booming, Gartner Says; Oh, Really?

Gartner's India CIO Summit 2009 next month should be a real head-spinner: the company says the event will "concentrate on the significant challenges" facing CIOs in India, but then its VP of research in India says "IT in India is booming, with no sign of deceleration." Good thing Gartner's so smart because it'll be tough to square that circular logic -- even with a magic quadrant.
Gartner's India CIO Summit 2009 next month should be a real head-spinner: the company says the event will "concentrate on the significant challenges" facing CIOs in India, but then its VP of research in India says "IT in India is booming, with no sign of deceleration." Good thing Gartner's so smart because it'll be tough to square that circular logic -- even with a magic quadrant.Matching up with what's going on around the world, Gartner says the event will explore how "an increasingly competitive, resource-constrained environment" and "volatile world economy" are requiring that CIOs in India "to re-examine business models and processes to transform their IT organization."

But the company's news release about the event then offers this rather unique view from Partha Iyengar, VP and head of Gartner research in India: "Despite the global economic slowdown, IT is booming in India, with no signs of deceleration." Iyengar also describes the need for strong planning and execution "in this ever-changing environment."

I must beg to differ. We all know of the situation with Satyam, and the only "boom" there is the sound caused by the implosion of the company's prospects after the founder and chairman misstated financial records for years and betrayed the firm's 50,000 employees.

And at three bellwethers of the Indian IT economy, results are steady but hardly what anyone would call "booming": at Infosys, revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was up a respectable 8% year-on-year but was down 3.7% versus the previous quarter; at Tata Consulting Services, revenue for that same quarter was flat year-on-year and down 5.8% versus the previous quarter; and for Wipro, analyst Ashish R. Thadhani of Gilford Securities is projecting 1% revenue growth for the coming year.

Thadhani also offered this view in his report on the overall sector: "Our current model anticipates no sustained upturn in IT Services revenue until the March 2010 quarter. In this environment, even flat revenue and EPS in calendar 2009E should attest to the durability of a business model."

My own anecdotal conversations with India-based CIOs show that they're battling the same issues as their peers around the world: cutbacks in hiring or even staff reductions; slower or reduced capital spending; and delays in project rollouts.

So it should be very interesting indeed to see how Gartner squares that reality with its view that "IT in India is booming, with no sign of deceleration."