The emergence of product management discipline in India and the related discussion takes varied forms and context. Recently I came across an excellent project carried out by my classmates at IIM Bangalore which set me thinking about the varied factors for India product scene and why it has not been able to be such a powerful idea in this part of the world. Specifically, Why India still is a place where the product are being made for the heck of it but not really being able to make money out of it.
This was an excellent project rated amongst the very best by our faculty and was carried out by Mr. Satyajit Paul, Mr. Bodhi Satya Sarkar, Mr. Aseem Mudbidri and Mr. Naveen from PGSEM 2008 batch of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
To set the context, this project was to understand the product start-up scene and its attractiveness for acquisition by the major players of the world.
However, I am trying to flip around the results of this project to pose some important questions so that along with the readers of this blog along with me can all try to find some answers and develop a better understanding.
The first illustration talks about the average R&D intensity of top ICT firms as in year 2000 and 2006. Clearly the investments in semi conductor and internet have increased while the factor in services and IT equipment has come down. Specially to be noted, semi conductor and software have a predominant higher intensity of R&D vis-à-vis other genre such internet, electronics etc.
Let us move on to the next graphic, classification of country capability on the world software scene. On the vertical axis (Y), the important factors for knowledge content are listed out, while software business segments are listed out on the horizontal (axis). So if we are trying to define the knowledge content capability of nations for simple tasks such as programming, design engineering and system integration, they are going to be cost based competition, off-shore – contribution with a small communication channel and on the higher side some level of equality of partnership with the client.
On the other hand if we talk about higher order value segments such as consulting and software products, we would notice that the required capabilities get more abstract and advanced namely – “Paradigm shifting, trajectory determining advance software building along with the ability to create and foster ideas”.
As the results states, US and Israel very strongly boasts of such higher capabilities while India is regarded as having more of the lower level capabilities.
Moving on to the next illustration, the researchers have tried to provide taxonomy to the various software functions. The most important of this taxonomy pertains to the classification between Traditional products and web based products (Internet Consumer Products).
The most important observation and the startling results which is visible is the fact that almost 95% of the product start-ups are in the field of Information Goods and Social/Professional Networking sites identified by B and C segments on the graphic. The fact that all of such product ventures are internet based consumer interaction segments lead themselves to the question we want to pose.
Based on the above, the question that needs an answer would be – Is it the lack of enterprise markets in the vicinity or the lack of ability to market in an enterprise segment which is driving this skewness towards social media and information good products?
What I would like to argue is that though we have the ability to innovate, however we have the shortage of talent and/or a systematic product management function as it exists in US and other product eco system fostering nations.
I would hesitate to accept the vicinity of local market argument as the above illustration clearly shows the experience of Israel in the product company acquisition space.
I do not have answers however my curiosity do challenges me to the following assumption. I believe the answers do lie in the fact that product management scene in India is still growing and it would be the onset of this practice that would help insert a sense of rationality in technology development efforts of India.