Gone are the days when IT outsourcing was just about cost arbitrage. With the proliferation of new outsourcing hubs such as Malaysia, China, Mexico and MNCs directly establishing their captive centers in different parts of the world (especially India and China), the cost and labor arbitrage advantages are more or less gone. Today we cannot rely on our plain vanilla PPTs selling our hardware and software capabilities and play our cost card to impress our customers to give business to us. These developments are even more true for the Product Engineering Services business which is characterized by rapid innovations, fast changing market scenarios and varying customers’ needs and tastes across the globe. So, how can the customers be impressed? Based on my personal experience of attending customer meetings and understanding their requirements, I will try to answer this question in the following paragraphs.
- Solutions Approach – We all know that in this market, differentiation is just a day dream. Beyond a point, all service companies are more or less similar in their offerings and capabilities. No wonder our customers also know this. This is why prospects / customers ask questions about our themes, solutions, frameworks etc, when we visit them. It’s not like that they do not want to look at our PPTs, but they want some “concepts in action”. Most of the mid-sized companies are guided only by their revenue and profitability targets. This leaves their hands bound for investment in developing these concepts and end up in the same league from which they want to differentiate themselves.
- Opening new markets – “Solutions approach “and “opening new markets” are closely linked and this is more valid in the Indian context. After working with numerous companies in some chosen segments, services companies are seen as troves of knowledge. Our customers expect us to share that knowledge with them for their benefit to identify new market segments for them, suggest business cases of their products, jointly work on some themes etc. But again, due to typical business compulsions faced by the services companies, these concepts are generally ignored or not considered serious enough. This results in leaving the customers unexcited about our capabilities and offerings.
- Customization and Localization – When the US and Europe are believed to be going back into recession, economies of China and India are growing at a healthy rate. Moreover, in terms of consumer market potential, both these countries offer huge opportunities for US and European companies to expand their markets. However, many of these companies face the problem of customizing their products to the local market needs. This represents a huge opportunity for Indian services companies including Mindtree. However, as we are stuck with our old way of selling, we more often than not, fail to identify this. We do not try to develop our capabilities in this area and then capture them in our slide decks. This situation needs to be changed.
- Act as “LinkedIn” – The basic reason for popularity of “LinkedIn” is that people see some personal gains when they hook on to this website. And most of the times, the gains are business gains in terms of knowing different people and selling our profiles better to a larger audience. Services companies have not realized the potential of acting like “LinkedIn” in their large customers’ pools. The role our customers want us to play is the role of a “facilitator”. As we work with a complementary set of customers and understand the requirements of both the sides, they expect us to connect them and propose solutions which can be of a “win-win” solution for both of them. If we start doing this, we stand a good chance of winning business from both of them.
- Better Presentation – Our over dependence on PPTs is a real concern in this digital world. As explained earlier, customers want to see “things in action”. They are not content with just seeing the screenshot of a project dashboard in one of our slides. They want to see the live URL. They want to click on the links and see what parameters we track in our projects for successful delivery and project management. Similarly, we are very poor in capturing successful moments in project histories. Instead of ODC slides, we need ODC videos and stories to go along with them. We need to move out from PPT to “Digital Media” mode. This is going to have a much bigger impact on our visiting customers than our old PPTs.
There is no doubt that the time for change has come. If we do not make an early change, we will perish and companies having newer ideas and fresh approaches in Sales and Marketing are going to take our place in this competitive word. Fortunately, in Mindtree, we have identified the change in the expectations from services companies, and are putting our hearts and minds together to provide the best services to our customers.