Sociological factors behind IT success
The value system inculcated in the early years gets manifested in desirable mindsets
THE SUCCESS of the Indian IT industry is attributed to factors such as skill sets at a cheap rate, liberalised government policies and good telecommunication infrastructure. But equal credit should go to certain deep sociological factors related to Indian culture.
One such factor is the middle class value system on education. Parents from middle class families pressure their wards to perform well in mathematics while at school. Apart from helping gain admission to prestigious engineering colleges, proficiency in mathematics builds a problem solving mindset.
The crass materialistic outlook that prevails in the Western world today drives youngsters to work in a fast food outlet or a department store and earn a few bucks early in life. Doing an engineering undergraduate programme is considered a "waste" of time. While the Western world is losing its middle class value system, India prospers through more and more of outsourced work coming to it.
The value system inculcated in the early years gets manifested in desirable mindsets that impact on personal career and organisational growth.
Handling uncertainty: The ability to handle ambiguity is a prerequisite for developing software solutions since the customers themselves may not be very clear about their needs. The mindset of accepting fuzzy states comes naturally to Indian students. For example, if a train scheduled to arrive at 8.30 a.m. does not show up until 9 a.m., we do not become restless but take it in our stride.
This mindset helps in coping with change in consumer preferences, technology options, business models, geopolitical climate, etc.
Abstraction: The second item on the mindset is the ability for abstraction a direct effect of intense mathematics drills practised while at school. Abstraction enables one to weed out unwanted details from the customers' description of the problem. More importantly, abstraction helps one to observe patterns in seemingly disjoint problem contexts. At the workplace this mindset is transformed into reusing parts of solutions developed for one application in totally different contexts; in turn, this translates into increased productivity and profits.
Process compliance: Indian society is essentially an "unequal" culture with rigid hierarchies parents are "above" children at home, teachers above students in school, bosses above subordinates in offices, etc. In this social context, respect for processes evolved by wise elders is built into the genes of Indian students.
Compliance to process is the single most important factor in achieving software delivery excellence. It is no wonder that 75 per cent of IT companies assessed at high maturity levels are located in India.
Customer satisfaction: The middle class value system is also manifested in customer satisfaction. The child observes the kind of hospitality dished out to guests in the house (athithi dhevo bhava). Interpreting customers as guests, the employees go out of their way to please them by meeting their stated and implied needs.
The effect can be seen in IT companies reporting a large proportion of their revenues from repeat orders from existing customers.
Hence, while it is important to update the education system with the latest technology skills, it is equally important to preserve and promote the value systems to maintain India's supremacy in the IT outsourcing market.
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