B2B Product Industry-Requisites for success
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
Recently, Chairman of the NASSCOM Product Council was quoted as saying:
We are at a big point of inflection. Products are being massively rewritten due to cloud, AI and other types of deep tech. We have vast technical talent, a large start up eco system. Our IT services are sitting in every large account in the world. It is a massive foundation to becoming a world leader in products
We must introspect and first think through whether this is all it takes to be a software product leader in the B2B space-cloud or on-premise.
I would like to look at four major “boxes” of requisites that we need to work on:
- Choice of the right industry verticals. (Bear with me)
- Skills that global B2B product companies need to acquire
- What the domestic corporate and SI eco-system can contribute
- What bodies like NASSCOM can do?
Choice of the right industry verticals
By starting to look at this, I am already contending that it may not be a great idea for any Indian B2B software product company to start wanting to be an SAP or an SFDC. It is too much to chew from many angles.
We must first identify and work on industry-specific products. A Tekion kind of company could well come out of India. (It is industry specific). Pick industries that are big globally, pick a problem area that are common globally in terms of processes, and build a product that can succeed. There are three broad criteria on the basis of which we could pick the verticals and areas to align with.
- Does India have “global standard” corporates in that vertical? Which means that we can tap good domain expertise
- Is the global market large enough?
- Can I build something relatively quickly?
I am not too worried about “competition” per se-because, if we do it right in any area, we can offer three times the value of a US/European product at half the price!
This is where our mindset across the industry and industry bodies have to change. Just by having strong tech talent, we can’t build great products. If I were to name top THREE skills required, I would name
- Domain knowledge
- Design skills
Yes-Tech is important, but mainly as a supplement to all of the above. I do believe that we have the foundation in all of the above, but need to refine these skills.
Domestic Eco-system of SI s and Corporates
Our globally successful System Integrators and Corporates can have a huge role to play. Let me give an example. I have recently started interacting with a great product company in one specific area of banking. The product uses AI, ML and NLP to solve key problems in corporate banking. Guess what: The Company is European and got substantial initial inputs from a large bank in Europe! And they acknowledge it.
We need corporate India to hold hands with Indian B2B startups. To build a great B2B product, we need intimate domain knowledge and that is where such collaborations can help. It should be an intense –hands on collaboration by offering domain expertise, beta launch and so on.
How can large Indian IT services System Integrators help? There can be many areas—but three important areas could be Program Management expertise, funding and market reach. In my experience SI s come together with a product start up expecting to get large deal values by adding a number of their services to the potential deal. This does not help. They need to come in with realistic expectations and with an intent to promote Indian products.
How can Industry bodies help?
Industry bodies have traditionally come with “services” back ground. I am aware that there are some bodies which have been specifically come into existence for the product eco-system, but these don’t still have the size or clout.
It is really up to the large Industry bodies like NASSCOM to actively assist companies in the B2B product space in all of the above. We need programs that help companies hands-on in every area that I have touched upon above. NASSCOM is now making that effort. Other Industry bodies can also do more. Even our embassies in key global markets need to chip in.
In summary, India has a great chance to build globally relevant niche, perhaps industry specific B2B products and to assume leadership. We have the potential. But to get there needs substantial coordinated effort.
Krish is the CEO of a B2B product company.
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