Arun Nathani, CEO, Cybage, another strong OPD player from Pune on how he sees these industry question marks, and how he strongly feels that SaaS etc would not mean a new civilization of rivals cropping up..
Has and how much the so-called recession-triggered shrinkage in s/w R&D spends, affected the OPD industry? Is the ISV side bouncing back on NPD?
The last six months were tough because future was not clear. I won’t say it was black, but yes, it was not clear. Now the end-purchasers (CIOs) are opening up their purse strings so the trickle-down effect will happen. The future pipeline is more stable now.
What drift (and at what levels of penetration) is the focus on 'usability' giving to OPD industry, if any?
Usability is a huge thing. It’s probably an area where we have seen fastest growth. Last few years have shown great up tick on UI. It’s a fast and upcoming thing and more resources are being channeled in this particular area only. We too are investing much more in this area.
And what about ‘interoperability’ in the same context?
There is a certain drift with emerging demand of interoperability on both technology and non-technology areas. We do see a lot of interest from our clients to consider SaaS and/or SOA for their products wherever possible. Our technology teams are very much geared towards this. We have very successfully and quickly built competencies in many of these emerging areas and we are also getting into a consulting led approach here for our clients. Another angle for the interoperability that we see comes from the interoperability of the products itself. Wherever the products sit on top of a larger package, say a CRM package as an example, we see the trend that our clients are looking at the product being able to integrate easily with all different and leading CRM packages.
Would the advent of hosted software vis a vis on-premise/off-the-shelf solutions, be a disruptive force to OPD?
When you say disruptive, my answer would be both ‘no’ and ‘yes’. The mode of doing things is changing and it is giving opportunities. That doesn’t mean a scenario like pirated software will emerge. But yes, more adaptability will come. Most of our customers are considering SaaS while designing products. The same people will adopt this direction. It’s not about a whole set of new players happening, who will uproot old players. It’s just about a change in the mode. A cloud is basically an efficient way of doing computing.
What implications have internationalization and localization of s/w products brought on to OPD players?
If any, more business! We see the ISVs going to different markets to sell their software products and are keen on providing value to their customers by using localization. Fortunately, a lot of modern technology platforms provide ease in adapting to localization as well as internationalization. Some design effort, UI effort and testing effort is indeed required but this has not caused any major setbacks to the OPD players. It has only encouraged the OPD players to take into account demands and needs of different geographies. Our technical teams are very well geared towards taking care of the Internationalization and Localization needs.
Have hybrid pricing models started being a mainstay?
While there is always a pressure to stay very competitive in the pricing area, we are not seeing any particular interest in the hybrid pricing models from our clients.
Would de-coupling of design and development; and commoditization change the DNA of the industry? How?
At a fundamental level, complete de-coupling of design and development is not possible. However, there has been significant advancement in modern technology platforms that allow robust designs and ease of development. Having said that, commoditization of the software industry has very much happened and we see many companies struggling for the same space. At Cybage we believe that innovation to the overall process of design and development, coupled with a strong focus on operational excellence has helped us distinguish ourselves as a key player in this area.
How would you differentiate yourself from other competitive forces like MindTree, Persistent, Symphony, and Aztecsoft?
Cybage is an emerging world leader in the OPD space. The very reasons behind such an emergence themselves differentiate Cybage from these companies. Cybage’s value proposition to the global software product companies is ‘outsourcing business risk mitigation’ which is at the heart of the OPD industry. In other words, Cybage helps companies looking to outsource their product development, meet with their intended business objectives behind such an outsourcing. While cost competitiveness is one such broad objective, there are other important objectives like concentrating on the core business, faster time to market, strategizing the stage in which the product is in its total Product Life Cycle (PLC), future development plans, new product planning, idea screening and incubation etc.
As a part of marketing program, most players in the OPD space would claim to be doing this. However, there is a difference at the execution and delivery level. Being aware and agile about it is one thing and having a tangible system and framework to de-risk clients and enable them achieve their outsourcing objectives is another. Cybage’s ExcelShore® model of operational excellence – a sophisti cated algorithmic driven IT system that Cybage has perfected and developed over last decade does exactly that. It puts client’s business objectives on the top and provides a sophisticated dashboard of project Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that enable the executive project stakeholders of Cybage to align the project towards achievement of such objectives.
It’s like hitting right on the nail - Product companies outsource with a business objective and Cybage enables them to achieve those objectives leveraging its perfected IT system that delivers. If client’s business risk is mitigated, it meets with the inherent philosophy behind partnering – which is a key to global leadership.
ISVs face special challenges like shrinking product life cycles or Go-to-Market issues or slow recognition-cum-resolution of product defects? How does OPD come into play here?
ISVs will continue to face these challenges always! But OPD has a significant share in addressing these issues. In conventional sense, OPD does not deal with the ideas or market analysis etc. for the product. However, once the idea has been brainstormed and presented to an OPD specialist, such as Cybage, converting that idea quickly into a product is the main challenge. Over the years, we have seen a lot of innovation and evolution in the approach here. We have seen most of the projects getting executed in the AGILE/SCRUM methodology. Clients are moving away from conventional waterfall cycles and once-a-year-release-cycle. We see releases happening as frequently as once a month in many cases. This methodology provides a very tight control over releases and makes sure that the progress is real and is tracked properly. A lot of automation has also been brought in such as running automated test scripts as well as use of tried and tested design patterns. A focused OPD player has a very high stake in helping clients to make sure that the time-to-market is shorter and that the releases provide incremental value as well as better quality (low or no defects). In addition, Cybage has a unique advantage through its robust model of Operational Efficiency called ExcelShore®. Using ExcelShore® we are able to form robust teams that can execute our mature processes literally leading to shrinking product life cycles for our clients.