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For IBM, India The Fastest Growing Market In APAC: Paul Burton

India does not yet compare to China in terms of size. But in terms of growth rate, India is far outpacing China, says Paul Burton, General Manager, IBM Asia Pacific

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Paul Burton, General Manager, IBM Asia Pacific

The tech industry in India crossed USD 200 billion in total revenue and five million in total workforce in FY2022. Such growth rate has been setting India apart in the APAC and world at large. And the growth is expected to be on the uptick throughout the decade. 

During his recent visit to Bengaluru, Paul Burton (General Manager, IBM Asia Pacific) spoke to BW Businessworld's Rohit Chintapali on India's strategic position in the Asia-Pacific for IBM and what sets the the country apart in the region. Read on for excerpts from the interview.

How do you see IBM pursuing cutting-edge technologies in India?

India is not going to follow the traditional path that the US or Europe followed in terms of computing. The country is going to skip steps as there is no point going to client server as it’s an outdated model. As the clients invest in digital infrastructure, they are going straight to the cloud and they will be interested in hybrid cloud computing environment. And as the market modernises, India is going to consume newer architectures which are keeping with the times. 

We have to understand that we are moving into an environment where speed and flexibility matters more than ever. But we don't know what is going to happen technologically two years from now. This means that we need to make choices that are not going to foreclose our options in advance. Hence, we look at containerizations as a good bet, along with hybrid cloud platforms and AI data fabrics. These are all foundational things that set us up for the future. This is where clients are investing and we see India doing well in this space.

Last two years has seen digital transformation accelerate. Cloud and AI has been a big part of this movement. What has been the impact of this been like in the APAC and India at large from IBM's perspective?

Cloud and AI has brought in heightened rate of growth and the resiliency in business. With hybrid cloud, we are now able to compliment on-premise infrastructure, which allows us to evolve at scale and speed. This is allowing organisations capture growth of the market. And so, we are seeing a much more dynamic market with much higher growth rates.

What is the biggest inhibitor to digital technology today?

Biggest inhibitor to digital technology is skills. Now, India is blessed because it has a lot of people and a lot of them are writing code. There are a lot of startups in India and tremendous amount of liquidity in the labor market that’s drawing talent to interesting things. 

There's also a lot of outsourcing that still comes to India in terms of technology and a lot of big technology companies have presence here. India's been growing at a very strong clip now outpacing China in many parameters. It has become truly a hyper-power, technologically. It is growing in a very technologically savvy and sophisticated manner, which means that it will have impact throughout all of Asia. If I were a policy maker in India, I would double down on educational programs that produce children that are very tech savvy with things like Red Hat, writing code, DevOps, databases, networks and more. 

They used to say when the US coughs, rest of the world catches cold. I think now, when India coughs, people in Asia-Pacific take notice and sometimes catch cold.

How does the Indian technology market measure up against others in the APAC?

India does not yet compare to China in terms of size. But in terms of growth rate, India is far outpacing China. For IBM, India is the fastest growing market in the APAC. Period.

The challenge for IBM is: How do we address this market in a way that makes sense? Not only in terms of capturing the growth, but capturing quality growth. We want to set our team on a growth trajectory where the technology decisions that they make set them up for what we expect to be a really accelerated pace over, at least, the next 10 years. I have said it many times that the 2020s is clearly the decade for Asia-Pacific. 

What is IBM India’s approach for the APAC ecosystem? What is the vision?

There are two dimensions to our India business. There's the local market, which we service just like every other country. But on the other hand, there’s a tremendous amount of high-end technical, deep thinking being done here. India plays a unique role within Asia-Pacific because we are able to take all of the talent here and expose it to other countries to help them solve complex problems. 

I think, if APAC is an ecosystem then India is a keystone country because there's so much talent and capability here in India. And it is being used to solve problems elsewhere throughout the region. India is really indispensable.