Posted by: cmani2010 | October 19, 2007

Product development in India

I attended a seminar by a VP, from a very well known (top 5) software company in the world, who have a engineering center in India (at Hyderabad). There were a few interesting points during the seminar, which I thought was worth sharing.

1. Start small with one or two products. The product selected should be fairly complete and end to end development should happen here. This should include engineering (test and dev), program/product management and other stuff.
2. Cost was NOT the factor for doing product development in India, but the talent factor, growing economy etc are the main drivers. He mentioned that, if there was mandate at the executive level, for example 10-15% work should be done in India, then all the BUs will dump some work here, just because they have a mandate to do some work here. This was not a desired state to be doing work. I agree on this point.
3. Things like product management which require interacting with customers, may not be available in India for all products. In these cases, product managers should travel to the markets to meet the customers.
4. Things like number of patents filed, are a good indicator of the quality of work being done at an engineering center.
5. After establishing a foothold, the next step is to look for innovation to happen here at the center. This means new products, entirely incubated and developed from India.
6. Contrary to a popular perceptions, testing is a fantastic career path at this company. They have hired people from IITs into test. Their role is on par with dev engineers.

Challenges faced and being faced:

1. Finding people who have worked for several years in the same product line.
2. Finding people with product planning/product marketing and user experience skills in India.

Other interesting tidbits:

1. For any idea to be interesting to this company, the product should have a revenue potential of at least $100 million, in the next few years
2. The most growth in India is in mobile (I heard something like 6 million new users every month), entertainment (TV, films), retail.
3. Finding a way of making money from product revenue, continues to be a challenge in India. Is it ad based, subscription based?
4. There was a interesting comparison of how many months, it took different companies to achieve a million subscribers: iLike < 1 month, Skype – 3 months, Hotmail 6 months and MySpace – 10 months

Finally, however cool the technology could be, but the focus should be ON the customer and what the customer needs.

Disclaimer: This is not a complete transcript of the proceedings, I could have misheard some stuff. I have tried to provide a few interesting points, which were of interest to me.



  1. Thanks for the informative summary about the seminar that you attended. Some of the points are thought provoking. I am in complete agreement with the concluding statement of your post, which by and large means, "The Customer is the King."

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