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IBM bets big on India, to open more software development centres

US tech giant IBM is betting big on the India growth story and plans to open more software development centres in the country as it looks to partner with the government in its digitisation journey, its Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna said on Friday.

On a visit to India, Krishna met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar to discuss deeper collaboration including skilling and workforce development.

The firm that originally designed the technology and system behind ATMs, barcodes and the US social security net, is greatly enthused with the speed at which the Indian government is willing to make decisions and where it is moving, he told a select media briefing.

“We feel good about our business in India. We have a good footprint in financial services, in telecom, in government (business) in the industrial sector amongst many others. We are very pleased with the progress of our business here,” he said.

Stating that IBM does not reveal country-specific numbers, he said Asia did well in the third quarter (July-September) and “India was a big piece of that”.

“With the world’s geopolitics, I would not name countries, I think India is a unique opportunity to leapfrog even more than it has in the past two decades,” he said.

Globally, 70 per cent of its revenue will now come from software and consulting, higher-value businesses that both saw strong growth in the third quarter. The India market revenue will mirror the global trajectory.

IBM has acquired 17 companies since Krishna became CEO to bolster its hybrid cloud and AI capabilities both tech and high-value consultative services.

In the past six months, it has expanded in tier-II cities in India and accelerated hiring.

“IBM has expanded dramatically in India. We have large centres at Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune and a smaller one in Delhi on R&D (research and development).

“We have just announced that we will be opening centres near Ahmedabad and near Kochi. That are just two of few more that we have planned. I will not pre-announce the rest,” he said.

The firm is globally targeting USD 35 billion of cash generation over the next three years for re-investment into business expansion including in India.

On his meetings with the Indian ministers, he said focused around skilling and workforce development.

“We are not talking about people out of IITs (but) what can we do much deeper to get people ready for the digital revolution that is coming,” he said.

IBM in India spends 100 per cent of its CSR money on workforce development and skilling. “We don’t do other projects for show. 100 per cent of CSR is into this area, that is substantive.”

The discussions also focused on the ‘Gatishakti’ using digitation in government platforms to allow more services to be much more quickly availed by the citizens.

“We at IBM will be very very motivated to help to be part of it. These are government systems, they have to own them, they have to be eventual decision-makers.

“We will be very happy to participate in helping them build out systems, add scales, in a secure way, in a way they can be trusted, in a way they cannot be misused,” he said.

Krishna, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K), knows the potential the country has and has gone bullish on India, especially on the R&D and innovation to create for the world.

In the last six months, IBM has expanded in India. Besides opening IBM Software Labs development centers in Kochi, Kerala and Ahmedabad, Gujarat, IBM Client Innovation Center (CIC) specialising in design, software engineering and analytics were launched in Mysuru and IBM Consulting Business Process Operations started a new centre in Hyderabad, Telangana.

It will accelerate the building of skills and digital innovation providing a strong foundation for the IT/ITeS sector in the states.

IBM will offer cybersecurity training to 5 lakh people in India over the next five years. It has registered over 6.2 lakh learners on SkillsBuild from India a key milestone in its skilling commitment to the nation. PTI

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