The COVID pandemic Is such a powerful force that it has disrupted every Industry and sector. It is a time of crisis but also time of opportunity. The tech workforce is moving away from centralized model towards the distributed model of working where one can imagine a software engineer from the most remote rural place in India building tech stack for a unicorn company.
Companies are hiring where the talent Is and technology has made it possible. This hiring strategy also means that tier-2 cities In India can benefit from attracting and retaining talent by providing Infrastructure, creating eco-system, and regulatory support for these companies as well as startups. One such city is Mysuru which is often called sister city of Bengaluru and about 2 hours drive south. Mysuru also happens to be the place I grew up where I have fond memories of.
Mysore Is a well planned city and already has a great Infrastructure to support the tech ecosystem, but what hindered its growth all these years was the seamless connectivity and the tech industry’s un-willingness to change the working model. And of-course the technology for remote work was still in its nascent stages. As they say “Its never too late”, Mysuru’s time has come. There is a perfect storm In place for Mysuru’s take-off and become ‘the’ destination for tech talent, tech parks and a solid startup eco-system.
How Mysuru can become a hub for startups, talent and tech parks
Several Ideas are being proposed as to what areas of tech Industry Mysuru should play the host for In order to drive its agenda for economic growth and social welfare. In order to solidify these ideas, a recent confluence of the Karnataka state government IT department, Industry body NASSACOM, tech startups, Investment firms, big tech companies like VMware and Industry anchors took place at an event called “big tech show-beyond Bengaluru” In Mysuru this week. Highlights below:
Talent : Since the e-commerce revolution in late 90’s India has seen an exodus of talent to foreign nations. Mysuru especially has produced brilliant software engineers over these years but has not been benefited much that could contribute towards its economic growth. Now is a great opportunity for developing, retaining and attracting tech talent.
Startup eco-system : There are few tech startups in Mysuru but most of them are in nascent stages. Mysuru already has world class engineering colleges like SJCE, research organizations like CFTRI, many local investors, big companies like Infosys, L&T. All of these entities can be readily leveraged to build a conducive environment for the startups to develop and thrive. One of the Ideas floated around was to create a Incubator for startups.
Tech Park: The Bengaluru tech park that was built in 1990’s was a propeller and catalyst for the massive growth of Indian tech industry. Similar model has been floated for the Mysuru to build a tech park. But given that nature of of the tech work is so much distributed, this many not be a viable option in my opinion.
Cybersecurity: This is one of the areas being seriously considered given that cyber threat is a global phenomenon. There is an estimated need of 1.1 million cybersecurity professionals. How this will be planned and executed in the city of Mysore remains to be seen.
Moving beyond the Core IT Services
For over two decades, India’s software exports revenue has been mainly through IT services and global call centers. Alok Kshirsagar, senior partner with McKinsey proposed four new areas of opportunities to Karnataka state government : (PS, these are my notes from the conference, please comment below if you need clarification on any of the below)
- Software enabled manufacturing – Many SME’s In India are already building software for companies like GE , especially wind turbines. The Idea here is to explore this space and expand opportunities.
- Agriculture – Lift farm income and farm jobs through use of digital capability and precision agriculture
- Startup to scale up – Managing operation, employees for startups , helping them scale
- Digital in cities and town – Going beyond e-governance. Reducing financial complexity in the financial system. Support startups with more e-governance Infrastructure
While the state of Karnataka constitutes 35% of the total software exports ($133B) from India , the goal is to reach $300B within the next few years. With rapid digitization happening In India and abroad, digital talent is of dire necessity. If the state and local governments can create a robust infrastructure and services to nurture startups and help create a robust eco-systems beyond metro cities, there is no one to stop.