In this series, a senior writer discusses topics related to software innovations and emerging markets. This article is the fourth in an eight-part series on software innovation and business strategies. In previous articles, topics included managing competition, market dynamics, product innovations, and business strategy development. This article presents additional perspectives on software strategies related to emerging markets, including issues related to managing customer expectations, developing customer value, dealing with change, improving quality, staying ahead of the competition, and staying ahead of the industry.
One key issue that emerges is that companies may have an initial advantage in emerging markets, but they still fail to take advantage of new opportunities because they do not possess the right software architecture, IT and data management systems to support their businesses. In addition, they face difficulties managing their data because of poor understanding of the data requirements, a mismatch between technical and business objectives, inadequate knowledge of the internal business processes, inadequate time and financial resources, and inadequate staff training. At the same time, software developers face difficulties staying on top of emerging technologies. In order to remain competitive, they must incorporate emerging technologies into their software development lifecycles.
A second emerging market requiring attention from a software company manager is that of government requirements. Since almost every governmental agency in developed countries has a website, a company must build applications to integrate with these sites in order to facilitate online access by citizens. However, most government websites are woefully structured and maintain serious organizational deficiencies. Most often, the site lacks a clear separation between core business applications and non-core public applications. Because of this, a company must work closely with their data management department to design an information environment that meets both company and government needs.
Emerging markets like China, India, and Russia are starting to consume larger chunks of IT resources. While it may seem logical to deploy software for a developed country with an advanced IT infrastructure, many developing countries lack the resources to maintain their infrastructures. Many developing nations rely heavily on off-the-shelf software. Often this software is designed by inexperienced engineers who lack the training and expertise required to make it successful. For this reason, a software development company that is well versed in issues in emerging markets requires a different approach to software design and implementation.
It’s important to recognize that there are two distinct approaches to solving problems of emerging markets. The first is to focus on the supply chain. Many Chinese and Indian software developers have seen tremendous success in automating processes like quality control and manufacturing logistics that previously required large numbers of workers and extensive budgets. Automation solutions allow factories to scale up production without hiring additional personnel.
The second approach to solving issues of emerging markets is to focus on the service side. Many Asian countries, for example, have seen dramatic growth in software outsourcing. These services are used to support a company’s operations in China and India. In India, many companies have moved full-time employees to work at home in India in order to have access to a robust and stable IT infrastructure, which is often lacking in Asia.
As emerging markets like China and India continue to open up, Western companies will need to adapt their software designs to suit local needs. There are some great software developers in the world today that understand the challenges of developing markets. These developers can create software solutions that help a company effectively operate in a new setting. Software outsourcing is already a strong business within the emerging markets sector, and this trend will only continue to grow.
Today’s economy has put a tremendous amount of strain on developed economies. For this reason, it’s more important than ever for developing countries to develop their own industrial base and industrial strength. Software development companies that provide tools for addressing these issues will be an essential element in the process of new growth for these countries. It’s likely that as the global economy improves, software automation technologies will play a more prominent role in improving the conditions for the people who live and work in these emerging markets.