Tamil Nadu IT sector: Here's what is missing

Aquarter century ago, Tamils went globetrotting for soft ware jobs; in the past ten years, the world has come to Tamil Nadu to set up tech shops. A talented workforce and an industry-friendly government have made Tamil Nadu a popular destination for IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS), but experts say the state needs better promotion and improved international visibility to stay in the game-and win. The IT and ITeS industry is the major contributor to the services sector in TN and employs more than four lakh professionals. A recent report by industry body ASSOCHAM says TN had attracted IT investments of Rs14,855 crore in 2015-16 and predicted that it may reach Rs27,857 crore by 2020.
The report also pointed out that among the share of total IT investments across India, Karnataka ranked on top, followed by Gujarat, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and TN. Presenting the TN budget in July, finance minister O Panneerselvam said software exports by the state's IT and and ITeS industry had grown at 10% to 12% per annum to Rs 95,000 crore in 2015-16. More than 50 multinationals have facilities in Chennai. Insiders say in terms of share of exports TN has fallen behind Karnataka, Gurgaon-Noida, Mumbai-Pune and APTelangana in the past seven years. However, a large portion of IT investment has gone to smaller cities such as Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy , Tirunelveli, and Salem, where many leading IT firms have set up facilities. In March this year, IT industry body Nasscom and the TN government inked a pact to set up a `startup warehouse' to accommodate and provide resources for up to 50 startups.
"We have created a good ecosystem. All we need is to support that with our hard work, in terms of creating more visibility for the state among our customers and investors," says K Purushothaman, senior director of Nasscom, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. With more than 600 engineering colleges and government initiatives such as ICT Academy , TN has the manpower and skill requirements.
Last month, the Confederation of Indian Industry and TN government organised CONNECT 2016, to discuss how the state could align with the Centre's Digital India initiative. Chairman of CII Connect 2016, Ravi Viswanathan, says TN has an excellent ecosystem for IT. "We have the best engineering schools and the talent coming out is outstanding," he says. To position TN as the best IT destination, he says, we have to promote our success stories and the resources the state has to offer.
The IIT Madras Research Park, which incubates and supports technology start-ups, is unique and has to be replicated. "We have to build such parks in Coimbatore, Trichy and other cities.The talent pool in TN is well-distributed, and it is also cost-effective for multinational firms to invest in tier-2 centres," he says.

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