Last Friday, we hosted our first roundtable in Singapore focusing on the IT services industry in Asia. The goal of these quarterly events is to create a community of services leaders who can network and exchange ideas on the growth opportunities and challenges in the region.

Senior leaders from 14 large services vendors gathered this morning to discuss how a perfect storm of technologies (including cloud, social, big data, and mobility) is transforming the way clients engage with service providers in Asia. Forrester analysts John McCarthy, Frederic Giron, and Dane Anderson brainstormed with business leaders from services vendors including Atos, BT, HCL, HP, and IBM around the four factors that are reshaping the IT services industry (see Figure 1):

  • The restructuring of the Asian economy. The economic uncertainty has now spread to emerging markets, and economic growth is expected to slow down significantly in India and China this year. Forrester has revised its IT services spending forecasts downward by two to four percentage points in these countries for 2012 and 2013. Participants corroborated this downgrade and mentioned they were seeing the process of making decisions on large transformation projects getting longer, especially in the manufacturing industry.
  • The rise of mobile and systems of engagement. Mobile devices are creating opportunities for companies to engage in new and innovative ways with their clients, partners, and employees. Asian business users are looking at service providers as lighthouses that can help them navigate the perfect storm (see the August 13, 2012, Forrester report “Mobile’s Ascendance Will Accelerate IT Services Restructuring.”). But projects are smaller and follow a more iterative approach where service providers need to leverage their own IP in the form of software assets in order to succeed.
  • Changing decision structures. Forrester’s research shows that business buyers in Asia are taking a more important role in the decision-making process for IT projects. Growth and time-to-market imperatives push business decision-makers to ensure that their service providers are aligned with their business goals. In this environment, service providers need “business solution architects” — a new profile of sales personnel that strikes the right balance between technology know-how, domain expertise, and sales acumen.

In the next roundtable, which will take place in November 2012, Forrester analysts and the IT services community will drill down into the implications that these trends will have on the sales, marketing, and delivery operations of service providers in Asia.