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The current economic turmoil is a dark tunnel that we have to get through, and there’s no side exit: if you want to get through sooner, accelerate your strategy — presuming, of course, that you have a strategy.

NILF·IMG_0086r That sentence pretty much integrates the advice of several panelists here in Mumbai at a Wednesday afternoon power-panel discussion, entitled “Hard Times,” bringing together thought leaders from process exemplars like Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys Technologies Ltd. (And yes, I’d call them thought leaders even if their companies weren’t partners.)

Panelist Nandan Nilekani, Co-Chairman at Infosys, said something that should be written in letters of gold above the door of every IT services firm: “When you can extract more value from a customer’s existing assets, they’re willing to listen.” That’s absolutely the most persuasive case I’m able to make for aggressive adoption of SaaS and PaaS, when it comes with the extensive integration options that we have at — as witness our strategic combinations with other cloud players like Google, Amazon and Facebook.

One of the worst misperceptions of SaaS or PaaS is that a customer will either replace or duplicate existing capabilities — when the real opportunity is to keep what’s working, and innovate upon that foundation at Web speed with cloud-based economy.

A customer with a sound strategy can implement that strategy more quickly, in a way that shifts the balance from fixed capital investment to variable operating cost, by shifting the focus of new systems’ development and old systems’ enhancement into the cloud. This is the time to do it.

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