The USD 140-billion industry will also look for a helping hand from the entrepreneurial zeal of startups as it seeks to maintain its dominant position in the global market in 2016.

The industry maintained its growth trajectory despite some hiccups including due to headwinds from a slowdown in the global economy, problems related to the skilled manpower visa in the US and the unprecedented rains in Chennai where many giants including TCS and Wipro have their facilities.

Enterprising solutions
As the focus shifted towards 'enterprising solutions', the large as well as smaller players including TCS, Infosys, Tech Mahindra and Mphasis incorporated SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and the Cloud) to create client impact not only in terms of cost, but also for expanding their revenues, profit margins and cash flows.

The year 2015 started with the industry body lowering the growth forecast for the current fiscal to 12-14 percent, from 13-15 percent in the previous financial year.

While exports will continue to account for a lion's share, Nasscom expects domestic market to see 15-17 percent growth, boosted by the government's Digital India initiative and a booming Internet economy, especially e-commerce.

The industry players are however not perturbed much by the lowering of guidance and said that the growth rate should not be looked at in isolation.

The digital India initiative
The government, on its part, announced a slew of initiatives like Digital India, Skill India and Startup India - all aimed at making digital services the backbone for delivering citizen services. As part of the programme, the government is deploying fibre, taking Internet connectivity to the masses and training people to ensure that there is at least one computer literate in every household.

Talking about the government's plan of framing a policy for 'digital village', Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the idea is to select a block in every state to ensure that technology can be used to deliver education and healthcare services.

The IT Department is also working on a fast-track programme for localisation of content on websites and the government will also have a tender for developing automatic machine translation, he added.

These initiatives received global appreciation and international giants like Microsoft and IBM announced setting up of data centres to cater to domestic requirements as well as meeting compliance norms.

Boom in startups
The year was abuzz with discussions around how Indian cities like Bangalore and Gurgaon were finally beginning to look like the Silicon Valley as a multitude of startups sprang up during 2015.

The year also saw the many companies with billions of dollars worth valuation emerging from India, a feat that giants like TCS and Infosys took much longer to achieve.

Industry experts are of the view that these startups will help India move away from the image of being the backroom for outsourcing services, as more products and IP (intellectual property) gets generated.

US visa issue
The US visa issue continued to be a pain point for the sector that gets almost 60 percent of its revenues from North America.

While anti-outsourcing sentiments continued to be heard, the US hiked the special fee on the popular H-1B and L-1 visas for James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.

Almost all Indian IT companies would pay between USD 8,000 and USD 10,000 per H-1B visa from April 1, when the next annual H-1B visa filing session starts, thus making it quite economically unsustainable for them.

As per Nasscom estimates, this will have an impact of about USD 400 million annually on the sector.

Impact of Chennai rains
A major calamity also struck the sector when heavy rains and flood upset daily life in Chennai, which is home to many IT giants like Cognizant, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and Mphasis. These companies have already warned that their revenues and margins for the December quarter would see an impact.

M&A deals
In terms of M&A deals, the year witnessed two large announcements apart from many smaller deals as companies bought other firms to build expertise and expand operations.

In April, French IT services company Capgemini said it will buy US-based IGATE Corp, which has a large presence in India - for USD 4 billion in cash to create an entity with a combined revenue of USD 14 billion. In October, PC maker Dell Inc said it will acquire EMC Corporation for about USD 67 billion to create the 'worlds largest privately-controlled, integrated technology company'.

Indian companies were not far behind. The otherwise reserved Infosys announced a series of investment under its new CEO Vishal Sikka. This included names like Panaya (USD 200 million), Skava (USD 120 million) and Noah Consulting (USD 70 million) as well as investing in firms like Whoop and CloudEndure. Infosys has also set up an innovation fund to support startups.

Wipro, on the other hand, invested in companies like Danish firm Designit (Rs 595 crore), US-based Viteos Group (Rs 860 crore) and Germany's Cellent AG for USD 78 million.

R Chandrasekaran, Executive Vice Chairman at Cognizant said platforms and IP are becoming key components of providing solutions to clients as 'digital' gains significant traction and tuck-under acquisitions help build capabilities in specific areas.

Cognizant specifically would continue to focus on tuck-under acquisitions to help advance our platform/IP capabilities, fill in gaps in our solution spectrum, strengthen our consulting or domain capabilities, or expand our geographic footprint," he added.

The growth for India's poster-boy industry doesn't come without challenges. Be it lack of skilled manpower or regulatory issues both overseas and domestic, the industry is making concerted efforts to help the sector to move to the next level.

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