Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

TABLE 3 Spending on Global Software Services by Categories of Work and India’s Market Share, 2003


Global Spending on Software Services ($ billions)

India’s Global Market Share (percentage)

U.S. Wage Rate ($/hour)



< 1


Applications development




System integration: hardware and software deployment and support


< 1


System integration: applications, tools, and operating systems


< 1


IT education and training




Managed services









Consulting includes IT strategy, system conceptualization, information systems (IS) consulting, architecture, design, and network consulting and integration. These services require the highest level of skills, including system design and understanding of clients’ requirements.

Applications development includes creating applications programs. These require programming skills.

System integration: hardware and software deployment and support includes making software and hardware components compatible and interoperable, hardware deployment and support, and software deployment and support. The skills required vary, but are not as high-level as programming or consulting skills.

System integration: applications, tools, and operating systems includes the integration of software components (both products and custom software) in a software project. The required skills include understanding clients’ requirements and programming skills.

Managed services include managing applications either on site or remotely over the Web, managing networks, applications management, IS outsourcing, network and desktop outsourcing, applications service provision, and systems-infrastructure service provision. The skills required vary greatly. Sources: Nasscom, 2004 (pp. 19, 36, 106) for columns 1 and 2; Nasscom, 2001 (p. 24) and authors’ interviews for column 3.

to-order, it is more geographically constrained than product software. Proximity to the stakeholder is often crucial, especially if tacit (uncodified) knowledge is involved. Thus, software products are more readily exportable than custom software.

Nearly every computer needs systems software, and the mass market provides very favorable conditions for creating systems software as packaged products. Hence, systems software is now marketed almost exclusively as packaged products. And, over time, the need for compatibility among operating systems has become a critical requirement of both enterprise and retail users; this need has increased with the advent of the Internet. As a result, a few operating systems now dominate the computing landscape and have considerable pricing power. Compared to the demand for applications software, the demand for systems software has relatively little “give” in terms of pricing. Consumers of systems software, such as high-availability server-operating systems and real-time embedded operating systems, are willing to pay high prices for quality and interoperability. Consequently, the producers of systems software are less sensitive to production costs than product quality and the need for people with highly specialized skills.

Although product software is designed to meet a wide range of customer requirements, it can incorporate only a limited number of variations. Beyond this limit, software must be written to a customer’s specifications. Industries such as banking, in which customer requirements vary significantly, need custom software. In general, the more varied the needs of different end-users, the more likely software is to be customized. And, because needs vary most at the applications stage, most customized software is applications software. Table 1 compares the uses of product and custom software.

The United States is the market leader in software product development, accounting for 41 percent of the total.6 The U.S. share of exported software products is probably even higher because many countries only produce software products for protected local markets. For instance, data on Brazil and Japan (Table 6) show that while Brazil’s annual output of product software earns revenue of about $3 billion and Japan’s annual output earns about $21 billion, these products are only available to domestic markets. Western Europe and Israel, like the United States, develop product software for global markets.

Custom software is part of a larger category called software services, as defined in NAICS 54151. Software services are described by type and size in Table 3.

Independent Software Vendors

The independent software-vendor (ISV) industry was created by two events, both related to market leader IBM. First, in 1956, IBM settled a long-standing antitrust suit by the federal government by agreeing, as part of a consent decree, to stop offering computer-consulting advice (McKenna, 2006).7 With IBM out of the picture, leading accounting firms, such as Arthur Andersen, then began offering computer consulting services. Second, in 1969, IBM




When the consent decree was lifted in 1991, IBM immediately created an IT consulting group, which, within five years, had annual revenues of $11 billion (McKenna, 2006).

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement