© 2011 Ugur Akinci
“Survey of Technical Communication Landscape in India, 1st Biennial Report (2011-12)” by The Writers Block (TWB), one of India’s outstanding technical communication training and outsourcing companies, is an authoritative reference volume that all technical communicators should read. Despite its cover price ($499 or 22,797 Rupee), this 158-page report succeeds in giving a detailed snapshot of the industry landscape.
The substantive chapters penned by five experts that delve deeper into selected tech communication issues is another highlight of this unique volume.
The overall message of this special report is very clear: technical communication is a booming field of specialization for young Indians that pay very well compared to other technical fields. Despite the crisis of 2009, the future looks good for Indian technical writers and communicators since there is a shortage of them. 77% of the Indian companies surveyed said they both require and produce technical documentation.
This survey has four main sections:
(1) Survey of technical communicators and tech comm departments in India.
(2) 5 seminal SME essays on 5 important technical communication topics.
(3) Sector-by-sector industry discussion and the opportunities these sectors offer for Indian technical communicators.
(4) 4 important technical communication vendor companies.
Here are some selected highlights (since it’s impossible to do full justice to this fact, table and illustration packed survey):
Drivers of the expansion of technical communication market: Technological advancement, increased customer satisfaction, cost reduction, need for marketing, globalized market place, liability issues, information management, and growth of IT and ITES sectors (in the next 12 years, IT sector is expected to expand by 14% a year, jumping from $50 bil in 2008 to $225 bil in 2020).
The latest trends in technical communication include:
- User interface documentation
- Increasing usability and end-user satisfaction
- Multimedia content
- Migrating to structured authoring
- XML-based DITA authoring
Documentation categories that offer future growth for Indian communicators include:
- Technical marketing collaterals
- Research reports (like this one)
- Technical documents of all kinds
- Instructional design modules
In the technical documents category which represents my core specialty, 52% of Software Products, 54% of Manufactured Products, 46% of Software Services, and 61% of Technology Products and Services use technical documents.
Of the available technical communication product vendors, TWB does not hide the fact that it is partial to Author-It although MadCap, Adobe, and Microsoft are also covered as vendors of note. A chart comparing these vendors in 7 different categories is provided to support TWB’s conclusion. However the survey has also found that Microsoft Word continues to be the most popular single Technical Communication tool of all (14%), compared to 3% for Author-It and 9% for unstructured Adobe FrameMaker.
Here is an interesting and unexpected result: those Indian companies that regarded technical communication as “critical” to their success were LESS likely to have a separate technical writing department than those companies that did NOT regard it as critical! Explanation?
“Rather than implying a lack of Technical Communicators, this could indicate the presence of a decentralized team structure in [such] companies, as opposed to dedicated Technical Communication teams,” TWB says.
The more revenue a company generates (and especially those with annual turnover over $100 mil), the more it seems to favor and successfully manage outsourcing.
79% of the Indian companies surveyed said they have a pre-planned career path in place for their technical communicator, leading from junior tech writing position to senior management positions.
57% of Indian technical communicators work for fixed salary only. 8% use Facebook but 28% are LinkedIn members – the same percentage who are STC members.
Entry-level Indian Technical Communicators can expect to top the $40,000 annual salary mark while top 10% can expect to hit the six-figure mark. 55% of Indian Technical Communicators have 1-to-4 years of experience, attesting to the “youth” of the industry as a whole.
According to an IDC survey, in India, an average Technical Communicator earns about 4 lakhs per annum as compared to a [university] graduate who earns only 2.6 lakhs per annum. The general higher-than-average compensation levels well-documented in the USA is valid for India as well. The TWB survey supports that claim with more than one set of detailed statistics. Among the Indian cities where Technical Communicators make a good living are the following: Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune.
This survey is topped off by five in-depth essays penned by SMEs:
- “Establishing Quality and Usability Benchmarks for Information Products” by Dr. JoAnn T. Hackos
- “Content Reuse” by Paul Trotter
- “An XML Chorus Line” by Constance McCutcheon
- “International Collaboration for Training” by Dr. Carlos Evia
- “Technical Writing Careers” by Prof. Sadagopan
The last section of the book, a sector-by-sector industry analysis of career opportunities and challenges, is another gem you don’t want to miss.
India is an important emerging market both for IT industry and Technical Communication services. If you’d like to gain a deeper understanding of this dynamic market order this report and read it with a yellow marker in hand. It’s a thought-provoking and inspiring reference volume that I know I’ll be going back to it frequently this year. Highly recommended!
To order: http://twb.in/