Sunday, March 28, 2010

Glocal Strategies helping Indian Service providers go global?

My blogging odyssey dates back to the corporate blog (Managing Offshore IT) that I authored for over three years before branching off on to examine wider topics of Globalization in this blog. I still closely watch trends in Offshoring IT Services, and given my affiliation with a large service provider, I guess I am not too far from action. In this context, the recent news of Indian IT major TCS being awarded a £600 million contract from UK's PADA (Pension Accounts Delivery Authority) for administering the latter's NEST (National Employment Savings Trust) scheme comes as a big milestone for Indian IT.

Being awarded the contract came as a pleasant surprise for many reasons.
• Breaking into Government contracts is hard, and especially so given the current market of protectionism and nationalism being experienced after the global meltdown. Reading between the lines, awarding a billion dollar contract to a ‘foreign’ vendor that will also outsource some of the work overseas is a gutsy decision on the part of any administration. Obviously, the cost-benefit of doing so must have far overweighed the need for additional PR management.
• Most of us in the sourcing world know the hard truth: bagging Government contracts are not just about relationships, vendor credentials or capabilities. There is a lot more connecting the dots, adhering to checklists and templates that come to play as opposed to the commercial world. I remember this from my first job in the US, working for the state of Kentucky’s Revenue department, and also from some of the proposals I anchored for my employer in Canada a few years ago.
• Until a few years ago, large deals - over $200 million – were the holy grail of Indian service providers. Having cracked that ‘glass ceiling,’ Indian service providers seem to be cracking yet another glass-ceiling: large government service contracts, especially in the west.

The Bottomline is clear, it is a big deal for TCS, and the move is going to be closely watched by Indian and other global service providers.

An interesting trend that seems to be helping Indian service providers is the maturing of the ‘brown locals.’ I guess a more polite way of putting this is stating that Indian service providers are beginning to reap benefits of their Glocal strategy?!

Large Indian service providers – TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL etc – employ a growing pool of expatriate staff on their payroll. Many employees who happen to be Indian Americans, Indo-Canadians/British/Australian etc are Indian transplants who were deputed to their adopted-lands during the past decade or two, acquired local permanent residence (green cards) and eventually naturalized citizenship.

To bid for the British contract, one can easily hypothesize that TCS employed many ‘brown’ British employees who know the internal workings of the firm and are comfortable in the business cultures of their adopted lands. For government contract, like the one we are talking about, these employees also count as ‘local’ since they would hold local (British) passports. A really big plus while crossing off a checklist in contract requirement. Though not many in the industry are openly talking about it, the maturing ‘brown local’ employee workforce is starting to work to the advantage of Indian service providers. One can also say that this is a chapter taken from the playbook of large western technology service providers – IBM, Accenture, EDS, Cap Gemini, Delloitte – that have matured their Government service divisions by hiring and retaining ‘locals’ for such key contract management processes

My guess is that the glocal angle requires a bit more analysis.

Blogs on the topic

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Global Business of sports and Indians

Before I begin my current blog post: Waiting for an evening flight from Phoenix to SFO, I just noticed the breaking news: Democrats Clinch Win In 219-212 House Vote. Mr. Obama, way to go! I guess this topic requires a follow up of my earlier post . . But not tonight

Now for my post on the topic of Global business of sports

A couple of interesting news items this week made me reflect on the business global sports. First was Tiger Wood’s announcement of the return from hiatus, that lasted a few months but on hindsight seemed like ages. Another interesting news item was that of Indian corporate juggernaut Reliance Industries Ltd tying up with Sports-marketing giant IMG Worldwide.

If I were a betting person, and I were asked to bet between the long term impact of both these announcements, my bet would be on the butterfly effect of Reliance-IMG tieup. Why? This move has a potential to shake the Indian subcontinent off its Cricket mania, or at least give marketers and sports fans and couch potatoes an alternative to Cricket.

If this move could help produce (and export?) a few Indian Yao Ming’s in a few years, it could alter the India’s and Indian subcontinent’s mindset sports:

• Middle class parents who single mindedly get their kids to focus on studies may consier goading their talented kids towards sports . . . perhaps forcing Thomas Friedman to rewrite a chapter in the Flat World? (My parents told me, "Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving." I tell my daughters, "Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job." )
• Businesses and Advertisers who pour billions of Rupees and dollars on sponsoring Cricket and Cricketers will have an alternative
• Cricketing sports franchise (the now famous IPL, 20-20) will get some much needed competition
• Down the road, Indians and Non Resident Indians around the globe may have an opportunity to hang on to their Desi pride if Indians begin bagging proportionate number of medals in Olympics and other global sporting events

Bottomline, regardless of how Reliance and IMG fare in the short run, even moderate success of the venture will lead to at least a few more copycats; always a nice thing to happen

Blogs on the topic:
Tiger Woods Car Accident: Alleged Affair, Mistress, Wife Fight - Huffington Post
Nita & Mukesh Ambani at Reliance IMG JV
Hoopistani: Reliance and IMG to develop sports facilities . .
Tiger's return: "He is golf, he is your boss...": Editors' Blog

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Global Job Market: When the game of musical chairs stops

It is almost two years since the meltdown in US financial market, downturn of the economy, crash of housing market etc etc hit us. And the reverberations continue to be felt on economies across the globe. As a technologist, employee of a large offshoring firm and observer of globalization, I have been musing on the impact this is having on a generation of hi-tech workers.

Over the weekend, I was talking to a friend, a seasoned IT professional in New Jersey, who has been job hunting for more than a few weeks. The conversation with Bob made me reflect on the game of musical chairs we used to play ages ago.

The current stagnation of talent in the tech sector is almost like a game of musical chairs gone bad. Even a few years ago, a healthy level of attrition would mean opportunities opening up at firms, and other professionals moving on to fill those slots; their slots in turn being available for others to move into, and so on. The impact of downturn is obvious: it is almost like the music has stopped, the number of chairs reduced and more than a few players unfortunately find themselves standing, out of the game. And those still in the game are waiting with bated breath for the music to begin.

You would think this is a dream-come-true for HR managers and tech executives: seeing single digit attrition of programmers, analysts, managers and other IT professionals. Far from it, the current stagnation is causing tech executives and managers a different kind of anxiety: how to invigorate their talent pool when there is no attrition?

The long tail of globalization of hi-tech job market extends across the world:

* Impact on H1 Visas and global immigration: in the past years, the US work-visa quota would be filled in a day or matter of days by companies eager to hire foreign workers. (H1B Cap FY 2010 Not Hit)
* The impact of slowdown in American job market is also being felt directly across the globe 'India Inc's hiring slows down 3.6% in August'
ECB's Nowotny: European Economy Is Still "Very Weak"

With all this doom-and-gloom talk, where is the silver lining in the dark cloud? Recent data suggests that “Job openings rose sharply earlier this year, evidence that employers are slowly ramping up hiring as the economy improves

What this means to you and me is obvious: those left standing in the game of musical chairs are going to find a new game to play; and the rest of us still in the game are obviously going to find the music has been turned on again.

And another sign of times? President Obama just turned up the ante on immigration debate. And when you see the western media running regular articles on ‘problems of immigration’ signaling the flow of immigrants; yet another sign of a thriving economies: jobs to go around; jobs enough to attract immigrants from across the globe!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tax Time and Global Taxes

With the change in weather in the northern hemisphere from winter to spring comes another season: tax season. This sends most of us scrambling for documentation, tax forms and software or to accountants

As the April 16th deadline for filing taxes approaches people scramble to find the required forms, software and/or tax practitioners. In case you are wondering, Uncle Sam’s reach extends to everyone living and making money in the US, including NRIs and those on H1 Visas. And there are the quirks: For example, few immigrants and temporary workers realize that Non-resident Spouse can be Treated as a Resident (and one can get a credit for this too!).

For me, Tax filing for last year (2009) was a bit more complex (when is it not?) since I had spent the first quarter working and living in Switzerland and then in the US for the rest of the year. The US Government, like most governments around the world, levies a tax on income earned by most people living and earning here. For residents like self, one has to account for the ‘global income’ while filing taxes. Regular tax practitioners are overwhelmed by intricacies of tax filing when it comes to credits, accounting for global income etc, so while working with tax cunsultants, and researching on the net and tax software, I guess I have ‘learnt’ some of the nuances of filing taxes in multiple countries by virtue of my job: in the years past I had to file in Canada and the US, India and the US etc.

ps: Before you ask, I am not an accountant or Tax consultant. I am not in a position to consult with You on your tax situation: you are better off learning on your own or finding a good consultant. However, I will be glad to ping back with my experiences or other pointers though.
Link to an older article of mine on the topic of Taxes