I was invited to be a panellist for a Question Time session at the National Outsourcing Association’s ‘Global Sourcing’ conference that took place today. Around 100 leading practitioners and experts discussed the challenges that the outsourcing sector faces in today’s credit crunch era.
The conference was Chaired by a friend of mine – Mark Kobayashi Hillary – who can only be described as a ‘genius’, who’s authored several books on subjects related to technology outsourcing. As was evident in today’s conference, unlike other “experts”, Mark really does know what he’s talking about. Judging by the quality of the attendee list, he also possesses a fantastic book of contacts.
Back to the conference – which was a new experience for me – I found that everytime someone spoke about off-shoring destinations, everyone really meant ‘India’, despite the fact that companies from other emerging and established economies were present.
I had to field questions on a variety of subjects ranging from labour arbitrage to China but the one that’s still on my mind concerns the monopoly of an established group of vendors who continue to win business in the public sector despite their public failings. Unconventionally, Mark allowed me to ask a question to the audience asking why Indian firms simple don’t factor in public sector procurement. The likes of TCS, Infosys, Wipro are great at what they do, but why haven’t they made inroads into a space that is as lucrative?
I was involved in Government discussions around 2003 when the then Secretary of State famously made a speech saying “A job gained in India does not mean a job is lost in Britain”. Such statements helped in creating an atmosphere in which Indian firms could continue what they did best – unlike what was happening in the US. For this reason, I was surprised to hear that some members of the audience actually thought that the “negative atmosphere” in the UK resulted in procurement officers and decision makers taking a dim view of Indian firms.
Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, that may have been the case five years ago, but this doesn’t explain why Indian firms (still) haven’t made inroads into the public sector.
I’m keen to learn your views on why companies which are increasingly toe-to-toe against the big boys in the global bazaar, still aren’t getting a look in. Is there a prejudice?, is it because of cultural missundertandings?, are they simply not up to the task? Please leave your comments as I’m interested in improving my understanding.