back to article India’s outsourcers battle for customers in a cloudy universe

The rumblings started in the late 1990s. Indian services companies were getting into outsourcing. Almost before the news broke, deals followed. Before long, India was a destination for all manner of serious jobs and a byword for getting things done well and at a price western nations struggled to match. Fast forward a decade …


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  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    So India's going to be outsourcing to China for programming work ? Not the first to do it...

    1. LarsG

      If only

      At least Indian call centre staff remain friendly when under intense pressure from not too happy callers.

      They always remain polite even under adverse conditions and abuse.

      Unlike one particular Irish lady I spoke to who sounded so despondent (BT call centre I think) and miserable I asked her if she was Ok if she wanted to call me back later.

      'What do you mean by that?' She asked.

      'Well, you really sound so down and miserable, have you had a bad morning?'. I replied.

      'Why don't you go and fcuk yourself!'

      She put the phone down.

      God, did she have a sexy Irish accent! If only I'd managed to get her name.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: If only

        Our tsundere call center staff is now awaiting for you!

        No hold on, that's Japan...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Joke alert? The laugh is that manglement consultants will now be peddling China's cheap outsourcing wares to clueless Western company directors, ignoring the dismal record of China on all forms of IT security, intellectual property, and general e-crime.

      Who do we think will be first to rush their back office into China? My money's on Aviva, because they've always been really keen to sack UK workers and ship the activity to the cheapest, sweatiest crack of the planet. I guess they'll now be really keen to give Indian workers the heave ho, and then wonder why their already abominable customer service gets even worse.

  2. Rampant Spaniel

    Forgive me for not shedding too many tears over India, whose entire model focused on undercutting local services, being undercut by other countries. When you play that game be prepared for someone else do undercut you.

    I'm not entirely sure India offered "getting things done well and at a price western nations struggled to match", only the latter half of that rings true. India has a huge number of intelligent, well trained individuals. There are also cultural and language barriers, not to mention a significant distance involved which can introduce barriers. For a long time India has been a byword for getting stuff mostly done cheaply to reduce opex and get that bonus & promotion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My own experience of Indian engineers is this:

      Outsourced performance was rubbish, they could provide all of the paperwork but never got things done properly, and had a high turn-over of those actually doing the work (which is always a BAD sign).

      Worked with a USA company who had hired an Indian engineer and he was great, language no real problem and knew his stuff.

      The difference? In the first case they pay peanuts, in the second they paid a good salary. I guess that is how you get & keep good staff...

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      > whose entire model focused on undercutting local services

      There is nothing wrong with that. Undercut while you can. Comparative advantage etc. It's the basis of the whole economy, innit?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        heh to a degree yes :-) Although a decent part of the economy is based on quality and price. A decent sized chunk is also solely based on price which is why you have ready meals made of horse tonka, and not decent horse tonka either. Do you really want your payroll system coded by the IT version of horse todger? There is good quality work that comes out of India but it isn't the cheap stuff. There better coders tend to get a visa to somewhere like the US so braindrain is sadly a reality there.

        My point was more along the lines of don't expect sympathy and don't expect to always been the cheapest :-)

      2. Anonymous Coward

        "Comparative advantage etc. It's the basis of the whole economy, innit?"

        Only where you have other economic activity which the outsourcing economy can undertake and that forms the basis of a balance of trade (even if that's a multilateral balance rather than a bilateral .

        Otherwise (as is the most common scenario) we export jobs to India, and they buy nothing from us. There's no comparative advantage for us in that. Likewise buying manufactured goods from China doesn't help the British or Yank economies one bit, although those of us still in value adding employment do get our TV sets cheaper.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          > Otherwise (as is the most common scenario) we export jobs to India, and they buy nothing from us.

 exactly is that supposed to work in your opinion??

          > Likewise buying manufactured goods from China doesn't help the British or Yank economies one bit

          Says the guy with a 10 quid ADSL modem at home.

          Economic illiteracy is rife.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Starting to go the other way

    I know of at least one company who is planning on bringing all their support & customer service back to the UK from India & Eastern Europe. They told me it may cost a little bit more in the short term (though not as much difference as it used to be) but the improved customer service will more than account for that, same with the other functions currently off-shored.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Starting to go the other way

      You mean joining






      And yes I know some of the above still have some off-shored services and/or coders, but the core IT has all been brought back (though in the case of The Pru, then shipped off to the US).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll be glad when they bring jobs back.....

    I work as a service engineer for a large datacentre kit supplier. When the company first kicked off outsourcing they kept the jobs in our European call centre but because after a few months they reckoned that the Indian one was only x% worse they started letting people go here.....

    But within a few months after that the quality of support we got from wipro started to go downhill, seriously downhill. Time to fix went through the roof. So they sent someone over there to investigate.

    ALL of the first bunch of guys who had been trained up and who were not too bad in fairness had moved on. We had trained them well .... too well, and they had fucked off to the other offshoring companies for a big pay rise and now ALL the people answering the phones were all only partially trained and been in the job for a few months.

    When they looked into it, they found that this behavior is endemic, the Indian callcentre staff get trained up and with a few months experience under their belts they move to a competitor for 20%+ pay rise every 6 to 9 months.

    Last i heard, the yearly cost of the Indian callcentre is within 15% of the cost of European callcentre that it replaced but the time to fix is 40% higher and while you might have been waiting 10 minutes in a queue before, now when you ring you are guaranteed to be waiting more than an hour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll be glad when they bring jobs back.....

      Thank you for explaining why I went grey, wrinkled then bald getting a new Dell laptop's battery replaced.

    2. David Hamilton

      Business is a one way street with India and its time we said enough is enough

      Ever tried to get a business visa to go to India? Only get one for max 6 months? Yes this is India, paperwork spilling out of the ears of corrupt politicians, power outages in major cities at least 3 hours a day , "sorry I not understanding" a constant problem - yet India is a Nuclear Power, they get together with other "Brics" countries for a jamboree with democracies in deep embrace with the likes of China and Russia. Yes China, that's the country that sent a trade delegation to India to learn about its high tech sector and stole or the details, and Russia the country that sends nuclear parcels to citizens in our homeland.

      Forgive me for being a cynic but our wide boy cameron goes over to do a trade delegation! Why not tell them that unless you play fair and give us the same opportunities to do business in your country then stay out of ours because we have people living on the bread line just like in India but in India its warm in most places and you can live in a tin hut. In Europe you need planning permission for a tin hut and health and safety.

      Also explain this, how come you can trash 750 people at Thames Water and replace them with 2500 Indians living in 8 to a house in Slough ? Someone let them do it?

      No , let's have trade but let's have fair trade and not the type where we get all emotional about treatment of poor people, i mean lets have India let out supermarkets in and give our visa's that mean we don't have our passports in there greasy mitts for 4 weeks every year.

      You are so right, in-comprehensive call centres, job hopping for 30% pay increase, salaries climbing out of the roof , why bother.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    and a byword for getting things done well

    Thanks, seriously, I haven't laughed so hard in ages!

  6. Jim 59

    Done well

    "...a byword for getting things done well".

    No. That was never part of the mix. Even the Wipro marketing department wouldn't go that far, surely.

    Offshoring was all about doing things as cheap as possible and *good enough*. Sometimes that's the wise course. Often it isn't.

  7. Inachu

    Calling for tech support.

    I'd rather listen to a chinese accent than indian. But then indian accent with a british twang is intoxicating!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Competant Staff

    I have worked with many Indian Software developers who are paid a fraction of the local rate.

    To say Indian programmers are the best in the World would be incorrect. What you get is cheap labor.

    Two of the best programmers on my Computer Studies Degree course were from overseas.

    One was Polish the other Nigerian. Its a shame they could not get Employment here.

    To say Polish or Nigerian programmers are the best in the World would also be incorrect.

    Its the Job of Consulting firms to hire competent staff, something which is a Total failure.

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: Competant Staff

      "To say Polish or Nigerian programmers are the best in the World would also be incorrect."

      Now, Nigerian fiction writers, on the other hand, *that* is a different story altogether...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Competant Staff

      They're even outsourcing comments now.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think the existing IT field of India is really growing much faster than previous ever. As per a recent Gartner report, the top five Indian IT service companies, incorporating Cognizant, have expanded their piece of market share in Western Europe from 2.3 per cent in 2010 to 2.8 in 2011. For 2011-12, Wipro's IT services income from Europe stood at $1.6 billion revealed 28.3 per cent of the company’s IT income of $5.9 billion. It was in advance of India's second greatest IT services company Infosys that inferred $1.5 million in income from Europe. Recently NASSCOM reported that IT and ITES field in India, annually grows at the rate of about 25% and manages nearly 2 million businesses. Indian IT -ITES division is its leader economy developer and each and every rupee used by IT-ITES sector accounts for two rupees in Indian economy. This is sure that there is extremely vivid scope for IT-ITES industry as it is strongest industry sector in India. So, every IT firm can visit India with a confidence to make a good deal for the IT sector.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Babble, babble, babble

      (a) Pay for your advertising

      (b) Hire a professional copywriter

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