Should companies outsource their core work?


I work as a Presales Manager in a company called focusing of Publishing, broadcast and media industry. Since they provide technology, interactive content and animation services, understandably their existing and target customers are those from US and Europe. Meaning they are on a job to convince their prospective customers to outsource their work to an off shore location in India. Since I also undertake consulting assignments as a free lancer for helping companies get their sales process right and for companies to kick off their outsourcing practice, they hired me to conceive and promote their service offerings to the US and Europe.

Like many other companies in India, they too believe that because we provide our international customers a cost advantage, we are actually adding a great value to their business model. Well of course, I agree that they say this is not the only value addition, but one of them. It reminds me of the “Nirma Super” advertisement (Wahi quality, wahi safedi, wahi jhag kam damo mein mile to koi ye kyun le… wo na le) Lol, well what are we trying to tell the Americans and Europeans? Had you outsourced the development of ‘a windows’ or a ‘Firefox’ in India, you could have saved humongous sums of money? May be…

Maye be… is the best word when we have to escape an argument. If we were good enough to develop a Firefox, by now we would have done that. I’m not saying we can not. We can, after all aren’t we promoting the above Nirma Super ad? We have matching (well almost) infrastructure, excellent work conditions, advantage of time difference, huge pool of talented engineers and technicians- young and old, and most of all the ideas to make it big in the world. But what are Indian companies doing with it? Deploying most of them on technical support? or software testing? Well… things need to be set right. I know it is not easy to build a Microsoft Corporation or Mozilla overnight. But in this post, I’m going to urge companies of the likes of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and others to make better use of Indian talent by outsourcing their core work to us. Let the world know that we can build Windows too.

Let us take an example. If you deploy a technical Architect (any domain) in US (Silicon Valley), You might probably end up paying in excess of $600 per day on him/her including overheads. However, if you hire a technical architect here in India for the same work, you will be charged maximum of $220 per day, a straight saving of $380 per day. Moreover there are other savings on maintenance of lesser infrastructure. Like all others, you can easily set up a VPN connectivity so that there is a seamless information flow. Moreover you have the option of using free telephony from Skype or others to save on your telephone bills… some more savings. Even if you add the cost of setting up of network infrastructure, you still manage to save enough. Although I agree that outsourcing a single person’s work will not be as beneficial as outsourcing the entire work. So when you get a team to develop an IE 9, why don’t you consider giving it to a team here in India? Worried about the deliverables?

There have also been enough questions raised on the quality of people here in India. I would like to highlight the fact that we have 6 Indian Institute of Technologies and 25 National Institute of Technologies which provide world class engineering education to thousands of engineers across India and also to some of the foreign students. Besides we have more than 1000 other university managed or affiliated colleges that churn out millions of engineers every year. Do you still feel we have a dearth of talent? Then what about umpteen Indians working at global corporations? And those who led multi billion organizations? What about Arun Sarin? What about Laxmi Mittal? What about Indra Nooyi?

Hello global corporations. Indians have arrived on the global scene. We are no longer the ‘some IT geek sitting in Bangalore or Pune’ fixing up your bugs. I urge the Oracle’s, SAP’s, Microsoft’s, Mozilla’s of the world to treat us with respect. We can also what you do sitting in Redwood or Seattle. May be the next Outlook is called In(dia)-Outlook and surely we will do much better.

All you Indian guys reading my blog, please start treating yourself with respect. You are no longer a bug fixer. I urge you to spread this word regarding India as a great Development and Innovation hub rather than outsourcing hub.

Happy reading! Cheers!

11 thoughts on “Should companies outsource their core work?

  1. Mayur,

    Understand that you can’t turn a donkey into a horse just by calling it a horse. Indians like us, who used to be the most creative & talented people, aren’t existent anymore – I mean, in bulk.

    And what’s this -> outsource us good work? What the heck? Why should they outsource their ‘core’ work? How does it make sense? They’re there to imagine new things and create them. We are here to fix their bugs, maintain their code, take their calls & test the software they make.

    If we could create OSs, browsers – we could have done it much before. The fact is that we cannot – rather, we don’t want to. We don’t have the attitude, the patriotism to take our country to next level by innovating.

    Microsoft, Mozilla were not created in a day – well, they started small and grew big. The examples of the achievers you’ve quoted are unique.

    Tell me what good these IITs and NITs have done? I don’t see them anywhere near to MITs and Whartons. Majority of IITans are either in USA working for big financial conglomerates or in India fixing bugs for major coporations. There are entrepreneurs – but they are few in numbers.

    In my opinion, India still has the power to lead, to innovate, to give the world a new direction. However we should –

    1. Stop copying the west.
    2. Get some self-respect.
    3. Be patriotic.
    4. Understand that innovations & product development is the key, services are essential.
    5. Be innovative.
    6. Embed the ‘entrepreneurship’ culture in us.

    I shall wait for your comment.

  2. You are contrasting your own views. One, you say we can’t do any good and two you say be patriotic, be innovative and stop copying the west. I don’t get your message.

    Well my point is, we are not short of ideas for sure. What we lack is exposure and experience. You say what the IITs have done? They have created the whole new generation of extremely talented engineers. Its sad that most of these are now settled in US. May be because probably they too believe India is no good place for them to grow, forgetting that India constitutes of millions of people like them.

    You wrote {Understand that you can’t turn a donkey into a horse just by calling it a horse. Indians like us, who used to be the most creative & talented people, aren’t existent anymore – I mean, in bulk.}
    And then you wrote {In my opinion, India still has the power to lead}
    If you wish to call yourself a donkey, please do so. But do not generalize. You are by no means being patriotic by doing so.

  3. Good point.

    Look dude! If you think we ‘have it’ in us – it would have been visible. Tell me, why is this country – of billion odd people – that produces thousands of ‘engineers’, ‘doctors’, ‘lawyers’ – is still a developing country?

    It all boils down to attitude.

    You say “We lack exposure and experience”. Humm, no one got exposure / experience by just thinking about it. Where are the ‘doers’? Where are the people who can dream the next Google (just for the example’s sake). We’ve plenty of Guruji.com / asklaila.com – all are copies of Yahoo & Google.

    Let’s accept the fact first – we are donkeys. That’s when we feel bad obout ourselves and thinking about turning into lions. The trouble is we’re so happy thinking we are ‘horses’. I’ll show you 100s of software engineers who think they know ‘linux’ because they know 15 odd linux commands and can setup a linux server. Let’s get real! Let’s accept that we totally suck when it comes to technology.

    …and need I tell you this? Everyday, we get posts from budding engineers who ask “Give me readymade report & project”. Its not in our blood, but doesn’t mean we can’t get it in us.

    I reiterate my point on patriotism. When we think about the well being of our nation – we understand the ins & outs. Why don’t we love our country like the Japanese & the Germans do? Why are we so happy copying the west?

    I might be contradicting myself – but I still believe there are few of the Indians who are going to redesign the future of India. I count on them – not everyone.

    I’ve babbled about Indians not being creative number of times on my blog. We just copy everything – from music, to dressing, to movies, to work culture, to language, to eating habits, to lifestyle from the west. Things need to change. Let’s do something that makes them copy us.

    India has a great future – but as I said – it lies in the hands of few talented Indians. Others will continue to be donkeys.

  4. Hi Mayur,

    This post of yours reminded me of a debate we had a couple of years back. The topic of debate was “Are Indian software engineers hi-tech coolies?”. And it also reminds me of a post of Mr.Dasarathi (in.rediff.com/money/2004/mar/03guest1.htm) who called Bangalore a “Coolie Valley” and not a “silicon valley”.

    I was furious when I read his post. He probably was frustrated with B’lore and thought he could vent it out with such comments.
    And now the comment for the post “You can’t turn a donkey into horse by just calling it a horse”

    While the fact remains that end-to-end solutions companies do not utilise the full potential of their engineers it does not mean we are not capable or that we do not innovate. What happened to all those R&D centres we have in India(even if they are set-up by US companies) and not to forget the number of Indians working in the US Silicon valley where innovative ideas are born.
    India has moved up the ladder in the past few years and is no more just a out-sourcing hub or “world’s back office”.

    Surely now its time we gained some self-respect and start calling ourselves software engineers and not just some cyber coolie or a bug-fixer. Now we have all the resources(not just man power) like the infrastructure, liberal govt. policies and the like.. and ofcourse the drive to innovate and willingness to dare to take risks.

    It is time we start advertising quality and creativity as our strengths apart from cost advantage. And if that translates into companies outsourcing thier core competencies then why not?

    India is ready to take up such a challenge!!!

  5. Big K-
    If you think you are not good enough, you probably aren’t. If you think you are, you probably are. You are right, it boils down to attitude. Believing we are donkeys will not lead us any where. In fact it pulls us down. Before you ask the question “where are doers?”, peep into a mirror and ask your self if you are a doer. Don’t show me 100s of software engineers who say they know Linux. Show me one who says we can take Linux to the next level. You cannot, because you may not have met a guy worthy of such an act.

    May be you are right, we totally suck at new technology. Lets accept the fact that we may not build a Linux or any other OS. But we can know it like no body else. Mind you, being a first mover is not always an advantage. Think Boeing, Think Oracle! And who else but the Japanese have mastered this art. They rebuilt on American principles. And now they have outdone them by far.

    Sapna-
    Thanks for advocating my point. Its time to spread the word… globally.

  6. Hmm. Okay, I admit, I can’t refrain myself from commenting on this post. When I say we are donkeys – I’m included. I’m a donkey. But I accept it. I accept it and now want to change myself into a horse. I’ve realized that I’m a software coolie – even though I work for an MNC, I’m not innovating. Its all about me!

    Tell me, why Infosys, Wipro, TCS, <other big IT co.s), with thousands of computer science on bench, waiting for some IT biggie from USA to give them some work, aren’t developing a browser, or silverlight, or working on a weos or creating wordpress or phpBB or whatever. Well, there might be ongoing projects – I don’t deny that. But come on, Infy, TCS have been there for more than 20 odd years. Where my Indian Firefox?

    I’m not against Indians. I just want a mass realization that ‘services’ and ‘end-to-end’ solutions isn’t the only way to survive. Because that’s when India will become a superpower. Let’s have Tatas, Ambanis who will cross the boundaries and capture that Jaguar or lay fibre optic cables around the world. Let’s have more Bharati Mittals and capture telecom companies around the world.

    I do not agree with Sapna-

    “It is time we start advertising quality and creativity as our strengths apart from cost advantage. And if that translates into companies outsourcing thier core competencies then why not?”

    Yet again – you want us to be working for the guys from the West. You want us to acquire ISO, CMM, CMMI, BSMS, what not certifications so that they are ‘convinced’ about our ‘processes’, ‘talent’ & ‘skill’. Come on !

    I need a break!

    Let’s build an India that outsources to USA and EUROPE and Australia. Let’s build an India that calls shots in everything. Let’s have a currency that gets accepted all over the world. Let’s build an India that world envies. Let’s build an India where the Americans die to go for MS studies. Let’s build an India where the forigners would show the pic in front of Kutub Minar to their families back home, with pride (as against, a photo in front of Niagara falls).

    Shift will happen. But the first step is to realize what we are and where we stand.

    [Official declaration: No further comments on this post from Big K]

  7. I don’t think you will get a chance to reply now. 🙂

    The point is, we are advocating the same cause, the sorry state of Indian IT industry and ways to overturn our images. Albeit, we have different methods. I will go the Japanese way and you do it the German way. The end result is same.

    I can assure you, India is already building, rather re-building. If my ideas can contribute at least 0.001% of the total growth, I will feel blessed. Not that I’m stopping there…

    All you biggies………. here we come!

  8. One of the main advantages of outsourcing engineering services to India is the substantial decrease in labor costs, which do not compromise on quality. Indian engineering service providers are technically proficient and have a zealous eye for detail ensuring that service levels remain as good or far superior to those in countries like the US

  9. Hi and thanks for your comment. I’m glad that my point has been read and appreciated by some one who is from the industry. Through this post I want to encourage people from the developed countries to come to India and start their R&D works here. We aspire to be called the innovations center of the East and not a back office of the west.

    I’m ready to help every body who wishes to be here.

  10. Hey Mayur & BIG K…

    Lucky that i found this post today. This software job has made me a donkey. In my college days i had many ‘ideas’ and have dreamnt a lot about them but not now anymore!!

    These posts have made me pull my tech papers from my old college bag….

    Thank You Guys.

Leave a Reply to mayurpathak Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s