ITAC forges ties with India’s technology sector

In an unlikely alliance, the Information Technology Association of Canada Thursday said it has entered into an agreement with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in India to boost trade and business between the two countries.

Canada and India have and continue to be competitors for offshore/nearshore outsourcing agreements with the U.S. with India leading the way, according to a United Nations report released a year and a half ago. While some people might question such an alliance, Lynda Leonard, senior vice-president of ITAC said the rivalry was one of the main reasons for doing it.

“Canada competes quite effectively with India and other near-shore organizations,” said Leonard. “That’s one of the reasons we’re attractive to NASSCOM. It’s certainly one of the reasons NASSCOM’s attracted to us.”

ITAC has been a long-time supporter of promoting better business and trade relations with emerging markets like India, Leonard said. Paul Martin’s government recently announced its renewed support for such efforts in the Prime Minister’s speeches last month in Hull, Que.

“We have been advocating for a number of years now that we need to have a stronger strategy than there is in ICT development right now for Canada,” said Leonard.

The Patriot Act in the U.S., for example, impacts the cross-border flow of data for government clients and for any jurisdiction that deals in data transfer, Leonard added.

Dealing with the U.S. Patriot Act has become a concern and need for both Indian and Canadian companies, said Mukesh Gupta, director of Tata Consultancy Services Canada in Ottawa.

“There are certain requirements and compliance measures that need to be met before people are able to effectively serve the customer,” said Gupta. “Canadians are looking to share how India has addressed those issues.”

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the two organizations have assembled a joint committee of senior officials from Canadian and Indian ICT companies to oversee the deal. Canadian reps include Brian McFadden, chief research officer at Nortel, which has a growing presence in India, and Paul Kent, chief operating officer at Xwave. Indian reps include Ian Cavanaugh, president of Canadian operations at 24/7 Customer and Gupta of Indian-based BPO company Tata.

The committee will meet at least twice a year by phone or face to face with the first event scheduled to be held in Toronto next month and an international conference planned for February in Mumbai. There, representatives will exchange practice information, white papers and research papers in an effort to increase awareness of the ICT industry in both countries.

Gupta, who has lived and worked in Canada for over 30 years, was inspired by the UN’s report and presented the idea of the two countries working together to ITAC shortly following its release.

“What better way to have cooperation between number one and number two,” said Gupta. “Canada definitely has a place in global delivery. Any solution that we provide always involves another shore.”

While ITAC in the past has signed agreements with similar organizations in Hong Kong, Malaysia, for example, those were primarily bi-lateral arrangements, said Leonard.

“What makes this a little different is the fact there’s executives from both countries are prepared to invest some time in this and focus on making the relationship effective,” said Leonard.

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