Indian outsourcing giant sees opportunities for Canada

HYDERABAD, India – Offshoring is sometimes viewed as a threat to Canadian jobs – but it can also lead to the creation of jobs, according to executives from one of India’s largest IT consulting firms.

Large offshoring firms like to set up local operations in the markets they serve overseas in order to be more competitive. And Satyam, which opened up its operations to international media this week, is no exception.

“People do business with people,” said Hetzel Folden, senior vice-president for the strategic deals group at Satyam. The global offshoring firm has offices across the world – including Canada – so that it can bridge cultural and language barriers with its clients, said its vice-president of media practice, Roger Newman.

A company selling in Italy or France won’t get very far if it doesn’t speak the language or isn’t part of the culture of those countries, Folden said.

But the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), which is in India as part of a conference hosted by its Indian counterpart, NASSCOM, believes the Canadian division of offshore firms can play a role beyond sales – they can play a strategic role in the offshoring of supply chains.

“We’re trying to present Canada as an attractive partner for nearshoring to small companies in India,” said Lynda Leonard, ITAC’s senior vice-president in an interview prior to the conference.

Satyam agreed that Canadian offers a number of attractive features.

“What tends to happen is, Canada is looked at as a low-cost provider of high services,” Folden said. “But that tends to be a select market.” He sees Canada as a nearshore market for the U.S., but not one that would serve other regions.

Satyam doesn’t expect to execute large-scale projects from its nearshore centres. as India is much better suited for that, Newman said. But Canada can bring high-end IT and language skills to the Satyam fold, he said.

Canada can also offer time zone proximity, which can be quite attractive, said Wayne Gudbranson, president and CEO of the Branham Group in Ottawa during an interview.

“I don’t think Canada understands that there’s a global delivery model in place,” he said. “We shouldn’t look at India as a competitor but as a partner.”

Satyam chairman and CEO B. Ramalinga Raju often gets asked about North American jobs going offshore. The way we create wealth in the world today has changed, he said. The inventions and innovations of the West have created an expanding global pipeline. These innovations can either be used just for the developed world – or they can be spread worldwide.

“If developing countries can partner with the rest of the world, they can access not just part of the market” but all six billion people, he said.

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