March 07, 2005 11:41 IST
Despite challenges from China, the Philippines and Eastern Europe, India still has an overwhelming advantage in IT offshoring, according to Wipro chairman Azim Premji.
"Areas such as China, Eastern Europe and the Philippines are becoming major players in IT offshoring but India still has an overwhelming advantage because of the support of the government and the country's huge talent pool," Premji said in an interview published in The Independent on Sunday.
Wipro benefits from being able to recruit from the top 50,000 engineering graduates from Indian universities and colleges each year, he said.
"In a land of so much poverty, IT jobs are very sought after. Software has so much credibility and visibility that the first choice of a village parent is for their child to be an engineer. We get the choice of the best," he said.
With clients as diverse as Prudential, Friends Provident, National Grid Transco, Nokia, Microsoft and the Scottish Parliament, Wipro is in the business of installing, running and sorting out organisations' IT systems.
Referring to the increasingly tough stance being taken by the US department of homeland security on visas for IT workers, Premji said "It is unfortunate, because you can't have one-way traffic in liberalisation.
"The Western world is looking for the developing world to liberalise all the time, to stop restrictive practices, and then it wants to put its own restrictions on business coming out of the developing world. If the West wants emerging markets to open up they have to be open," he said.
In mid-2003, Premji said he wanted to transform Wipro into a global leader in IT services, breaking out of being simply an Indian business selling to the West. Since then, it has made a series of acquisitions, but mostly small ones.
Premji said the group is not yet ready for any big leaps. "At this point, we are looking at a string-of-pearls acquisition strategy, not an Accenture or IBM."
Wipro's evolution has also led to the development of what is called "near-shoring" - setting up relatively small local centres for clients that are not ready to hand all their IT business to a company thousands of kilometres away in Bangalore.
In the UK, Wipro has opened one such centre in Reading. It also has five offices in the US, with others in Kiel and Munich in Germany and Tampere in Finland, as well as in Stockholm and Yokohama.
"They are basically a bridge park, where the customer is conservative and is not willing to take the leap to the global delivery model," said Premji.
"Typically they will work with the near-shore centre, where we can work closely with them," he added