Friday, July 31, 2009


Employees lay-offs least likely tool for cost cutting in India: Survey

Retrenchment of employees is the least likely cost-cutting tool for Indian companies, compared to their global peers, and they would be the first across the world to recommence regular salary revisions, a new survey said today.

According to the joint survey by global consultancy service provider Mercer and industry body CII, Indian companies were also increasingly using "innovative" incentive tools as a substitute for salary hikes to retain the talent, but were also cutting on employee mobility and travel to cut HR costs.

"Indian companies (are) least likely to consider retrenchment as a means to cut costs compared with (its) global counterparts," the survey said.

The survey explored the implications of the current global economic situation on talent management, compensation, benefits as well as on employee concerns and the HR functions.

It further said that war for skilled talent in India is set to make a comeback towards end of 2009.

In such unprecedented times Indian companies have been resilient, Mercer Consulting India Managing Director Ravichandar R Padma said adding that most Indian companies have managed to turn the downturn into an opportunity.

Most of the companies worldwide are resorting to job cuts as part of their efforts to bring down cost.

Patni eyeing acquisitions in Europe

Software firm Patni Computer will seek acquisitions in Europe and the Asia-Pacific to help lower its dependance on the US, an official said on Thursday, boosting shares to its highest since November 2007.

The company will look at targets in the range of $50 million-$200 million, Chief Financial Officer Surjeet Singh told Reuters in an interview over the telephone.

"Having done the portfolio gap analysis now, we are also acquisitive as a firm. So, therefore, you will see inorganic activity as well," Singh said after the New York-listed Patni Computer Systems Ltd reported June-quarter results. "M&A (mergers and acquisitions) has always been a strong agenda. It is (a) much more strong agenda now and on all the dimensions strengthen verticals, enhance scale of service lines and expand geographies."

The company had $350 million in cash, which would be used to fund the acquistions, he added. "If it is a good acquisition, I don't think size will be a barrier. We will go for it," he said. On the news, the shares extended gains to hit a near 20-month high of 344.35 rupees, up 18.3 percent, before easing to 333.10 rupees, up 14.4 percent at 1:32 pm. The acquisitions should enable Patni to raise, in 2-3 years, the revenue share of Europe to about 30 percent from 15-17 percent last year and that of Asia-Pacific to 10 percent from 5.6 percent, he added. Last year, Patni derived about three-fourths of its revenue from the United States.

Syntel net income up to 44 percent YOY

Bharat Desai founded Syntel posted quarterly results that beat estimates as more clients turned to its services with a view to cut costs, and the company raised its full-year profit view, sending its shares soaring to a new 52-week high. Syntel's total revenue for the second quarter increased four percent to $100.1 million (Rs.481 crore), compared to $96.4 million (Rs.464 crore) in the first quarter of 2009.

Net income of the company was $25.1 million (Rs.121 crore) or $0.61 per diluted share, compared to $17.4 million (Rs.84 crore) or $0.42 per diluted share in the prior-year period.

During the second quarter, Syntel added three new clients and two new 'Hunting Licenses' or preferred partnership agreements, bringing the total number to 96 strategic relationships. The company has invested close to $37 million (Rs.185 crore) in 2008 and has planned to invest approximately $25 million (Rs.120 crore) in 2009 as it makes progress on construction of its special economic zone (SEZ) campuses in Pune and Chennai.

The company stated in its quarterly report that pricing in the second quarter was flat relative to the first quarter, and expects pricing to remain stable through the balance of the year. However, Keshav R Murugesh, CEO and President, Syntel said, "While the second quarter did bring some positive signs, we are yet to see strong evidence of overall pick-up in demand." Syntel expects full-year profit of $2.40 to $2.50 a share, up from its earlier forecast of $2.12 to $2.42 a share in Q3.

US jobless claims edge up last week

The number of US workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, but the number of workers staying on jobless roles fell to the lowest in three months, government data showed on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 584,000 in the week ended July 25, the Labor Department said, a touch above market expectations for a reading of 570,000.

However, the four-week moving average for new claims, considered to be a better gauge of underlying trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell by 8,250 to 559,000. This was the lowest level since late January.

The weekly moving average has declined for five straight weeks. A Labor Department official said the trend in claims was now backing to where it would have been without July distortions caused by the timing of auto plant shutdowns.

US stock index futures extended gains on the data which bolstered views that the recession was starting to ebb. US government bond prices fell, while the dollar gained versus the yen.

"The headline number in the jobless claims report was slightly worse than expected, but the continuing claims component was getting better so that bodes well for the US economy going forward," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital in Toronto.

Continuing claims -- the number of people staying on the benefit rolls after collecting an initial week of aid -- fell by 54,000 to 6.20 million in the week ended July 18, the latest week for which the data is available.

This was the lowest since early April and marked the third straight week that this measure had declined.

Recent data, including home sales and prices, have added to growing optimism the recession is ending, but high unemployment continues to weigh on consumer sentiment, meaning that the economy's recovery will be feeble.

Analysts have been closely monitoring initial jobless claims for signs of stability in the labor market, which has been hard hit by the 19-month old recession.

The insured unemployment rate, which measures the per centage of the insured labor force who are jobless, was unchanged at 4.7 per cent.

Infosys to start hiring from next year

IT major, Infosys Technologies Limited plans to go to campus recruitment across the country next year. Chief Executive Officer and Managing director, Infosys technologies Limited, S Gopalakrishnan told reporters on the sidelines of a CII meeting that companies which skipped campus recruitment following global economic downturn this year, are looking at training about 18,000 of their employees under the extended mode till January 2010.

The recruitment and expansion would begin early next year, he said hoping that economy will revive in second quarter of the fiscal. Economic meltdown affected the growth rate of leading IT companies including Infosys, he said.

Gopalakrishnan expected better performance of IT companies including Infosys in the first quarter results. He said the IT and ITES industry would continue to grow despite the economic slowdown and its growth rate is expected to pick up by mid next year.

Gopalakrishnan said that his company has no immediate plans to expand activities in two tier cities in Andhra Pradesh.

Infosys work for the second campus at the SEZ has already begun and is expected to be complete by next year as the campus with over 10,000 employees in Hitech city was inadequate, he said.

IT outsourcing to pick up next year: Study

Mirroring the global trend, India’s IT outsourcing is expected to remain subdued this year, though it’s likely to pick up during the second half of the next year.

Springboard Research in its latest study, ‘Inside the End-Users’ Mind - India IT services demand side analysis’ said most enterprises have reported an impact on their IT budgets because of the economic slowdown, with nearly a third of them slowing their IT-related investments.

“For CIOs, the economic slowdown is clearly an opportunity to manage their costs and they have shown an open-minded approach towards IT outsourcing, further accelerated by an emerging emphasis on improving business performance,” said Sudip Saha, senior research analyst for IT Services at Springboard Research.

According to the research body, the Indian IT services market is expected to grow from $4.1 billion in 2007 to $8.1 billion in 2011, recording a CAGR of 18.6%.

The study said that 65% of the IT decision makers in Indian enterprises expect an increase in their investment in IT outsourcing by their company in the next two years, with 29% expecting investment to remain constant.

Mr Saha said many of the Indian companies will not be able to cut down on costs with their internal IT teams and would be looking at outsourcing for budgetary controls.

Oracle Fin Q1 net profit up 76%

IT financial services solutions vendor Oracle Financial Services Software today said its consolidated net profit rose by 75.99 per cent to Rs 185.78 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2009, over the same period last year.

Consolidated total income decreased to Rs 670.1 crore in the latest quarter against Rs 681.02 crore in the same period last fiscal, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

"We are pleased to open fiscal year 2010 on a positive note, with product business revenues of Rs 442 crore, an increase of 22 per cent compared to the same quarter last year," Oracle Financial Services MD and CEO NRK Raman said.

On the standalone basis, the company has posted a growth of 65 per cent in its net profit to Rs 152.22 crore in the current quarter.

Standalone total income rose to Rs 545.62 crore in the quarter under review, against Rs 462.8 crore in the same period last year.

Capgemini cuts sales target

Capgemini SA cut its 2009 sales outlook on Thursday, saying it was unsure signs that activity might be stabilising in some regions would translate into a full-blown recovery for the battered technology sector.

But its shares jumped 8 percent as investors focused on solid first-half bookings, notably in outsourcing, good cash levels and a profitability goal in-line with market expectations. Europe's largest computer consultancy told investors it would strive to limit the decline in operating margin this year to around 7 percent of sales thanks to tighter cost control. This was roughly in line with a market consensus that the French group and analysts say is at 6.9 percent for operating margin, and compares to the 8.5 percent achieved in 2009.

"We're a bit more cautious than others. The second quarter was a bit tougher than we expected," Chief Executive Paul Hermelin told a conference call. "There are signs activity is stabilising in North America and sectors such as financials are improving but we can't say these recovery signs are widespread."

Capgemini plans to hold onto its 576 million euro cash pile in the tough current economic times and resume big acquisitions only once trading activity has stabilised, Hermelin said. Capgemini, which competes for IT budgets with US giant Accenture and France's Atos Origin, now expects like-for-like 2009 sales to slip 3 to 4 percent, after they fell 2.2 percent in the first half.

It had previously forecast a sales drop of around 2 percent. Capgemini's cautious tone contrasted with SAP, the world's biggest maker of business management software, which lifted its operating margin goal on Wednesday, giving Europe's battered technology sector a glimmer of hope. Overall, Capgemini sales were expected to decline by between 4 percent and 6 percent in the second half 2009.

"Our teams feel that 2010 should a be a bit better," Hermelin said when asked about sales prospects for next year, giving no further details.

Solid bookings, cash
Capgemini shares opened down 2.5 percent but by 0925 GMT the stock was 8.4 percent higher at 31.25 euros as investors focused on what analysts deemed relatively resilient first-half results.

"Strong first-half earnings offset the slight erosion in the top-line perspective for the second half," one trader said. "Capgemini remains the best-positioned company within Europe with the most evolved global delivery model," Credit Suisse said, also pointing at "solid" first-half bookings of 4.433 billion, driven by a 35 percent jump in outsourcing.

Capgemini's half-year operating profit fell to 167 million euros from 288 million, hit notably by a 102 million euros restructuring charge. The group still forecasts restructuring charges of 220 million euros for full year but plans to curtail these charges to below 100 million euros in 2010.

Revenue reached 4.38 billion euros, with consulting taking the biggest hit, down 13.4 percent. The closely-watched operating margin fell to 6.6 percent from 7.6 percent a year ago. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected first-half sales of 4.39 billion euros and an operating margin of 6.5 percent.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Top employers of Indian IT services sector for FY08-09

As a part of the findings of its annual survey on the performance of the Indian IT-BPO services sector for FY08-09 and outlook for FY09-10, NASSCOM released the annual rankings for the Top employers of Indian IT services sector for FY08-09. The NASSCOM survey estimates that the IT-BPO export revenues will grow by 4-7% to reach $48-50 billion in FY09-10. NASSCOM also released list of emerging 50 companies in India and Best BPOs list.

1. Tata Consultancy Services
First on the list of biggest IT employers in India is Tata Consultancy Services. The Tata group company reported a total employee strength of 141,642 during its first quarter earnings of fiscal 2009-10. Utilization in Q1 FY10 was 79.2% (excluding trainees) & 71.3% (including trainees). There was a gross addition of 2,828. The attrition rate in Q1 was 11.5%. At the end of Q1, the total employee strength of the company was 141,642. Foreign nationals formed 8.3% of the total employee base and 30% were women.

2. Infosys Technologies
Second on the list is the country's second biggest software exporter Infosys Technologies. As on June 30, 2009, Nasdaq-listed Infosys and its subsidiaries had a total of 1,03,905 employees on board. However, the number of its employees declined by 945 in the first quarter of this fiscal. The company had hired close to 3,538 employees in the June quarter, but after taking into account attrition and other factors its total strength has actually lowered.

3. Wipro Ltd
At no. 3 is Wipro Technologies. The company had 98,521 people on its rolls as on June 30, 2009. During the first quarter of current fiscal, the company recruited 711 employees.

4. Cognizant Technology Solutions India
Cognizant Technology Solutions India ranks at no. 4 on the list of India's biggest IT employers. A member of the NASDAQ-100 Index and S&P 500 Index, with over 50 global delivery centers it reported 63,700 employees as of March 31, 2009.

5. HCL Technologies
HCL Technologies Ltd is fifth on the list of biggest IT employers in India. Its employee headcount stood at 54,026. HCL Technologies, along with its subsidiaries, had consolidated revenues of US$ 2.0 billion (Rs. 9,842 crores), as on 31st March 2009.

6. HP India
At sixth spot is the Indian subsidiary of the global IT giant Hewlett-Packard. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, global services, business and home computing, and imaging and printing. The company has approximately 321,000 employees worldwide.

7. MphasiS Ltd
MphasiS Ltd, is at the seventh spot on the country's biggest IT employers' list. The group added headcount by 3,822 net, during the quarter. The group headcount stood at 33, 810 as at April 30, 2009.

8. Intelenet Global Services Ltd
Intelenet Global Services Ltd is the eighth biggest IT employer with around 27,000 employees. It has 30 delivery centres strategically located throughout the globe.

9. IBM-Daksh Business Process Services Pvt Ltd
At no. 9 is IBM Daksh operating from 25 delivery centers at nine locations in India and the Philippines. It employs more than 30,000 employees.

10. Genpact India Pvt Ltd
GE Capital International Services (GECIS), the India-based business process services operations of GE Capital is the tenth biggest IT employer. As of 2008, the company had over 36,200 employees. Currently the company has a global network of over 35 operations centers spread across 12 countries.

11. Tech Mahindra
The 11th biggest employer in India is TechMahindra (without including Satyam employees). The significant event to happen for them this quarter was the acquisition of a strategic stake in Satyam. Tech Mahindra now holds 42.7% shares in Mahindra Satyam all through its subsidiary Venturbay Consultants Private Limited. Tech Mahindra consolidated headcount increased by 510 employees to 25,482 at the end of June.

12. Aegis Ltd
At no. 12th is Essar Group's back office Aegis BPO. The company recently announced its plans to increase its global workforce by 12,000, summing up the total headcount to 43,000, by end of this fiscal.

13. WNS Global Services (P) Ltd
At no. thirteen is the Nasdaq listed second biggest BPO firm in India, WNS Global Services.

14. Firstsource Solutions Ltd
The 14th largest employer in India is Firstsource Solutions Ltd. It posted net profit of Rs 38 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2009.

15. CSC India Pvt Ltd
Computer Sciences Corp is the 15th largest employer in India. It has about 90,000 employees globally and reported revenue of $17.1 billion for the 12 months ended July 2008. CSC's recent acquisitions and expansion activities have increased its development and delivery centers to seven locations within India, including Noida, Indore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore and Vadodara. Now, with more than 16,000 employees in India and an additional 3,000 in other geographies that support our India operations.

16. Patni Computers
Patni Computer Systems is the 16th largest IT employer in India. It has over 14,500 professionals service clients across diverse industries, from 27 sales offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific, and 22 Global Delivery Centers in strategic locations across the world.

17. L&T Infotech
At no. 17 is Larsen & Toubro Infotech.

18. Hinduja Global Solutions Pvt Ltd
BPO services provider Hinduja Global Solutions is the 18th largest IT employer in India. In March the company announced that it has over 9,500 employees.

19. Oracle Financial Services Software Ltd
At no. 19th is Oracle Financial Services Software. The company reportedly employed around 11,000 people as of December 2008.

20. Convergys India Services
At no. 20 is the leading contact centre and billing solutions firm, Convergys Corp. As of October 2008, the company claimed to have approximately 13,000 employees in India.

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For IT firms, it pays to be on networking sites

Recently, a prospective buyer of information technology services posted a query for Infosys Technologies on networking site Twitter. The Infosys team that tracks the online world forwarded the query to the sales team, which got in touch with the prospective buyer. The client was pleasantly surprised with the prompt reply and awarded the contract to Infosys.

In a month, the two joint CEOs of Wipro Technologies, Girish Paranjpe and Suresh Vaswani, are expected to become active on Twitter. The IT firm agrees that leads coming from its online presence on sites such as Linkedin, Webcasts, Webinars, and others have gone up by 50 per cent.

Bangalore-based Mindtree has created a community on professional networking site Linkedin. The company uses this as positive referral traffic, which can be converted into business.

These are examples of how Indian IT companies are using networking sites —social and professional. Traditionally focused on using business-to-business (B2B) tools, these companies are using business-to-consumer (B2C) tools like networking sites to gain attention.

IT companies are not new to the virtual world, having made their presence felt in — a three-dimensional virtual world where registered users socialise and connect with one another. Wipro has set up a virtual lab and uses 3D technology. The company boasts of 9,000 unique visitors and uses its virtual presence to showcase its technology offerings to clients.

But moving on to sites like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook is an altogether different thing. “It is about engagement and getting insight. What it gives an organisation is participation with stakeholders, opinion sharing, and co-creation. This does not replace the need for creating awareness (branding), but it does give a huge insight on the target audience,” says Aditya Jha, assistant vice-president, marketing, Infosys. He believes that in future research on any organisation will be done online. “Those who do not join now will lose big in this segment,” he cautions.

India’s second-largest IT company has a sizeable presence in the online world. For instance, the company started its blog almost three years back. It ventured on slideshare — a presentation sharing site — 15 months ago, has had videos on Youtube for over a year, and started on Twitter nine months ago. Recently, when the company was jolted by a bus accident, it immediately posted it on Twitter.

The target audience for IT-services companies are media, analysts, potential employees and, in some instances, clients.

Jessie Paul, chief marketing officer of Wipro, agrees that these sites are typically targeted at the B2C segment, but are relevant even to IT companies. “The impact of traditional media is diminishing. Sites like Linkedin are being used by sales teams to get in touch with business people. Analysts follow you, but, most importantly, so does competition,” she says. Wipro has a community on Linkedin. Its human resources department uses the site for hiring.

Wipro started its online foray (other than having a corporate website) with two years ago. After that, it ventured into Youtube and joined Twitter in August last year. “We will launch our new website next month and it will have all these clubbed together. Our CEOs will also start twittering,” says Paul. The company plans to have a one-day workshop on social media for its top executives.

At the same time, lessons are being absorbed. “I think earlier the objective was not clearly defined and hence the Second Life presence did not make much of an impact. But that’s not the case now. Apart from creating communities and blogs, this medium is being used for hiring as well as for extending the CSR (corporate social responsibility) reach. Most importantly, companies are trying to monitor the negative as well as positive press. Not being at these places creates more criticism than being there,” says Diptarup Chakraborti, principal research analyst, Gartner.

Pratheep Raj, responsible for the online marketing initiative at Mindtree, says every networking site has its own relevance. “We are using Twitter and Facebook for attracting talent and the younger crowd. Our presence on Linkedin is to get positive referral traffic.”

A Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) spokesperson agrees, “TCS Twitter, started early this year, has received overwhelming response from followers who want to know more about the company’s new initiatives. We have seen traction from analyst, opinion makers and journalists who are subscribing to news alerts.”

Israeli co picks India over US for expansion

There was a time when global software firms came to India to set up development centres. That has changed. Now, they are coming to India because it is among the few markets that is still growing in an environment where IT spends are down.

Israeli firm, IDIT Technologies, a vendor of insurance software products, for instance, has chosen India over the US for its global business expansion. The firm, ranked among the leading players catering to the core software product for general insurance, believes there are better opportunities here than in the US after the ‘financial tsunami.’

“We have decided not to cross the Atlantic for several reasons which includes the financial tsunami. The general atmosphere is one that is defensive and financial services players are not in a rush to renovate their core systems,” said Moshi Shamir, vice president, IDIT. The software products firm has been present in Europe since 2000 and Mr Shamir said the financial meltdown had caused a number of contracts that were ‘ready for signature’ to be put on hold in countries such as Ukraine.

The Israeli firm has partnered with Ibexi Solutions, an Indian firm, to implement its solutions here. Implementation of the core insurance solution can take up to two and a half years and is similar to that of a core banking implementation, requiring significant knowledge of the sector as well. India will also serve as the hub for other financial destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong, he said.

“India will see continued explosive growth in the insurance market,” said research firm Celent, which tracks IT in financial services. Celent estimates IT spending in India during 2009 to top $4.2 billion and by 2012 to cross $9 billion. While the financial meltdown may have altered some of the plans of the insurance majors to set up operations in India, IDIT believes it will not significantly change its direction.

Celent expects global IT spending by financial services companies in 2009 to decline 1.3% over 2008. Those in Asia-Pacific are expected to show the fastest growth among all regions with IT spending increasing at 8.9% in 2008 and a CAGR of 4.1% from 2008 to 2010.

Infosys Hyderabad SEZ to be operational in 12 months

Infosys Technologies, the second largest software services exporter, has said one of its two special economic zones (SEZs) in Hyderabad would become operational within 12 months. The SEZs span across 440 acre and work on both of them has already begun.

In all, the company would invest about Rs 600 crore to set up new facilities at Mangalore, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram, Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar during the current financial year, according to chief financial officer S Gopalakrishnan.

“The market now is slow. We are readying ourselves to cater to client needs when the economy revives,” he said.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a CII conference here on Wednesday, Gopalakrishnan said the company would hire about 18,000 employees this financial year. “Offer letters have been issued to some of the campus recruits already and we would take some more freshers gradually.” Infosys currently employs about 10,000 people at its Hyderabad centre.

To equip entry-level employees with more competencies, the company has extended the training from three to six months before putting them to the regular work.

Meanwhile, with an eye on IT products space, Infosys has started piloting a retail product in India and other countries. The product would assist retailers with stock positions and other information, which is done manually now.

On the IT industry, the CFO said most companies impacted by the slowdown would recover in the mid-2010. "This would also increase the employment opportunities and as a result most of the companies would start recruiting around January 2010."

Microsoft, Yahoo in 10 year Web search partnership to compete Google

Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc inked a 10-year Web search deal to better compete against market leader Google Inc but stopped short of combining their display advertising businesses.

Shares of Yahoo, which had risen in recent weeks in anticipation of this deal, fell more than 7 per cent in premarket trading, while shares of Microsoft edged higher.

The deal will boost Yahoo's annual operating income by about $500 million and yield capital expenditure savings of $200 million, the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Microsoft's Bing search engine will be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search technology for Yahoo's sites, while Yahoo will be responsible for selling premium search ads for both companies.

Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business and sales force, they said. The deal combines the number two and number three players in the US market for Internet search and positions them to better compete with Google, which has an estimated 65 percent share of the US search market.

IT-BPO exports growth to dip to 4%

India's software services and BPO exports, which grew at a blistering rate of 30-32 per cent for many years of the decade, halved to a growth rate of 16.3 per cent in 2008-09 and are likely to plummet further to 4-7 per cent in 2009-10 due to the economic slowdown.

Software exports revenue is projected to grow at a mere 4-7 per cent to reach $48-50 billion in 2009-10, industry association Nasscom said today. Earlier in February, Nasscom had reduced the growth target for IT exports to 16 per cent from its forecast of 22-24 per cent made in mid-2008 for the year 2008-09.

A decline in technology spending by global majors, pricing pressures, delay in demand pick up and an overall bleak economic outlook have led to the severe decline in the growth of the sector.

India's largest software exporters TCS and Infosys have predicted tough business environment this year. Domestic IT-BPO revenues grew by 21 per cent to touch Rs 12.5 billion in FY'09, taking the total industry revenue (domestic and exports) to $58.8 billion in 2008-09.

The domestic revenues are expected to grow by 15-18 per cent in 2009-10. According to Nasscom findings, the sector reached $58.8 billion in 2008-09, up from $52 billion in 2007-08.

Banks to recover dues from your salary

In their constant pursuit of recovering dues from credit card customers, banks are empowering themselves with a tool that allows them to ask employers to deduct the outstanding amount from the salary.

ICICI (Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India) bank, recently amended the 'terms and conditions' for its credit card holders by including a clause that empowers the employers to recover credit card dues from employees, who have defaulted on payment. The amended 'terms and conditions' say that "no law or contract" governing either the card holder or employers prevents the bank from seeking such deduction and subsequent payment by the employer to the bank.

On the new move, ICICI's spokesman said, "This clause is applicable only for customers, who default on their credit card payments. Prior notice has already been sent to all our customers to make them aware of this clause." The deductions from the employee's salary will be made until the card issuing bank recovers entire amount due on the card. All deductions made will be remitted to the beneficiary bank.

Besides, as per the new clause, it would be the bank which would decide upon the quantum of the deduction. The revised credit card terms and conditions, after incorporating the new clause, have come into effect from July 23, 2009.

NASSCOM's emerging 50 companies

It has indeed been a tough job for the jury members and NASSCOM for selecting the 50 emerging companies. The bigger challenge of course was selecting the parameters on which the applicants would be judged, to enable a fair and objective verdict. Some of the parameters looked by the jury when they ranked the companies are:

-Differentiating service offered by the companies
-Products - Is the customer targeting clear; product competitive feature-wise
-Distribution/Go-to-Market strategy
-Management team and its efficacy
-The Category leadership – does the company position itself as a market leader or is there a potential to be one
-Customers - Are referenceable customers called out.

  • ABM Knowledgeware Limited
  • A1 Future Technologies
  • AbsolutData Research & Analytics Pvt. Ltd.
  • All e Technologies
  • Annik Technology Private Limited
  • Arctern Consulting Pvt Ltd
  • Attra Infotech Pvt Ltd
  • Azure Knowledge Corporation
  • Catura Systems
  • Comat Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
  • Compulink
  • CresTech Software Systems Pvt. Ltd.
  • Drishti Soft Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
  • Druvaa Software
  • eInfochips Limited
  • Eka Software Solutions Pvt Ltd
  • EmPower Research (P) Ltd
  • Eperium Business Solutions India Private Limited
  • Estel Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
  • Evolutionary Systems Private Limited
  • Fifth Generation Technologies India (P) Ltd.
  • GeBBS Healthcare Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
  • Grail Research India Private Limited
  • Hanu Software Solutions India Pvt Ltd
  • Infosoft Global Private Limited
  • iViz Techno Solutions
  • LeewayHertz Technologies Pvt Ltd
  • Mann-India Technologies Private Limited
  • Matrix Business Services India Private Ltd
  • MedSphere Technologies
  • MobMe Wireless Solutions Pvt Ltd
  • Myndsolutions Pvt Ltd
  • OrangeScape Technologies Limited
  • PharmARC Analytic Solutions
  • PK4 Software Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
  • Proteans Software Soultions Pvt Ltd
  • Robust Designs(India) Private Limited
  • S7 Software Solutions Pvt Ltd
  • Savi Infoservices (India) Pvt. Ltd
  • Shell Transource Ltd
  • Skelta Software
  • Sloka Telecom Private Limited
  • SpadeWorx Software Services
  • Srishti Software Applications Private Limited
  • Trendyworks Technologies Private Limited
  • ValueNotes Database Private Limited
  • Vmukti Solutions Pvt. ltd.
  • Wirkle Technologies Private Limited

Infosys to start campus recruitments beginning next year

Amidst the slowdown and the general freeze on recruitment, there is some good news for students graduating next year: Infosys Technologies Limited is planning to start campus recruitment across the country beginning January 2010.

Infosys Technologies Limited chief executive officer and managing director S Gopalakrishnan while speaking to reporters after a CII meeting said that company skipped campus recruiting in view of the global economy slowdown but is now looking at training about 18,000 of its employees under the extended mode till January 2010 and has also enhanced the present training of freshers from three and a half months to six months.

Gopalakrishnan said previously the freshers were put on training in one technology but now they are training in two technologies, adding that "they are better equipped and are more flexible as they are trained in multiple skills."
He said recruitment and expansion would begin early next year and that the economy too will start looking up by the second quarter of 2010.

On the industries growth prospects he said, "The IT and ITES industry would continue to grow despite the economy slowdown and the growth rate is expected to pick up by mid next year".

Referring to the IT expansion programme in IT industry, Gopalakirshnan said during the last one decade there was rapid expansion in IT and ITES at Hyderabad and there is still potential in tier two cities like Vishakhapatnam and vijaywada keeping in view the availability of infrastructure, international connectivity and manpower.

However, he said that his company has no immediate plans to expand activities in two tier cities in Andhra Pradesh. He said that work for Infosys's second campus at the SEZ is expected to be complete by next year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Verizon to cut 8,000 jobs

Cost-cutting at Verizon Communications Inc's wireline business failed to keep pace with falling revenues as the US’ largest wireless carrier reported a 21 percent drop in second-quarter profit and announced further job cuts.

The company said Monday it will cut more than 8,000 employee and contractor jobs before the end of the year in the wireline business, speeding up its efforts to keep costs in line, according to chief financial officer John Killian.

In recent years, Verizon has balanced layoffs in wireline with hiring in wireless, but Chief Operating Officer Denny Strigl said that would not be the case this time.

Verizon ended the quarter with 235,000 employees, up from 229,000 a year ago, despite already cutting 8,000 jobs during the year. Contractor jobs are not included in those totals.

The earnings announced narrowly beat Wall Street expectations, and Verizon said demand for cell phones and its new home TV service were holding up well in the recession.

Verizon earned $1.48 billion, or 52 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30. That's down from $1.88 billion, or 66 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding special items, mainly for job cuts, New York-based Verizon says it earned 63 cents per share, beating by a penny the average analyst forecast as polled by Thomson Reuters.

Verizon Wireless had already revealed how many subscribers it added in the quarter, saying on Friday that net additions were 1.1 million. That was also roughly in line with analyst expectations. It ended the quarter with 87.7 million customers, ahead of AT&T's 79.6 million.

AT&T added more subscribers in the quarter: a net of 1.37 million. The iPhone continued to make AT&T a first choice for those willing to spend a premium on wireless service, particularly as the carrier and partner Apple Inc. launched a new model in June.

U.S. Scientists See H1-B Visas as Major Issue Against Progress, Says Survey

Source: eWeek
A new survey by the Pew Research Center has found that, while the American public holds a high opinion of scientists, a minority feel that U.S. scientific achievements are best in the world. At the same time, scientists felt the biggest impediments to their research were lack of funding and difficulties in the H1-B visa process for foreign scientists and students.

The nation's scientists see H1-B visa issues as a major barrier to scientific achievement, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Some 56 percent surveyed felt that issues with the visa process for foreign students and scientists represented a massive impediment, second only to the 87 percent who saw lack of funding as a “very serious” or “serious” problem.

Whether or not those issues are actually slowing down progress, U.S. scientific achievements might have something of a PR problem. The survey found that only 17 percent of the U.S. public thought that U.S. scientific achievements are best in the world; some 27 percent felt that the country’s advances in science, medicine and technology were its greatest achievements.

This somewhat pessimistic view was tempered by the public’s largely positive view of science and scientists, with 84 percent "mostly positive" on science’s effect on society, and 70 percent feeling that scientists contributed "a lot" to society’s well-being. For the latter category, the only two professions that ranked higher were teachers and members of the military.

The Pew Research Center also collaborated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to conduct the same survey with 2,500 scientists, some 49 percent of whom rated U.S. scientific achievements as best in the world. Scientists, despite the largely positive support for them and their endeavors, had a somewhat more negative view of the public, with 85 percent of them citing the general populace’s lack of scientific knowledge as a problem for science, and 49 percent feeling that the "public expects solutions to problems too quickly."

With regard to that lack of scientific knowledge, the survey found that the public was more illuminated on topics that applied more personally to their lives. For example, around 91 percent could say that aspirin is recommended to prevent heart attacks, and 82 percent could say that GPS technology is reliant on satellites. However, only 52 percent could say what distinguished stem cells from other cells, and 46 percent knew that electrons were smaller than atoms.

Scientists and the public seemed to have diverging opinions on several key issues. Specifically, 87 percent of scientists believe in evolution and natural selection, while 32 percent of the public thought of evolution as fact. Along the same lines, 84 percent of scientists believe that global warming is a reality caused by human activity, while 49 percent of the public thought likewise.

The dichotomy continues into the area of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, which 93 percent of scientists support versus 58 percent of the public. The one area of relative agreement is universal vaccinations, where 82 percent of scientists and 69 percent of the public think that all children should be vaccinated.

Study: IT contract jobs are up in USA

The number of technology contract jobs nationwide grew by more than 4 percent in the second quarter, continuing the upward trend that started in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Corp-Corp., an online information technology consulting marketplace, conducted the study from March 1 through June 30 by analyzing over 150,000 IT jobs posted by over 750 companies across the U.S.

“One of the best arguments for the longevity of the current economic rebound is temporary hiring,” said Prabakaran Murugaiah, CEO of “Many companies that cut back to bare bones staff during the worst of the recession are now beginning to hire contract workers.”

Software budgets on an upswing: Gartner

Software budgets will increase globally next year, in a clear departure from the downward trend seen this year, according to a Gartner survey.

Although organisations are continuing to lower their total IT budgets this year, software budgets will increase in 2010. The survey showed that organisations plan to increase their software budgets on an average of 1.53 per cent.
Gartner surveyed 1,000 IT professionals worldwide between April and May. Respondents were asked whet-her they expected their 2010 IT budget to lower, remain unchanged or exceed the IT budget for 2009. Thirty per cent of companies in Asia Pacific, 28 per cent in North America and 25 per cent in Europe, West Asia and Africa (EWAA) said they expected their IT budgets for 2010 to increase.

On spending expectations for software by region, North America is still expected to decline 2.06 per cent, and EWAA is only slightly positive at 0.45 percent for 2010 as against 2009. Software budgets in Latin America will rise 2.54 per cent, and in Asia Pacific, software budgets will increase 4.34 per cent, showing a very positive trend.
Sun Microsystem’s regional director (emerging markets) K P Unnikrishnan told Financial Chronicle that the crisis is bottoming out. “Most clients globally have started giving out positive feedback. Many of them started to spend again. But I cannot predict by how much or how soon the transformation will be complete. For some, ‘soon’ could be three years,” he said.

Anand Sankaran, chief executive of Wipro Infote-ch said he expected the bu-dgets to grow by 12-13 per cent in the domestic market by next year. “But that’s still lesser than the 22 per cent growth that was witnessed during the IT heydays,” he said.

Gartner analysts said this is a reflection of the relative maturity of the markets. Generally, the survey found software spending to be the holding ground, and consequently, it recomme-nds that vendors work toward helping clients know where they can cut costs and better utilise resources to allow new budgeted dollars to go further.

“Software vendors shou-ld continue to build, fund and invest in software sales and marketing programm-es, even during tight market conditions to maintain customers and expand revenue opportunities,” said Joanne Correia, managing vice-president, Gartner.

Correia advised software vendors not to use the present economic market as an excuse to scale back on their service offerings and said that vendors need to be able to differentiate with key integration technologies and diversified customer bases.

Gartner said that although infrastructure spe-nding still accounts for 37 per cent of IT budgets, savings in the infrastructure area are being used to fund “frontier applications” that drive innovation and provide competitive edge.

SABMiller selects Infosys to improve marketing campaigns

Software firm Infosys on Tuesday said that SABMiller, one of the world's largest brewers, has selected it to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns.

SABMiller has chosen Infosys to conduct in-store projects leveraging the Infosys shoppingTrip360 solution to analyse shopper and shelf activity around its beverage brands, helping improve the uptake of SABMiller products, an Infosys statement said.

ShoppingTrip360 was designed by Infosys as an information ecosystem, where retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies like SABMiller can achieve a "truly differentiated" method of engagement with in-store shoppers and gain "greater visibility" into in-store activity.

Upon successful pilot completion in Romania, SABMiller would evaluate the results and look to roll out the Infosys solution in other key markets around the world, the statement added.

IBM to buy analytics company for $1.2 billion

International Business Machines Corp plans to buy technology services company SPSS Inc for about $1.2 billion in cash, the companies said on Tuesday.

SPSS shareholders will receive $50 a share, a 42 percent premium to Monday's closing price of $35.09 on Nasdaq. Chicago-based SPSS provides predictive analytics software and services. Predictive analytics are used by companies to forecast future trends and spot shifts in consumer patterns, helping them control costs and use resources more wisely.

IBM said the deal will help expand its Information on Demand software portfolio and business analytics capabilities.

Shares of SPSS jumped 41 per cent in premarket trade to about $49.50. The shares had already enjoyed a gain of about 30 per cent this year.

The deal values SPSS at about 25 times analysts' estimated 2010 earnings per share, and the $50 per share price represents an all-time high for the stock, topping its previous all-time top of $47.87.

The deal is subject to SPSS shareholder approval and regulatory clearances, and is expected to close later in the second half of 2009, the companies said.

Separately, IBM said it has acquired closely-held Ounce Labs Inc, whose software helps companies reduce the risks and costs associated with security and compliance concerns. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Back in May, IBM's chief financial officer, Mark Loughridge, told the Reuters Technology Summit that the valuations of potential acquisition targets were attractive. IBM has spent $20 billion buying more than 100 companies since 2000, paying prices that range from as little as $50 million to as much as $5 billion.
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Less campus recruitment at IITs, IIMs by MNCs this year: Govt

The number of students recruited by Multi National Companies (MNCs) through campus selection has gone down significantly in prestigious IITs and IIMs this year.

According to a written reply by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal in the Rajya Sabha today, a total of 3,031 students from seven IITs were recruited by MNCs through campus selection in 2008. However, the number has come down to 1,606 this year.

While 643 students were recruited from IIT Kharagpur, the number plummeted to 44 this year. Last year, 593 students were selected from IIT Bombay. But only 381 students of the institute have been selected by MNCs this year, according to the data furnished in the reply.

While 633 students from IIT Delhi were recruited by MNCs last year, the number came down to 390 this year.

The picture is no different in case of IIMs. While 920 students from six IIMs got recruited by MNCs in 2008, the number of such students this year was 497.

Against 155 students recruited from IIM Ahmedabad last year, 92 were recruited this year. The number of such students from IIM Bangalore came down from 203 in 2008 to 119 this year. While 240 students were recruited from IIM Kolkata in 2008, the number was pegged at 121 this year.

However, recruitment of students from these institutes by Indian Public Sector Companies has marginally increased during this period.
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Recession-hit IT industry to recover by mid-2010: Infosys

The recession hit IT industry would show positive signs of recovery by mid-2010 and Infosys will diversify into new markets then, a top company official said here on Tuesday.

On economic slowdown Infosys Chief Executive and Managing Director Kris Gopalakrishnan told reporters, "It is better to wait and understand that the recovery is real and will sustain. The developed countries have higher GDPs, so they will have a significant impact on recovery."

Infosys is looking at new markets like China, Middle East, South America and Latin America with a host of new services.

"We have launched various new services like software as a service platform for BPO industry. The opportunities which we are looking into are in health care, utility services, government and public sector. There are opportunities in each one of them", he said.

Gopalakrishnan was here to participate in the sixth edition of HR-summit 2009, organised by NASSCOM.

On RBI's review projecting a 6.5 economic growth, he said, "I believe especially for India, growth (is) coming back. India has not been much affected (due to the meltdown)".

He said despite the country's growth rate coming down from 8-9 per cent to 5-6 per cent now, it (growth) was starting to pick up, which is a good sign for India. "This will also be a signal to other countries to start seeing some recovery."

He said Infosys was also ready for acquisition across various geographies. "We are open for geographical acquisitions as well as service based acquisitions. The key is, it should happen at the right place at right time."
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Nasscom sees lower Indian IT exports

The country’s software and services sector is likely to see single-digit growth in 2009-10, a new low for the $60-billion industry that grew 16.3% last year despite the global economic downturn.

Software industry body Nasscom, in its revised exports growth estimates to be announced in Chennai on Wednesday, is likely to scale down exports growth target to single digits for 2009-10, said people familiar with the development. This is the third such revision by Nasscom in the past 12 months.

The only silver lining for the sector, which saw demand shrinking in its largest markets, is high domestic demand, although it’s not enough to offset the fall in exports. Earlier in February, Nasscom had reduced IT exports growth target to 16% from its forecast of 22-24% made in mid-2008.

The industry has been consistently clocking above 30% growth for most parts of this decade. While Nasscom was unavailable for comments ahead of the formal announcement, industry watchers say decline in technology spending by global majors, pricing pressure and an overall bleak economic outlook have resulted in a lower growth outlook.

India’s largest software exporters TCS and Infosys have predicted tough business environment this year. “We need to watch the ground as we expect shocks along the way ... Recovery is not something that’s going to be very soon,” said S Ramadorai, chief executive officer of TCS, after announcing his company’s better-than-expected numbers for the first quarter.

Infosys also expects pricing pressure to hit profit. “The pricing environment continues to be challenging. There are ongoing negotiations with clients,” its chief operating officer SD Shibulal said in the company’s guidance for this year.

The grim outlook is corroborated by recent industry outlooks by Gartner and Technology Partners International (TPI). The TPI Index, brought out last week by global sourcing advisory firm TPI, measures outsourcing contracts of over $25 million or more.

TPI said the banking sector, traditionally a heavy adopter of outsourcing services, has slowed its activity significantly in the wake of last year’s financial crisis. Oil & gas, food & drink and consumer durables, to name a few, also slumped in 2009, leading a reduced demand for technology services.

Compared with the first six months of 2008, which saw record levels of sourcing activity, the market in the first half of 2009 awarded 11% fewer contracts with 22% lower TCV (total contract value) and 28% lower ACV (annualised contract value, which is TCV divided by duration of contract). The actual number of contracts dropped to 135, a fall of 7.5% from the first quarter to second quarter this year.

Driving the decline was the absence of mega deals in the US and Europe and lower spending globally on business process outsourcing. “The balance of 2009 is likely to remain challenging and we will see lower topline growth. We do not expect total contract awards and TCV to match 2008 levels,” said Sid Pai, partner & managing director, TPI India.

Consultancy firm Gartner said the total global IT services market will decline by 5.6% from $805.9 billion in 2008 to $761 billion in 2009. In fact, while the market will improve in 2010 to $784 billion, it will take longer to touch the levels achieved in 2008.

“While the global economic downturn shows signs of easing, this year IT budgets are still being cut and consumers will need a lot more persuading before they can feel confident enough to loosen their purse strings,” said Richard Gordon, research vice-president and head of global forecasting at Gartner.

Seems like no green shoots for the tech guys as yet. They will have to work hard to get business and move up the value chain quickly to maintain margins and growth momentum in the current environment.

Tech workers lose H-1B case

The US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has ruled against the tech workers who have been fighting a federal decision to allow foreign students to work on a student visa from one year to 29 months, according to a news report in Computer World.

The Programmers Guild and others fighting the student visa extension argued that the extension was a kind of backdoor H-1B increase that intensifies competition in the labour market. This in turn hurt wages and job prospects of US workers.

The decision in the case, however, is said to have been made on technical issues and not on merit. In 2008, the US District Court was reportedly asked in a lawsuit to issue a preliminary injunction to block the student visa extension. However, the Judge Faith Hochberg ruled that the opponents did not have legal standing to bring the case since they weren't directly affected by the extension.
The appellate court, in its decision dated July 17, affirmed the lower court's decision.

The student visa extension was approved during President Bush's administration and subsequently backed by President Obama. The high demand for H-1B visas made the Bush administration extend the visa in 2008. The concern then is said to be that students failing to get a visa would return.

However, the recession in the country has changed that. Of the 85,000 visas available under the cap, 20,000 still remain, unlike 2008, when it took just a few days for the entire cap to get filled.

Intuit's 120 layoffs include 25 in Reno

About 25 workers in Reno are among those being laid off by Intuit Inc. Officials for the software company based in Mountainview, Calif., say the employees in Intuit's small business division in Reno are among 120 layoffs nationwide the company announced earlier this month.

Corporate spokeswoman Holly Perez says the jobs have become redundant as a result of Intuit's acquisition of PayCycle, a leading online payroll company serving small businesses, accountants and financial institutions.
She says all the laid off workers in Reno were given 60-day notices and have been invited to explore other employment opportunities within the company.
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Analysis: The next H-1B fight begins by Labor Day

Source: ComputerWorld
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill by Labor Day that seems certain to include a way to increase the H-1B cap.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill by Labor Day that seems certain to include a way to increase the H-1B cap. By introducing the bill in the worse possible economic climate, and then citing Labor Day as his deadline for introducing it, you could almost argue that Schumer is egging on his opponents. But that's not new for him. Among the people he has enlisted to help him is Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who testified this year at an immigration committee hearing that the cap protects U.S. workers from global competition, creating a "privileged elite."

Schumer's view follows naturally from his unabashed support of the H-1B visa program and his belief that foreign workers are critical to U.S. economic success. And as head of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, Schumer is in a position to make changes.

Schumer outlined his plans in an interview with Associated Press last week; the bill is still being drafted.

The Senate has had no problem approving increases in the H-1B cap in the past. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, for instance, proposed raising the cap on H-1B visas to 115,000 and included a market-cap provision that allowed the the number of visas to grow by 20% a year if the prior cap was reached.

The cap is now set at 85,000, which includes 20,000 that are set aside for people who earn masters degree.

This time around, Schumer may take a different approach on high-skilled immigration.

One proposal that may get traction in Congress would create an independent commission to manage employment-based visas. The commission would determine whether there are labor shortages and have the authority to make annual adjustments on the cap based on economic need. That idea was pitched by the AFL-CIO in April. Schumer will also have to deal with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), both of whom are on the immigration subcommittee and have introduced legislation restricting H-1B use to the ire of Indian government and industry groups, in particular. Durbin and Grassley are among the harshest critics of the H-1B visa.

In a speech last month before an immigration policy group, Schumer outlined what he wants to achieve when it comes to high skilled workers.

"We must encourage the world's best and brightest individuals to come to the United States and create new technologies and business that will employ countless American workers, but must discourage businesses from using our immigration laws as a means to obtain temporary and less-expensive foreign labor to replace capable American workers," said Schumer. Schumer also endorsed a report in 2007, Sustaining New York's and the U.S. Global Financial Services Leadership, prepared by McKinsey & Co., that called for increasing access to H-1B visas to help keep the financial services industry competitive. President Barack Obama has appointed a top McKinsey official, Diana Farrell, to serve in his administration as a deputy economic advisor.

Angela Kelly, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based group that's headed John Podesta, President Clinton's former chief of staff, said an element of any immigration reform bill would have to be its labor protections.

"How do we ensure that by bringing these workers in we're not disadvantaging American workers and how do we invest in our folks for the long haul, so that we've got kids in computer science, math, and engineering programs, which are right now, frankly, dominated by kids who aren't from the U.S. That's the reality and we need to deal with it," she said, in a conference call with reporters.

Tally, IBM join hands for a slice of SMB market

Indian enterprise software maker Tally Solutions will soon bundle its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution with IBM’s hardware systems in order to address the lucrative small and medium business (SMB) market.

Both the companies will jointly address the Indian SMB market, senior officials told ET on Tuesday.

“Mid-market has always been a growth engine for IBM and we have made around $100 million investments for growing this market globally,” said IBM Smart Business VP Juhi Jotwani.

Tally’s ERP package, which was launched around four months ago, is close to touching a customer base of around 100,000.

The new alliance will see IBM providing all the necessary hardware, software and services, which can be customised to the requirements of the market place at a starting price of less than Rs 5 lakh.

“This joint offering will address the scale of the Indian market. We expect another 20,000 enterprises to implement ERP packages in the near future,” said Tally Solutions MD Bharat Goenka. “Tally’s ERP package will be coming under IBM’s Smart Cube initiative, which will complete turnkey package,” added Ms Jotwani.

IBM will explore different selling models for this joint package, which will either be direct, hosted or even on a monthly basis.

At a time when large enterprises have tightened their IT budgets, SMBs are offering lucrative opportunities. In a recent study, IBM found that even in tough economic conditions, over 50% of Indian mid-market business decision makers expect their IT budgets to increase in 2009 versus past year.

Now, corporate learning gets animated

Corporate learning is going the animated way. Aptech, the IT education and training company, is looking at corporate training using animation as a growth segment. To cite an example, animation is used in teaching surgeons how to perform operations and allowing them to use animation training interactively to become familiar with surgical techniques before operating on people.

“Use of animation brings alive the entire perceptual information, transforming it into a course having thematic relevance,” said Nilesh Vani, executive vice-president, Aptech Learning Services.

“The animation training segment is expected to witness almost a three-digit growth in the next 3-5 years. Animation training can transform the learning process, particularly while learning hands-on skills of all kinds.

“It not only delivers superior learning experiences but also helps in better retention and hence enhanced performances. This is one of the predominant reasons behind the rise in the number of companies taking up animation as a way to impart training to corporates,” he said.

According to Nasscom estimates, the animation education segment is now projected to have a growth rate of about 40 per cent per annum. Animation training is becoming the prevalent mode of training across verticals. The animation industry in India, which was worth $460 million in 2008, is set to grow at a CAGR of 27 per cent to reach $1,163 million by 2012.

Aptech Learning Services, at present, deals with 50-60 companies across various verticals including healthcare, manufacturing, aviation, automobile and banking. The institute has tie-ups with a number of firms and trains people making them industry-ready for various job roles. The company did not reveal the clientele for competitive reasons.

Aptech Learning Services mainly prepares e-learning modules for companies and also offers training in blended formats or classroom trainings.

“Learners are increasingly becoming comfortable with technology and this technological advancement has increased accessibility and utility of the animated content, making it reach out to people beyond the children segment.

Transparency is best HR policy during tough times

IT industry leaders recommend effective internal and external communication to paddle through the economic crisis. The best HR policy in tough situations is transparency, they asserted, at the sixth Nasscom HR summit in Chennai.

“The leadership at Cognizant communicated so much to the employees in the last six months than what we have done in six years,” said Lakshmi Nara-yanan, vice-chairman, Cognizant Technology Solutions. “Even minor issues and concerns were directly conveyed to all the employees concerned, which also led to a lot of leaks to the media. However, this communication is required to reassure our workforce,” he added.

Tamil Nadu IT secretary PWC Davidar also insisted on the need for companies to communicate their requirements to aspiring candidates.

Said Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO of Infosys: “When your customer is losing revenue by 20-30 per cent, you are forced to cut costs by about 30 per cent. It is important to explain the need to take such a decisions to all the stakeholders.

Infopark Kochi doubles IT exports

Infopark Kochi, an IT park promoted by the Kerala government, Tuesday said its exports almost doubled last fiscal to touch Rs.600 crore ($124.5 million).

It said in a statement that the companies based in the Infopark campus have hired 2,500 IT professionals in 2007-08, taking their total head count to 9,000. Infopark houses 51 IT companies.

Kerala's total IT exports last year stood at Rs.4,000 crore. "What the work environment in Kerala offers is a growth opportunity for both employers and employees," Kerala's IT Secretary Ajay Kumar said.

Infopark's achievement comes at a time when the state's IT department is planning to set up IT parks in 12 districts. The Technopark campus in Thiruvananthapuram is another major IT park in the state. Technopark houses 150 companies that employ around 20,000 professionals.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

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Recession? TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL bag large outsourcing deals

Even in a recession hit market where clients are cutting outsourcing budgets, Indian firms such as TCS, Infy, Wipro, HCL and Tata Communications have won large outsourcing deals this year placing them among the top 10 global service providers - on contract value terms.

Even though the total contract value of awarded outsourcing deals fell by 22% to $40.2 billion in the first six months of this year, Indian tech firms continued to compete neck and neck with the global biggies such as IBM, Accenture, HP/EDS, CSC, shows data from TPI. TPI is the largest sourcing data and advisory firm and measures commercial outsourcing contracts valued at $25 million or more.

Indian firms dominated the information technology outsourcing (ITO) segment ($33.2 billion) split into application, development & maintenance (ADM) and infrastructure segments.

Among the desi firms, the top deal winners were Cognizant, Infosys, HCL, TCS and Wipro featuring in the ADM section. HCL and Wipro were again listed among the top 10 infrastructure deal winners, TPI said. “Retail, diversified financials, transport, and network telecom services provided strength to the ITO market. TCS was the top vendor to win deals in three of these markets, while Infosys appeared as one of the top vendors in the Americas and the APAC region,” HSBC IT analyst Yogesh Aggarwal said.

Tata Com - only Indian firm among network service bigwigs such as AT&T, BT, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens - grabbed a place amongst top 10 club in a segment where deals worth $13.4 billion were awarded till June.

While the broader BPO market remained weak, experts believe Indian vendors relied on client mining, rather than winning new mega-accounts. Infy, that employs 16,700 people in its BPO division, was among the top 10 BPO service providers in the H1 of 2009, wherein globally contracts worth $7 billion were awarded to the likes of Capita, Perot Systems, Xerox, RR Donnelley and Johnson Controls.
Source: TheEconomicTimes
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Why Skilled Immigrants Are Leaving the U.S.: BusinessWeek

-Other Lands of Opportunity: China and India
-Green Card Applicants Have a Long Wait
-New research shows that highly skilled workers are returning home for brighter career prospects and a better quality of life.

Lured by the prospect of climbing to the top of his field, New Delhi native Swaroop Ganguly came to the US 10 years ago and earned a PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. He became an expert in an emerging technology called spintronics, used to power semiconductors, and worked at several chip companies, including Freescale Semiconductor. But Ganguly, now 32, is moving back to India this summer.

Although he has been doing postdoctoral work at the University of Texas, he figures his prospects for research and professional development are probably better in his home country. "I feel quite excited about going back," he says.

Ganguly has already accepted a job as a professor of electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. The position will pay a fraction of the salary he had been earning in the private sector—about $15,000 compared with $100,000—but it will offer considerably more job security and the freedom to do the exploratory research he wants to do. "The real lure of being in the US is to do really innovative work, but the space for that seems to be shrinking," he says. "The Indian government is putting a huge amount of funding into science and technology, so even if they can't pay high salaries, it's an attractive prospect."

Ganguly is one of a number of highly skilled immigrants preparing to leave the US as the nation's economy slows. With the US unemployment rate approaching double digits, job opportunities are diminishing and calls to restrict immigration have gotten louder. Those who favor tightening the rules argue that US citizens should get first priority for jobs.

A Blow to Prospects for Economic Recovery
But the issue is tricky when it comes to the most educated and skilled immigrants—people like Ganguly. When well-paid individuals leave the country, that cuts into already depleted tax revenues for state and local governments. The departure of top talent in technology and science may also undercut the prospects for a recovery in the US, many economists say. These immigrants often start companies and come up with technological breakthroughs, creating new job opportunities for all.

"We benefit from a flow of really smart people coming here to work in our companies and start new ones," says David Hart, a professor of public policy at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., who co-authored a study on immigrant entrepreneurship released this month. "It's important that the US remain a magnet for people who fuel innovation and growth."

The Obama Administration has said it will push for comprehensive immigration reform later this year, but it's unclear if any legislation will pass or how it would affect skilled immigrants. One unresolved issue is how to define a "skilled" immigrant. While many politicians would support policies to attract the most educated and highly paid, there is more controversy over foreign workers who come into the US on H-1B visas, which require only a bachelor's degree and, in many cases, modest salaries. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate immigration subcommittee, said in June that US policy will aim to "encourage the world's best and brightest individuals to come to the US and create the new technologies and businesses...but must discourage businesses from using our immigration laws as a means to obtain temporary and less expensive foreign labour."

Other Lands of Opportunity: China and India
Advocates for skilled immigrants emphasise the value they create and warn against developing overly restrictive policies. Dr. Jan Vilcek, a professor of microbiology at New York University School of Medicine, defected from Czechoslovakia in 1964 and is now renowned in his field for treatments he developed for chronic illnesses such as Crohn's disease. He co-founded a New York-based nonprofit called the Vilcek Foundation to enhance the public profile of exceptional immigrants. "Foreign-born entrepreneurs and scientists are a tremendous asset to the US economy," Vilcek says. "It is tragic that bureaucratic obstacles are preventing more talented and motivated people from helping to get us out of the economic slump."

For now, economic woes—and to a lesser extent, immigration policies—are the most acute problem driving departures from the US A study by Duke University professor and Harvard researcher Vivek Wadhwa, for example, found that among Chinese nationals who emigrated to the US and later returned home, 72% said they thought professional opportunities were better in China. Among Indians who returned home, 56% said the same of their country. Wadhwa estimates that as many as 200,000 skilled workers from India and China will go home over the next five years, compared with roughly 100,000 over the past 20 years.

"We're in a recession, and there is enough good talent now [in the US], but long term, it will hurt like you won't believe," says Wadhwa, who is also a columnist. "Losing critical talent means arming the US's competition. The next Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), or Apple (AAPL) could be launched in Shanghai or Bangalore."

Green Card Applicants Have a Long Wait
Kapil, a 33-year-old software consultant for IBM (IBM) in Silicon Valley, shares Vilcek's frustration. (Kapil asked that his last name not be used out of concern for his job.) He joined IBM in 2001 with the hope of gaining permanent residency in the US so he could ultimately start his own company. IBM filed an application for his green card for permanent residence in 2004, and he has yet to receive it. Due to limits that allow for just 9,800 green cards per year per country, the wait for people from India and China can be up to 10 years. Kapil estimates that his five-year wait could stretch into 7 or 10. In the meantime, he remains on an H-1B visa tied to IBM, where he must keep the same position to remain in the green card queue. He's earning six figures now, he says, but suspects he could earn more if he had the freedom to change jobs. "I'm not allowed to advance, and it's really frustrating," says Kapil. "At this point, I'm losing my patience."

Kapil is eager to found a startup. He has developed the technology for an online job-search engine that taps into social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. He says he is considering launching it from India. "Most likely, I am heading back," he says. "In a way, I feel cheated. I've contributed, paid taxes, and even picked up a California accent. But it's not enough."

Arun Kumar, 30, is also in the US on an H-1B visa and is considering moving to Canada. Kumar, who lives just north of Philadelphia, works for a US bank and is helping to develop a startup within the company. His employer, the name of which he asked not be used, put in his application for a green card last year. Kumar realises that it could take years for his application to move through the queue, and he's growing restless to start his own business. He has the capital to launch his product, an educational tool to help sixth- to eighth-graders learn math and science. But he doesn't want to do so in the US because assuming a new job or even changing titles within his own company would nullify his existing green card application. Kumar and his wife are now considering moving to Toronto, where they could more quickly become permanent residents.

"I feel restricted here," says Kumar. "I understand the US has a responsibility to its citizens, and I understand its dilemma. But the country would be better off if it could isolate and identify skilled workers who want to come here and build things and welcome them in."
Source: BusinessWeek
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TCS, Infosys Patni await clarity on ABN Amro outsourcing

Top outsourcing firms including TCS, Infosys and Patni Computer wait for more clarity at RBS-owned ABN Amro, as the management remains undecided about outsourcing deals worth $400-500 million signed by the erstwhile Dutch bank four years ago with these vendors.

In April 2005, ABN Amro had announced several contracts worth nearly $2.5 billion, due to be renewed in 2010. While IBM had won the lion’s share of the deal (around $2 billion) for managing the bank’s servers, desktops and other IT infrastructure, Accenture, TCS, Infosys and Patni shared $400-500 million worth of contracts for software application, development and maintenance.

At least three people familiar with the sourcing decisions at ABN Amro told ET that while RBS is yet to take a call on whether it wants to integrate its technology and business systems with ABN Amro, there is a definite move to shrink the Dutch bank’s operations through a sale, which will bring down the outsourcing revenues for these vendors as well.

“It’s not business as usual. We are told it could take another few months before any clarity emerges. The 2010 renewal is not the only issue. The business seems to be getting smaller,” said a senior executive at one of the top tech firms serving ABN Amro. He requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak about customer engagements.

Experts like Bob McDowall of Tower Group say RBS, which is now a nationalised bank in the UK, is under pressure to sell assets outside of UK. “IT integration (with ABN Amro) has effectively ceased. RBS certainly will not be planning IT integration initiatives that will make a sale or disposal of the ABN Amro businesses more difficult,” he said. “I would suggest that the longer-term prospects for the contract will depend on when and who acquires the relevant businesses in ABN Amro supported by the outsourcing contracts,” he added.

Officials at Infosys and TCS declined to offer customer-specific comments.

RBS, which has an annual IT budget of $3-4 billion, too is in the process of reviewing its businesses. Some experts say RBS will actually be looking at outsourcing in a big way to achieve these efficiencies after the strategic review is over.

“Cost has become more important for RBS now in the wake of the economic slowdown and there is a greater focus on outsourcing,” said Vikram Gulati, director at outsourcing advisory firm Quantum Step. An RBS spokeswoman confirmed that her bank continues to look at outsourcing to India.

“India is already a major centre for the group and is our third-largest employment centre. As a result of our acquisition of ABN Amro, we now employ 8,000 people in India serving our operations globally. Last year we have been progressing with work to integrate the two businesses and develop all our centres in the UK, India and across the globe,” the RBS spokeswoman said.
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Wipro bags 5-year contract from BJ's Wholesale Club

Wipro Technologies, the global IT services business of Wipro, has entered into a five-year agreement to provide IT data centre and applications management services for BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc., membership warehouse club headquartered in Massachusetts, US. The company, however, did not divulge the size of the contract.

Under the agreement, Wipro will migrate BJ’s Wholesale Club's mainframe and open systems environment to its data centre in Nebraska, to enable the company to streamline their infrastructure solutions with operational flexibility and improved applications support.

Through this five-year engagement, BJ’s will also benefit from Wipro’s extensive expertise in providing applications management and support, disaster recovery, enterprise security and compliance services.

“BJ’s is in the business of providing our members value on brand-name groceries, consumer electronics, apparel, household items and seasonal products, and we do that by being as efficient as possible,” said John A Polizzi, Senior VP and CIO of BJ’s Wholesale Club.

“Our agreement with Wipro will help ensure that we can continue to meet our members’ desire for value without sacrificing quality while adapting to changes as we grow,” he said in a statement.

New projects to attract Australia work visa holders

Australia is launching ambitions new projects to lure skilled foreign workers to the country and help the economy.

The Australian Federal Government has used its current budget to pay for improved in infrastructure across the country. $4.3 billion has been invested in a cross-town rail link in Melbourne, the largest investment in Australian railway in 80 years.Numerous other investments include hospitals, roads, schools and public housing.

This new phase of development requires a steady flow of skilled foreign workers.

Australia immigration has used a points system for years where the points are assigned more heavily to professions that are deemed to help Australia.

The professions currently high in demand and that can be used to earn Australia visa bonus points include electricians, engineers, plumbers and gas fitters.

Australia is also at the top of the list by the International Monetary Fund of countries ability to bounce back from the global financial crisis. It is no surprise that so many skilled works are looking to live and work in Australia.

These Australia visa changes follow on from the change in July this year to the minimum salary level (MSL) for temporary skilled workers. The MSL was increased by 4.1% in an attempt to attract skilled workers to Australia in the hope they would move to Australia permanently.

Bill Gates: Networking sites are irritating

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said that he seldom logs out, rarely feels drained and finds social networking sites irritating.

"I am a 24-hour technology person," said Gates, on a visit here for overseeing the philanthropic activities of the foundation he has formed with his wife Melinda.

"I am not that big at text messaging and I am impressed with the young people doing that," he said at a conference.

However, Gates said, he reads random articles in silence whenever he feels drained. Calling social networking sites "irritating", Gates said he is flooded by "friend requests" everyday on Facebook.

"I get 10,000 friend requests everyday. It gets so irritating."

To this, Minister of State for Communication and IT Sachin Pilot, who shared the dais with the Microsoft co-founder, asked jokingly: "How many Bill Gates are there on Facebook?"

HCL inks pact with china-based eBaoTech

IT services provider HCL Technologies has entered into a strategic alliance with the China-based eBaoTech Corporation, a provider of software and services for life and general insurance industry.

Under the agreement, HCL would work with eBaoTech to identify fitment of eBaoTech's products in select geographies, HCL said in a statement.

Moreover, the companies together expect to help insurance carriers and intermediaries adopt IT solutions that would allow them to gain better process efficiencies in a cost effective manner, it added.

"We look forward to working with HCL to create significant and tangible value for insurance industry to become much faster, better, most cost efficient, and more scalable," eBaoTech CEO Woody Mo said.

Premkumar S, Corporate Officer, (Global Business Sponsor - Financial Services) HCL Technologies, said, "We are very excited about our partnership with eBaoTech as part of our product partnerships portfolio and see a lot of potential across major focus markets. As one of the leading end-to-end specialist insurance solution providers in the industry, HCL is equipped to fulfill the industry requirements by combining with eBaoTech's insurance system software capabilities."

IBM to offer IT education tourism in India

IBM today announced the launch of an education programme that it said would enable IT professionals and students to come to India and receive IBM certified training here.

To avail of this offer, an individual needs to register for a course from the IBM Power and IBM System Storage Curriculum, the company said in a statement.

All visa formalities, tickets and accommodation requirements are arranged and facilitated by an IBM training partner, it said.

The IT education tourism programme, slated to start next month, is a unique initiative where IBM has partnered with Stratom IT Solutions, India to introduce IT education tourism as a package for global students and IT professionals.

IBM plans to target around 300 participants in India for a minimum of 30 days this year.

As part of the programme, IBM would offer a comprehensive portfolio of technical training and education services for systems designed for individuals, companies and public organisations to acquire, maintain, and optimise their IT skills, the statement added.

Intelligroup eyes buyouts in US, India for $18mn

US-based Intelligroup Inc, a provider of strategic IT consulting, application management, support and implementation services with its global delivery centres in Hyderabad and Bangalore, is pursuing acquisitions in the US and India, which have the right set of competencies in the business intelligence (BI), infrastructure management and testing space.

“We are in talks with a couple of companies in the US and India – the markets where is are strong in – which would complement our enterprise resource planning (ERP) offerings. As on March 31, 2009, we have cash and cash equivalents to the tune of $18 million (approximately Rs 88.2 crore), which we intend to utilise to fund the buyouts,” Intelligroup’s president and chief executive officer, Vikram Gulati, told Business Standard, while declining to draw any time line for closing the deals.

Intelligroup had, in 2007, acquired IGS Novasoft, a UK-based company, which had a good SAP implementation methodology, for $3 million (Rs 14.7 crore).

Stating that the company would stay focused on life sciences, consumer products, discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing and insurance verticals, Gulati said they were also looking at tapping the renewable energy space. “The US government’s plans to earmark a $15-billion spend every year for renewables hold maximum promise for us. We are still awaiting that money to start trickling down,” he added.

Intelligroup currently has six US clients in the renewable energy space – including Ausra, which develops and deploys utility-scale solar technologies to serve global electricity, SumPower that manufactures high-efficiency solar power solutions for residential, commercial and power plant applications, and solar technology company Miasole – together contributing about 5 per cent to its overall revenues

The US market, Gulati said, at present contributes 75 per cent, while Europe and India account for 10 per cent and 5 per cent respectively and the rest flowing in from other geographies like Japan. “We clearly want to derisk the US. Europe will grow faster this year,” he added.

Intelligroup, which follows a January-to-December financial year, reported a 19.7 per cent decrease in its revenues to $30.9 million (around Rs 151.41crore) for the first quarter of 2009, as compared to $38.5 million (Rs 188.65 crore) in Q1 of 2008. “Though it is clear that the full year 2009 will be a challenging period with revenue levels below those in 2008, we are on track to improve our operational efficiency and reduce costs to best manage our margins,” Gulati said.
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Active client base of IT firms shrinks

Top Indian IT firms saw their active client base erode in the April-June period, on the back of project rampdowns and vendor consolidations.

In the case of Infosys, the number of active clients came down to 569, down sequentially by 10. Wipro’s active client base fell to 830 from 863 and that of TCS was down by 52 to 933. According to Infosys COO, S D Shibulal, the company added 27 new clients in the first quarter, even though the total client base came down. “Some clients will not figure in the list, if the business carried out with them is below a certain threshold limit,” he said.

During the quarter, project rampdowns saw contribution by Infosys’ top client by revenue, BT, come down below the $300 million mark. Top five clients accounted for 16.3 per cent of total revenues, dipping sequentially from 17.2 per cent. “In some quarters, revenue contribution from top 10 will be higher than in other quarters. This is not a secular trend, but is more situational. We are very focused on getting new clients and will continue this focus. There might be some additional work we have to do since the business environment is challenging,” said Shibulal.

For Wipro, the top five customers accounted for 11.4 per cent, up from 10.8 per cent in previous quarter. The number of new customers went up from 20 to 26, but down 31 from the first quarter of the previous financial year.
Wipro CFO Suresh Senapaty said that the company had not lost any customers, but some of them had fallen below the threshold of $150,000 per quarter in revenue run-rate and hence were not counted. Joint CEO Suresh Vaswani said that because of the focus being given to customers, many of them are becoming high value clients and are moving up into higher bands or giving larger revenue.

Jens Butler from analyst firm Ovum in his bulletin said this about TCS: “Maybe of bigger concern is the fact that only 26 new clients (and only 0.7 per cent of new revenue contributions, down from 6.9 per cent) have been added during the quarter (with contributions of less than $5 million), alongside a fall in its active client count to 933 from 985. This may be due to a focus on client retention in turbulent times, or possibly underinvestment in sales resources, or TCS’ unwillingness to enter into pricing wars. The likelihood is a combination of all three.”

Rajeev Mehta, IT analyst at India Infoline, said that too much should not be read into top IT firms losing out on active clients. “The recessionary pressures are still on, and this kind of thing could happen. Also, revenues from some top clients drop during a quarter and lose their ‘active client’ tag,” he said. “This will pass.”
Source: FinancialChronicle

IT firms speed up patent filing

Stepping up efforts to commercialise their intellectual property (IP), Indian IT services firms have accelerated their patent filing process. The top three firms — TCS, Infosys and Wipro — filed together over 150 patent applications in fiscal 2009.

Such a move is an important part of their non-linear growth strategy, where the companies are trying to de-link their revenue growth from the number of people added. This is expected to improve their profitability in a changing business environment.

Patent figures
While Infosys led rivals TCS and Wipro in terms of filing the highest number of patents in fiscal 2009, TCS was granted the most during the year. TCS filed for 58 patents in fiscal 2009 and was granted five — three in India and two in the US. Infosys filed for some 80 patent applications in the US and India and was granted two by the US Patents and Trademark Office. Wipro filed for 13 patents and granted one during the year.

“We have defined an IP strategy with a view to building an effective portfolio and plan to monetise going forward,” said Mr Ananth Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer, TCS. Despite setting up its first software R&D centre way back in 1981, TCS filed for its first set of IPs only in the early part of this decade.

However, with an IP strategy in place, TCS has stepped up its efforts. “We filed for more than 30 patents in the June quarter and currently have some 200 patent applications pending in various jurisdictions,” Mr Krishnan said. TCS managed to save $26 million (Rs 125 crore) through its R&D efforts in fiscal 2009.

Infosys has an aggregate of 200 patent applications pending in India and the US. “As part of our new engagement model, the focus has changed to commercialising the IP from merely developing it,” Infosys COO, Mr S. D. Shibulal, told Business Line recently.

The changed economic conditions, where customers have slashed their technology spending drastically, have forced even the smaller IT services firms such as KPIT Cummins to look at patenting their IPs.

“For the first time, we filed for eight patent applications in fiscal 2009,” said Mr Girish Wardadkar, President and ED, KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd. The company is looking to commercialise its IPs and leverage its knowledge assets, Mr Wardadkar said.

HCL Infosytems takes up project to disperse NREGA wages in UP

HCL Infosystems on Monday said it has undertaken a project with the Uttar Pradesh government to facilitate disbursement of wages to workers under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) project.

As per the project, HCL Infosystems would implement technology for issuing e-job cards to workers in Sitapur district of UP.

"We are sure that using technology will further facilitate on-ground implementation of NREGA and the benefits of this initiative will reach the right individuals and thereby multiply its impact on the society," HCL Infosystems Executive vice-president George Paul said in a release.

As part of the phase one of the project, 1,000 e-job cards would be issued, it said.

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