Monday, August 31, 2009


Nasscom proposes new service visa to replace H-1B

The country’s software industry body Nasscom has proposed a new category of service visas for the US to replace the controversial H-1B visa. The service visa will enable companies to send their employees to the US on work for a certain period and will not lead to immigration or permanent residency.

Nasscom has initiated dialogue with key Congressmen and industry groups, such as TechAmerica, Compete America and the US India Business Council, for the proposed change in visa. It is also encouraging a more comprehensive debate on the issue of immigration abuse rather than limiting it only to H-1B or L1 visas.

“We do not wish to encourage the abuse of visas for immigration. Our objective is to get the work done and bring back our people. There are 11,000-12,000 Indians who go to the US for work and their average stay is less than two years,” said Som Mittal, president, Nasscom. He said the service visa, along the lines of the work permit that Europe currently has for overseas workers, would help address the concerns of visa abuse.

In April this year, US senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durban proposed a legislation to limit both H-1B and L1 visas and force firms with over 50% of their staff as H-1B and L-1 visa holders to hire US locals, sending alarm bells through the Indian IT industry. Nassscom’s move, if successful, will protect the interests of the Indian IT industry by allowing them to continue sending their employees to the US on service visas for the duration of the work. “There is a need to differentiate between matters of trade and immigration,” said Mr Mittal.

“The service visa will enable US companies to avail the best of Indian talent without worrying about immigration issues. It will not have residency or permanent citizenship implications,” said Ganesh Natarajan, vice-chairman, Zensar Technologies.

Technology firms, both Indian and multinational, are one of the largest users of H1-B visas. In the past few years, there have many unsuccessful attempts to restrict the use of H1-B visas through legislations that have proposed a cap on the number of visas that can be issued.

According to industry estimates, there are about 12,000 employees from Indian IT firms and 10,000 from American IT firms that go to the US annually on these visas.

This year, however, because of the slowdown and reduced demand for technology services, only around 45,000 H-1B visas have been issued compared to the total available 65,000 H-1B visas. “Usually, the entire H-1B quota is filled up in a matter of days. This year, there are only four months to go and the quota is still not filled,” said a senior IT industry executive.
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Wipro, HCL engineers commit suicide

In the last one week two young IT engineers, one was working with Wipro and another with HCL, committed suicide. Both the engineers died by jumping from their office building.

Wipro engineer, Vishal Yadav (29), had a BE in electronics and hailed from Madhya Pradesh. Since May 17, 2004, he was working with Wipro as a Business Analyst and had gone on leave for two months. Interestingly, he had put in his papers via e-mail and was supposed to be relieved of his duties on August 31.

At around 10:20 pm on Wednesday, Vishal jumped from the top floor of S-II building of Wipro that has 12 storeys. When security supervisors heard a loud thud, they rushed to the spot and found Vishal down with blood around his body. They took him to the hospital, but it was in vain as doctor declared him brought dead. Doctor said, "With multiple head, spinal and thigh fractures, he might have collapsed within minutes after the fall."

HCL (Hindustan Computers Limited) engineer, Vikas Kumar Sharma (26), hailed from Munger district in Bihar. Since January 01, 2009, he was working with HCL as a Senior Network Analyst. He was living with a cousin in Delhi's Katwaria Sarai area. Though he was on a official off on Wednesday (August 19), he decided to report for the duty. The company cab had brought Vikas to the office around 4.30 am. Around 5.50 am Vikas jumped from the 5th floor of the office building. He was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.

In both the cases, Police have been trying to find the reason of the death as they could not find any suicide note or any threat related information till now. In the case of Vishal, police framed eight questions and sent them to the human resources department of Wipro, but even after 24 hours, they were unable to get any personal details of the dead man. However, an HR executive of Wipro said, "We have been directed not to reveal any information or photograph of the employee. It is just that he had quit the job and was serving the notice period."

A police officer said, "We are not ruling out murder. There are lots of unanswered questions and it is for Wipro to clear the doubts."

In the case of Vikas, Noida's Superintendent of Police (City) Ashok Tripathi said, "The company's officials did not inform the police about the incident. Authorities at Max Hospital, where the victim was taken to, informed us."

In 2009, two suicide news of big IT companies' employees came in limelight. There are many engineers who are being harassed and forced to resign from the company. Last week, one of the former Wipro employees had informed media of the way he was sacked from the company.
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TechM, Wipro, IBM vie for $400-m Loop Tele deal

LOOP Telecom, where the Essar Group has a stake, has shortlisted Tech Mahindra, Wipro and IBM for an IT outsourcing contract worth around $400 million. The contract is believed to be spread across a period of 10 years and will not include Loop Mobile’s operations, said two industry officials familiar with the deal. Loop Mobile provides cellular services in Mumbai, while operations in the rest of the country is under Loop Telecom.

The outsourcing contract is for the telco’s system integration and maintenance of IT systems across 22 cellular circles. This deal does not include BPO services since most of the back-end operations are done by Essar Group’s Aegis BPO. Loop Telecom has recently launched its services, selectively in Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Kerala and Karnataka.

A Wipro spokesperson said the company was in talks with a few telcos and would not comment on specific engagements, while Tech Mahindra and IBM declined comment on the deal.

A Loop Telecom spokesperson said, “We are constantly exploring ways to enhance our business model, launch plans and operational decisions and regularly engage in dialogue with vendors to help us build a compelling proposition. Nothing has been finalised in terms of partners or the contract amount. An announcement on our IT contract will be made as and when it gets firmed up.”

Loop Telecom is believed to be exploring an operating expenditure (opex) model, under which the shortlisted players can take Loop Telecom’s IT assets on its books. “They could either rent or lease the assets back to the client,” said a person familiar with the deal. This model of outsourcing is considered more cost-effective for companies. The telecom company has already outsourced its network infrastructure to China’s ZTE and Huawei Technologies.

Loop Mobile, earlier known as BPL Mobile, has a subscriber base of 2.4 million in the Mumbai circle, for which it already has an in-house team of IT professionals.

“The request for proposal (RFP) did not mention providing IT services to Loop Mobile, but to other 22 circles. While the company has had a soft launch in four circles, it will scale it up after finalising on the IT vendor,” said
another official familiar with the contract.

The domestic market has been the focus of many IT service providers after a decline in exports from the US and Europe, apart from a host of new companies launching mobile services in India. These new entrants have kept the order book running for IT companies. Earlier, Wipro had bagged a full IT outsourcing project from Unitech Wireless worth approximately Rs 2,500 crore over a nine-year period.

Big multinationals dumping excess vendor baggage

A slew of big multinationals, including the world’s largest telecom operator, Verizon, and capital equipment maker Applied Materials, are going the British Petroleum (BP) way of pruning the number of technology vendors to cut costs as they look for ways to come out of the worst recession in years.

Verizon, Chevron, Applied Materials, Best Buy, Cardinal Health, Home Depot and many other companies that do business with at least 40 IT vendors are set to prune their vendor list drastically, say consultants and analysts.

Early this week, BP cut the number of its vendors from 40 to five, in a move that will help it save $500 million. As many as 60 Fortune 100 companies are expected to follow suit, an analyst said. “The next 12 months will see a fair number of deals triggered by vendor consolidation,” said Partha Iyengar, research director at research and advisory firm Gartner India.

Applied Materials, one of the largest suppliers of semiconductor and display manufacturing equipment, has identified opportunities for vendor consolidation in data centre co-location and telecom services, the $9-billion firm’s group vice-president and CIO Ron Kifer said. The US firm’s large vendors include IBM, TCS and Wipro.

TCS says it’s in discussion with at least three customers looking to consolidate vendors. “These are Fortune 500 companies in the retail and banking & financial services space,” said S Ramadorai, the CEO of the country’s largest software services company.

A Fortune 500 bank is evaluating options to reduce its infrastructure management and data centre partners from 10 to two, while one of the world’s top five retailers is looking at reducing its technology vendors from around 80 to 25-30, a person aware of the development told ET, but declined to give details.

A Fortune 50 drugmaker, which presently has about 100 vendors doing tasks like data mining, drug distribution and supply chain management, wants to reduce its vendor list by at least 60%, another person said, requesting anonymity.

The move will help these firms get into more strategic relationships with vendors, get better pricing by increasing volume of work to technology suppliers, reduce governance overheads and cut costs by 12-15%.

According to Chandramouli CS, director, advisory services, of technology consultancy Zinnov Management Consulting, a $10-billion plus company will have multiple vendors at offshore, onshore and near-shore locations. As the number of vendors increase, compliance and management is a huge task and costs escalate. “Restructuring initiatives like vendor consolidation makes them more agile,” he said.

Also, too many relationships reduce buying power and increases risks. For instance, banks, which have to ensure there is no data theft, will reduce risks when they cut the number of vendors managing customer information. Similarly, for companies engaged in healthcare, having only a handful of vendors makes it easier to manage relationships and tackle leaks, if any, in the system promptly.

Companies doing R&D remotely also try to limit the number of third-party vendors to protect intellectual property and any infringements of patents. For instance, Microsoft, which files for a few hundred patents every year, just has one global vendor, CPA Global, to do the patent filing.

“Clients who think they have too many vendors are consolidating. It helps to reduce risks and manage costs better,’’ said V Balakrishnan, CFO of India’s second-largest IT exporter Infosys Technologies.

The development spells big gains for large IT services players. R Chandrasekaran, president and MD for global delivery at software firm Cognizant, said deep domain expertise, broader range of services and expanded geographic footprint help large companies to score in vendor consolidation moves.

But life will become much more difficult for smaller companies. “The smaller players aren’t able to match the pricing offered by the big vendors. It’s tough for the small services companies,” said Avinash Vashishta, CEO of Bangalore-based advisory firm Tholons.

Already hit by the global recession, small vendors may now become easy acquisition targets for the bigger ones. To survive, the obvious lesson for them is to develop expertise in niche fields. As being lean in tough times becomes the norm, it will be the fat boys of offshoring who will gain.

Premji re-appointed Wipro Chairman

Software major Wipro said its current Chairman and Managing Director Azim Premji has been re-appointed for the post for a further two-year period till July 2011.

The shareholders of the company have given their approval for the re-appointment of Azim Premji as Chairman and Managing Director until July 30, 2011, Wipro said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

His re-appointment would be effective from July 31, 2009, it further said.

Nokia may enter Indian PC market

Seeking to diversify its businesses, Nokia's planned foray into the highly competitive personal computer segment, promises to provide the Finnish mobile phone maker with good growth opportunities in emerging markets including India.

The company is all set to test the waters with the mini-laptop 'Nokia Booklet 3G'. "Nokia's strategy is to enter the PC market at the entry level, with seriousness and aggressiveness...It has good growth avenues for the company especially in markets like India where the desirability of computers is expected to increase in the days to come," Gartner Principal Analyst (Client Computing) Diptarup Chakraborti told PTI.

According to Chakraborti, there is much relevance for consumer PC in the Indian market and there would be lot many new buyers in the future.
He added that the entity has strong partners and brand equity in the mobile phone business.

The Windows-based mini-laptop would weigh 1.25 kilogram and has a battery life of up to 12 hours. "A growing number of people want the computing power of a PC with the full benefits of mobility," Nokia Executive Vice President Devices Kai Oistamo said last week while announcing the plan for the mini-laptop.

Slow US recovery to hit IT firms

Analysts see problem continuing as over 60% of revenue comes from North America
The sluggish demand from the US market will continue to hurt the business prospects of Indian IT outsourcing services providers even as the industry expects to see stability in the overall business environment in the second quarter of financial year 2010.

The delay in recovery of US economy, according to analysts and companies, will eat into the top- and bottom-lines of most Indian IT firms, even as they see a surge in demand from some European countries, including the UK and France, along with emerging geographies like Australia and West Asia. The reason is simple — most of the Indian IT services firms derive over 60 per cent of their revenues from the North Americas, including the US.

“There is no doubt that there is some comfort building in the environment. We are seeing some demand from emerging markets and Europe, but it is small in terms of overall exposure. The US has to recover for the world to stabilise, and growth in the US will happen only when consumers start spending there,” explains V Balakrishnan, CFO of India’s second-largest IT firm Infosys Technologies.

Amid the global financial uncertainties in the first quarter of the financial year 2009-10, Indian companies showed some resilience by posting almost flat to slightly negative growth in their top-lines. One of the real concerns for the industry was, however, the decline in volumes.

Even though, India’s largest IT services provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), showed a volume growth of about 3.5 per cent, the volume for Infosys and Wipro declined by about 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively. Thus reflecting the state of the affairs in the supply environment.

In the current quarter, while most of the companies are seeing a much better demand than the previous quarter, they are still maintaining a cautious approach owing to the US market, which is yet to come out of the downturn.

“We are not in a downturn now, even though we are not in a recovery phase. We have now come to a stable phase. The recovery will be late by the US market, and we will have to wait and see when this happens,” says S Mahalingam, chief financial officer of TCS.

The silver lining to the cloud is that some of the deals announced recently, including the estimated $1.5-billion BP outsourcing contract to three Indian IT vendors, reveal that clients are now opening up their purse strings to accommodate discretionary spending. In the current environment, according to analysts, clients may be ready to spend as many of them may want to exhaust their existing IT budgets before the year ends. The second reason is that they may be perceiving a better outlook for the overall economy.

“New projects or new business spending by companies had increased in the July-August-September quarter, which will definitely have a positive impact. But there’s no correlation as yet whether this will result in better margins and higher revenue,” cautions Sabyasachi Satpathy, partner, Tholons Advisory.

“The worst is getting over and we are currently moving from a stable to positive territory even though we are maintaining a cautious approach. Our funnel has gone up from the end of the first quarter to now,” says Suresh Senapaty, chief financial officer of Wipro Ltd. Wipro had given a cautious revenue guidance of 0.2 to 2 per cent for the second quarter of the current fiscal.

Outsourcing and offshoring are very critical for companies to become more operationally efficient and agile. But when recovery happens and the economy bounces back, the year-on-year growth rates of 30-40 per cent which IT firms enjoyed will be a thing of the past, since the base is very high.

“It might be around 20 per cent or so,” concludes Mahalingam of TCS.
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Mahindra Satyam says it's chasing 30 large deals

Information technology services provider Mahindra Satyam is pursuing around 30 “large deals” and expects some of these to materialise during the current financial year, according to a senior official of the company.

“We are vigorously pursuing 20 to 30 large deals in the life sciences, public services, transportation and engineering domains, which are showing a lot of positive business momentum. We expect to close some of them to our advantage by this fiscal end,” the official told Business Standard, while declining to share the size of the deals.

A large deal, in normal IT parlance, is anywhere between $50 million (around Rs 245 crore) and $100 million (Rs 490 crore).

The scam-hit company, now logging on to the recovery path after Tech Mahindra acquired a controlling stake in it in April, has been seeing increasing business stability since then, winning over 30 new logos (customer wins), including the five-year SAP contract with global pharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline, the official added.

“The company has been witnessing high traction of business from emerging markets like India, Europe, Middle East and Asia (MEA) and the Asia Pacific. These new geographies are now accounting for close to 55 per cent of our business, while the contribution from the US is hovering around 45 per cent, a positive trend which is slowly beginning to grow and drive our revenues further,” he said.

On the company’s business processing outsourcing (BPO) arm’s recent major client win in Tata Docomo for providing back-office support, he said the company had already hired 1,000 professionals for its client. “Mahindra Satyam BPO will be adding 300 people every year over the next five years to service this telecom client,” the official added.

Mahindra Satyam, which had in June announced a one-time virtual pool programme aimed at addressing idle staff costs while retaining talent, had so far recalled 1,000 employees. “We will be calling back some more,” he added.

Mahindra Satyam stock ended the trade at Rs 113.85 on the BSE on Friday, down 0.52 per cent against the previous close of Rs 114.45.

TCS sees $30-100 mn BP deal revenue

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said it expects to get $30 million-100 million revenue on an annualised basis over the next three-five years from its recently won deal with BP.

Talking about the potential of the deal TCS Chief Executive Ramadorai said, "It could be anywhere around $30-100 million in the next three-five years."

To a query on when would revenue from the contract start flowing, he said, "I think it will start by the third quarter, in a small way but more importantly by next year."

TCS was one of the outsourcing firms that won five-year IT contracts from oil and gas major BP earlier this week. TCS had been selected for engagements in refining, manufacturing and corporate IT with opportunities across fuel value chain including upstream and trading.

Sun Micro posts $147 mn loss

Sun Microsystems Inc recorded a $147 million loss while sales eroded 31 per cent in the April-June period, likely the server and software maker's last full quarter as an independent company.

In April Oracle Corp outbid IBM Corp and agreed to buy Sun in a $7.4 billion deal. It is scheduled to be completed this summer, and still needs approval from European antitrust regulators, which could come any day now.

The deal will give Oracle more control over development of the Java programming language, which Sun invented and is a key ingredient of the Internet. It also moves Redwood Shores-based Oracle, a business software maker, into the hardware market. Sun is one of the world's biggest sellers of computer servers, which power Web sites and corporate back offices.

Sun said after the market closed that it lost $147 million, or 20 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30, which is Sun's fiscal fourth quarter. That compares with a profit of $88 million, or 11 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding employee stock-based compensation and other expenses, Sun said its loss would have been 3 cents per share. Sales in the latest period fell to $2.63 billion from $3.78 billion last year.

Revenue from server sales fell 36 per cent over last year to $1.1 billion. Revenue from support services fell 15 per cent to $886 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a loss of 19 cents per share and sales of $2.37 billion. For the full fiscal year, Sun lost $2.23 billion, versus a $403 million profit last year.

The latest results mean that Sun has lost $5.6 billion since 2002. It had only two profitable years -- 2007 and 2008 -- in that period.

TCS eyes $1 bn revenue from domestic mkt

Country's top software exporter Tata Consultancy Services said that it aims to double its revenues from the Indian market to $1 billion in the next 3-4 years.

"India has been one of the important markets. We are looking at whether in next 3-4 years we can double our revenue to billion dollars in the Indian market," TCS CEO S Ramadorai said.

At present, the domestic market contributes 10 per cent to the total revenue.

"Every mission mode project (government) that would come on the radar, we will certainly bid for them. TCS is in talks for 3-4 such mission mode projects as of now," Ramadorai said.

"When we look at the domestic market we look at three pillars -- large enterprises, governments - both the central and state governments -- and the third is the small and medium businesses which are part of our overall growth," he added.

Of the three, he expects the large enterprises to contribute more than the other two, followed by the government and the SMB sector.

Free the H-1Bs, Free the Economy

This is a guest post by Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur turned academic. He is a Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley, Senior Research Associate at Harvard Law School and Executive in Residence at Duke University. Follow him on Twitter at @vwadhwa.
Originally posted on TheWashingtonPost

I have a suggestion for our President on how to boost economic growth without spending a penny: Free the H-1B's.

More than a million doctors, engineers, scientists, researchers, and other skilled workers and their families in the U.S. are stuck in ?immigration limbo." They entered the country legally and have contributed disproportionately to our nation?s competitiveness. They paid our high taxes and have been model citizens. All they want to do is to share the American dream and help us grow our economy.

They could be starting companies, buying houses, building community centers, and splurging like Americans. But because we don?t have enough permanent-resident visas (green cards) for them, they?re stuck in the same old jobs they had maybe a decade ago when they entered this country. They are getting really frustrated and many are returning to their home countries to become unwilling competitors. And they are taking our economic recovery with them.

Xenophobes will claim that immigrants take jobs away and blame them for everything that is wrong in their lives and in America. But as TechCrunch wrote last week, skilled immigrants create more jobs than they take away. That is a fact. My research team documented that one quarter of all technology and engineering startups nationwide from 1995 to 2005 were started by immigrants. In Boston, it was 31%, in New York, 44%, and in Silicon Valley an astonishing 52%. In 2005, these immigrant founded companies employed 450,000 workers. Add it up. That?s far more than all the tech workers we gave green cards to in that period.

It?s not only jobs that they've created. In 2006, more than 25% of U.S. global patents had authors who were born abroad ¿ and this doesn?t even count people like me, who came here, became citizens, and then filed multiple patents. Of Qualcomm?s global patents, 72% had foreign-born authors, as did 65% of Merck?s, 64% of GE?s, and 60% of Cisco?s. I?m not talking about silly patents filed with the U.S. Patent Office here, I?m talking about WIPO PCT applications ¿ the patents that help our companies compete globally.

Why does Silicon Valley need a foreign-born workforce? Because these immigrants are able come to a foreign land where they face hardship and discrimination and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world?s best technical minds and most successful entrepreneurs. They are able motivate Silicon Valley?s top guns to work even harder and think smarter. They add a global perspective and enrich America.

The largest immigrant founding groups are Indian, British, and Chinese. Indian-born immigrants, for example, founded 6.7% of America?s tech companies and 15.5% of those in Silicon Valley ¿ but, according to the U.S. census, constitute way less than 1% of the U.S. population. So do the Chinese, but they contribute to 16.8% of our global patents. It doesn?t take a statistician to figure that these are pretty impressive numbers.

Yes, I know that H-1B?s don?t start companies. And that is the problem. We don't let them.

Hundreds of thousands of mostly very smart and highly educated workers who could be starting companies are not. While they wait for their green cards, they can?t even change jobs or accept a promotion, for fear of losing their turn in line. If they lose their job, they have to find another job within 30 days ¿ or get booted out of the country. Their employers know that these workers aren?t going anywhere, so they can go easy on the salary increases and bonuses. Some unscrupulous employers do take advantage of them. And their spouses usually can?t work, and in some states can?t even get drivers licenses, because they don?t have social-security numbers. Does this sound like America?

Unlike the daunting economic problems facing the country, this problem is easy to fix. Just increase the number of green cards for skilled workers. Maybe let them cut the line if they buy a house or start a company that employs a bunch of Americans. My guess is that we?ll get tens of thousands of startups and a couple of hundred thousand houses sold. That is a bigger economic boost than the clunkers program we've just thrown $2 billion dollars at.

Friday, August 28, 2009

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Wipro, Lavasa tie-up for ICT may result in $100 mn revenue

IT services provider Wipro has tied up with Lavasa Corp for planning, implementing and managing ICT services across Lavasa hill city, which could result in revenues of up to $100 million over the next 10 years.

The strategic partnership (on Information & Communication Technology) will focus on providing integrated and effective solutions for enhancing IT operations within the Hill city, a press release said.

“It will also provide the necessary infrastructure support including technology selection, supply, installation and management of platforms, networks and data centre. The estimated revenues out of this partnership from Lavasa city’s first town Dasve is about $100 million over the next 10 years,” it added.

Lavasa, spread over 12,500 acres, is a hill city complete with education, hospitality and health care services currently being developed by Hindustan Construction Company.

Wipro will design the detailed infrastructure for telecom services for governance.

It will also provide telecom-based services to facilitate smart homes, provide physical security requirements and other on-demand services.

The ICT services include voice-video-data services to various businesses operating in the hill city.
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US job mkt in recovery mode; employers plan to hire in a year: Survey

The employment dynamics in the United States are finally changing and for good more than half of the country's employers are planning to hire in the next 12 months, a survey has said.

Technology, customer services and sales are the top three areas which have a bullish perspective in these tough times as employers in this segment would be the first ones to add jobs once the economy recovers.

According to the survey by Robert Half International and CareerBuilder, around 53 per cent of employers surveyed expect to hire full-time employees over the next 12 months, while 40 per cent would hire contract, temporary or project professionals and 39 per cent would add part-time employees.

"Companies already are identifying the key skill sets they will need in new hires to take advantage of the opportunities presented by improving economic conditions.

"Firms that cut staffing levels too deeply may need to do significant rebuilding once the recovery takes hold," Robert Half International Chairman and CEO Max Messmer said.

When the pace of hiring begins to accelerate, entry- and staff-level workers can expect to benefit the most in terms of new opportunities.

The survey said that 32 per cent of hiring managers plan to hire staff-level professionals, while 28 per cent would hire entry-level workers.
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H1-B restriction: Silicon Valley to be hurt

Several bright minds outside America take that flight to the U.S. seeking better opportunities in places like Silicon Valley, which is often described as the Mecca for entrepreneurs. However, with the hue and cry surrounding the H-1B visas the flow of immigrants into U.S. may get affected, which may also diminish the tech prowess of the most technologically advanced nation in the world.

There was at least one immigrant founder in 25 percent of all engineering and technology companies established in the U.S. between 1995 and 2005, reveals a study by a group of Professors in Duke University and the University of California. These entities generated over $52 billion in 2005 sales, while creating over 450,000 jobs as of 2005. With these contributions by the immigrants in the U.S., any impediments in the issuance H1-B visa can have a huge impact on the American economy.

The U.S. administration under George W Bush had been pushing for immigration reforms, which failed to take shape last year. There are roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and the reforms are aimed at making a way for some of these immigrants to stay in the country legally. Now that Barack Obama has taken charge in the White House, are these reforms on his priority list?

Recently, Obama assured the pro-immigrant activists that the immigration reforms would not lose its importance over the health-care reform and the energy legislation. The President is likely to endorse the views of Senator Charles Schumer, Chairman of the Senate's Immigration Subcommittee, who has said that he will introduce new reform legislation this autumn.

However, there are some challenges that Schumer and team faces in order to make the legislation a reality. Senators Richard Durbin and Charles Grassley are sponsors of a bill to stop the alleged abuse of H-1B visas, which allow companies to employ workers from overseas for limited stays. They have introduced a legislation to restrict the number of H1-B visas to be issued, which was bombarded with criticisms outside U.S. These visas are popular among technology companies like Microsoft, Infosys and Wipro, which bring some of the brightest minds from around the world to work in the U.S.

The current situation can make U.S. less attractive to immigrants, who may eventually contribute to the country's growth. Take the examples of Vikram Pandit, Indra Nooyi or Sanjay Jha, who took that flight to the U.S. and have made it big by heading some of the largest companies on the planet.

Commentators like CNN's Lou Dobbs have often highlighted about a huge reverse brain drain in the U.S. - which has been his dream - that is closer to reality. Immigrants, who have received their education and work experience in U.S., are packing their bags to go back to their homeland. In addition, there is also a decline in the number of foreign students seeking admissions in the U.S. universities, for the first time in five years.

According to the latest report by the Council of Graduate Schools, the average decline in the admissions from students outside U.S. is three percent. The highest decline is seen from countries in Asia with India leading the pack with a 12 percent decline.
Originally posted on siliconindia.
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Indian outsourcing majors in talks for $1 billion Exxon deal: report

ExxonMobil is in talks with Indian technology firms including L&T Infotech and HCL Technologies Ltd. and multinational vendors to outsource IT contracts worth up to $1 billion, the Economic Times reported on its Web site Friday, citing a U.S.-based person familiar with ExxonMobil's outsourcing strategy.

"The discussions are at an early stage. However, ExxonMobil wants to work with fewer, large and medium-sized vendors at lower rates," the Web site quoted the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying.

Switzerland has world's best wages; Mumbai has lowest: Study

It pays to work in Switzerland: employees in Zurich and Geneva have the highest net wages in the world, a study by banking group UBS shows, while those in Mumbai take home the lowest.

The Swiss cities were also ranked among the top five most expensive in the world in the bank's 2009 "Price and Earnings" international study.

"With its extremely high gross wages and comparatively low tax rates, Switzerland is a very employee-friendly country," the Swiss bank said in a statement.

"No other city allows workers to take home more income at the end of the month than Zurich and Geneva."

The study, published every three years, compares the income and purchasing power of employees in 73 cities across the globe, highlighting wide discrepancies in wages between different regions, and even within the same country.

The biggest gaps were found in Asia, the study said, with Tokyo ranking as one of the world's five costliest cities while the capitals of developing countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines and India were all at the bottom of the price range.

Oslo was this year's most expensive city, based on a standardised basket of 122 goods and services, followed by Zurich, Copenhagen, Geneva, Tokyo and New York.

When rents are factored in, however, New York rises to the top spot, the study said.

This year, the bank said currency fluctuations caused by the global economic crisis affected the rankings of several cities, most notably London, which was the second most expensive city in 2006, but which fell nearly 20 places following the pound's drop earlier this year.

The analysis involved more than 30,000 data points, collected by several independent observers in each city, in March and April, the bank said. All amounts were converted into a single currency before being compared.

The world's cheapest places to live were Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur, Manila in the Philippines, and Delhi and Mumbai.

But the average employee in many of these cities, as well as Jakarta and Nairobi, gets paid some of the world's lowest salaries which have between 11 percent and 15 percent of the purchasing power of a salary in Zurich.

"An average wage-earner in Zurich and New York can buy an iPod nano from an Apple store after nine hours of work. At the other end of the spectrum, workers in Mumbai need to work 20 nine-hour days, roughly the equivalent of one month's salary," the study said.

Working hours also varied in the cities surveyed, with the study finding that on average, people in Asian and Middle Eastern cities work much more than the global average of 1,902 hours per year. Overall, the most hours are worked in Cairo, followed by Seoul, while the least hours worked were in Lyon and Paris.

Tech companies adopt baby-friendly policies

Bringing home your adopted bundle of joy got a lot more joyous with many Indian firms beginning to offer paternity leave, in addition to maternity leave. The central government had recently increased child adoption leave from 135 days to 180 days and extended the facility to adoptive fathers.

Many tech firms are now treating adopted babies on a par with biological children. Therefore, employees — men and women — are given paid leave for not only childbirth and initial care of biological but also adopted children. This marks a huge leap in HR practices of India Inc. as till recently child bearing/ raising leave was given only to women employees, that too only for biological children. Men had to take leave or forgo their salary if they wanted to be with their wives for either of these events. However, there are wide variations in this practice too, from very generous to rather stingy.

Taking the lead in setting the trend is the country’s largest tech player, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The company gives 3 months paid maternity/ paternity leave for employees for biological and adopted children. TCS, vice-president, (global HR), Ritu Anand says, ‘‘In addition to regular 3-month maternity leave for women, we offer an equal period of paid adoption leave for employees, irrespective of gender. The adoption leave policy was initially put in place for women in early 2005 and later extended to male employees as well after we saw a need for it.’’

Wipro is closely following the trend. The company gives one-month paid adoption leave to employees, says Saurabh Govil, senior vice-president (HR), Wipro Technologies.

However, Infosys gives a week-long adoption leave for women employees and none for men while male employees are given a five-day paternity leave for biological children. Infosys says its HR policies on this matter are set by employee feedback. ‘‘Based on employee feedback, we’ll also have a policy for adoption leave,’’ says Nandita Gurjar, group head (HR) Infosys Technologies.

Others like Mahindra Satyam, Perot Systems and Cognizant are seriously considering a policy to accommodate adoption leave. Mahindra Satyam currently offers 90-day paid leave for women for biological children and a lesser period for men.
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Wipro wins Fosters' contract

Wipro, India’s third biggest software exporter, has won a new outsourcing contract estimated to be worth around $100 million from Australia's biggest brewer Fosters.

The contract involves managing and supporting Fosters IT infrastructure, data centres and different business applications across Australia, US and UK.

Having won several large deals including a contract from Origin Energy in Australia’s over $6.5 billion outsourcing market, Wipro continues to increase its footprint in the country.

When contacted by ET on Thursday, a Fosters spokesman confirmed the transaction. A Wipro spokeswoman had not responded to an email query sent by ET on Thursday morning.

"Fosters and Wipro are in discussions regarding global IT infrastructure services, data centre and applications support. The discussions are part of ongoing business efficiency initiatives. Wipro was chosen after a comprehensive tender and offer the capability to service our global operations and deliver significant costs savings with a combination of online, telephone and field staff services," said Troy Hey, Fosters Spokesman.

Fosters is already in the process of shifting members of its internal IT team.

"We are currently discussing transition arrangements with our people. Employees impacted by this approach in Australia, the United States and the UK will be offered alternative roles where available or provided full redundancy payments and career transition support," Mr Hey added.

Meanwhile, Fosters is not planning to outsource any back office and call centre jobs as part of this transaction.

"Discussions are limited to internal Information Technology services and all customer and consumer call centre services remain managed by Fosters teams in Australia, the United States and the UK," Mr Hey added.

At a time when new business is increasingly becoming tough to come by, Australia has emerged as a great opportunity for the outsourcing vendors. Other recent outsourcing contracts awarded by Australian companies include the $1.2 billion deal from Telstra and the over $100-million contract from Origin Energy.

Tata takes oktatabyebye from MakeMyTrip

Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group firms, has won a case at the World Intellectual Property Organisation against the travel portal, MakeMyTrip, which has been using the term 'tata' in one of its website, ''.

Gurgaon-based mmt admin (commonly known as MakeMyTrip) has been using the domain name ''. Tata Sons has contended that it is confusingly similar to its 'Tata' brand and the travel portal runner has no rights or legitimate interests to use it.

In May, Tata Sons had moved the Geneva-based WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center demanding transfer of disputed domain name. The company had argued that the site infringed the right of its registered trademark/service mark 'Tata'.

The WIPO has now ordered the transfer of domain name to Tata Sons.

"The impugned website incorporates the Tata's orporate name and registered trademark in full and it proves that it is identical in part and confusingly similar to its well-known brand in which the company has a statutory right," Tata Sons had said in its complaint.

Replying to the charges, MakeMyTrip had said the usage of the word "tata" as a gesture finds its mention in the origin of a place called Ta Ta Creek as far back as in the year 1860 and denied that the domain in question is confusingly similar to the trade mark 'Tata' of the complainant.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

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India outsourcing workers stressed to the limit

The outsourcing industry has brought jobs and prosperity to India - but, asks Saritha Rai, at what cost to workers' well being?

The cheery, chatty voice at the other end of your customer care helpline may be a stressed-out, sleep-deprived and depressed twenty-something in Bangalore.

As many young people in India's outsourcing industry are beginning to discover, underneath the heady promise of an exciting job, a good paycheck and attractive career prospects lie long spells of night shifts, ruthless targets and the dreadful monotony of writing code or pacifying angry customers.

The outsourcing industry has long been hailed as a key driver to India's rise as a global economic power. Now, that growth is beginning to take its toll on its workers who labour for long hours in stressful work environments to meet tight deadlines for customers thousands of miles away.

Workers are suffering from obesity, sleep disorders, depression and broken relationships - problems which can lead to more serious conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. In a country where a public healthcare system is virtually non-existent, overworked outsourcing employees could present a health crisis in the making.

The troubles have worsened since the start of the global economic downturn last year. Employees are now particularly worried about job security. They watch anxiously as colleagues get axed from their jobs and their own salaries get slashed.

Karuna Baskar, director at, a Bangalore-based counseling firm, says there is a recent rise in the number of workers coming in with mental issues like depression, bi-polar disorder and suicidal tendencies.

Many workers struggle to make the transition from the college campus to the office environment and find they cannot cope with the stress, says Aashu Calapa, executive vice president of human resources for outsourcing firm Firstsource Solutions. The industry loses a slice of its workers solely to work stress, he says.

Ash (not his real name), an employee with a multinational firm's captive outsourced unit in Bangalore, has just been discharged from a week's stay in the hospital. Ironically, he prides himself for being near-religious about eating correctly and getting adequate sleep and exercise.

But in the end, all it took was a schedule that went out-of-whack for a week for him to land up in the hospital with acute gastric problems. The doctors advised him to ease off alcohol and better manage work stress.

Ash, who has worked night shifts during his entire four-year career at the back office firm, believes he got away lightly.

His friends suffer from migraines, backaches, insomnia and anxiety attacks. The causes are a combination of long work hours, disrupted eating and sleeping schedules, a fondness for junk food and deadline pressure, he says.

Many outsourcing workers are in their early 20s, just out of college and in their first jobs, and often feel they are invincible. But partying, shopping and living a reckless life on new found economic freedom soon begin to take their toll.

During the weekends, to relieve a week's pressure at work and to keep up with peers, they often indulge in chain smoking and binge drinking.

Not everybody is tough enough to handle the pressure and the lifestyle. Along with health, the invariable casualty is family and relationships, says Baskar whose confidential counseling service sees a surfeit of 19- to 29-year-olds with issues like loneliness, relationship problems and marriage breakdowns.

Globalization and the outsourcing industry in particular have brought rapid and enormous changes in the culture of India cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. In the homes of outsourcing workers, clashes over the traditional system of arranged marriages and the working woman's domestic role are common.

The industry is concerned, says Firstsource's Calapa. Firstsource provides on-call counselors and quality checks on food served to workers - and is currently considering a proposal to offer workers options for their work hours and workdays.

Other companies are doing their bit too, providing counselors, doctors and nutritionists, as well as gym facilities and medical insurance. However, many young workers simply ignore the help available to them.

Outsourcing worker Ash looks back and rues that he entered the job market so young. He now thinks he would have liked to pursue graduate studies. But now he is in, he feels there is no quick exit from the outsourcing industry and wants to stay healthy and get ahead.
Originally posted on

"We spend over $1 billion on IT...": Dell

Courtesy: indiatimes
Dell, the world’s second-biggest computer maker, is increasingly looking at over 1,200 professionals at its Indian centres to not only support the company’s critical business systems globally, but also to identify and address newer business opportunities. Dell CIO Robin Johnson says that his company drives over one-third of its $500-600 million IT application budget out of India. Dell spends over $1 billion every year on IT. Excerpts.

Q: Has the recession affected your long term IT-led programmes? What has been the impact on your IT budget?

We have seen few recessions in the past, but I do not think anybody has seen anything like this before. The expectation levels about what is growth have been reset. We have also taken a number of cost-saving measures, but for us, this recession is an opportunity. This is a great opportunity for us to rationalise our application base -- we have already reduced the number of applications by a quarter last year, and will carry a similar exercise this year too.

By getting rid of costs, it becomes easier to focus on innovation. We spend over $1 billion on IT and almost half of this is spent on applications. Last year, we took almost 10% out of our IT budget. We will continue to focus on more productivity. During recessions, IT often gets its budget reduced and is asked to do more with less - this is the biggest challenge for any CIO.

Q: How has India contributed to Dell’s IT programmes?

India is at the front and centre of whatever activities we are doing and are planning for the future. One-third of our global IT workforce is here and our teams here have been making significant contributions. For instance, our teams in Bangalore and Hyderabad contributed almost 80-90% of application work in the areas of sales, manufacturing and services.

Last year, the B2B projects saw 100% work being done out of the country. Increasingly, I am looking for knowledge about the marketplace here. I look at India as a thought leader of what products and services we should be delivering -- it’s much beyond labour arbitrage now.

Q: Many enterprises are looking at their technology captives as non-core assets and are selling them off. What are your views on running a captive operation?

These days, we find many discussions around whether captives work or not. I feel differently - this argument about whether to have captives is relevant if you do not have a commercial operation in India. For us, India is a big market and a very important base for our IT operations.

Q: What are the parameters for any new technology investment decision taken by you at Dell?

I start by asking what’s relevant for us as a business, is it a fit and whether the solution will be better and faster than what we have currently.

And, if the answer is neither of the above, then I would like to know if it’s a better idea for our business to pursue. It’s very important to spend a lot of time in understanding business roadmap and use it as a frame of reference while making any new technology investment decision.

Layoffs Hit Maxis and Raven Software

Bad news for the staff of Spore developer EA Maxis today, as Electronic Arts has confirmed that the studio has been hit with a series of layoffs, the most recent development in a by now regular trend in the games industry. There are no exact numbers for the layoffs, but Shacknews has it that this is a "sizable exodus."

"Often in the video game industry, the size of a studio fluctuates in response to business conditions," EA said in an official statement. ""In this case, EA has taken action to reduce the workforce at Maxis as we focus the business and focus Maxis."

This may have something to do with the Spore franchise itself, or just belt tightening all around at the EA operation. EA stated that it remains committed to Spore and other Maxis properties. The company most recently announced that Spore would be hitting Nintendo platforms this October in the form of Spore Hero and Spore Hero Arena on the Wii and DS.
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TCS, Infosys, Wipro bag big chunk of BP's 5-year IT deal

Country's top three IT companies TCS, Infosys and Wipro today bagged a seizable chunk of five- year outsourcing deal from British oil Spokepersons of all three companies did not disclose the size when asked whether the total deal size is worth $ 1.5 bn (approximately Rs 7,500 crore). They also did not reveal their independent size of the contract they have won.

The multi-crore rupee contract is a big boost for the domestic outsourcing majors, currently under pricing and margin pressure in the wake of gloabl downturn.

Global IT majors IBM and Accenture have also has snapped a part of the deal. The three companies announced separately that they have entered into an outsourcing deal with BP.

Infosys said it will operate BP's business systems. Wipro said it will provide IT Application Development and Application Maintenance (ADAM) services for BP's Fuels Value Chain and corporate business globally.

TCS said it has been selected for engagements in refining, manufacturing and corporate IT with opportunities across fuels value chain including upstream and trading.

As part of the deal, IBM will manage and run the oil giant's enterprise applications and integrated service desk responsibilities, IBM said.

The big three closed up in the range of 2-4 per cent on BSE after the news of them bagging the deal broke out.

Advergame, Online Developer Fuel Games Cuts Staff

Fuel Games, developer of iPhone, PC, online, and console games, told Gamasutra that it is cutting staff and is in the midst of restructuring -- right after a venture capital injection.

The developer, which has studios in Ottawa, Canada, and Denver, Colorado, made games such as Vans SK8 for iPhone, web-based titles such as the Entourage-based Viking Quest, and the McDonalds Happy Meal-bundled Fairies And Dragons, and runs online portal

The company also created numerous advergames for brands such as the Niagara Motel film, Milwaukee's Best Light, and the Land of the Dead movie, among many others.

Slowdown: IT's survival mantras

The prolonged slump in global technology services spending is turning out to be like a boring five-day test match than a T20 encounter.

While the green shoots hold out hope for changes in the macro environment, it’s still some time for the big deals to return to the Indian IT players, who had started getting used to them 12-18 months ago. Since the good old days of 24% annual growth, technology services export growth has dived to 4-7 %.

Despite the setback, the smarter companies haven’t buried their heads in the sand, like the proverbial Ostrich. They are working overtime, identifying niches, markets, creating new systems to get the bucks in this tough environment and prepare for better times.

Sample the action: Infosys Technologies is strengthening the front end and will hire 150 people in France and Germany as it sees these markets open up. Its Bangalore-based rival Wipro Technologies is betting on seven new focus areas, which it sees as the big businesses of tomorrow.

Similarly, Cognizant has tripled its team of consultants to 1,800 and is betting on new geographies like Japan, Australia and India. The largest services player, TCS, is increasing more work offshore and strengthening its combined ITBPO offering. And even a small company like the 5,000-people Mumbai-based Hexaware Technologies has strengthened its innovation team to develop time saving solutions for customers.

Says Suresh Vaswani, joint CEO, Wipro Technologies, “Tough times haven’t gone. We have identified seven themes which will be dominant plays in future.” These `seven wonders’ of Wipro are cloud computing, green IT, collaboration software, social computing, information management, mobility and open source.

Some of these could potentially be billion-dollar business opportunities, but Vaswani hesitates to divulge more. “Even IT, consumer care, lighting were small businesses for Wipro a decade back. Today, they are big. We see similar growth in at least some of the new areas and are consciously studying, building capability on them and making investments in these areas. For Wipro, these will be significant game changers.”

Wipro has taken a long-term view with bets on new areas that could be big businesses of tomorrow. The second largest IT company, Infosys, sees an immediate opportunity in Europe, outside the UK, which has been largely conservative in offshoring work till now.

Says Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan, “From a micro level there’s no significant change in business. Companies are struggling with spending. There are indications of things turning around by December. We are strengthening the sales front end as we see new growth coming out of France and Germany markets, where companies want to offshore to cut costs and improve systems. We are hiring here to strengthen the front end.”

The 150 people that it hires locally will be addition to the 700 people it already has in the global sales and marketing team. Besides bolstering the front end, Infosys is not ignoring the back-end either. It wants to hire more domain experts who can help create combined IT-BPO solutions for HR, as there is more demand for combined solutions rather than just IT or BPO.

Ditto for TCS, which has launched a combined IT-BPO platform in areas like life and pensions processing, HR outsourcing and is now developing platform-based offering for finance and accounting and procurement.

US-headquartered Cognizant sees an uptake in areas like healthcare, retail, logistics, media and entertainment and is integrating consulting capabilities with its global delivery of services.

Says R Chandrasekaran, president & MD, global delivery, Cognizant, “We realised early on that providing great offshore capabilities was not enough and we needed high-level business expertise combined with deep technical experience to properly serve the demands of our client base. Hence, our top-end consultants team has grown from 600 to 1,800 in over a year. We are also focusing on emerging markets like Japan, Australia, India and Middle East. Last year, our business outside the US, Europe grew 65% and we are likely to have more growth from the new markets.’’

While large companies have invested in new manpower, strengthening front end, smaller players like 5,000-people Hexaware Technologies is extracting more out of its bench and focusing on innovation. Says its executive chairman Atul Nishar, “Innovation team strength has gone up from 10 to 50 and the employee use has jumped to 75% from about 63-64 % last year. In recent months, we have developed new solutions which have helped reduce software testing time by up to 40%.”

Companies that constantly innovate, looking for those niche growth areas are likely to ride the tough time more easily. Says Partha Iyengar, regional research director, Gartner India; “If you see the recent results, HCL and Cognizant bucked the trend precisely because of agility on sales and marketing fronts. The Indian offshore model has never been more relevant for global customers than it is now. It is up to the vendors to identify the opportunity, innovate and bag the business.”
Source: indiatimes
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Satyam BPO to hire 300 employees

At a time when software firm Mahindra Satyam is rationalising its headcount, its BPO arm seems to be on a hiring spree with plans to recruit 300 employees by the next month.

The company has recently bagged a major contract from a domestic client for providing it back office support.

"To support the client we have already hired 700 employees in the last one month and will hire another 300 by the end of next month," Mahindra Satyam BPO CEO Vijay Rangineni said.

However, he declined to divulge the name of the new client or the deal size. According to sources, the new win is in the telecom space.

The total headcount of the company after the recruitment would stand at 2,900.

Though the parent firm Mahindra Satyam have a considerable presence in the domestic market, this is the first major win by Mahindra Satyam BPO in the domestic space.

Rangineni further said the company would now focus on the sizeable domestic market.

"Post the acquisition by Tech Mahindra, we now have a footprint globally and will leverage the strengths of Tech Mahindra wherever they are present," he said.

Mahindra Satyam BPO has one delivery centre each in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune. The company, however, do not have a global delivery centre so far.
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Infosys, Wipro bag 5-yr BP deal

Indian outsourcers Infosys Technologies Ltd and Wipro Ltd bagged five-year outsourcing deal from oil and gas firm BP.

Under the terms of the deal, Infosys will operate a large portion of BP's business systems. No financial details were available.

Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO and Managing Director, Infosys Technologies, said, “Infosys has a long standing relationship with BP, delivering consulting and technology services. We are well positioned to use our global sourcing expertise and transformational capabilities in the oil and gas domain.”

Under the five-year agreement with BP, Wipro will provide IT applications development and maintenance services for the company’s fuel and corporate businesses globally.

Earlier last week, Infosys Technologies said that it has bid for more than 10 large government projects in India as part of a drive to lower its dependence on the US market.

Infosys, which gets more than half its business from the United States, plans to generate $1 billion in revenue from the Indian market in 2-3 years versus an insignificant level now, the head of its India business unit said.

"There are large opportunities in India. So we are definitely going to go after these kinds of businesses very aggressively in India," Binod Rangadore said. "We have a very healthy pipeline right now."

The market for technology and business outsourcing services in India is expected to expand five-fold by 2020 to $90 billion to $100 billion on the back of a growing economy, according to a recent study by lobby group NASSCOM and consultancy McKinsey.

Outsourcing firms such as Infosys and bigger rival Tata Consultancy Services are tapping new markets such as India, China, Japan and countries in Europe to beat a recession in the United States.

The Indian firms face competition from big global players such as IBM Inc, Hewlett-Packard and Accenture that have raided their home turf as they look for growth outside their mature markets.

Infosys to open IT SEZ in Thiruvananthapuram shortly

Thiruvananthapuram: The IT special economic zone (SEZ) being developed by software major Infosys on a 50-acre plot adjacent to the Technopark IT campus here will open shortly.

The SEZ would have two separate buildings, one is almost ready and work on the other is progressing, said M. Vasudevan, Senior Business Development Manager of Technopark.

"Each building has a capacity to seat 1,500 professionals. The first one will open shortly, some last bit of work on common amenities and a food court remains. The other building is also nearing completion," Vasudevan told IANS.

At present, Infosys has a development centre in the Technopark campus that employs more than 1,500 professionals.

According to some officials, Infosys preferred to open both buildings together by 2009-end or early next year after completing all works, but the state government wants the IT major to open the first building at the earliest.

The agreement for transferring land to Infosys for the project was signed in 2006 and the ground-breaking ceremony took place in 2007.

Fujitsu to cut 1,200 jobs

Japanese IT firm Fujitsu Ltd said on Wednesday it was cutting up to 1,200 jobs in the UK in response to lower-than-anticipated revenues.

The company, which employs 12,500 people in the UK, said the action was necessary to remain competitive in the current difficult economic climate.

It said had already frozen pay across the company and reduced its contactors and temporary workers in order to avoid job losses in Britain, where it has annual revenues of 2 billion pounds ($3.3 billion).

Microsoft apologises for racism

Software giant Microsoft Corp is apologising for altering a photo on its website to change the race of one of the people shown in the picture.

A photo on the Seattle-based company's US website shows two men, one Asian and one black, and a white woman seated at a conference room table.

But on the website of Microsoft's Polish business unit, the black man's head has been replaced with that of a white man. The colour of his hand remains unchanged.

The photo editing sparked criticism online. Some bloggers said Poland's ethnic homogeneity may have played a role in changing the photo.

“We are looking into the details of this situation,” Microsoft spokesperson Lou Gellos said in a statement. “We apologise and are in the process of pulling down the image.”
Source: TechCrunch

HCL Tech in pact with New Zealand's Optimation

Industrialist Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies Wednesday announced a pact with Optimation, a top company in information and communication technology in New Zealand, to offer services to the government there.

The pact calls for the two companies to draw on each other's strengths to also offer solutions to clients in optimising their business processes.

According to Virender Aggarwal, the head for HCL's Asia Pacific operations, the pact will result in significant number of local talent, expansion of training facilities in New Zealand and the setting up of a competency centre planned in Auckland.

"By providing the training infrastructure, we are directly addressing the wider industry skills shortage and investing in the future of our business," he added

The financial details, however, were not specified.

"HCL's willingness to engage on a fixed outcomes basis and to share risk is in tune with our own business philosophy," said Optimation's chief executive officer, Rhoda Holmes.

"In the current economic climate, we expect this approach to have broad appeal for New Zealand businesses looking to reduce costs and to get more business value out of their existing IT investments."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Leaked documents show IBM has laid off more than 9,000

Layoffs at IBM total more than 9,000 for the year. According to leaked copies of the company’s internal “resource action” packages, total verifiable layoffs through Aug. 24 number 9,298.

The company has acknowledged some layoffs, but has steadfastly refused to give details, such as numbers or locations.

Alliance@IBM national coordinator Lee Conrad said additional job cuts – some too small to warrant R.A. packages, some involving contractors – most likely “push the total above 10,000.”

The company appears to be on track to lay off 16,000 North American employees by year’s end – a number that first leaked in early January.
Source: recordonline, localtechwire
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IBM bags Nomura's IT services deal

IBM announced that Nomura Services India Private Limited, a subsidiary of leading financial services group Nomura, would implement IBM's end-to-end business continuity and resiliency services to bolster its business continuity, disaster and system failure response strategies.

The multi-year IT services agreement would also provide Nomura Services with an in-city work area recovery solution to recover critical business functions in the event of an interruption at a primary site, an IBM press release said.

"This will help Nomura Services effectively respond to crisis scenarios that may have the potential of causing major disruption to its business", it said.

Sapient to up India headcount by 20%

IT consulting firm Sapient is set to increase India headcount by 20% even as it resorted to layoffs early this year.

The hiring exercise is primarily to leverage its marketing and advertising services in the country, said a top company executive. Currently, the firm employs around 4,000 people in India.

“Demand for consulting services is witnessing an upswing,” said Sapient India MD Karandeep Singh. Of the proposed recruitment exercise, around 50% will be for Sapient’s Interactive division, he added.

The firm laid off around 300 employees across India in February in the backdrop of slowing demand for consulting services from various sectors. IT, real estate and financial services sectors were the worst affected in the global slowdown last year.

Sapient, on an average, hires 1,000-1,500 people in India every year. Besides IT, the company serves clients in sectors such as banking, hospitality, FMCG and telecom. Mr Singh said with revival in the economy, demand is likely to remain strong in the coming months. The firm would invest in people capabilities in India to be able to serve global markets.

Boston-based Sapient has two arms Sapient Interactive and Sapient Consulting. While Sapient Consulting provides business and IT strategy, process and systems design and various outsourcing services, Sapient Interactive provides brand and marketing strategy, creative work and web design services.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Huge 'talent deficit' may hit Corporate India: Deloitte

India Inc is likely to face a huge 'talent deficit' in the coming years, as the country is not producing enough people equipped with the right skills required for the globalised environment, global consultancy Deloitte says.

According to report titled on the 'New India Manager' by Deloitte, the new talent management model in companies would need a shift in outlook where the paradigm of 'scarcity of jobs' would convert into a 'scarcity of talent'.

"Talent deficit is likely to grow significantly in the coming years as universities and educational centres are not providing the adequate skills for the country to produce required number of talented managers," Deloitte Vice President (Strategy & Innovation) Manish Agrawal said.

Unless a fundamental shift occurs in the educational system it will continue to produce degreeholders but they will lack skills to operate in a corporate environment, he added.

Agrawal has authored a study on the evolution of the Indian manager from the pre-liberalisation period till now.

The report stated that globalisation, post 1991, has helped the Indian managers to develop their competencies and a global outlook unleashing a wave of creativity and innovation in the domestic industry.

"However not many managers in the country have required soft skills, like communication abilities for operating in a global environment among others. We need to build such skill sets to enhance our talent pools," Agrawal said.

The Deloitte report stated that it remains to be seen as to what extent the country would be able to enhance the competence level of its young population to make them employable.

And this is also a challenge which the Indian policymakers would have to deal with in the years to come, it added.

Asked if the Indian government were to make favourable changes in the educational system to focus more on innovative skill sets in the coming years, Agrawal said, "if the shift is made it will take five to 10 years to generate a good quantity of employable talent."

Other than the upgrade of skills, the challenges which managers have to face going forward include retention of existing talent in the company, support learning and development of employees.

The Indian managers also need to enhance outlook and mobility as with domestic companies making inroads into foreign shores the need for a global outlook and experience has increased many folds.

Moreover, there is growing talent gap in the developed world as well which will continue to target Indian managers. In the years to come US, Europe and Japan are going to see an ageing population and a reduction in available talent and workforce.

The report revealed that there was already an increasing recognition of the quality of Indian managers and there is very chance of this trend accelerating further.

Facebook to up staff by 50%

Online social networking site Facebook is looking to expand its staff by as much as 50 per cent this year, its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told Bloomberg news agency.

Facebook's website says it has more than 900 employees. The company, which counts venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Accel Partners, Microsoft Corp and Russian Internet investment firm Digital Sky Technologies among its investors, has more than 250 million registered users.

In June, rival MySpace, owned by News Corp, said it would cut 30 per cent of its US staff and two-thirds of its international workforce.

BT scraps graduate recruitment programme

Telecoms giant BT has scrapped its graduate recruitment scheme because of the economic downturn, becoming one of the biggest companies to axe such a scheme, British newspapers reported.

"In the light of the current economic environment and headcount pressures, BT has taken the decision to cease graduate recruitment activity and are no longer running a graduate recruitment programme," The Guardian newspaper quoted the telecoms giant in a statement.

"At the present time, there is no timeline for re-entry," it said.

The company, Britain's ninth-largest employer, said the number of graduates applying for the 130 jobs on the programme has climbed to 4,800 this year from 3,800 in 2007, the Guardian said.

Britain's fixed-line telecoms provider has cut its dividend and announced 15,000 further job losses in May after its total workforce, both permanent and contract staff, fell by 15,000 to 147,000 in the year to March.

10 days off for Honeywell employees without pay

Honeywell has announced that its employees will have to take a mandatory 10 days off in the month of December-January without pay. Krishna Mikkilineni, President of Honeywell Technology Solutions, conveyed the decision at a public gathering in Bangalore recently, reports Economic Times.

On this matter, a Honeywell Spokesperson said, "Even as Honeywell continues to grow its businesses in India, our employees have agreed to participate in a voluntary and temporary reduced work schedule, in consonance with their colleagues elsewhere."

Honeywell, which makes products like aviation electronics, car turbochargers and temperature control systems for buildings, has been hit badly by the global recession in all of the key businesses it supports - aviation, auto and property. In the second quarter ended June 30, its profit plunged 38 percent and revenue dropped 22 percent.

In the quarterly report, the company said that it did not expect any recovery this year from the recession, as customers were expected to keep holding off on the purchase of Honeywell parts. Sales in the aerospace unit, which makes radar systems and other aviation equipment, dropped 17 percent, to $2.7 billion. The company said that many of its airline customers were choosing to use parts from their own idled planes for repairs rather than buying new parts from the company. One of the few growth areas is military sales, where Honeywell expects a three percent growth in sales. David M. Cote, Chief Executive, Honeywell said, "We are executing very well. Unfortunately, it is a very tough economic environment."

The company has taken a number of cost cutting measures. At least for some employees in the U.S., Friday is now a half-day without pay. In India, where it has 10,000 employees, benefits like cafeteria subsidies and vacation rewards at the end of five years of service with the company have been withdrawn.

Cognizant opens techno-campus in Coimbatore

In continuing its effort to spread to multiple markets, Cognizant Technology Solutions is looking to tap emerging markets like India, Middle East, Australia, Japan and Latin America.

Speaking to reporters after the inauguration of its new campus here on Sunday, Cognizant president and MD, R Chandrasekaran said, the company is slowly planning to expand its operations.

"It has been our conscious effort to increase our presence globally. Three years ago, we set up a management team in Japan. Last year, we reached Australia and now we have planned a strong team for India. We also service MNC clients in Singapore and China," he added.

In the last fifteen years, the company has been mainly concentrating on US and Europe markets. "We have 78% exposure in US and 20% exposure in Europe markets. Now, it is time to increase revenue from other markets as well," Mr Chandrasekaran said.

He added that it was not because of recession that the company is looking beyond US and Europe markets, but even in good times, it was planning to leverage its presence across the globe. "It will be a natural progression and we will continue to invest in North America market also," he added.

The company is also looking to get more of domestic business. "We have 18 to 20 clients in India and there is huge opportunity," Mr Chandrasekaran said.
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TechM bags Etisalat contract

Gets a portion of Rs 1,500-crore IT outsourcing deal from the UAE firm

IT solutions provider Tech Mahindra is understood to have bagged a majority portion of the Rs 1,500-crore telecom IT outsourcing deal from new operator Etisalat DB Telecom India, pipping seven other IT vendors like Wipro Technologies and IBM to the post. The deal is expected to be announced soon.

The UAE-based telecom giant Etisalat holds a 45 per cent stake in Etisalat DB Telecom India (formerly Swan Telecom).

A Letter of Intent (LoI) regarding the contract has been awarded to Tech Mahindra, while the company is yet to respond to this.

When contacted, a senior executive at Tech Mahindra said: “We do not comment on market speculation.” Executives at Etisalat DB Telecom India and Wipro Technologies also declined to comment.

Tech Mahindra has been finalised for customer billing solutions, which comprises around 50-60 per cent of the total IT contract.

The technology part of the deal is yet to be finalised, for which IBM, Tech Mahindra, Wipro Technologies and Chinese vendor ZTE Corporation are in the race, a source close to the development told Business Standard.

According to a Mumbai-based analyst, Tech Mahindra winning the deal might not come as a surprise as Etisalat had earlier awarded an outsourcing contract to the solutions provider. Tech Mahindra, jointly with Sony Ericsson, had won Etisalat’s Egypt outsourcing contract in February last year.

Indian telecom providers have been increasingly outsourcing their IT infrastructure, as it would enable them to be asset-light and concentrate on their core competencies.

While the trend was started by Bharti-Airtel’s deal with IBM which has now risen to over $2 billion, most of the telecom players have opted for outsourcing.

Recently, Wipro won a Rs 2,500-crore deal from Unitech Wireless.

In January 2008, Aircel Cellular had awarded a $600-million deal to Wipro, while Aditya Birla group company Idea Cellular had signed a 10-year IT outsourcing deal with IBM. Idea Cellular’s deal was estimated to be around $600-800 million.

Nice guys get paid lesser: Study

It seems gentleness doesn’t pay, for a new study has revealed that nice guys are paid less than their aggressive counterparts.

A British team, led by Indian-origin researcher Alita Nandi at Essex University, has found a link between a person’s personality and salary — nice people are paid nearly £1,500 a year less than those who are more aggressive in the workplace, a UK tabloid said.

The researchers came to the conclusion after looking at nearly 3,000 men aged between 24 and 64 living and working in Britain. They grouped them into five personality types — depending on their openness to experience, conscientiousness, level of extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

The study found that those who were nice earned approximately six per cent less, which is nearly £1,500 a year.

The same pay deficit applied to people with a high degree of neuroticism. Extroverts and those open to experience were paid the best, earning nine per cent more — a difference of £2,163 a year. The pay differences, except for openness to experience, persist even after controlling for education, occupation, work experience, previous unemployment and training.

“While agreeableness is penalised in the labour market it may make a person more socially acceptable, increase their social networks and finally lead to better mental health and well-being,” Dr Nandi said.

Another top Satyam executive quits

Top Mahindra Satyam executive Keshab Panda has put in his papers. Panda, who was jointly heading the all-important US operations for the company as well as its manufacturing & automotive group, announced his decision to the company management on Monday, a person close to the development told Financial Chronicle.

“Panda had expressed his desire to resign from his position some time ago. The leadership was trying to persuade him against this. But, finally he seems to have made up his mind,” the person said. “He would be joining another IT services company.”

The development comes as a blow to the Hyderabad-based company as the manufacturing and automotive group contributes almost $400 million to Mahindra Satyam’s top-line.

Panda was appointed to the position in February after company veteran Subu Subramanian quit in the aftermath of the revelation of the Rs 7,000-crore scam.

Panda took over as the head of the US operations after interim CEO Ram Mynampati stepped down. In a press statement, Mahindra Satyam confirmed Panda’s resignation. “Rakesh Soni, chief operating officer of Mahindra Satyam, will be leading the business development and delivery operations for the American market and for the manufacturing, commercial and services verticals,” the statement said.

The IT company has seen an exodus of senior executives over the last one month. Those who have quit include Nick Sharma, senior VP, infrastructure management services; Sriram Papani, head, enterprise architecture and Ravi Bommakanti, head of delivery.

Immigration Service inspecting H-1B employers
The Immigration Service has recently begun investigating H-1B employers to identify fraudulent petitions. Employers are reporting privately contracted investigators arriving unannounced at worksites to investigate approved H-1B petitions.

These visits are deliberately unannounced and the investigators ask to speak with the human resource (HR) representative and H-1B worker. The employer rep and employee have little to no time to prepare the information needed. The element of surprise can also confuse the H-1B parties and result in inconsistent responses.

Investigators are asking the HR representative questions about the company such as the how many employees it has and how many are legal residents. Questioning then moves to the H-1B job duties, salary, work hours and start date. Sometimes the person interviewed is not as familiar with the job duties as, say for example the H-1B employee’s immediate supervisor. This can result in well-intentioned but harmful guessed answers. The H-1B employee is also individually questioned about duties and responsibilities, salary, work hours and period of employment. When one investigator was asked if the interview was based on a random selection process, the investigator stated that it was not random.

It is important that H-1B employers and employees be prepared for these unannounced visits. The designated HR representative should have a clear and thorough understanding of the H-1B worker’s duties and responsibilities. The HR rep should not guess any answers, but, have the information readily available, including the start date, work hours, and wages paid. These should be consistent with those listed on the petition, and if not, immediately brought to the attention of the company’s immigration attorney to advise on the corrective measures that need to be taken.

It was extremely revealing that these inspections are not random. From a previous release by the immigration service, we know that certain factors trigger referrals to the H-1B fraud unit. These are employers with gross annual income of less than $10 million, less than 25 employees, companies engaged in consulting or staffing showing no end-client/work description or itinerary, job location on the LCA differing from the place of employment, no website for IT companies, excessive blanks in the petition and for certain H-1B occupations. The suspect occupations are Accountants, Market Research Analysts, Business Analysts, Financial Analysts, Advertising Managers, Public Relations and Sales positions with what the Immigration Service calls “marginal companies”. A marginal company is defined by the Immigration Service as lacking the organizational complexity required to support the position on a full-time basis. Examples provided to adjudicators are liquor stores, dry cleaners, gas stations, residential care facilities, convenience stores, donut shops, fast food restaurants, dental offices, 99 cent stores and parking lots.

The Immigration Service has created a profile of what it deems to be a suspect H-1B petition. There are many legitimate H-1B petitions that fit squarely within the suspect profile. H-1B employers and employees in this position should understand that they can be subjected to additional scrutiny from the Immigration Service. Consequently, they should be properly prepared by thoroughly and accurately documenting the H-1B position. They should clearly understand the scope and terms of employment. Then, even if they receive a surprise visit from an investigator, they will be able to demonstrate the H-1B position is a legitimate and valid position.
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H1B Cap : August 2009 Update

The USCIS H1B cap count, as of August 14, 2009, is 45,000. This is a slight increase over the past several counts. The advanced degree cap remains at 20,000. The USCIS continues to accept FY2010 H1B cases under the advanced degree and regular caps.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Sacked Wipro employee alleges harassment

An ex-employee of Wipro has filed a harassment case with the Electronics City police against some senior officials of the company after his services were terminated, reports Bangalore Mirror. Ram Manohar G, a native of Hyderabad, has alleged that he was confined to a room and harassed by his seniors, and was finally forced to quit. The 37 year old techie had been working as a team leader in the organization for the past 15 months.

According to Ram, he joined Wipro on Dec 3, 2007 and was unlawfully sacked on March 10 this year. Earlier he was working with MindTree in Bangalore. In his complaint, he alleged that he was confined to a room for a couple of hours at a stretch on several occasions by the higher-ups, and asked each time to resign. "It all started when recession hit the IT business. As far as my knowledge goes, some seven to eight thousand employees have been sacked during the last couple of months. But looking at my 11 years of experience and good track record, I was not really bothered about my services being terminated," he said.

In his complaint, he said, "I was confined by Anuradha Raju (Assistant Manager, TED, Testing Services, BFSI) in a conference hall inside the campus and was forced to sign on some blank papers. When I asked for the reason, she threatened that they would blacklist my name with NASSCOM and ensure that I did not get a job elsewhere."

Ram has also accused Ganesh Halapeti (Senior Project Manager, AXA, Australia) of abusing him in vulgar language over the phone. "He threatened that if I did not sign on the blank papers, my career would be ruined. I was also ordered to come to the office and work despite being sick." He also approached the HR Department about the incident, but no one paid heed to his grievance. "After I was sacked for no proper reason, I am in a state of shock and am facing acute financial problems."

Saurabh Govil, Senior Vice-President (HR), Wipro Technologies said, "We have not seen the complaint and would not like to comment before seeing it. The ex-employee in question, Ram Mohan, was employed with Wipro. We will not be able to provide any specific information on the individual due to employee confidentiality."

Govil said that the company would provide all the necessary co-operation and support to the investigating authorities in the matter. "We have a very robust process to deal with employee grievances. We have not had any complaints of this nature ever before. This may be an isolated case," he said.
Source: SiliconIndia
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SAS hires Accenture in 7-year outsourcing deal

Scandinavian Airlines Awards Finance and Accounting Business Process Outsourcing Contract to Accenture

Accenture (NYSE: ACN: 35.45, -0.9, -2.48%) will provide Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) with finance and accounting (F&A) business services in Western Europe under a seven-year business process outsourcing (BPO) agreement.

The services Accenture covers include accounts payable, accounts receivable and accounting to reporting. Accenture will provide the services to SAS in 14 countries across Western Europe; mainly in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The services will be delivered through Accenture's Global Delivery Network from its delivery center in Delhi, India.

"The work being performed by Accenture is part of SAS's new strategy "Core SAS" that is designed to deliver annual savings through a streamlined and simplified operating model," said Sara Jinnerot, VP at SAS Accounting Services. "We selected Accenture because of their ability to provide a qualitative and cost effective solution. Accenture has a proven track record of delivering similar services".

"We are proud to have been selected to support SAS. The contract agreement will deliver cost-effective solutions and a standardized process for the finance and accounting services and further strengthens our position in the airline industry, says Patrik Bjorkler, a senior executive in Accenture's Nordic outsourcing practice.

Oracle cuts CEO's base salary to $1

Software giant Oracle Corp said in a regulatory filing on Friday that it would cut the salary of its chief executive to $1 in fiscal 2010 from $1 million in the previous year.

Chief Executive Larry Ellison agreed to the pay cut, according to the filing. "The compensation committee recognizes that Mr. Ellison has a significant equity interest in Oracle, but believes he should still receive annual compensation because Mr. Ellison plays an active and vital role in our operations, strategy and growth. Nevertheless, during fiscal 2010, Mr. Ellison agreed to decrease his annual salary to $1," the company said in a filing.

A spokeswoman for the company declined additional comment. Oracle's executive compensation packages include a base salary, an annual cash bonus and stock options.

In fiscal 2009, 97 percent of Ellison's overall compensation was in the form of a bonus and stock options. Only 1.2 percent was his base salary and 1.8 percent was other benefits, according to the company.

All not well at Honeywell, Accenture

Green shoots? Honeywell and Accenture don’t appear to be seeing any. The former has announced that its employees will have to take a mandatory 10 days off in December-January without pay. And the latter has just issued a statement that it will lay off 7% of its senior executive workforce.

Honeywell employees in India said that Krishna Mikkilineni, president of Honeywell Technology Solutions, conveyed the decision at a public gathering in Bangalore recently. When contacted by TOI, a Honeywell spokesperson declined to go into specifics, but issued the following statement: “Even as Honeywell continues to grow its businesses in India, our employees have agreed to participate in a voluntary and temporary reduced work schedule, in consonance with their colleagues elsewhere.’’

In the case of Accenture, the company’s global CEO William Green said in a company release issued on Thursday: “We are acting boldly to position Accenture better for both short-term and long-term economic improvement growth and profitability.’’ The 7% workforce reduction would mean over 300 senior executives would be laid-off. The company globally has about 177,000 employees, of which 4,800 are senior-executive employees. The Accenture release said it will also reduce excess office space globally.

Till the time of releasing this story, Accenture had not replied to a mail from TOI asking about the extent to which its Indian operations would be affected by the move.

The technology sector in general is still some way from a recovery. Most companies around the world have tightened their tech budgets. Honeywell, which makes products like aviation electronics , car turbochargers and temperature control systems for buildings, has been hit badly by the global recession in all of the key businesses it supports—aviation , auto, and property. In the second quarter ended June 30, its profit plunged 38% and revenue dropped 22%.

The company has taken a number of cost cutting measures. At least for some employees in the US, Friday is now a half-day without pay. In India, where it has 10,000 employees, benefits like cafeteria subsidies and vacation rewards at the end of five years of service with the company have been withdrawn.

But there are indications that the downturn in technology , like that in many other sectors, is bottoming out. One evidence of that is the re-emergence of recruitment advertisements. In recent weeks, prominent companies like Infosys, GE Healthcare, Infotech and even Accenture itself has issued ads seeking to fill varied positions.

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