Monday, December 28, 2009

The top 100 IT projects of 2009

2009 InfoWorld 100 Awards: IT remains the lifeblood of forward-thinking organizations, as this year's recipients of InfoWorld's highest honor attest
Unified Collaboration Initiative
Project lead: Frank B. Modruson, CIO

Project description: Accenture developed Accenture Client Exchange, a communications and collaboration platform that provides employees and clients presence, secure IM, voice and videoconferencing, virtual desktop sharing, and network-enabled phone functionality based on technology from Microsoft and Cisco.
Industry: Services

Activision Blizzard
WAN-Optimized Development Initiative
Project lead: Thomas Fenady, Senior Director of IT
Project description: Activision Blizzard increased the efficiency of its worldwide development efforts by revamping its network and moving away from MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) and DS3s (Digital Signal 3) in favor of WAN optimization technology from Riverbed.
Industry: Entertainment

Client Service Initiative
Project lead: Jeff Mullins, Vice President, Field Automation Engineering
Project description: ADP developed Workspace Manager, a unified customer service agent desktop built on Microsoft .Net and integrating Web, Java, Win32, mainframe, and legacy applications within a single user interface, while supporting the development of new composite application interfaces and eliminating the need for client service agents to individually log into 17 Citrix Presentation Server infrastructures.
Industry: Services
Click here to read complete list from InfoWorld

Satyam, slowdowns make 2009 hard for software industry

The Satyam Computer accounting scam, slowdown and resultant hiring freeze by many made 2009 a forgettable year for the Indian Information Technology industry.

There was never a dull moment for bad news during the year, given the fact that Satyam's founder B Ramalinga Raju came out of the closet with an accounting fraud on January 7. The scam tarnished the credibility of India's IT story, requiring others to do a lot of convincing to retain clients.

As dramatic it was, the World Bank, within a week of the Satyam scam coming to light, announced it had banned, besides Satyam, Wipro and Megasoft from working for it for allegedly "providing improper benefits to the Bank staff" during the course of their projects with it. While the cases dated back to mid-2007, the timing of the disclosures only helped compound the woes of the IT industry.

To give the government its due credit, it acted swiftly by superseding the Satyam Board, which brought in new auditors to restate accounts, and ascertained employee count and within months found a new owner in Tech Mahindra. Satyam has since been renamed Mahindra Satyam.

Multiple agencies probed the scam, whose size was initially estimated at Rs 7,800 crore, and Raju, once a celebrated IT icon, is in custody awaiting trial.

2009 also saw the software exporting community trying hard to keep their margins as clients cut down on IT spends. The huge forex losses due to fluctuation of rupee didn't help them either.

Bulk of IT companies' revenue comes from the US and Europe and they earn more when the dollar is stronger.

Although the dollar was stronger, many of them had hedged against a stronger rupee - which it was in 2007 - thus losing out any which way.

The fallout of this was that top Indian IT companies, which used to hire up to 25,000 people annually, put recruitment on hold. Many of them, including Infosys, postponed campus recruitments.

Talking of Infosys, its poster-boy Nandan Nilekani left the IT company he helped found to join the government for a project to give every Indian citizen a unique identity number.

Globally, the industry saw a few mergers and acquisitions. In April, US business software company Oracle Corporation announced that it would buy its Silicon Valley rival Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion in cash.

The takeover has moved Oracle, the world's second-largest software maker, into the server and storage computers market, placing it against IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

In September, the world's second largest PC maker Dell Inc entered into an agreement to acquire computer services firm Perot Systems for about $3.9 billion, making it one of the biggest deals in the IT space since the global financial turmoil hit the sector. The acquisition was aimed at helping Dell foray into the software space.

Copier major Xerox Corporation announced that it will acquire outsourcing entity Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) for about $6.4 billion in a cash and stock deal.

Indian IT industry is passing through a difficult phase. Shrinking budgets, pressure on revenues and bottomline, competition from global bigwigs are staring at the home-grown software multinationals who have to adjust to a new scenario than the one they have been used to so far.

In a way, the game is just beginning now.
, , ,

Wipro, TCS, Infy plan to follow rival Accenture's sales model

India’s top tech firms, including Wipro, plan to follow rival Accenture’s sales model by hiring senior partners with a few decades of experience and capable of having a dialogue with chief executives of customer organisations, a shift from the earlier focus on selling services to IT heads of leading customers such as Citigroup and General Electric.

Wipro, which serves customers such as British Petroleum (BP) and Citi, has hired around a dozen senior partners from rivals Accenture, Ernst & Young and Deloitte over the past few months. Girish S Paranjpe, the company’s joint chief executive, told ET in an interview that his company would hire another 30 such partners in 2010.

Some senior professionals who have joined Wipro during the past few months as part of the company’s new sales strategy include Kirk Strawser, managing partner and global head, Wipro Consulting Services; Chris Rooney, global practice head, business transformation; and Roger Camrass, senior practice partner, business transformation.

“We often lost because of having pure CIO-level dialogues, we got hurt and even lost some deals,” he said. “We will hire another 30-40 such professionals who will be responsible for growing our client relationships to $30-40 million in revenues,” he added.

For many years, TCS, Infosys and Wipro have been focused on software application development and maintenance, getting new business from CIOs of large customers such as Citi, GE and many others. As they now seek bigger, multi-year transformational deals, they need to penetrate boardrooms of Fortune-500 companies.

“Client partners think and breathe business problems of customers who seek advise and guidance—they are people with a few decades of experience,” Mr Paranjpe added.

In a year when business was hard to come by, Wipro managed to penetrate large customers such as BP, helped by the new approach. Camrass, who joined Wipro as senior practice partner a few months ago, is respected by many decisionmakers within BP. With over 35 years of experience, Mr Camrass has worked with top consulting firms such as Ernst & Young.

India’s biggest software exporter, TCS, once perceived as a slow-moving IT behemoth, is also recruiting these partner-profile people, according to an industry analyst who wished to remain anonymous.

According to R Suresh, MD of executive search firm Stanton Chase, all top IT firms are looking at hiring partner-level people. “One of the reasons is they are winning huge long-term IT outsourcing contracts. These are annuity-based contracts and the client needs to see the same face when he’s interacting with the service provider,” he said.

Unlike the traditional Accenture model, Indian companies are hiring these professionals more as ‘client partners’, and not necessarily ‘equity partners’, added Mr Suresh.

Experts such as John C McCarthy, vice-president and principal analyst of Forrester Research, say Indian firms need to shift from having pure technology-based dialogues and work on their sales and marketing efforts. “This will be one of the biggest cultural shifts—these companies need to intensify their sales and marketing efforts,” he said.

Indeed, by engaging with top business leaders at a customer organisation, Accenture creates entry barriers for other suppliers. “Accenture’s partner-driven sales model is the ultimate form of client engagement,” Edelweiss analysts Viju George, Kunal Sangoi and Pratik Gandhi noted in their September report. Today, the common sales structure of the big three Indian tech firms is typically three-tiered—overall vertical head, client director in overall charge of client relationship, and multiple account managers handling different facets of the relationship.
Source: EconomicTimes

Cognizant makes 700 job offers at Anna Univ campus

IT services major, Cognizant on Tuesday announced that it has made 700 job offers to students of Anna University’s constituent colleges in Chennai.

Coming in the top slot among bulk recruiters, Cognizant picked up the students through a two-day long campus recruitment process covering students from almost all branches of the UG and PG programmes.

Welcoming the ‘future Cognizant associates," Cognizant corporate marketing and research VP R Ramkumar said Anna University, along with its constituent colleges, is the largest contributor to Cognizant’s talent pool of fresh graduates in each of the last several years across India.

"It is with justifiable pride that we can say that the alumni of this reputable institution, along with several others globally, have helped sculpt Cognizant with a difference," he said handing over the list of selected students to the University vice-chancellor, Prof R Mannar Jawahar.

"One critical aspect of our recruiting is the fact that we are branch/discipline agnostic. This helps us substantially today in solving the business problems of customers across industries by leveraging technology. With structural changes happening across industries and sub-industries, there is an increasing need for much deeper domain specialisation.," Mr Ramkumar added.

Noting that in addition to students from core circuit branches (computing, electronic, electrical and instrumentation), he said the students from different disciplines of study added immense value to Cognizant.

Berkshire cuts 21k jobs in '09

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reported 21,000 fewer employees than it had at the end of 2008 amid a slump at the firm's manufacturing and retail units.

Berkshire and its subsidiaries have about 225,000 workers, the company said this week in regulatory filings. That is 8.6 per cent lower than the 246,083 disclosed in the 2008 annual report. Berkshire provided the jobs information in a document tied to its planned $26 billion takeover of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Buffett did not reply to a request, left with an assistant, for comment on the cuts.

Buffett, Berkshire’s CEO, oversees a collection of more than 70 subsidiaries that sell products including Geico car insurance, Fruit of the Loom T-shirts and Dairy Queen ice cream. Profit at the firm's manufacturing, service and retail businesses plunged by more than half in the first nine months of the year, and Buffett replaced the CEOs of two operating units whose sales suffered in the recession.

"When times are good, you are going to have more people employed than when times are bad," Buffett, 79, said this month in a video address to the 37,000 railroad employees that Berkshire will take on next year with the completion of the Burlington Northern takeover.

Fruit of the Loom announced in March it would lay off 3,000 textile workers in El Salvador because of excess inventory, La Prensa Grafica reported, citing Jose Antonio Escobar, president of Camara de la Industria Textil y de la Confeccion de El Salvador.The newspaper reported on December 3 that the company plans to hire back 1,000 workers.

Fruit of the Loom had more than 34,000 workers at the end of 2008, according to Berkshires most recent annual report, the largest total among its operating units. John Shivel, a spokesman for Bowling Green, Kentuckybased Fruit of the Loom, declined to comment.

Buffett told shareholders at the firm's annual meeting in May that he expected more cuts at Berkshire following reductions last year at Clayton Homes Inc, which builds manufactured housing, and brickmaker Acme Building Brands. Berkshire reported its first quarterly loss since 2001 in the first three months of this year. The firm returned to profit in the second and third quarters, helped by an advance in the stock market.

"We will be adding people at some point, but we will not do it until we see the demand come back," Buffett said in a September interview conducted by the CEO of Business Wire. "It will be a little slow because we do not want to go through what we did before. Although, I will guarantee you that three years from now, our brick companies, our carpet company, and our insulation company will all be employing far more people than now."

Infosys bags $83 mn Karnataka project

Infosys Technologies, India's No. 2 software exporter, has been selected to implement a Rs 3.87 billion ($83 million) IT project for Karnataka's power distribution utilities, two government officials said.

"We have issued the letter of intent to Infosys," a source at the Bangalore utility said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

"It will cover entire Karnataka," he said. The project was awarded by all five electricity distribution utilities in the state last week and will cover 100 towns in the state, he said.

Infosys outbid 10 other companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, for the contract, the source said.

The projects must be implemented within 36 months, the other source said.

Infosys officials could not be reached for comment. The project is part of a central government-funded programme to use information technology to cap electricity losses in the country.

Tata Consultancy and HCL Infosystems Ltd have won contracts for similar projects in West Bengal and Rajasthan, respectively.

Visa reforms on cards in the US?

Another Immigration reform seems to be on cards in the US. According to InformationWeek, a 600-page Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 proposes changes to visas provided to foreign students who get advanced tech degrees in the United States.

It aims to make it easier for foreigners with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from the US universities and who have worked in their field in the US for three years to get green card employment visas.

According to the news report, they would be fast-tracked to green cards, which provide foreigners with permanent residency status, rather than lingering in H-1B visa limbo.

The legislation would also require employers applying for H-1B visas to prove that no US workers are available to fill the positions. It may also bar companies that have recently laid off US workers from engaging in the visa programme.

Foreign students with advanced technology degrees are required to leave the US shortly after graduating from a US university if they're unable to obtain or renew an H-1B visa or get a green card. The annual cap on H-1B visas is 85,000. This includes 65,000 general H-1B visas and 20,000 H-1Bs set aside for foreigners with advanced degrees.

Employees want TCS passport project reviewed

The indefinite wait for the start of the Passport Seva Project -- an e-project for faster delivery of passports has got another sting in its tale.

The employees have now done a U-turn and asked for a "review" of the Rs 1,000-crore project outsourced to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

"We are of the opinion that there is a need to review afresh the whole project," said a letter from the All India Passport Employees Association (AIPEA) to Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.

The Passport Seva Project is an e-governance project of the Indian government which is supposed to streamline and bring efficiency in the process of distribution of passports.

The contract for implementing the project, worth Rs 1,000 crore (Rs10 billion or $21.4 million) was given to information technology major Tata Consultancy Services in October 2008, with an implementation timeline from June.

Since then, there have been multiple deadlines -- in October and November. But the project is yet to take off as TCS has been unable to provide fool-proof software.

Incidentally, AIPEA had earlier reached an agreement with the ministry before the contract was signed with TCS in 2008 for starting the project -- after long overdue promotions were given to a large number of employees.

The association consists of 2,400 employees located at regional passport offices around the country. Incidentally, there has been a freeze on the recruitment of new employees, despite the number of passports processed doubling in the last seven years.

2010 to bring 50K IT jobs

After a long hibernation of 18 months, headhunters are actively out in the market as talent requirements have started trickling in. The hiring momentum is expected to pick up from April onwards.

Even in a worst scenario, calendar 2010 will create around 50,000 fresh IT/ITES jobs against zero fresh jobs except a very thin campus hiring - in the previous year. The calendar 2007 had witnessed a bumper hiring at over 3 lakh while the growth got tapered off towards the third quarter of 2008 clocking a total hiring of only 1.8 lakh.

B S Murthy, CEO, Leadership Capital says the new year will usher in recovery and a wave of general optimism across segments. “This means a complete change from the current skeletal and need-based hiring. The large volume-hiring realm (services space) will warm up by the second quarter of calendar 2010. A 15% increment in hiring volumes is expected in the first two quarters while the growth could cross 20% or double towards third and fourth quarter.”

According to Nirupama V G, MD, AdAstra, requirements will start pouring in like tsunami, HR departments of many corporates have already geared up for large scale hiring after a long standstill. “Normalcy will return to the industry by April. In addition to domestic hiring , India is going to emerge as a huge sourcing ground for global jobs across segments, positions and profiles.”

“When we enjoy a vantage position in human resources, talent is still a scare commodity in global markets. The year 2010 is going to be bright year for India in terms of domestic and global placements,” adds Mohan Menon, CEO, Sentient Consulting.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Wipro to invest Rs 1,000 cr in Bengal's second campus

Azim Premji-controlled Wipro Ltd will invest close to Rs 1,000 crore in its second IT campus near Kolkata that will employ 20,000 tech professionals. But the company proposes to start construction work after more than a year, especially since land handover and creation of allied infrastructure is expected to take time.

On Thursday, Wipro chairman Azim Premji met West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to assure him that his company had accepted the state’s offer price of Rs 1.5 crore per acre for the 50-acre plot in Rajarhat.

Confirming the development, a top source in the West Bengal government, who was privy to the discussions between Mr Premji and the chief minister, said: "Mr Premji has told the CM that his company will invest in a near Rs 1,000-crore IT campus in Rajarhat which will be equipped to house 20,000 IT/ITeS professionals once fully ramped up. Construction of the second Wipro campus in the city will start within 18 months and is expected to be operational by 2012."

While Mr Premji did not share details on the proposed investment in the Rajarhat campus, he did indicate that Wipro would fork out Rs 75 crore for the 50 acre plot. "We expect to start construction within 18 months, but before that the government needs to make the necessary infrastructure ready," he told reporters after his near 30-minute meeting with the chief minister at Writers’ Buildings on Thursday.

Significantly, Mr Premji inspected the campus site along with officials of the state IT department and Hidco, the government nodal agency that handles all land allotments in Rajarhat. Wipro’s new campus will be barely 15 minutes away from the Kolkata airport and will be right next to TCS’s upcoming 40-acre campus.

West Bengal IT minister Debesh Das said Wipro will pay the government the land price of Rs 75 crore in two installments. "The company will make the first tranche of payment of 25% of total land price in December 2009. The balance 75% will be paid subsequently. Wipro’s decision to invest in a second campus in Kolkata even during the downturn proves the state’s potential in the IT sector," he said.

Incidentally, Mr Premji also informed the chief minister that Wipro is significantly expanding headcount at its existing 20-acre IT SEZ in Sector V with growing business out of Kolkata. The headcount at its Kolkata campus will grow from 7,000 to 9,000 people shortly.

The much belated Wipro land allotment is a major breather of sorts for the Buddhadeb government, especially in the aftermath of the Vedic Village land scam that led to the scrapping of the mega IT township project in the vicinity where Wipro and Infosys were originally meant to receive 90 acres apiece. While the state managed has managed to make some headway in Wipro’s case, state IT department circles said Infosys was yet to respond to the government’s alternative land offer in Rajarhat.

Convergys and Microsoft set up community technology centre in Bangalore

Convergys Corporation, a global leader in relationship management, and Microsoft Corporation, the worldwide leader in software, services, and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential, announced on Tuesday the opening of a Community Technology Center (CTC) in Bangalore, India.

The CTC will aim to increase computer literacy and develop the job-related technology skills of underprivileged children in the Bangalore area.

The joint Microsoft/Convergys programme will have a significant impact in creating new avenues for social and economic opportunities for local students from the government higher primary school and other organisations. Through the CTC program, students will grow their knowledge of computers and upgrade important technology skills essential for future job opportunities.

A team of dedicated Convergys volunteers with strong computer training skills will routinely conduct the classes, which use a highly successful, technology-intensive digital literacy curriculum designed by Microsoft. The practical course will cover topics ranging from the fundamentals to day-to-day practical applications, such as using the Internet, sending e-mail, and creating a risumi.

As a socially responsible corporate citizen, Convergys and its employees are committed to supporting programs that help improve lives and build stronger communities around the globe, by focusing on education, social, and human services.

Vikas Goswami, Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft India, said, "Under our global Unlimited Potential initiative, we are committed to reaching the benefits of technology to those currently underserved by it. This alliance with Convergys is another step in that direction, and one that we hope will have a positive impact on scores of lives."

Mahesh Dadlani, Director of Convergys' Bangalore facility said, "Together with Microsoft, we hope to reach children early and significantly narrow the digital divide to broaden their future opportunities. Digital literacy will continue to emerge as a key enabler in empowering children to improve their employability in the future and to help them hold a competitive edge amongst an increasingly enlightened workforce."

Located in Convergys' Bangalore facility, the CTC will feature an informal and welcoming environment and will be well equipped with computers, printers, Internet access, and teaching aids.

The CTC will steadily increase its outreach with the aim of inducting close to 1,000 students from primary schools and non-profit organisations.

Sharp drop in H-1B visas being used by Indian cos

Reflecting the changed ground realties in the US in the wake of economic crisis, there has been a sharp drop in H-1B work visas being applied for and obtained by major IT companies from India.

For instance the Infosys, which got as many as 4,559 H-1B visas in the fiscal 2008 and was on top of the list of firms bagging the coveted scheme for professionals, received just 440 H-1B visas in the fiscal 2009 (from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009), according to the latest figures released by the US Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Similarly, Wipro, which in 2008 got 2,678 H-1B visas, received just 1,964 in 2009; but still topped the list in the fiscal 2009.

In 2008, four out of the top five spots for companies bagging the maximum number of H-1B visas were grabbed by Indian companies. These were Infosys (4,559), Wipro (2678), Satyam (1917) and Tata Consultancy Services (1539). Microsoft with 1037 H1-1B visas was the only US company to figure in top five.

However, the situation has changed dramatically in the year 2009 amid the global financial meltdown.

Satyam was a great place to work till the scam broke out

Ramesh D (43) had clocked three satisfying years at Satyam. “Satyam was a great place to be. It did not run like a family enterprise, but like a professionally managed company. And the brand had huge equity across Andhra Pradesh – something like what Infosys enjoys in Karnataka,” he says.

So like everyone else, when Ramesh heard of the Maytas acquisition, he was surprised, but dismissed it. It was only when the scam of Rs 8,000 crore unfolded (latest figures estimate the scam at Rs 14,000 crore), that Ramesh was left spellbound. “It was January 7, it was my wife’s birthday. Over the past one year, I have moved from shock to anger and later to reconciliation and now, hope,” he recalls.

He saw hundreds of employees being asked to leave and others left, as and when they got their hands on other offers. Ramesh too has been waiting for the right opportunity.

While Ramalinga Raju, PwC and the investors of Satyam got maximum attention last year, it was the employees of Satyam who were left in the lurch. Last December, the economic slowdown hit India Inc in full force and pink slips were flying faster than recession. Within minutes of the scam hitting headline, resumes of Satyam employees were flooding the market, but they had nowhere to go.

Vinay A (24), for instance, who had joined Satyam’s Bangalore office straight after engineering, managed an opening in a Kenyan firm. “Office was not running as usual. Our bosses would tell us to calm down and focus, but there was no way it could happen. And when it was all over the media, it became humiliating to even enter the office,” he recalls. “I was lucky to have got a break. There were so many who had nowhere to go and were worried because they had families and personal commitments.”

HR experts believe that it was the recession that saved the day for Satyam. “Had the news broken when the economy was on a boom, the company would’ve gone bust overnight, since everyone would’ve found jobs elsewhere,” says BS Murthy, CEO of Leadership Capital, an executive search firm. “Ever since signs of recovery became visible, the firm has seen 18 to 20 per cent attrition,” he adds.

Ramesh couldn’t agree more: “People in technical roles have already begun leaving. But it’s only in the new fiscal that people from areas like HR, finance, administration and facilities will start moving out.”

(Names of employees have been changed on request.)
Source: mydigitalfc

Hiring mails are the latest spam

Hackers are now increasingly using the new buzzword – Twitter – to dupe internet users. In the last month, security solutions firms have found new job spam messages that use Twitter as its tool to expand, which in turn entices the user to click the URL to view the details of the bogus opportunities.

For instance, spam messages containing Twitter URLs, had subjects like N3 Earn Extra Income! One of the spam messages doing the rounds says — “Have you heard about Google taking in workers online? I read it at Very Interesting!” Yet another one says — “US Surveys is looking for the position of a social shopper”.

“While job-related spam has been prevalent since the recession, Twitter is now being used to lure internet users. These spam emails talk about part-time jobs from big brands,” said Abhinav Karnwal, product marketing manager – APEC, Trend Micro.

Victims are usually offered an amazing job and money, with or without experience. Sometimes they look for a money mule, where they’ll launder stolen money through your account, giving you a percentage. Sometimes, they promise to pay your salary into your account, but transfer money out instead, said Roger Thompson, AVG's chief research officer. They also lure potential money mules to help transfer money by convincing them that they are genuine jobs.

Symantec’s Shantanu Ghosh, VP – India product operations, Symantec, says a large number of Twitter accounts are being used and they seem to be a mixture of hijacked accounts (quite old, and have genuine looking updates) and false accounts set up purely for the purpose of spamming.

Incidentally, India has jumped to the third position in terms of spam volume in 2009. According to Cisco’s annual security report, the country saw spam messages of 3.6 trillion in 2009, 130.4 per cent rise over 2008’s 1.6 trillion.

Wipro ties up with Ariba Inc

IT major Wipro on Tuesday announced its partnership with Ariba Inc, a leading spend management solutions provider, to help companies

across India accelerate their spend management initiatives and the results that they deliver.

Under the terms of a newly formed alliance, Wipro will leverage Ariba's on-demand sourcing solutions to help its clients drive procurement process efficiencies and savings that positively impact their bottom line, a release said.

"The economic crisis has taught us lot of things, the most common of them being that companies must procure goods and services for less", said Ramakrishnan R, vice president and Global Practice Head, Wipro Consulting Services.

"By joining forces with Ariba, we can help companies mature their procurement processes in ways that create superior financial impact for their organisations", he said.

Wipro will leverage Ariba sourcing on-demand to expand on the strategic cost containment services that it provides to clients and deliver sourcing services through which companies can effectively lower their costs on a wide range of goods and services.

ArcelorMittal could cut 10,000 jobs: Report

ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, could cut 10,000 jobs worldwide next year to boost productivity and reduce general expenses by around $500 million, French newspaper Les Echos said on Monday.

The company, which currently employs 285,300 people, wants to regain lost market share and has a goal for general expenses to account for less than 3.5 percent of revenue, the paper said, citing trade union representatives who attended a European workers committee meeting on Dec. 9 to 10.

ArcelorMittal said in an e-mailed statement it did not want to comment on the figures mentioned in the report as they were not final.

"During ArcelorMittal's plenary meeting with its European Works Council last week, company representatives discussed the possibility that the business could expect some global workforce reductions next year due mainly to natural attrition and optimization of production," the statement said.

The company has already moved to slash thousands of jobs earlier this year, amid the steel space suffering the impact of the global economic downturn.

Hiring up by 8.38 pc in Bangalore

Hiring activity continued to surge in the country's IT capital with the job index moving from 598 in October to 649 in November 2009, up by 8.38 per cent.

Prominent industries in Bangalore which witnessed a rise in hiring activity include IT and ITES. The IT industry overall saw an increase in hiring activity in November 2009 by 5.35 per cent,, Naukri JobSpeak, the monthly job index released by job portal, said.

Hiring for IT professionals is 'back' after the dip in October 2009 with an increase of 7.8 per cent and 21.8 per cent in the index of IT-Software and IT-Hardware professionals in November'09 compared to the previous month, it said.

Shell transferring thousands of jobs to India, Philippines

In order to reduce costs, global oil major Royal Dutch Shell will soon transfer additional office jobs from Houston and elsewhere to India and the Philippines.

Shell has also announced that it would slash 5,000 jobs by year-end , including hundreds in Houston as part of a sweeping reorganisation new CEO Peter Voser said is needed to make the company more competitive.

According to internal Shell documents, the European oil giant has been transferring additional office jobs from Houston and elsewhere to India and the Philippines to reduce costs. The migration programmes affect employees in finance and other support functions, which are being consolidated in shared service centres in low-cost countries to fit the new company structure.

It’s unclear how many of Shell’s 13,000 employees in Houston will be affected by the migration plans. Partly, that’s because company officials are still deciding which jobs will stay or go abroad, and are rolling out the plans in phases that run into next year. But at least a few divisions in Houston are preparing to be downsized dramatically.

Major oil companies including Shell, ConocoPhillips and BP have been cutting jobs, capital spending budgets and other costs in response to the global economic downturn that has sapped demand for petroleum products like gasoline and diesel fuel. But Shell’s migration programmes could have broader implications for Houston .

Shell, which is based in The Hague, with US headquarters in Houston, has been involved in a major downsizing since Voser replaced Jeroen van der Veer as CEO in July. By year end, the company plans to cut 5,000 employees, or 10% of its global workforce, under a reorganisation he calls Transition 2009.

The process which merged the company’s three upstream businesses into two, expanded its downstream group and added a new projects and technology division trimmed management ranks by 20% and has forced 15,000 Shell employees to reapply for a smaller pool of jobs.

The company recently told employees within its finance division that some of their jobs are being relocated from Houston and Calgary, Alberta, to finance operations centre in Manila and Chennai. Spokesman Bill Tanner said foreign shared service centres are key to improving the finance unit’s competitiveness.

HCL Axon bags 5-yr GlaxoSmithKline deal

HCL Axon, a division of HCL Technologies, said that it has signed a five-year global IT services deal with pharma company GlaxoSmithKline.

Under the Global Strategic Information Technology Master Services Agreement that HCL Axon has inked with GlaxoSmithKline, the IT company will provide systems integration, SAP implementation and IT consulting services to GSK globally, a release said.

The deal size was however not disclosed. This is one more major global SAP transformation win for HCL Axon since HCL Technologies' acquisition of Axon in December 2008, it added.

"This is an important win for us. It keeps our strategy of becoming the largest global SAP-based business transformation provider firmly on track and confirms the rationale behind the merger with HCL," HCL Axon President Steve Cardell said.

HCL Axon is the world's largest services provider dedicated to SAP solutions, it said.

TCS sole bidder for UK pension project

Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest software outsourcer, is the only firm left in the running for the contract to administer Britain's new national pension scheme, the Mint paper reported on Wednesday.

Other outsourcing firms withdrew during the "competitive dialogue" phase of bidding after deciding the project was not commercially viable, the report said.

"They are an exceptionally strong bidder and we are making excellent progress, but we need to conclude the procurement process appropriately and evaluate their proposals," Tim Jones, chief executive of Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA), told the paper.

PADA will appoint a technology services vendor to manage the pension scheme. "We are keen to continue working with PADA to develop our proposed solution for the personal accounts scheme. This project will help millions of people save for their retirement and we are fully committed to it," TCS said when contacted for comment.

The paper did not say how much the contract was worth, and TCS did not disclose a value.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mahindra Satyam agrees to pay $70 mn to UK firm Upaid

Mahindra Satyam has agreed to pay $70 million to UK-based mobile payment services firm Upaid in an out-of-court settlement, ending uncertainty over one of its long-drawn legal liabilities.

In return, Upaid will drop all charges against Mahindra Satyam and also provide a royalty-free licence on its patents on a worldwide and perpetual basis. The amount is a tenth of what Upaid was seeking in damages from the erstwhile Satyam.

Investors cheered the move that will allow Mahindra Satyam to focus more on business and customer issues as sentiment veers towards an economic recovery.

“It (the Upaid case) could have been pretty intractable,” commented one analyst, terming it a positive development. Satyam shares closed 1.3 per cent higher at Rs 102.65 on BSE on Wednesday.
Source: EconomicTimes

HCL Tech bags 5-yr News Corp deal

IT major HCL Technologies said it has bagged a five-year multi-million pound deal from UK-based News International, a part of News Corporation, for providing software services.

"The company has entered into a multi-million pound, five year engagement for providing technology infrastructure management and transformation with News International," HCL Technologies said in a statement.

HCL will be responsible for managing News International's data centre and network environments along with strategically transforming them.

"The focus within New International on reducing operational costs and increasing technology process standardisation requires the best global technology partnerships," News International Technology Services Director Nick Leake said.

News International publishes several newspapers, including The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times.

"We look forward to applying our technological and industry expertise to support News International's business goals," HCL Tech President Strategic Verticals Sanjeev Nikore said.

HCL Tech is also working with other News Corporation companies. News Corporation, led by media baron Rupert Murdoch, operates in segments such as film, television, cable, magazines, newspapers and publishing.

Infosys to hire 13,000 freshers

After a long dry spell, seems the hiring days are here again. Close on the heels of Wipro announcing its plans to hire 5,000 in the coming months, comes a similar announcement from its rival Infosys Technologies.

The Bangalore-based Infosys Technologies plans to hire 13,000 freshers in the coming fiscal (2010-11), according to a news report in WallStreet Journal.

The report quotes the company's senior vice president and group head, human resources, saying that the company will close with 18,000 freshers and 3,500 laterals this fiscal year.

Recently, Infosys announced plans to double its US headcount. India's second-largest software exporter by revenue plans to hire 1,000 employees in the US.

Earlier, Wipro Technologies said that it will hire 5,000 people in the next couple of months and is looking at a fresh recruitment strategy of taking in graduates from non-engineering institutes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hot Skills for 2010: Dice

Will you be able to command premium pay in 2010? You have a better chance of receiving top dollar if you possess one of the hot certified or non-certified skills that employers are seeking.

IT consulting firm Foote Partners, has once again gathered and analyzed data from several sources, including technology spending projections from major research firms along with wage and salary data gathered through interviews with IT managers and professionals. It's produced a list of the IT skills commanding the highest pay premiums during the previous quarter.

In addition to its reflective look, the firm also projected the certified and non-certified technology skills that will be highly coveted by employers over the next three to six months. Here are the top five skills in each category for 2010:

Non-certified Skills
-SAP SRM (Supplier Relationship Management)
-SAP SCM (Supply Chain Management)
-Microsoft Commerce Server

Certified Skills
-Red Hat Certified Engineer
-Cisco IP Contact Center Express Specialist
-GIAC Certified Incident Handler
-Systems Security Certified Practitioner
-Cisco Certified Design Expert

If you're thinking about boosting your career through additional training or a new certification, consider one of these hotties, if you want to earn the big bucks.
Source: DiceCareerNews

Top Technologies for 2010: Get Up to Speed Now

Is it too early to make predictions for 2010? Not for the people at Gartner. They're in the predictions business, after all.

At a recent symposium, its IT research team revealed its list of the top 10 technologies for 2010 - the ones that will be most strategic for organizations.

"Companies should factor the top 10 technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years," said David Cearley, vice president at Gartner.

So let's see how many you're familiar with. Here's how the firm describes them:

Cloud Computing. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does rearrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners

Advanced Analytics. Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution.

Client Computing. Enterprises should proactively build a five to eight year strategic client computing roadmap outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

IT for Green. The use of IT, particularly among the white collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise's green credentials.

Reshaping the Data Center. Cutting operating expenses, which are a nontrivial part of the overall IT spend for most clients, frees up money to apply to other projects or investments either in IT or in the business itself.

Social Computing. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities.

Security - Activity Monitoring. A variety of complimentary (and sometimes overlapping) monitoring and analysis tools help enterprises better detect and investigate suspicious activity - often with real-time alerting or transaction intervention.

Flash Memory. At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100 percent compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas including consumer devices, entertainment equipmen,t and other embedded IT systems.

Virtualization for Availability. Live migration is the movement of a running virtual machine (VM), while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server.

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web.

So there you have it: a few hints about where we're heading and what you'll need to know as we journey into the months and years ahead.
Source: DiceCareerNews

Ex-Wiproite takes bosses to court

An ex-Wipro employee has reportedly filed a court case against nine of his former seniors who he says forced him to resign after making him go through hell at work

According to a news report in Mid Day, Hyderabad-based G Ram Mohan has filed a private complaint in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bangalore Rural, against nine Wipro officials because he says the police did not look into his grievances when he approached them.

In the complaint, Mohan told the court that he was an employee of Wipro Technologies, Electronics City, from December 3, 2007, till his services were terminated on March 10.

Mohan has alleged that his bosses made him run personal errands and humiliated him. In his complaint, the software professional has claimed that when he opposed this, they threatened him and sought his resignation. The nine Wipro employees named in the complaint are Keshav Kumar, Sreeranganathan, Ankur Chadha, Anuradha Raju, Ganesh Halapethi, Supriya Mahajan, Vikram Mirani, Sulekha Jagadish and Shalini Macaden.

Mohan told the news daily that he had nine years of experience in software testing when he joined Wipro in 2007.

According to the report, spokesperson of Wipro, when contacted, sought more time to reply to queries about the complaint filed in the court.
Source: IndiaTimes
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TCS, Infy, Wipro, IBM to bid for Rs 2000 cr online FIR project

Vijay Kumar Singh hopes that by 2012, most of those he gets to see in person would be potential criminals.

Well, Singh happens to be a cop. And those whom he intends to spare from his appointment diary are the general public. Singh’s hopes are pinned on a new automated complaint filing and tracking system that the ministry of home affairs (MHA) plans to roll out across India, aimed at trimming the time the general public spends in doing the labyrinthine rounds of the good old police station.

At the Greater Kailash-1 police station in South Delhi, where Singh is the station house officer, the existing Zipnet search is pretty much an ornament. The system tracks from a set base of data, often outdated, and fails to read the latest inputs from other law enforcement agencies.

The new integrated system police officers like Singh are looking forward to will network initially 14,000 police stations across the country, and all the 6,000 higher offices in police hierarchy (like headquarters, range offices, zonal offices). It will bring the benefits of India Inc’s technology prowess to this British era institution, hopes Singh.

Companies filter emails of staff to prevent data transfer

Any technological innovation can be used or abused. Unfortunately, many observe that mobile phones with cameras as well as internet facilities are more abused than used.

While Indian conglomerates are yet to bar the use of mobile phone cameras within office premises, they have started filtering mails being sent by employees to avoid transfer of key data or information to the enemy .

While some like the cigarettes-to-hotels & FMCG conglomerate ITC ensure that mails being sent by colleagues get approved by department heads, others like IVRCL Infrastructures & Projects are looking to impose these safety guards in its wholly-owned subsidiary company Hindustan Dorr-Oliver as it is involved in technical and complex work.

Said ITC Ltd CIO VVR Babu: “External email access in ITC is given to users based on specific approvals. Use of IT facilities including email is governed by the Employees Code of Conduct. Since our emails are archived, mails can be accessed and reviewed post facto by the user’s manager in case there is a need to do so.”
“This apart, we do not allow users to access external mail sites such as Gmail, YahooMail, Hotmail, Rediffmail, etc. from the ITC network for security reasons ,” Mr Babu added.

A leading IT security firm Websense’s spokesperson Manish Bansal concedes: “As much as 70-80 % of information leaked happen inadvertently. That is why a strict check on mails are a must for companies. There are instances where employees of a certain department have leaked classified information to colleagues of other departments.”
Adding, Mr Bansal said: “Organisations which keep a tab on their email systems define what breed of information can be termed as essential to a firm. These are carefully monitored. There are softwares that scan every mail — both outbound and inbound. IT service firms and financial organisations dealing with customer data as well as telecom companies are ones that use the monitoring system on a regular basis.”

Asked whether use of such software slows down the mail systems, Mr Bansal said: “Current day softwares are dynamic enough not to slow down systems .” Some like IVRCL Infrastructures & Projects have not felt the need to filter mails being sent by its employees.

“We are, however, looking to impose these safety guards in group company Hindustan Dorr-Oliver as the firm works on far more technical and complex projects,” E Sudhir Reddy, chairman & managing director , IVRCL Infrastructures, pointed out.

Elaborating further, Mr Reddy said, “Many of the processes being used by Dorr-Oliver are patented. In the past, Dorr-Oliver lost out because these processes were either transferred surreptitiously to the enemy camp or were retained by the fabricators and subsequently , used the processes to execute other projects. Past experience suggests that we put a strong system in place as far as Dorr-Oliver is concerned.”

“Chip design companies, manufacturing entities, healthcare firms, BFSI and software development companies even control use of USB drives, CD/DVD or uploading of data to the net either through mail or any other system . If an employee tries to upload sensitive company information, the system automatically blocks it and the company’s IT department can pin him down,” said Kartik Sahani, country head McAfee, another leading IT security firm.

“At Novartis, we have a code of conduct to which all employees are party as also an information security policy which clearly lays down the dos and don’ts to be followed by employees with regard to all information they come in contact with by nature of their jobs. While we do not bar employees from using other mail systems, we expect employees to not misuse company time and resources. In case an employee is found guilty of such misuse, he/she could be liable to disciplinary action,” said Ranjit Shahani, vice chairman & managing director, Novartis India.

The firm, however, restricts use of mobile phones with cameras in certain areas where there is a risk of data getting transmitted outside the company.

Does all this mean Indian conglomerates and business houses may soon restrict use of camera phones within office premises? Who knows!

Satyam bags Rs 100-cr Airbus deal

Mahindra Satyam has won a Rs 100-crore ($20 million) outsourcing contract from the world’s largest maker of commercial aircraft, Airbus, to manage its internal quality and processes.

Sources said the three-year contract involving technology maintenance, will put Satyam at a vantage point as they can now have an overview of the projects and technology which controls the organisation. “The work outsourced mainly includes quality management,” said a person familiar with the matter.

An email query to Mahindra Satyam and Airbus remained unanswered at the time of this report going to press. This is the second important contract Mahindra Satyam has bagged in the last few months.

It won an IT outsourcing contract last month from Swedish defence and aerospace firm, Saab, to develop its operations for the global defence and security market in India in a deal valued at around $300 million.

TCS' BaNCS ranked no 1 in China

The core banking solution of Tata Consultancy Services BaNCS has been ranked as the leading core banking solution in China based on its performance in 2008 by IDC, a global market research and analysis firm specialising in Information technology.

This was the third year in a row that TCS had been ranked at the top of solution providers for the financial services industry in China, an IDC release said on Monday.

"New customer wins on a periodic basis have been central to TCS' success as a leader in this region", Serena Shang, Senior Analyst, IDC China, said.

"TCS BaNCS' capability to scale and address a wide range of financial institutions coupled with their global track record is an attractive proposition. They can consolidate their initial learnings to make faster progress in perhaps one of the toughest markets in the world", she said.

India beats Europe in IT pros salary

Is Indian software industry fast losing its low-cost destination advantage? So it may seem. According to the 2009 EE Times Global Salary & Opinion Survey, Engineers' salaries in India and China have risen at a pace faster than that in some of their counterparts like Japan and countries in North America and Europe.

Almost 40 per cent of the respondents in India have seen their salaries grow much or slightly higher than what they were 5 years ago, while only 34 per cent of respondents in Europe and 25 per cent of that in North America reported a hike during the same time.

The study says that competition for engineering talent in India and its emerging rival China has got tougher in the last ten years as hardware and software companies have accelerated the transfer of manufacturing and design operations from Western locations to lower-cost parts of the globe. This growing competition, often makes companies offer attractive incentives to hire experienced engineers, only to lose them to rivals after a couple of years.

However, though IT employees in both China and India have seen better raises over the last few years than their counterparts in the developed world, majority of the techies in the two countries still earn considerably less than their counterparts elsewhere, the study adds.

Three IT cos bag $600 mn Walmart deal

Walmart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, has picked three IT vendors including India's Infosys Technologies for multi-year contracts worth over $600 million, the Business Standard said on Friday.

The other vendors are Cognizant Solutions and UST Global, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified source close to the development.

Initially the three vendors are expected to earn Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion ($54 million-$65 million) each annually, which will rise as Wal-Mart increases outsourcing more work.

Infosys and Cognizant, which will provide application development and support, are expected to get a larger share of the contract, the paper said. UST will be responsible for testing these applications, it said.

"What is more important is that these three vendors have now got a ticket to be in the club of Walmart's list of preferred vendors which will help them in growing this account in the long run," the paper quoted the source as saying.

"We do not comment on market speculation," a spokeswoman for Infosys told Reuters. Walmart's media relations director, John Simley, said in am emailed reply to the paper, "We have a large and growing business and productive relationship with many Indian companies. We do not comment on speculations about the nature of any business relationship."

A Cognizant spokesman also declined to comment, the paper said.
Source: IndiaTimes

Friday, December 4, 2009


Tech Mahindra plans BPO unit in Philippines

Resurrecting Satyam may be dominating mindshare at Tech Mahindra ever since it acquired the firm in April, but the company is silently expanding its global footprint in the BPO space.

Tech Mahindra is mulling a brand new BPO operation in the Philippines, which will be its third offshore contact centre after Northern Ireland and the UK. If Tech Mahindra indeed dials the Philippines, it will be emulating the likes of Wipro and Infosys, who have already established BPOs to cash in on the low-operating costs in that country.

Having tapped into the outsourcing opportunities that exist in the UK and the European Union (EU) by establishing contact centres in Belfast and South Tyneside, Tech Mahindra is now tipped to set up shop in the Philippines to cater to global telecom clients in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) and North American markets.

Infosys to reduce sub-contractors, perform their work in-house

IT major Infosys plans to reduce the usage of sub-contractors and perform their work in-house particularly at cheaper offshore locations, a top company official said on Friday.

"We found during our reviews that a large number of client work had been outsourced to sub-contractors. In such cases, we decided to reduce the usage of sub-contractors and use our (own) facility," Infosys' chief mentor, NR Narayana Murthy, said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Mumbai.

The company has also taken a new concept "more from the same", which will scrutinise budgets and look after areas where previously unnoticed expenses could be eliminated, he said.

Infosys believes that this new concept will benefit the company, its shareholders and its employees. During the second quarter of FY 10, the company saw a 2.9 per cent increase in revenues from the first quarter.

Satyam to Hire 1,000 College Graduates by Mid-December

India's Satyam Computer Services Ltd., now operating under the Mahindra Satyam brand, will recruit around 1,000 college graduates by mid-December, a senior company executive said Friday.

"The need to hire some entry-level people is being felt because of attrition and to prepare for the future," Hari T, chief people officer, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Fraud-hit Satyam was acquired by Tech Mahindra Ltd. in April via a government-led auction after Satyam's founder and then chairman confessed in January to cooking the company's books.

These recruits will be among the 7,000 who received offers from Satyam before the scam came to light, Mr. Hari said.

Satyam was doubly hit by the global economic meltdown as clients canceled projects and sought price cuts as they faced pressure on profits.

In a bid to cut costs, Mahindra Satyam also cut salaries and placed staff who were not working on billable projects on forced leave.

However, the company is now recovering from the fraud and the impact of the global meltdown.

Mr. Hari said the company has already recalled about 1,500 people from the original 8,000 placed on forced leave.

HCL Tech Inks $200-Mln Pact With UK-Based Insurance Co

India’s fourth largest software exporter, HCL Technologies, Nov 23 said it has bagged a $200 million contract from the UK-based insurance firm Equitable Life Assurance Society.

HCL would provide complete solution to the company, including policy administration, finance, IT operational support and call center services, a HCL statement said.

The deal is expected to help Equitable Life save about eight million pounds in costs in the first year.

“Future savings and predictability of costs mean Equitable Life can reduce its provision for future costs by an amount in excess of 100 million pound, the statement added.

HCL Insurance Business Services Ltd, a part of HCL Tech has signed the deal.

The contract, which comes into effect in March 2011, will deliver substantial cost benefits to Equitable Life’s policyholders through the transfer of core processing and support activities, HCL said.

Equitable Life has over 8 billion pound under management on behalf of over 500,000 policyholders and members of group pension schemes.

“This is a major win for HCL IBS since the acquisition of Liberata Financial Services in 2008 and reflects our position as a leader in transforming our clients’ Life and Pensions operations,” HCL Senior Vice-President Stuart Drew said.
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Demand for US H-1B visas on the rise

Applications for H-1B visas increased rapidly since October, indicating growing demand for skilled foreign staff from US companies

Demand for US H-1B visas has grown dramatically in the past month and a half, according to a report on

Figures released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service showed a spike in applications, after a quiet summer, indicating that US companies are again looking for foreign workers to fill skilled positions.

The demand seen in the past six to eight weeks has driven up the number of visa petitions to 58,900, approaching the 65,000 cap for financial year 2010.

The demand spike may also be down to companies switching existing foreign temporary workers on L-1B visas to the more stable H-1B visa, and demand for visas for students who have recently graduated with technical qualifications.

If the level cap is reached, which is expected to happen possibly by the start of next year, visas would then be allocated on a lottery basis, which is also fuelling the rush for visas as companies push through applications for staff.

The H-1B visa allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, and has been widely used by the IT and technology sectors to secure skilled employees.

Many non-US offshoring companies also rely on H-1B to be able to place their staff with customers in the US.

The system is controversial however, with opponents saying that jobs should go to American citizens first. There is currently legislation proposed to the US Senate which would prevent any company that has already laid off 50 or more workers from hiring guest workers, which could potentially affect a large number of technology firms that have laid off large numbers of workers but continue hiring to fill other roles.

French IT co launches India operations

France-based IT company NetASQ launched its India operation here today and said it was investing $1 million initially to capture 20 per cent of the estimated $2 billion network security solutions market in the country.

A subsidiary of Airbus group, the company would launch U series firewalls and Mfiltro anti-spam appliances in India.

"We will be targeting the mid and high range segments," Dominique Meurisse, Executive Vice president (Sales and Marketing) of the France-based company, said.

The French company will be running its operations with technical support from the city-based Zoom Technologies. Meurisse quoted a report by consultancy firm Frost and Sullivan which says the network security solution market is expected to grow further.

MH Noble, Managing Director, Zoom Technologies, said a 24X7 multilingual support centre for NetASQ in the city had been set up.

NetASQ, which operates in 45 countries, has managed a growth of 30 per cent and is anticipating reaching 100 million Euros next year.

No one’s good enough for Infosys' Engg prize

You thought India produces one of the best engineers across the globe? Not really (seems like)! For, Indian IT giant Infosys Technologies has reportedly failed to find a worthy candidate for its Infosys Engineering Science Prize 2009.

The company has decided not to give the prize in that category to anyone this year. Infosys’ chief operating officer (COO), SD Shibulal, told a business daily that there were 34 nominees for the engineering and computer science prize but even after relaxing the age limit to 55 years, the jury could not find anyone who met all the criteria of the Infosys Prize. So, the jury has taken unanimous decision to not award the prize for the engineering sciences discipline this year.

The company has named three scientists and two academic experts as winners of Infosys Prize 2009 for outstanding contributions to scientific research.

The winner in physical sciences is Thanu Padmanabhan of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophyics, Pune, in recognition of his contribution to a deeper understanding of Einstein’s theory of gravity in the context of thermodynamics. For mathematical sciences, Ashoke Sen of Harish Chandra Research Institute at Allahabad was given the prize in recognition of his contributions to mathematical physics. For life sciences, K VijayRaghavan of National Centre of Biological Sciences in Bangalore got the award.

The winner in the social sciences and economics category is Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee of Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his contributions to the economic theory of development. Upinder Singh of the University of Delhi won an award for her contributions as an outstanding historian of ancient and early medieval India.

MphasiS to replace pay hike with bonus

Mid-tier software services firm MphasiS, which is owned by Hewlett Packard (HP), plans to replace its annual salary increment for its staff with a one-time bonus in order to ensure more variability in its employee wage bill and align it better with the company’s performance.

The bonus, termed as a recompense bonus, was introduced earlier this year, replacing increments, and is likely to be extended over next few years, said a senior company official.

“We have started innovating on the compensation model. We will not do salary increases... If the company is doing well, the employees will be compensated for it,” Elango R, chief human resources officer, MphasiS, said.

Unlike some top IT firms, which already have a variable pay structure in place, MphasiS had a predominantly fixed salary structure till 2009. By shifting to a one-time bonus, which is linked the employee’s performance and the company’s performance, MphasiS aims to make about 20% of its employee wage bill variable in the next three years.

In 2009, the demand slump and the need to conserve cash forced the management to reach out to employees, and ask them to forgo salary hikes, customarily given in March or April. Elango said the company didn’t do any layoffs or salary cuts, and employees were promised they would be compensated when the company performed well. True to promise, MphasiS recently gave a recompense bonus of 10% and higher than that will be paid out in December.

MphasiS, which announced results for its fiscal ended October 2009 last week, posted a sharp 44% rise in revenue to Rs 4,283.3 crore and a two-fold jump in net profit to Rs 908 crore. The company also intends to resume hiring and will hire as many as 1,500 experienced professionals to fill open positions in the current quarter alone.

In the October 2009 quarter, it had opted not to hire, as it had to absorb around 750 employees from AIGSS -- the software captive of insurance firm AIG that it acquired. About 300 of the 750-employees of the captive were on the bench, and MphasiS has now deployed them on client projects.

While larger tech rivals hire employees and keep them on bench in preparedness for new projects, MphasiS has a just-in-time hiring policy. “Our hiring engine is highly tweaked. We don’t carry a huge bench,” said Elango. The company had an 82% utilisation in the October 2009 quarter.

The current crop of employees are also being hired in response to deals the company has won, and will work in the areas of enterprise resource planning (ERP), web technologies, infrastructure management and applications.

The company has also taken on board 120 freshers that it had made offers to and intends to shortly ask 150 more freshers to join. With this, all the freshers with outstanding offers from the company and who haven’t dropped out, would have joined, Mr Elango said.

Wipro to hire 5,000 in 2 months

IT firm Wipro Technologies said it will hire 5,000 people in the next couple of months and is looking at a fresh recruitment strategy of taking in graduates from non-engineering institutes.

"Our strategy is to recruit non-engineering graduates, in addition to engineering and make them fit into the slot. We are still working out the details," Wipro Technologies Joint Chief Executive Officer Girish Paranjpe today said.

Refusing to divulge more details for next year's recruitments and outlook, Paranjpe said it would be a mix of 60 per cent freshers and 40 per cent experienced.

Around 5,000 will be taken into the company in a month or two, he said.

Last year, the company made offers to as many as 8,500 persons through recruitment drives in colleges and institutions.

"We expect clients to make no further cuts in their budgets. We expect 2010 to be a better year than 2009," Paranjpe said.

He said the new hiring strategies will be worked out in a month or two. Attrition rate in the company stood at 10 per cent. On becoming energy efficient, he said the company is determined to reduce the carbon emission per employee by 45 per cent from the present 3.96 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes in the next five years.

"Our power consumption went down by 12 per cent last year and we are planning to set up a micro windmill at our Hyderabad facility soon," Paranjpe said.

The company consumes nearly 75 megawatt power from both government and internal sources. He said the company's exposure in the Gulf market is around 4 per cent and the Dubai financial crisis will have no impact.
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Infosys to double US headcount

Indian IT majors seem to be in a hurry to shed their `job stealer' tag. Country's IT bellwether is all set to double its workforce in the US.

According to a news report in Walls Street Journal (WSJ), India's second-largest software exporter by revenue is planning to hire 1,000 employees in the US. The report quotes a recent interview of the company's Chief Executive S Gopalkrishnan to Dow Jones Newswires.

The news comes close on the heels of TCS CEO saying that the company wants to become global not just in terms of "sales but from a people perspective". The country's numero uno IT company recently expanded its strategic business alliance with US-based Dow Chemicals. The alliance will create new jobs in Midland-Michigan.

As part of the alliance, Dow and TCS are planning to build a new service centre at a site near Dow's global headquarters in Midland Michigan, the US.

Recently the country's third largest IT company Wipro Technologies too announced that it is expanding its US operations and will hire about 1,000 people, including more locals.

Indian IT companies, who have traditionally been earning over 50% of their profits from the US markets, are often derided for stealing local jobs. The recent recession and spiralling unemployment in the US seems has only further fueled the sentiment.

ST-Ericsson to lay off 600 staff globally

Chip maker ST-Ericsson has said that it plans to cut around 600 jobs worldwide as part of a move to save $115 million annually.

The joint venture between Swedish wireless equipment firm LM Ericsson AB and Swiss chipmaker STMicroelectronics said that it will conduct a global work force review. It will announce further details of the layoffs, and which countries will be affected after it has been in contact with the related unions.

The savings will add to a previous savings program announced in July. To reach the annual savings target ST-Ericsson will also reduce operating expenses and introduce an efficiency program within its research and development operations. ST-Ericsson was formed as a joint venture between Ericsson and STMicroelectronics in February 2009 with main headquarters in Geneva.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Firms can mitigate IT skills shortage

The shortage of information and communications technology (ICT) skills in developed countries could become a serious issue once the worldwide economic crisis starts easing.

This will be exacerbated by the falling number of masters and PhD holders in science and engineering, restrictions on cross-border movement of IT professionals and the US H-1B visa programme. However, this vicious circle could be mitigated by the Indian service firms increasingly recruiting internationally, according to a new OECD report on employment trends in the ICT secto

The report notes that Indian tech firms like TCS, Wipro and Infosys have seen slower recruitment since the first quarter of 2008. However, the pent-up demand in the European economies and the US will ensure that good workers are available for the taking when these companies are looking to further expand their international operations.

“Concerns have been raised whether increased offshore activities could lead to a shortage of ICT skills in the OECD countries in the long term,” the report said, adding that such a shortage could reinforce the need for further offshoring as ICT skills shortage is known to be a driver for offshore outsourcing.

The report said that while no additional largescale layoffs have been announced by the top 10 IT services firms, employment levels will stay at almost the present levels until 2009-end. IT services firms like IBM and Cap Gemini have announced slower hiring for 2009. So have Indian IT giants like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys, which despite the crisis, still expect to grow in single digits in the third quarter of 2009-10.

The economic crisis has put IT service costs under pressure, but this may benefit outsourcing due to the increased internal cost-cutting and perceived benefits from more flexible external sourcing of IT and business process services. The recent quarterly data on the outsourcing markets indicate that despite the number of outsourcing transactions still on the rise, revenue growth through IT and BPO will probably decline in 2009, due to the falling total contract values (TCV), the OECD report said.

However, the Asia-Pacific region has been performing well with TCV in the first half of 2009 increasing over 150 per cent over the first half of 2008. The report suggested that higher TCVs in the APAC region could explain the optimism of the Indian tech service firms who have been changing their product-product mix to adapt to the changing market demands.

“Recruitments have already started to slow in the beginning of 2008 when new hiring by leading Indian service providers dropped 22 per cent in the first quarter of 2008 and by almost 50 per cent in the second quarter compared to the same period one year earlier. These lower recruitment rates are also reflected in the decreasing number of new offshore centres opened by IT services firms,” the report added.

Symbiosys Tech to add 230 seats

Software exporter Symbiosys Technologies is planning to add another 220-230 seats by 2011. The company has set up its offshore development centre at the Visakhapatnam IT Special Economic Zone with an investment of Rs 20 crore.

Chief Minister K Rosaiah would inaugurate the 100,000 sft facility on November 25, Naresh Kumar Oruganti, chief executive officer, Symbiosys, told mediapersons here on Monday.

The company, which has offices at Hyderabad and Bangalore, expects its Vizag unit to account for Rs 14 crore software export turnover. “Currently our manpower strength is 220 and by 2011, this would increase to 450,” he said.

China eyes Indian outsourcing cos for software solutions

As top Chinese enterprises such as Bank of China and China Telecom seek to globalise their operations, they are increasingly turning to multinational and Indian outsourcing firms, including IBM and TCS, for deploying and maintaining standard software solutions, giving them an edge over local service providers.

In many ways, Chinese customers’ shift towards global and Indian vendors is reminiscent of how top Indian customers such as Bharti Airtel preferred an IBM over domestic suppliers around two decades ago for modernising their IT and business systems.

While state-owned and local Chinese software services suppliers, such as Digital China Holdings and Neusoft, continue to work with the country’s large customers, IBM along with TCS and others are being preferred for large, complex outsourcing contracts by customers such as China Telecom and Bank of China.

“A fragmented local vendor landscape and a domestic market dominated by wholly foreign-owned enterprise customers means that it will be the major western and Indian outsourcing vendors that will reap the rewards,” said Patrick O’Brien, senior analyst at the UK-based research firm Ovum. “Apart from scale, local service providers also lack experience in handling large outsourcing contracts, something global and Indian firms are really good at,” he added.

While IBM earned nearly $690 million from China’s almost $10-billion IT services market last year, both TCS and Wipro have started making progress as well. TCS on its part, has recently won several large contracts beating local Chinese rivals, including over $100-million deal for implementing a core banking software at Bank of China.

Until recently, most companies in China were running homegrown ERP and other systems, however, many of them are now planning to deploy standardised solutions from SAP and Oracle, this is where we have better expertise,” said Girija Pande, head of TCS’ Asia business.

Chinese banks have not yet made significant technology investments, compared with their US counterparts. While only 10% of the country’s banks offer online banking, there is only one ATM machine in China for every 10,400 citizens, compared with one ATM for every 735 citizens in the US.

A core banking software based on modern platforms from TCS or Infosys will help these Chinese banks centralise their retail and wholesale banking operations, and also enable them to cope up with increased lending activities, as required by their government.

“Banking and telecom customers in China want vendors with global expertise, we recently advised one of the top three phone firms in China to go with IBM and TCS,” said an outsourcing expert, who consults Chinese customers on their outsourcing strategies. He requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak about his engagement with these clients.

For Indian tech firms, such as Infosys and TCS, the past experience of working with large customers in the US and Europe is paying rich dividends. “Local Chinese outsourcing providers have not been providing services across the IT/BPO services spectrum, but are gradually trying to move up and address multiple market needs,” said Srinath Batni, who is a board member of Infosys’ Chinese subsidiary.

Apart from local Chinese customers, Infosys is also able to serve its global customers rolling out their operations in the country. For instance, Infosys’ core banking software Finacle has made some progress in China with significant wins at China Bank and ABN Amro’s operations in Greater China. Companies such as IBM, TCS and Infosys are also able to bring their project management experience to serve large Chinese customers.

Wipro to hire more locals in US for Atlanta operations

Global software major Wipro Technologies is expanding its US operations and will hire about 1,000 people, including more locals, at its Atlanta development facility, the IT bellwether said on Monday.

"We are expanding our US operations to scale up our headcount to about 1,000 from 350 presently at our Atlanta centre," the company said in a statement here.

"About 80 percent of them are locals and includes graduates from leading academic institutions in Atlanta," it added.

"The local employees will support our North American clients in diverse verticals such as healthcare, manufacturing, telecom, utilities, retail and financial services," Wipro chief global delivery officer Sambuddha Deb said in the statement.

Lauding Wipro for investing in the Georgia state capital, Metro Atlanta Chamber vice-president Jorge Fernandez said the trade body's goal was not to just attract global firms, but also ensure that they thrive and grow in the US market.

"Wipro's success signifies more high-tech jobs to metro Atlanta and continues to build our reach into India," Fernandez said.

Atlanta Development Authority director Charles Whatley said Atlanta has emerged as the prime location for global firms like Wipro to set up their US headquarters.

"Wipro is finding attractive talent and our market is welcoming its services," Whatley added.
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Tata Comm, Infosys & four others in deal with US cos

Six Indian companies, including Tata Communications, Infosys Technologies and Apollo Hospitals, have signed separate collaboration agreements with US-based firms for joint business development at Washington on Monday.

The agreement signing ceremony, organised by industry body CII, coincides with the state visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US.

Data services provider Tata Communications has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tyco Electronics to work together in providing additional connectivity and transmission, using dark fibers on the submarine cable system.

Indian IT major Infosys Technologies has signed a multi-year enterprise agreement with Microsoft, to work together in areas like databases, besides infrastructure and application software.

Apollo Hospitals has signed an MoU with stem cell therapeutics company StemCyte to establish a cord blood bank facility at its Ahmedabad-based hospital.

Drugmaker Cadila has joined hands with biotech firm Novavax to support production of key vaccines in India, including the recently-developed H1N1 Pandemic Vaccine. Jubilant Organosys also entered into a joint venture with two US institutes — University of Alabama and Southern Research Institute.

Satyam scam is of over $2.8 bn: CBI

The accounting scam at Satyam Computer Services is to the tune of Rs.14,000 crore (Rs 140 billion/$2.8 billion)) and not Rs 7,800 crore (Rs 78 billion) as the company's disgraced former chairman B Ramalinga Raju stated earlier this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has said. ( Watch )

The federal agency Tuesday filed a 200-page charge sheet in the special court for CBI cases here that had details of properties acquired by Raju and other accused and their financial transactions abroad through fictitious firms.

"The quantum of scam and the loss suffered by investors has been quantified. The loss suffered by investors works out to over Rs 14,000 crore," said CBI Deputy Inspector General Lakshminarayana.

Microsoft CFO to leave, look for bigger job

Microsoft Corp's Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell is to leave the company at the end of the year, indicating that he is looking for a bigger job at another company.

Liddell, 51, has been CFO at the world's largest software company since May 2005, after joining from paper and packaging maker International Paper Co, where he was also CFO.

The New Zealander, who has a masters degree in philosophy and does triathlons in his spare time, is now "looking at a number of opportunities that will expand his career beyond being a CFO," according to Microsoft.

Before coming to the United States, Liddell was CEO of New Zealand forest products company Carter Holt Harvey Ltd, and also worked as an investment banker.

He will be succeeded as Microsoft CFO by Peter Klein, who is currently CFO of Microsoft's Business Division, which makes the highly profitable Office suite of programs.

Microsoft shares fell 21 cents in after-hours trading to $29.74.