Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

‘String of pearls’

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  ”String of pearls” could have different meanings.

It is how MphasiS Chief Executive Ganesh Ayyar refers to the Indian IT services provider’s strategy of going for small to mid-size acquisitions. The bigger ones can become a “noose around your neck”, Ayyar said.

The company, 61 percent owned by Hewlett-Packard, is buying the India-based IT services arm of troubled U.S. insurer American International Group. Ayyar, who spoke to us about the company’s “ambidextrous approach” to business, indicated today that any future acquisitions would be in the AIG ballpark.

DELIVERY CAPACITY 

Ayyar also told us that MphasiS was close to opening its first offshore global delivery center outside India.   He offered us no color, telling us to “let it remain a monochrome.” All we know for now is that this center will be in a low-cost emerging market. Your guess is as good as ours.

Breakfast with SAP, anyone?

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If you know 5,500 software professionals in India looking for a job, just send them over to Stephen Watts, SAP’s chief operating officer for Asia Pacific and Japan. The Irish-born Watts, who is also temporarily heading the business software group’s India operations, denied any talk of doubling headcount in India by 2010.

SAP has focused in the past on contracts with large customers but is increasingly turning towards mid-sized companies. While talking to us on a conference call from Singapore, Watts compared
small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to breakfast. “Life begins with a good breakfast,” he said, emphasising the importance the company gives to SMEs.

Love isn’t in the air for now

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Technology giants this year have been encroaching on one another’s markets, buying up companies as they try to become one-stop shops for computing, networking and data storage, but Infosys still hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon.

Infosys Technologies Chief Financial Officer V. Balakrishnan compared acquisitions to “falling in love,” saying that one does not generally know when or how it will happen. When we asked about who Infosys was dating, Balakrishnan was noncommittal.

What’s in a Name?

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Mahindra Satyam’s president of global operations, Atul Kunwar, told us the “first instinct” was to drop the Satyam name when the company was acquired in the wake of India’s biggest corporate fraud.

“We all need to have a name; sometimes we like them, sometimes we don’t,” Kunwar said while explaining that the company known as Satyam Computers was also known for its “solidity” and “great delivery.”

Six months a long time for BSE’s Kannan

When 36-year old Madhu Kannan took over the reins at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) earlier this year, he was faced with the task of turning around Asia’s oldest bourse, which had lost market share to tech-savvy new rivals.

Kannan, the youngest-ever CEO at the 134-year-old exchange, also had to gain acceptance from his employees in what had until then been a largely hierarchical firm.

The Reuters India Summit comes to Bangalore

On Wednesday, the Reuters India Investment Summit comes to the information technology hub of Bangalore.

The city has become synonymous in the West with outsourcing and “cheap labor” but is rapidly emerging as a hot spot for research and development. Bangalore is also marching ahead in the information technology value chain. Some companies like Wipro actually outsource work from India to Egypt.

Welcome to the 2009 India Investment Summit

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India managed to escape the worst of the global downturn and is poised, along with China, to lead the global economy out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Confidence is returning, with the stock market up 70 percent this year. A rousing re-election win for the Congress party in May has spurred expectations that long-delayed financial sector reforms will be implemented and sorely needed infrastructure investment will accelerate.
 
Still, questions linger. Global demand that drives India’s once red-hot outsourcing sector is slow in returning. Companies that hoarded cash to tide themselves through the downturn are wary of adding capacity until there are clear signs of demand. Consumer spending is being driven by stimulus measures that are unsustainable. The government is hamstrung by a stubbornly high fiscal deficit.
 
Other challenges include India’s infamous red tape, the threat of inflation in a fast-growing economy prone to bottlenecks, widespread poverty, and infrastructure that is inadequate to support a rapidly urbanising population of more than one billion.
 
Top executives and bankers will discuss their own plans and the broader opportunities and challenges for Asia’s third-largest economy during the Reuters India Investment Summit in Mumbai and Bangalore, which will generate exclusive stories, video and analysis. These will be immediately available only to Thomson Reuters clients during each Summit.

Audio – Outsourcing daily life

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At the Reuters India Investment Summit we asked Managing Partner of IBM Global Services Sandip Patel about the first thing he would like to outsource from his daily life. His response, perhaps instinctively, was automating the cleanup of thousands of his emails.

 

Anantha Radhakrishnan, Vice President at Infosys BPO, yearned for extended telecommuting to cut down on travel time (and probably cost as well!!) when asked the same question.

Audio – Meltdown Melodrama

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Hollywood and Bollywood screenwriters must beware. Their creativity stands no chance against the “cataclysmic” global financial crisis’ talent for script writing if Infosys BPO’s Anantha Radhakrishnan is to be believed.

 

In these “turbulent and tumultuous” times, the script being crafted by the crisis promises to “differentiate the men from the boys” in the business process outsourcing industry, with deep-pocketed firms expected to brace their way through the storm, according to Radhakrishnan, a vice president at the outsourcing firm.

Audio – Still holding out

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One would expect a top executive of the world’s largest software services provider to hang out with the latest gadgets. Sandip Patel, Managing Partner for IBM Global Business Services in South Asia, seems to be quite the contrarian.

 

He is antagonized by even the most common gadget to adorn executive pockets in these times.

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