Opinion: India’s IT maturity can benefit UK firms

The Holiday Team sales director Rajan SawhneyAs India’s middle class gets bigger and more ambitious, it’s time to reassess outsourcing to India, says The Holiday Team sales director Rajan Sawhney

My last trip to India just a few weeks ago was memorable for good and bad reasons.

First, my stay was unexpectedly extended as I was one of the millions of travellers caught up in the ash cloud drama.

Second, I spent a few days at our call centre in Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi, which is an impressive operation and the hub of our business.

While I was there I met some of the newer staff and it struck me that, in just five years, the “new India” is creating a generation of young workers who are confident, educated and keen to excel.

One young guy I saw had the passion and determination to succeed that one rarely sees when meeting junior new recruits in the UK.

Call centres and IT have been engines of growth in India and, as one of the world’s fastest growing economies, the country now has a thriving middle class of an estimated 300 million people.

With the formation of a ministry for IT, the government of India is not only investing in research and development for the technology sector but also developing quality educational resources to ensure a highly skilled workforce.

It is estimated that India has more than four million technical workers, with about 1,830 educational institutions and polytechnics training more than 67,000 computer software professionals every year. It is this knowledge industry which is growing the Indian economy.

With the maturing of the call centre and IT industry in India, I see huge opportunities for more UK-based travel companies to work alongside Indian firms to support their back office and customer facing operations.

The ash cloud crisis and global recession has had a huge impact on the profits of so many travel businesses. Costs must urgently be reviewed on every level.

In my last column for Travolution in February I talked about the travel industry’s caution over outsourcing to India due to concerns about quality issues.

But given the financial crisis we are in, I predict that even businesses which have been initially sceptical may now be persuaded to think again.

My recent visit really brought it home to me how the maturity of young staff who are highly motivated and educated can add a huge amount of value to UK organisations.

Great strides have been made to improve service levels in just a few short years.

I expect that many sceptics who now look to India will like what they see – not only when it comes to the bottom line but also in terms of customer satisfaction. And don’t those two things often go together?

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