By guest author Tony Scott
Introduction and History
So, after reading a few of my previous interviews, do you still think that “outsourcing” is just about labor arbitrage of low-level tasks?
I recently interviewed David Wert, global head of managed services at Tata Communications, and Niraj Sridhar, who leads Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS). They provide outsourced network and communications infrastructure services to global telecommunications companies and global enterprises such as Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! – definitely not “low-level” activities to “basic industries.” The question is: Why do sophisticated, well-established companies at the cutting edge of technology choose to use companies like Tata Communications to handle very complex technological tasks?
In my opinion, this is not about labor arbitrage, but is instead an outgrowth of the flattening of the world as discussed by Thomas Friedman in his book “The World Is Flat,” combined with one of the most powerful, core principles of economics: the value of specialization.
Read the interview, and let us know what you think!
Tony: First, can I ask each of you to give an overview of your role and the essence of what you do at Tata Communications?
David: Sure. I am relatively new to the technology transfer office (TTO); I joined on December 1, 2009. Mine was a newly created role and I took all responsibility for the TTO’s managed services organization. The way we define managed services would include managed hosting, managed security services, and the software end of the services offering that we have. We are also one of the three largest companies in terms of telepresence activity globally along with Cisco, particularly around public teleprescence rooms. The final area in that grouping is our call mobility offering, which is basically the “handshaking” of calls and messages between carriers globally.
TCTS, Tata Communications Transformation Services, is what Shridhar is responsible for. Let Shridhar introduce himself, his organization, and its capabilities.
Sridhar: Thanks, David. I have been here for more than seven years now. I joined what used to be called VSNL when Tata took them over. Actually, I was the second employee from the takeover; I started the enterprise business with VSNL, which is now a very large business unit within Tata. Before that I worked for IBM. So my background is basically a mix of IT and telecom. I was responsible for the merger of Teleglobe into Tata Communications and spent a lot of time in Montreal where Teleglobe had its headquarters. The merger of Teleglobe and TCTS was created as a unit that would run the Teleglobe’s operations from a low-cost location, which was India. So, I was also responsible for migrating the operations from Canada to India. We started as a service for Tata, and them also started offering this to third-party service providers.
TCTS is in the telecom process outsourcing arena, if you will. It’s unlike a traditional BPO that starts with low-skill-level services and gradually grows up the complexity and value chain. We started relatively high up the value chain in that we design, implement, and manage networks. My organization caters to the specific needs of telcos that may be trying to design new networks or manage the legacy networks for cost purposes. We have implemented, through the project phase, the building of the network, mostly remotely. In some cases we partner with our clients to implement a network as well as manage it, and that’s where the service layer is; we monitor the various services that are a part of the network.