From the land of ”Honk OK Please”


I am at the tail end of 6 days in the land of “Honk OK Please”. That is what is printed in large and jolly letters on the back of most trucks in India (or sometimes simply “Honk Please”), and many are only too glad to oblige. Too much intake to do a quick braindump, but it was particularly fascinating to spend a couple of days with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest technology services firm, including at their global R&D center in Pune. “IT-enabled services” are a massive industry here. I passed through one flourishing area on the outskirts of Mumbai which I was told was not so long ago miserably poor. The transformation was due to a whole series of international call centers being set up in the area, bringing direct and flow-on employment to many.

TCS and its major competitors get most of their revenue in the US and sometimes European markets; TCS eked out gains around 25% even during the downturn. Clearly these firms are competing primarily on price, but they also have to do top-notch work. Their challenge is to demonstrate to their clients that they can work on a par with the more traditional consulting names. TCS’s vision is to be “global top 10 by 2010” in IT services. Tough, but possible. One of the emerging issues is competition from even lower cost centers than India. China is rapidly rising, and in fact TCS has set up software development centers in both China and Hungary. Its positioning is no longer just tapping low-cost high-quality Indian engineers, but running offshore centers, wherever in the world there is competitive advantage. More musings on some of these aspects of the global network economy anon – time to hop on a plane…