The business world is being disrupted by the combined effects of growing emerging economies, shifts in global demographics, ubiquity of technology and accountability regulation. Infosys believes that to compete in the flat world, businesses must shift their operational priorities.

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July 22, 2008

Sharing Best Practice in a Flat-World....

Though each one of us understands the importance of sharing best practices in this globalized environment, very few are open and ready to bring that to task. As the gap between east and west receding & the emerging market tigers resurging, business models are converging towards a single pattern. Enterprises can't just swarm around in Americas or Europe, they have to expand world-wide to retain their top & bottom-line position and competitive advantage. As the model of operation is truely getting global and the impact of east affecting west & vice versa is visible, it is necessary for organizations to collaborate on processes which have systemic significance - that means, share your best practices. My observations in a worldwide risk management conference attainded recently has propelled me to discuss this topic at a wider horizon on a flat-world stand point.

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January 25, 2007

"It's time to refocus on the employee," says B.G. Srinivas

B.G. Srinivas, SVP and Head of Infosys Europe, Middle East & Africa Business Unit, had this to share from his meetings in Davos (reproduced with permission from WEF blog):

The other challenge in the developed world is how top leadership is coming under increased scrutiny. ... While talent management per se is the key issue businesses grapple with, organizations are made by people. Irrespective of the fantastic systems and processes that organizations build, it is the individuals who make it happen.

We will have to refocus on the employee as we also refocus on customers. Employees will be the key in this world where information is becoming ubiquitous, technology is making information access in real time. All of it is going to have an impact on the kind of talent you want to nurture, the kind of talent and skills you need to build internally within the organization, and the kind of talent you need to attract in different parts of the world.

How do you plan for the future, how do you identify the skill gap in the changed environment, how do you start refocusing on training, mentoring and giving real life experiences to the same talent pool and keep them excited to operate in such a challenging environment is one part of focusing on the talent.

The second part is, how do you embrace multiculturalism, how do you ensure that you create an environment within the enterprise for people from different communities to work in a homogenous manner. At the same time, you need to invoke innovation and excitement among people while you lay a strong foundation of values and culture, which people from different parts of the world would embrace.

You need to take into account that not all of them would think alike, not all of them would have the same background. There will be sensitivities around what you want to set out in terms of culture and values.

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January 19, 2007

Cisco's flat world moves

Cisco's Chief Globalization Officer Wim Elfrink says that Cisco plans to have at least 20% of its top executives working in India in the next three to five years.

Why?  According to Business Week:

"One reason lies in the size of India's market. While Internet penetration in India stands at a mere 4.5%, the online market there is one of the fastest growing in the world and the Indian cellular market is white hot.

"The other issue is cost. Huawei can compete against Cisco on price because of its cheap talent pool. Facing those pressures, Cisco will find it hard to maintain its high margins unless it develops its own vast force of low-cost engineering talent.

"Cisco also wants to acquire the best Indian operations in its field to accelerate growth. As part of its ambitious investment plan, Cisco has set aside $100 million in a venture capital fund to buy out Indian companies. It has invested in a couple of outfits such as gaming destination Indiagames.com. (Cisco acquired Linksys, a home networking company, in 2003.)"

Read full article at businessweek.com

November 1, 2006

Talent development

Some readers have commented about needs of the employers vs. employees.  That raises another interesting point.

Just as in client-vendor relationships the "us vs. them" mentality is being replaced by tightly integrated collaboration, in employer-employee relationships similar approahces can become attractive especially when talent is in shortage.  For example, it is in an employer's best interest to help its employees' develop their skillsets to the fullest and offer them opportunities for professional growth.  And, employees may find staying with these employers advantageous if the growth opportunities offered exceed what they can find in a new organization.

In fact, as jobs of the future require more multi-faceted skills, talent development becomes critical for both the employer and the employee.

October 20, 2006

Talent Wars, cont'd...

by Richa Govil, Group Manager, Infosys Technologies

It seems that some readers disagree with my statement about increase of unprofessionalism among talent in India.  However this is a trend that goes beyond my personal experience.  Recent studies have tried to measure “employability” of graduates including qualities such as ability to work in teams (e.g. see NASSCOM, McKinsey, and others).

To me this trend seems an inevitable consequence of the simple laws of supply and demand. 

Some readers have pointed out that employers need to be equally professional in their relationships with employees.  I agree.  When the tables are turned, employers in the past have been known to treat their employees with little regard.  Having seen two close friends go through lay-offs, I can attest to the callousness (deliberate or otherwise) that can be involved when the situation is not handled correctly.

However, none of this negates the fact that employees are now hitting back, collectively as it were.  No longer loyal, willing to switch at the “drop of a hat”, and unwilling to keep commitments, talent has now firmly entered the realm of unprofessionalism.  I have had multiple cases where after accepting an offer in writing, prospective employees have not informed the company that they will not be joining after all.  These days you can be sure that you have actually filled an open position only when the employee shows up on Day 1.

Business communities in any country (at least at the mid to senior management levels) tend to be small.  Even India with its billion people, relies on a much much smaller business community and business graduates to run its companies.   It seems that young workers in India have not yet developed the maturity to realize this fact.  With the over-abundance of opportunities this behavior appears to be the right choice (or even the logical one by some calculations).  But this will prove to be a short-sighted approach when the economy turns as it eventually must. 

Attracting the right talent (not just the right diploma/degree) in emerging economies is a challenge for all global companies (with Indian origins or otherwise).  It becomes even more frustrating for companies unfamiliar with the local situation or with a weaker brand locally.  And in India, as other growth industries such as retail accelerate hiring, the supply of skilled talent will only become tighter. 

But this is exactly where “thinking flat” comes in.  Companies have to look beyond traditional organizational structures and recruiting models.  They can consider alternatives such as hiring talent where best available, stretching reporting & collaboration lines across continents not just for the senior management levels as is already common, but even deeper in the organization.  Or, they can hire internationally mobile professionals.  In some cases, they can look to “Tier 2” cities for employees (e.g. JetBlue’s customer support centers or Indian IT companies’ development centers). Or going to the source of the problem, they can expand the talent pool by working with colleges and universities to make the graduates more employable.

Many of these approaches are being used by leading companies (Infosys included). For examples, see the Oct 17 New York Times: “In a Twist, Americans Appear in Ranks of Indian Firms” and “Skills Gap Hurts Technology Boom in India.”

October 13, 2006

The War for Talent Heats Up

by Richa Govil, Group Manager, Infosys Technologies 

The October issue of The Economist features the war for talent as its cover story.  The article mentions how the shortage of talent has become a top issue and “how the war for talent is shifting the balance of power from companies to workers”.

In fact I have encountered some of the most unprofessional behavior in my own search for talent.  Engineering and sciences being the most sought after careers in India means that the softer skills are harder to find.  And that means that the balance of power is definitely on the side of the worker.  And it can lead to some unbelievable outcomes.

Recently I had set up a phone interview with a candidate who did not pick up the interview call.  He called me 45 minutes later saying in a nonchalant manner, “Oh, I had a missed call from this number so I am returning the call.”  When I informed him of the missed interview, his response was a surprising “I was driving”.  When I asked him whether he was aware of the interview time, he responded “Yes, but I was on another call”. So within a matter of 45 seconds he had given me two different reasons for missing the interview, neither of which sounded convincing by any means.  Needless to say, he will not be hearing from me ever again.

I am sure we can all relate ‘war stories’ when it comes to recruiting.  What is disconcerting is that such scenarios are no longer becoming the exception but the rule as Indian workers realize that the balance of power lies with them. 

But unprofessionalism can’t be good for either side in the long run.