Sunday, February 28, 2010

Final Posting

I'll use this post to take another look at my pre-trip perceptions and discuss if they differ from what I experienced on the trip or if they are confirmed by what I experienced on the trip. The first pre-trip perception I mentioned was that this would be much more of an intense experience than I've had in my past travels. This was true, India was probably the fist place I've been where I don't think I would have been able to easily get around on my own, but I think that just made the entire experience better for me. I always felt like anywhere we were, be it at a tourist site or a just roaming the streets, there were things around to take notice of. I also had the perception that India had a very strong, traditional culture and this was very true. I could tell the culture was very strong and the people were very proud of their culture and wanted to share it with us, which I really appreciated. I was expecting to see a lot of poverty alongside a lot of wealth, this was present in India. Considering the population density and the fast economic growth, this wasn't extremely surprising to me. I was hoping to get an understanding of how the rich and poor interact with each other, from my observations, it seemed like class was still very important and interactions would be different between two people from different classes then they would be amongst two similar classes.

In terms of the BPO/IT industry, I was very interested to see how this new business culture would mesh with the overall culture of India. It was clear that being a world leader in the IT industry was something the Indian people I spoke to were very proud of. There seemed to be a lot of motivation to expand on the success the country has had so far in the BPO/IT industry. There was also interest in applying the IT prowess they have developed to help grow and modernize their own infrastructure instead of just exporting the service. I think Indians understand how important they are to the global economy and they are taking advantage of this and using it to help catapult their economy to one of the biggest in the world.

Overall a lot of my perceptions were similar to what I expected to find in India, it was just as loud, crowded, and congested as I expected, the sanitation was as bad as I thought it would be. I experienced a very strong culture that understood how important its place in the global economy is. Even though I had an idea what it would be like, it was something completely different to actually experience. The culture shock is what made the experience so great. This trip opened my eyes to a culture that is very different from my own. I had an opportunity not many others have or would take if they had the chance, and I really appreciate this experience. I hope I have the chance to return at some point, I have continued to study the history of India since my return and I've learned there is so much more to see and do.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Final Thoughts

This course has been one of the biggest highlights of my graduate education. It was a great experience made better by traveling with a great group of people and having a professor who put together an incredible cultural and educational program. India as a country has problems just like any other country in the world, but I'm confident India will continue to grow as the IT hub of the world and at the same time, will step outside of IT to become an overall world leading economy. As was mentioned in some of our class discussions, India seems to be growing with a poorly developed infrastructure and a high degree of poverty, if India can work to improve these situations, I believe the possibilities for the country are very great. I really enjoyed my time in India and hope I have the chance to make it back some day.


Management Development Institute (MDI) is a business school in Gurgaon, near New Delhi. MDI is ranked as one of the top 10 business schools in India. We had the good fortune to meet up with a number of MBA students and spend an afternoon with them talking about everything from business and politics to hobbies and sports. After arriving on campus we met the MDI students in a lecture hall where we went through introductions to get a better feel for what type of background everyone was coming from. One major difference between the MDI students and the Marquette MBA students that I noticed right away is that the MDI students typically had little to no work experience before starting the MBA program, whereas the Marquette students are actually required to have at least 2 years of work experience, and a large majority of the Marquette students work full time and go to school part time, MDI did have part time students, but they were in more of an Executive MBA type program.

After the introductions the MDI students put on a skit to demonstrate some of the challenges that occur in a BPO/IT outsourcing situation between India and the U.S. They identified three common misconceptions they believe people in the U.S. have in regard to outsourcing with India. The three misconceptions they identified were exactly what I initially thought they'd be. They brought up the point that our business managers have concerns that they will not get top quality people working on their projects in India. I believe this concern comes from the fact that most people in the U.S. don't understand how competitive the Indian education system is, especially in terms of IT, Indian students are on par with the skill level of students in the U.S. Another important concern is the fact that outsourcing to India is taking away American jobs. The truth of the matter is that if this work was forced to be done in the U.S. it would be so expensive a lot of firms just wouldn't do as much of it, that inhibits growth. By outsourcing, U.S. firms can take advantages of cost savings and use that freed up capital to re-invest in the company and grow, that will create more jobs in the U.S. The third concern is security. Managers in the U.S. are sometimes concerned about handing over large amounts of sensitive data to outsourcing firms, they are also concerned the BPO firms may divulge information regarding what they are working on to competitors. Security is a big priority to Indian BPO firms, without it, they would lose credibility would not be able to succeed as a business, because of this, security is just as important to the vendor as it is to the client.

After the skit, we had the opportunity to discuss these issues along with other issues including political pressure from U.S. politicians to pass legislation limiting the amount of work that can be sent overseas. This is a tactic politicians use as short term campaign promises to get votes without educating people about the long term benefits of taking on a BPO partner. Overall I felt the MDI students had a very good understanding of both Indian and American economics. The MDI students even had a good debate amongst themselves as to what the role of the U.S. government should be in the time of a recession. I was extremely impressed by how well they were able to see the situation from both sides of the fence, it was a very interesting and informative conversation and I left the lecture hall with a high degree of respect for these students.

After the lecture we spent some time with the students, they took us to a little coffee shop they had on campus, we were able to see some of the campus, which was very similar to what you'd expect to find at a small university in the U.S. I was able to talk with one of the students as we walked and drank our coffee. He actually had an undergraduate background in finance, so we had that in common. We discussed the economic future of both of our countries, but we also talked about our hobbies, sports we enjoy watching and playing, and other everyday things. This was a very enjoyable experience, I wish we could have spent more time with the students, but we had a plane to catch that night.


Our final corporate visit was to Zensar, they reminded me of a smaller Infosys. They had a very nice campus, the employees who spoke to us had the same message to tell us about looking to the future and exploring new markets to take advantage of growth outside the U.S. One big difference between Infosys and Zensar is that Zensar is actually part of a bigger firm called RPG Enterprises that comprises of many other companies in different industries.

One thing that stood out to me during our tour of the campus was walking into one of the buildings that was a dedicated office for a specific client located in the U.S. and seeing Christmas decorations everywhere. As it turned out they had a Christmas decoration contest and they still had the decorations up. This surprised me because I know Christianity is the third most populous religion in the country, but walking into that room, it seemed as if they celebrated Christmas more than we did in my office, where although there are a lot of Christians, it is not politically correct to acknowledge the holiday as being religiously significant in a work setting anymore. I later found out that this was nothing abnormal and Christmas has been celebrated for a long time in India, although it's not necessarily celebrated as a religious holiday for most. This is also another way for the employees to be more in touch with counterparts in the U.S. as well.

Spyder Logic

Spyder Logic is actually part of Wisconsin based consulting firm Wipfli. This visit was much different than all of our other visits. Spyder Logic is very small compared to the rest of the firms we visited with only around 30 some employees at the location we visited. They tend to recruit more experienced employees rather than looking for talent coming right out of school. The employees mentioned that they preferred this because it creates more of a family like environment, and because of this, the employee retention rate is much higher than at the bigger firms. Another benefit to being a smaller firm is that they weren't hurt as bad by the economic downturn, although they did see a drop in business, it didn't seem to be as extreme as the larger firms. Spyder Logic uses their small size to distinguish themselves from the big firms, because they are smaller and more specific in what they do, they are able to provide more customization in the software design solutions they provide to their clients. In addition having a more senior staff also sets the them apart.

We had a little time to wander around the office and talk to some of the Spyder Logic employees after the formal presentation was complete, this was really fun, I was able to talk to an individual who was really interested to hear all about how cold it was back in Milwaukee. It was in the mid 80's in Mumbai and he said that's about as cool as it gets. Considering the people in Delhi were having a hard time with weather in the 30's, I think it would be a shock to experience the extreme cold we were getting at that time, makes me wonder why we put up with it. As it turns out the employee I was chatting with had never been to the U.S. but he worked with people in the U.S. almost daily and looks forward to visiting some time. I wonder if his culture shock would be as intense as mine.


Infosys was by far the most impressive corporate campus we visited, and this campus was not even the corporate headquarters. This campus could have easily been found in silicon valley and would not seem out of place at all. The people at Infosys were very professional and the visit as a whole was very productive. Infosys addressed the same topics as many of the other corporate visits, however it is all a little different coming from different sources. It was interesting to hear about the four forces they believe are causing a flattening effect on the IT industry in India, those being emerging markets, demographic shifts, technology ubiquity, and increased regulations. Infosys has been extremely successful over its short life and has seen very rapid growth, I believe they really have a good understanding of the industry and seem to be shifting their business model to keep up with the changing environment. One good example of this is seen in how they are starting to pay more attention to markets outside of the U.S. They see that growth in the U.S. is not as robust as it used to be, but in other areas such as Europe and South America, more opportunities are starting to present themselves, in order to achieve growth it will be important for Infosys to identify the up and coming markets and make sure they have a strong presence in the market. One big change they need to deal with now that maybe wasn't as big of a problem in the early days is the competitive environment, as the IT industry continues to grow in importance, there seems to be a lot more competition not only in India, but worldwide.

Another interesting aspect to this visit was being able to listen to Greg Gulick and Dr. Kaiser give their presentations to some of the Infosys managers. They both did a very good job giving their presentations and they both had good question and answer sessions with the Infosys managers, I thought it was really interesting to listen to the type of questions the management asked considering the questions were coming from the perspective of individuals working in India with the U.S.

Although all the corporate visits were interesting, this was one of the better ones. It was very interesting to hear the story of how this company achieved such rapid growth and how they plan on continuing growth in a tough economic climate.


Deloitte is one of the worlds largest consulting organizations in the world providing services in auditing, consulting, financial advising, and tax advising, it is known as one of the "Big Four" consulting firms. We were able to visit one of the Deloitte India locations. This was especially interesting because we were able to have a panel discussion with a Deloitte employee of Indian descent in Milwaukee before we went to India, we were able get her perspective on what it was like to work with Deloitte India from the U.S. Deloitte talked to us about some of the specific services they supply, a little bit about their IT off shoring model, and a bit about the client experience they hope their clients receive.

This was a very informative and interesting visit, one initiative they were taking that I thought was interesting was trying to do away with "talent hubs" and instead trying to develop employees that excelled in all areas of business rather than just IT for example, they want to develop business consultants, not just technology consultants. They also seem to put a big emphasis on making sure their consultants are ready to work in a global workplace, which makes sense especially considering they have offices world-wide. I see this as a good way to set themselves apart from other firms, especially in India. They seem to put a lot of emphasis on employee retention and offering employees good benefits to keep talent in house, much like HCL. Thy have gone through a transformation and started to really listen to their clients, helping to create a much better overall client experience, this has proven to be very successful.

We were able to do a quick tour of the Deloitte facilities. The work environment for the employees was very nice, much better than a lot of offices I've worked in or currently work in. Initially I thought the working conditions would be cramped, crowded, and more undesirable, but I was happy to see that they were actually very nice.