The Outsourcing History of India

The outsourcing history of India is one of phenomenal growth in a very short span of time. The idea of outsourcing has its roots in the ‘competitive advantage’ theory propagated by Adam Smith in his book ‘The Wealth of Nations’ which was published in 1776. Over the years, the meaning of the term ‘outsourcing’ has undergone a sea-change. What started off as the shifting of manufacturing to countries providing cheap labour during the Industrial Revolution, has taken on a new connotation in today’s scenario. In a world where IT has become the backbone of businesses worldwide, ‘outsourcing’ is the process through which one company hands over part of its work to another company, making it responsible for the design and implementation of the business process under strict guidelines regarding requirements and specifications from the outsourcing company. This process is beneficial to both the outsourcing company and the service provider, as enables the outsourcer to reduce costs and increase quality in non core areas of business and utilize his expertise and competencies to the maximum. And now we can see the benefit to the service companies in India as they mature, prosper and build core capabilities beyond what would generally be possible by the outsourcing company. best indian cams

Since the onset of globalization in India during the early 1990s, successive Indian governments have pursued programs of economic reform committed to liberalization and privatization. Till 1994, the Indian telecom sector was under direct governmental control and the state owned units enjoyed a monopoly in the market. In 1994, the government announced a policy under which the sector was liberalized and private participation was encouraged. The New Telecom Policy of 1999 brought in further changes with the introduction of IP telephony and ended the state monopoly on international calling facilities. This brought about a drastic reduction and this heralded the golden era for the ITES/BPO industry and ushered in a slew of inbound/outbound call centres and data processing centres. Although the IT industry in India has existed since the early 1980s, it was the early and mid 1990s that saw the emergence of outsourcing. One of the first outsourced services was medical transcription, but outsourcing of business processes like data processing, billing, and customer support began towards the end of the 1990s when MNCs established wholly owned subsidiaries which catered to the process off-shoring requirements of their parent companies. Some of the earliest players in the Indian market were American Express, GE Capital and British Airways.

The ITES or BPO industry is a young and nascent sector in India and has been in existence for a little more than five years. Despite its recent arrival on the Indian scene, the industry has grown phenomenally and has now become a very important part of the export-oriented IT software and services environment. It initially began as an activity confined to multinational companies, but today it has developed into a broad based business platform backed by leading Indian IT software and services organizations and other third party service providers. The ITES/BPO market expanded its base with the entry of Indian IT companies and the ITES market of the present day is characterized by the existence of these IT giants who are able to leverage their broad skill-sets and global clientele to offer a wide spectrum of services. The spectrum of services offered by Indian companies has evolved substantially from its humble beginnings. Today, Indian companies are offering a variety of outsourced services ranging from customer care, transcription, billing services and database marketing, to Web sales/marketing, accounting, tax processing, transaction document management, telesales/telemarketing, HR hiring and biotech research.

Looking at the success of India’s IT/software industry, the central government identified ITES/BPO as a key contributor to economic growth prioritized the attraction of FDI in this segment by establishing ‘Software Technology Parks’ and ‘Export Enterprise Zones’. Benefits like tax-holidays generally enjoyed by the software industry were also made available to the ITES/BPO sector. The National Telecom Policy (NTP) introduced in 1999 and the deregulation of the telecom industry opened up national, long distance, and international connectivity to competition. The governments of various states also provide assistance to companies to overcome the recruitment, retention, and training challenges in order to attract investments to their region. The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) has created platforms for the dissemination of knowledge and research in the industry through its survey and conferences. NASSCOM acts as an ‘advisor, consultant and coordinating body’ for the ITES/BPO industry and liaisons between the central and state government committees and the industry. The ardent advocacy of the ITES/BPO industry has led to the inclusion of call centers in the ‘Business Auxiliary Services’ segment, thereby ensuring exemption from service tax under the Finance Bill of 2003.

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