Profile of Chris MurphyEditor, InformationWeek
Member Since: 11/15/2013
News & Commentary Posts: 640
Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.
Articles by Chris Murphy
posted in February 2008
In 2006, my colleague Paul McDougall was the first to spotlight the significance of IBM centering one of its key strategic units in India. That group, which creates reusable, SOA-based systems that IBM's consultants re-sell around the world, began with just 60 people then, and has grown to 800 today, part of IBM's 73,000 employees in India.
Many companies in the United States complain about an IT talent shortage. Indian IT companies face brutal competition for talent, and one big part of their answer is huge hire-and-train efforts. There's something for U.S. companies to learn here.
Here's an update to Wipro's U.S. hiring plans, which we first reported last August when the Indian IT services company was acquiring U.S.-based data center operator Infocrossing. It has at least two new U.S. operations open and two on the drawing boards that, while far from a hiring flood, suggest a subtle strategic difference from other Indian IT services companies.
India's IT scene has been defined by its outsourcing giants. Its future will be defined in large part by companies like dhanaX. I visited the microfinancing startup's Bangalore office this week, just days before its planned soft launch. They've spent about $20,000 to get this far. Can two people, in a shared office with the chairs still wrapped in plastic, really pull this off?
The farmers of Brahmanwada, a small farming village I visited this week in central India, use a shared Internet connection called e-choupal to check crop prices, so they can decide if it's worth hiring a truck to take their goods to market. It's an Internet success story. But things got really interesting when I asked them what information they'd like to get online that they can't yet, and the ideas started flying.
Indian outsourcers are inking some deals that tie their pay to performance -- usually to some operations yardstick such as uptime, but in the more innovative cases, to some business measurement. One CIO talks of tying outsourcer pay to the same measurement that his bonus is. Here are a few examples I've picked up the last two weeks here in India.
When Siva Prasad Cotipalli quit a plum marketing job with Oracle in India to found a startup, his mother didn't worry about his business plan. "She's worried if I'll get married," says Cotipalli, whose company, Dhanax, is a two-person, Internet-based microlending startup that I visited today in Bangalore. Startups sound cool, but in India would-be in-laws prefer to see Infosys or IBM on the business card.
CEO Gopalakrishnan says there are much higher expectations on Indian outsourcers, and the industry needs to step up.
The offshore outsourcing industry's looking at running data centers remotely as one of its hottest growth segments. One reason, a recent report concludes, is that as hardware prices fall, labor takes an ever-larger share of the costs. So to cut costs, CIOs will cut staff, the consulting firm McKinsey predicts. "Moore's Law's latest victim has become labor," Vivek Pandit, a McKinsey consultant, told attendees at the recent Nasscom conference here in India.
One serious concern about offshoring product development work to India, or anywhere, is whether there's sufficient intellectual property protection. Today's Sunday Economic Times here in Mumbia shows patents are a hot issue here, too. The lead story involves a motorcycle company whose managing director describes its strategy as B-to-B: bikes to get the babes.
Cost is No. 5 on the list for Robert Willett, CIO of Best Buy and CEO of its international operation. A partnership with an IT services company needs to save money, but "if you move cost to No. 1, you might as well not outsource." Here is his full list.
At a presentation at the Nasscom conference for the Indian IT industry, Arjun Malhotra, CEO and chairman of the consulting firm Headstrong, offered this advice to small or midsized IT services company in India: "Focus on something, and be the best at it." Here are two examples of companies already trying to pursue that model, GlobalLogic and Photon Infotech.
A lot of companies do outsourcing for IT services. But can outsourcing deliver true tech-enabled innovation? British Petroleum CTO P.P. Darukhanavala thinks it can, but warns "sourcing for innovation" requires a much different approach, far more partners, and a hand-picked staff of people focused on the effort.
In traveling to 20-some countries, I suspect I've inadvertently offended someone in nearly every one. Anyone who does business internationally dreads the moment they'll make some cultural gaffe. It took me one day in India to put my foot into it, all too literally.
I'll be at the India IT industry's Nasscom conference in Mumbai this week, and one thing I'll be looking to learn is how fertile people feel the ground is for Indian startups making business software products. One key ingredient is certainly for more Indian professionals to do what Manav Garg has: Leave a BigCo salary job for the uncertainty of startups. Garg and others say the startup culture that fuels that is just starting to take root in India.