What's This India Business?

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What’s this India Business?

by Paul Davies

Nicholas Brealey © 2004, 233 pages, $24.95 (ISBN 1-904838-00-6).

Offshoring, Outsourcing And the Global Services Revolution

International businessman, consultant and India advocate Paul Davies has written a book that highlights the benefits of transferring U.S. and European business processes and service jobs to that country’s growing economy. In What’s This India Business?, Davies offers valuable insight into the advantages and benefits of outsourcing and offshoring projects to India, and also presents a study guide to help those doing business in India for the first time avoid common mistakes and succeed faster.

From the outset, Davies points out that Citigroup claims to have saved $75 million in one year alone by going offshore, that Prudential Insurance declares cost savings of more than 30 percent, and American Express is reported to have saved more than 50 percent by implementing outsourcing and offshoring strategies. Not turning a blind eye on the other side of the equation, Davies also explains that, according to industry analysts Gartner, about half of all outsourcing projects fail.

Economic Revolution

For those considering offshoring and outsourcing to India, What’s This India Business? provides a sound basis for a clearer perspective on the global services revolution. According to the World Bank, India’s economy will be the fourth largest economy in the world before 2050, and even in the midst of a global slowdown, its domestic economy is still growing at around 5 to 7 percent. The major thrust of Davies’ book is to describe how businesses both large and small can become a part of India’s economic revolution.

Since most Indian business people are familiar with western television and film, and received an education based on western approaches, they have a huge initial advantage over most outsiders who know very little about the country. The issues and ideas Davies presents throughout What’s This India Business? provide a foundation on which those with little to no background in Indian business can gain equal footing. The first part of the book offers an abbreviated background on India as a country and presents a clear view of the country as a global services provider. Davies discusses what services U.S. and European businesses can take offshore and how they can go about selecting an appropriate supplier or business partner, whether they are outsourcing to India or setting up their own service centers there.

Next, Davies offers a detailed section of valuable lessons about the Indian culture that will help newcomers assimilate faster and avoid many problems that can accompany a cultural adjustment to India. By providing the ins and outs of immigration, currency exchange, tipping, hotels, phones, dressing, eating, drinking, traveling, concepts of time, and working, Davies takes readers into the minds and culture of the Indian people and helps outsiders start off on the right foot. Throughout this part of his book, Davies retraces his own gaffs and blunders while describing the right way to behave and conduct business without offending hosts and making a fool of oneself.

After taking the reader into the country and making him or her comfortable doing business there, Davies examines the options for businesses that can make or break an offshoring program. Topics discussed include writing a successful new business plan, due diligence, avoiding risks, negotiating and haggling in India, management techniques, structural difficulties, IT and technology, and breaking into the Indian market. Davies explains that the early wins a business obtains in India or with India business “are a pale reflection of the long-term benefits on offer. It is the added value that will come, perhaps unexpectedly, from the relationship that will provide the real return.”

Corporate Social Responsibility

In the final pages of What’s This India Business?, Davies provides a brief counterpoint to the rest of his book by focusing on the ethics that must be understood when considering offshoring, and the suffering that some will experience because of the change. Davies writes, “To ignore the corporate social responsibility that goes with employing people and not dealing with the issues properly may damage your reputation and even your brand.” He also counters all negative aspects of offshoring with a rosy, bottom-line focus when he writes, “Cost savings generated by going offshore represent a major competitive gain to your country and could trigger both new investment and greater prosperity.”

Why We Like This Book

Outsourcing is a controversial topic, and critics may not be convinced by Davies’ positive spin on the subject. For those considering the strategy, however, What’s This India Business? is a valuable guide to the benefits and pitfalls of outsourcing. Beyond his apparent bias as an India advocate, Davies provides many valuable lessons in international business. ~

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