March 2012: Wide Awake in India*

victor-anderson
Victor Anderson, editor-in-chief, Waters

Jet-lag didn't slow Victor down during his recent trip to India.

I traveled to India recently to meet with a number of the country’s top software and services firms. I flew to Bangalore and managed to see Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Tavant Technologies, and MphasiS, among others. I am happy to report that all eight meetings during our 48-hour stay in Bangalore, India’s technology capital, were stimulating, although one trend cropped up during three separate meetings: Western banks are looking to reduce their fixed operating costs and by so doing provide their balance sheets with a much-needed shot in the arm for the purposes of Basel III, which US banks are not exempt from, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s December 2011 announcement that it would be implementing the bulk of the Basel III rules.

This is significant, given that I wasn’t “flying kites”—this trend was suggested by our hosts. They explained that European and US domiciled banks are looking to partner with Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) firms by outsourcing the running of entire departments, and, in some instances, are even looking to sell components of their proprietary technology to BPOs and then lease them back in order to add a bit of color to their anemic balance sheets. There was a time when Western firms looked to Indian BPOs primarily for their labor arbitrage offerings, but even though this is still an appealing option, it is very definitely not their only area of expertise. 

One thing I will remember about this trip is the rude awakening I got with respect to jet-lag. I remember explaining to an Indian national sitting next to me on the flight from London to Bangalore that by virtue of my appalling track record in the jet-lag stakes, I had cunningly devised a foolproof strategy that I was confident would convert my somewhat stubborn body clock to local time by the following morning, and that I would be as fresh as a daisy, ready to take on all that India could throw at me. Part of my plan was to “crash” as soon as I got to the hotel, which turned out to be about 6 a.m. after a truncated night on the plane. If my companion was laughing at the naiveté and folly of my plan, he certainly didn’t show it, which was civil of him. As things turned out, I managed a grand total of 11 hours’ sleep in six nights, and, as I headed back across the frozen expanses of Northern Europe, resigned to yet another night of no sleep, something occurred to me while contemplating the dark shores of the Caspian Sea: Has anyone ever died from jet-lag? 

*If anyone is wondering whether this headline is an intentional play on the 1985 U2 album Wide Awake in America, it is.

European and US domiciled banks are looking to partner with Indian business process outsourcing firms by outsourcing the running of entire departments, and, in some instances, are even looking to sell components of their proprietary technology to BPOs and then lease them back in order to add a bit of color to their anemic balance sheets.
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