Microsoft Picks Indian E-C Firm For $30M Contract

Redmond software giant Microsoft Corp. has selected Bangalore-based Aditi Technologies to supply it software engineers from India.

Aditi Corp. delivers world-class electronic customer service (e-service) solutions.
Talisma, the firm’s breakthrough customer e-mail management software, helps support teams effectively respond to inquiry mail or Web forms coming to busy e-mail aliases (such as [email protected] or [email protected]) or via Web forms on the site.

In addition to package software, Aditi offers both outsourced support and customer development services, revealing the company’s unique understanding of customer care on the Internet.

Microsoft has secured several e-commerce businesses and most of Aditi’s officials are competent enough to work in them, a company representative pointed out.

While Aditi’s personnel are conversant with the Internet and intranet workings, sources maintain that with outsourcing becoming more or less a norm in India, Indian firms can deploy their workers to engage and service several intranet contracts.

Sources added that Aditi has been awarded a US$30 million contract by Microsoft for a period of three years.

Several hundreds of software engineers are expected to be hired for this purpose from across India who will fly to the US in this period, according to sources. The company plans to hit the streets in early May with a major recruitment drive.

According to Aditi’s development services general manager, Taroon Gulati, Aditi will hire over 150 engineers over the next two months to be sent to Redmond.
It is estimated that over 300 engineers might go to work with Microsoft during the next two years.

These employees will be working for Microsoft on a temporary basis and will return to India after the project for which they are hired is completed, Gulati added.

Though market observers point that this sets India back to the days when body shopping was a lucrative business, Gulati pointed out that all employees hired by Aditi for Microsoft would be employed by Aditi and will not be on contract.

“We will deploy them in our other projects. We have secured several e-commerce based projects and many can work in them. We can also place them in the Talisma group (Aditi’s remote network management product),” Gulati said.

Aditi is currently expanding its development facilities in Bangalore.

Apart from the opportunity to work with Microsoft, Aditi is also using its stock option plan to attract the best talent from engineering colleges and Indian Institute of Technologies.

“We have also ensured that our engineers are placed in product teams by Microsoft and will not be used by them as software testers,” he added. Projects include several networking and intranet related activities.

Part of Microsoft’s ‘contingency staffing’ program, Aditi is the only company outside the US to get the order. Nine other companies have been selected by Microsoft to source temporary workers, of which eight are from America. Fourteen firms were sourced last year; the decision was apparently taken to maintain the quality of people coming in.

The selection process is through an open tender. Sources pointed out that Aditi got into Microsoft’s contingency staffing program without even bidding on the basis of cost, indicating that Indian software engineers may not necessarily be a cheap labor option.

The move has opened a Pandora’s box here about whether India is moving back into the body shopping era. Body shopping became a taboo since India was used as a cheap labor proposition.

An article in the International Herald Tribune several months ago had even described a section of the Indian programmers working on contract in the US as “Cyber braceros” — braceros were the Mexican laborers brought into the US to work as farm hands.

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