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Outsourcing: Ankur Prakash, Vice President And COO, TCS Latin America (Part 1)

Posted on Saturday, Jul 2nd 2011

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Aditya Modi

About Ankur Prakash
Ankur Prakash has worked for TCS for more than 16 years and specializes in strategy formulation and execution, IT services, BPO, and consulting. He attended the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, and Harvard Business School.

About Tata Consultancy Services in Latin America
TCS Mexico began operations in Mexico City in 2003 and provides specialized IT services, consulting, testing, software development, business processes outsourcing (BPO), contact center, IT infrastructure solutions, industrial and engineering services and solutions. It now has headquarters Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Major clients include Aeromexico, IMSS, Bank of America, GE, JCI, Ceridian, Verizon, Banco Santander, BAC Credomatic, Inter-American Development Bank, Banamex, and América Móvil.

Sramana Mitra: Hi, Ankur, welcome to the Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing series. I know you are based in Latin America, running TCS in this region. Would you please give us an overview about the business in outsourcing series context?

Ankur: Hi, Sramana. We implemented our Latin American strategy way back in 2002. Before that we were doing a lot of business within Latin American countries, but this was all either through India or through the U.S. After 2002 we established a local presence, and we are currently in eight countries covering more than 90% of the total GDP of Latin America. Through these local companies, we want to not only tap the local domestic and regional markets, also we want play  an important role in global strategy through our global network delivery model. We are the pioneers in this particular industry anyway.

SM: Would you give me an overview of how many employees you have in Latin America and in which countries? In other words, the distribution of TCS’s Latin American footprint?

Ankur: We have a presence in eight countries, and we have approximately 7,500 employees across Latin America. Our customers are primarily in the banking, financial services, and insurance sectors, which is slightly more than 50% of the total head count. Other sectors are telecommunications, manufacturing, mining, government, and retail.

Sramana: What percentage of the business that you do out of Latin America today caters to Latin American customers?  Because you said you also service the global customer base through Latin America.

Ankur: That is right. So, currently 60% of our employees serve domestic and local markets, and 40% work with countries outside Latin America.

Sramana: OK. And those 40% who are servicing countries outside Latin America, are they primarily working with the Unites States?

Ankur: We are servicing the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Sramana: And similar industries to those you mentioned before?

Ankur: Similar industry sectors, that is correct.

Sramana: All right! That gives us a good overview. Now, what are the primary trends that you see in your business as you operate in this mode, catering to both the Latin America customer base and using Latin American delivery services for the rest of the world.

Ankur: Let me answer the first part of the question, servicing the local market. When we started in 2002, our strategy was to develop the local market. We did not want to make Latin America just a nearshore hub for customers elsewhere. So, whatever decisions we made or whatever strategy we stipulated and put together on the table, we always kept in mind that for us, the local context, the local market, the local people, the local customers and the local government are absolutely important because if we do not have them, our entire strategy, whether that means being nearshore or serving global customers from here, is incomplete.

Sramana: How willing are local customers to outsource to you? How mature are Latin American customers in terms of outsourcing?

Ankur: See, Sramana, so often in these types of interviews we talk about the maturity of the customers. I would rather talk about how we could be a partner to our customers, and that is what we always bring to the table. We have been received very well across local markets, and the fact that we have 60% of almost 7,500 people, that is 4,500 people, working for local clients is testimony of that. We are doing transformational projects with local customers along with the typical ADM we do. We are doing projects that are fixed price; we are doing risk- and revenue-sharing projects, and we are doing many varieties of projects across industries and through the kinds of services we offer. I would say that there is a great deal of acceptance from local customers, and we bring the best processes and best solutions from across the world to the Latin American market. We recruit local people, train them, and then they are the ones who deliver, and they are the interface with customers. Ninety-five percent of our Latin American employees are local.

Sramana: OK. So, you already have a good bilingual pool to pull from, and beyond that, you provide your own training.

Ankur: Correct!

Sramana: Now, what is the competitive scenario in Latin America compared to the fiercely competitive talent situation in India?

Ankur: One of the major differences that I would like to highlight is that not many companies want to go to the universities at this point and recruit fresh graduates. At this point not that much of a competition is there when you talk about the fresh graduates. For experienced professionals, yes, there is competition, although not as much as professionals in India may face. But definitely there is competition, and we appreciate talent anywhere.

Sramana: High demand?

Ankur: Yes, very much so.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Outsourcing: Ankur Prakash, Vice President And COO, TCS Latin America
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