Sramana Mitra: How do the dynamics compare with Romania and Noida, for example?
David DeWolf: What you find are different strengths in different areas. There is a very long history in India of doing outsourcing, but that history is also typically from the IT outsourcing and more about the operational aspects of IT rather than core engineering. What we are able to find in India are legacy technologies, the ability to scale very large teams, and very strong talent. India is phenomenal at quality assurance as well.
In Romania you tend to have a bit more of an entrepreneurial spirit. You also have very deep and scientifically-minded people with deep engineering skills. They do a lot of greenfield development. One of the dynamics you have in India is that it is known for very high levels of attrition. We have been very successful. Our attrition in India has been in the single digits, whereas across the board it tends to be in the 30% to 40% range. It is because we are able to differentiate by working on innovative product development as opposed to traditional IT and operations projects.
SM: What would you advise a client who is looking to do cool new stuff? Would you advise them to put the operation in Romania?
DD: There is a very important point here, which is when most people think about outsourcing, they immediately think about an offshore model. Our model is quite different. While we have strong delivery centers offshore and masses of people who are able to engage in different parts of the product life cycle, a big part of our success has been that we have a U.S. delivery center as well. Our product managers are user experience and design people.
A lot of the highly collaborative aspects of the product development life cycle have to be executed in close contact with clients. I am not sure it matters so much whether you pick India or Romania. What matters is that you understand the strengths of each location and how to put together the teams that comply so that the entire cross-functional team can get products to market. It is not just about technology. It is not just about the developers writing the code in a geography overseas. It is about the entire product team, the processes it takes to get all of that together, and the discipline around building business value.
SM: Is your user experience team in Virginia?
DD: Yes, as well as our product management group, our product strategists, and our product architects.
SM: How big is that team?
DD: We have about 60 professionals here in the U.S.
SM: Is it easy to get that kind of talent in Virginia? It is not a style of capabilities Virginia is known for.
DD: You have a software innovation landscape in Virginia that is very much on the rise. Most people know that here in Reston we have AOL, for example. There are plenty of other startups. The geographic area is not necessarily known for it, but the talent does exist. Northern Virginia is known very much as a government contracting area. Many people don’t know how it is to build a product, but that doesn’t mean the talent doesn’t exist. It just means the industry is not aware of the talent that does exist.