Tide Turns in Outsourcing

Indian outsourcing firms open U.S. centers, hire U.S. staffers.

Janie James says she was cool at first when Indian outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd. approached her about a job near Atlanta, even though she was unemployed. She didn’t know much about the company, and it seemed a step down from her old vice-president post at Primerica Inc.

In the end, she decided she could use experience gleaned from her work at life insurer Primerica and another stint at a financial investment company to help Infosys build its insurance outsourcing business. Now James is an operations manager at the Bangalore, India, company’s first predominantly U.S.-staffed center, which opened in April.

Largely Satisfied

Respondents have been largely satisfied with the offshoring of low-end jobs, such as call centers and routine IT maintenance, according to Phil Fersht, chief executive officer of the outsourcing research company. With more complex tasks, the survey showed the headaches may have outweighed the savings.

Market Share

Cognizant, based in Teaneck, New Jersey, has doubled its market share during the past seven years to 18 percent for the year ended in March, according to an April 19 report by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. Infosys’s market share fell 4 percentage points to 21 percent, the report said. Cognizant, whose workforce is mainly in India, has stepped up its high-end outsourcing services and is hiring more employees with relationship management, consulting and deep industry experience, President Gordon Coburn has said.

Create Opportunities

Still, the onshore outsourcing centers create opportunities in cities such as Atlanta, where unemployment has been above the national average since May 2010. The area’s jobless rate was 8.9 percent in August, the latest month available, while the national rate was 7.8 percent in September.

Opportunities Reappear

U.S. software engineers who have lost jobs, such as Michael Zureich, say they are heartened to see opportunities reappear in their field. Zureich, who worked in auto-manufacturing processes for 24 years, was laid off by Siemens PLM Software in 2009. He became a math teacher in 2010 after a fruitless 18-month job search, he said.

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