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IT Majors Eye Japanese Outsourcing

December 28, 2008 | Hyderabad Business
After neutralising their mother-tongue accent and mastering the American drawl, Indian geeks are busy learning Japan’s Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana symbols. Reason: The recession is eating into the volume of outsourced IT work from the US; and after the US, Japan is an important market from the IT perspective, more so during the current period.

Take the case of Suman Reddy Ragidi, a business analyst of Cognizant. Japanese language training has enabled her to converse with clients both in formal as well as informal situations. “The training has also made it easier for me to understand all project documentation written in Japanese,” says Reddy Ragidi.

On its part, Cognizant runs foreign language training in its offices and its mandatory for employees to enrol in such language courses. “Language is an important aspect of culture and such training is helpful in everyday communication. Importantly, employees are able to articulate their viewpoints to clients,” says K Venkataraman, director of Cognizant.

The Japanese IT services market is valued at $108 billion, according to a recent survey by Nasscom and PricewaterhouseCoopers. India has bagged only 13% of this offshoring pie. Moreover, demand for software is primarily driven by the BFSI (banking, financial, services and insurance) and manufacturing companies which consume 42% of the total IT services.

Another Chennai-based IT player Infoview Technologies, whose business comes fully from Japanese majors, is making sure its employees know Japanese symbols by heart. Around three-fourth of the company’s employees have learnt the language and the top management team which accounts for 10% of the workforce has reached the ‘near native level’ in terms of mastering the language.

The company also recently launched an online Japanese learning software for beginners in India. JWEIC is developed by WEIC Corporation, a Japanese company that is into production and sales of e-learning language and learning management systems. Infoview, which has the rights to sell the software in India and Singapore, is targeting executives and college students alike for the online course. It is targeting 10,000 learners during the first year.

Similarly, Noida-based Nucleus Software which generates half of its revenues from Japan is encouraging its employees to learn the language. “Right now, we are utilising the services of interpreters and translators,” says chief executive and managing director, Vishnu Dusad.

For Indian IT entrepreneurs like Chandrasekaran of Infoview Technologies and Dusad of Nucleus the lure for doing business with ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’ is the importance that the Japanese place to longterm relationships. “It’s tough to crack the market initially. On an average, while it takes three months to close a deal with an American firm, it’s double for Japanese companies,” says Cheran Chandrasekaran, CEO, Infoview Technologies. Adds Dusad, “The main challenge is the language. But once you meet up to their expectations, you can be assured of a fairly long-term relationship with the Japanese.” These businessman are now ensuring that their employees learn the language and don’t say ‘sayanora’ soon.

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