In today’s difficult environment, prudence in spending is driving organisations to cut costs, and IT (information technology) is helping them to make that possible, says Yamajala Krishna Murty, Vice President and India Centre Head, Virtusa (India) Pvt Ltd. Hyderabad (www.virtusa.com). Over the last decade or so, IT has been central to the way an organisation runs, and the current economic recession has reinforced IT to be the key business enabler, he avers during a recent lunch-hour interaction in Business Line.

In what areas does he find companies seeking cost efficiencies through IT solutions as a way to cope with the economic crisis? One of the foremost approaches businesses are adopting to reduce costs is through optimising and streamlining their operations to gain productivity improvements and increase operational efficiencies, explains YKM.

He talks about the work towards simplifying the clients’ IT environment by consolidating, rationalising and modernising their technology assets and applications, which has led to lower costs, improved time-to-market and enhanced (their) customer’s experience.

An example YKM cites is of an IT portfolio analysis model for a global communications service provider. “The model enhances the client’s ability to manage its portfolio of IT assets. It measures IT applications across their efficiency, effectiveness and revenue impact. The model provided an opportunity for the client to improve its use of IT assets, enhance its decision making, reduce IT costs and assist in their IT modernisation roadmap.”

Further, customers are also looking at service providers to customise and implement tailor-made solutions that meet their industry-specific needs rather than the one-size-fits-all solutions, he adds. “This will ensure focus on their specific needs and cutting down on frills in the solutions.” As the economic uncertainty ends, YKM expects these efforts to lead to process improvements, enable a leaner structure, and create opportunities for innovation.

Excerpts from the interview.

From a big picture perspective, do you think that people issues can often stand in the way of reaping the productivity gains offered by technology improvements?

Much has happened in the last decade or so, to redefine talent management issues facing companies. Globalisation, technology advancement and the arrival of the knowledge worker is placing emphasis on strengthening and implementing innovative HR (human resource) systems and practices.

This has been more of a result of technology compelling businesses to re-look at their internal systems and processes and enabling them to move towards a more efficient organisation that adapts to the needs of the market.

Technology advancement has led to work mobility. In some industries, employees can now sit and work from home or any other place with the availability of laptops, mobile phones and Internet connectivity. This is in stark comparison to the slow paced pre-Internet era, when employees had to come to office and execute their work. The coming of the Internet and the ongoing technology advancements have seen a significant jump in productivity and efficiency in the way an organisation conducts its business.

Taking the other side ‘view’ of the coin, the all-pervasive technology has started impacting the work-life balance of an individual leading to overload and stress.

The challenge for today’s organisation is to effectively match the business needs with those of the employees, and technology improvements. Organisations should strive to include their employees in their movement towards an IT-enabled lean business.

How do you see Sri Lanka as an IT destination as compared to India?

The offshore model has gained importance as businesses around the world understand and accept the benefits it offers including cost optimisation and opportunity for innovation, among others.

The key ingredients for a destination to be accepted as a suitable offshore services location include:

• Absence of language barriers.

• Government support.

• Stable political and economic environment.

• Cultural issues and compatibility.

• Availability of skilled talent pool.

• Low labour costs.

• Presence of world-class infrastructure and connectivity.

• Strong educational system.

• Legal maturity including enforcement of laws for intellectual property protection.

Countries such as India, which have been in the forefront of IT outsourcing are higher on the scale of each of the above criteria of evaluation.

It will be difficult to compare India and Sri Lanka on the IT destination front, as Sri Lanka is relatively a recent entrant to the offshore scene. However, Sri Lanka is fast emerging as a favourable IT destination for niche services, now with the country returning to political normalcy. The IT-BPO industry in Sri Lanka is currently pegged at $250 million.

Sri Lanka as an IT-BPO destination offers many advantages including the second largest pool of UK-qualified accounting professionals outside of the UK, low attrition rates and others.

Companies interested in outsourcing should leverage multi-country strategies to take advantage of the unique offerings of each destination.

Can you tell us about the innovative metrics of productivity that you deploy in Virtusa?

For effectively delivering value to our clients, we have set-up a Global Technology Office (GTO), with a mandate to enhance engineering excellence and improve productivity. The GTO team directly coordinates with delivery teams to implement best practices and innovative approaches across the software lifecycle.

Software quality is a prime concern in any software development initiative. We have developed an ‘Engineering Rigor Automation’ solution that runs a detailed quality check on the software code as it moves along the development cycle.

Benchmarked against global best practices, the solution captures code, design and copy paste defects, facilitates automation of peer review workflows and unit test coverage, resulting in improved code quality. This leads to overall productivity and quality improvements, and enhances client satisfaction.

‘Insight,’ a central dashboard that provides code level metrics across defects, complexities, maintainability and reuse, and trends, among others, helps the various project teams track and catch issues before they lead to larger level problems.

What matters to clients at the end of the day is enhanced efficiency of their IT environments.

Any other points of interest?

Let me mention two things here: Software platforming, and Open Source initiatives.

(1) Software platforming:

Leveraging our deep software engineering capabilities, we developed a unique methodology called ‘software platforming’ to consolidate, rationalise and modernise the client’s IT environment and processes. This helps the client consolidate existing applications and build new ones more efficiently.

Take, for example, the case of a large global retail bank with 10 applications being managed by 500 people. Adopting the rationalisation approach led to a reduction in the number of applications from 10 to 4, with only 200 people required to manage the applications.

This approach helps us in solving some of the client’s toughest and complex problems. And the customers reap benefits such as improving their end customer experiences, lower costs, improved time-to-market, increased revenue and increased market share.

(2) Open Source initiatives:

As a pioneer in the development and use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), we are a strong contributor to the Open Source movement, and have been utilising Open Source widely to provide our clients with more optimal solutions.

We have a proven track record in contributing to the Open Source R&D, including significant contributions to projects such as Apache Web Services, OpenBRR, and Sahana Disaster Management project. Our support to projects such as Sahana has been part of our sustainability initiatives, which focus on making an impact in humanitarian and educational areas thereby helping to create a more digitally-inclusive society.

Internally, we have developed solutions based on Open Source software including a custom-built software configuration management solution. We were able to save significant costs on licensing fee and acquisition costs, by adopting the Open Source software for developing the solution.

We believe that Open Source software will play an important role in the lean-IT enterprise of the future. We are already seeing traction on this as the current recession has compelled organisations to look for cost effective IT solutions for their business needs.

Keywords: VirtusaOpen Source

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