by Umair Naeem

Offshoring: Satyam’s Loss is Pakistan’s Gain?

Feb 10, 20093 mins

In the wake of the recent Satyam Computer Services scandal, a gap that has been created for all of Satyam's clients--and it may be a boon for Pakistan-based IT companies.

In the wake of the recent fall from grace of Indian based Satyam Computer Services, there is without a doubt a gap that has been created for all of Satyam’s clients. This gap creates an unstable future for all the companies who had looked to the giant for continued business support through various services that were outsource to them. Is this uncertainty a potential boon for Pakistan based IT companies?

Salim Ghauri, Chairman and President of NetSol Technologies, most adamantly voiced the sentiment in a recent IT Policy meet-up. “This is an opportunity for us to capitalize on all of the jobs that were with Satyam,” he said. “By leveraging our resources, we can certainly open up the door for Pakistani companies,” he continued. In the case of Satyam, the Indian Government has taken over the business, and an apparent shift of Satyam clients has happened to other Indian based companies. Salim remains convinced that the Indian Government can’t run Satyam, and hence the opportunity for Pakistan.

To question remains though, with 5000 — 10,000 Call center seats in Pakistan, we are but a small market compared to India. This fact was voiced by the participants in the said meet-up, but according to Salim, this very fact should be able to bring us together. “Even if we get 2% of India’s business, imagine the boom we could have,” he said. “The key is to take this opportunity,” he urged.

Although potentially true, the fact that Pakistan is a smaller market, creates the question of trust and stability for potential clients. As things stand, Pakistan is not a natural replacement market after India, and there would be few clients who would be waiting to go to Pakistan with their business. As the participants pointed out, Satyam’s loss might be a few companies’ gain, but not the Pakistani IT market’s gain as a whole. What then, can the solution be?

‘Synergy’ is a term that describes the collective being greater than the sum of the individuals, and that is exactly how the Pakistan IT Sector needs to position itself. The question of a collective long term strategy which encompasses the entire IT sector of the country, and culminates in a synergetic relationship where smaller IT firms can benefit by leveraging larger IT firms to gain business, was a proposition that was put forward by the participants in the forum, who included Jehan Ara, President of PASHA and Awab Alwi (AKA Teeth Maestro). Until companies and consortiums are unable to collaborate and pitch for projects as larger units, the small window of opportunity now, will close quickly.

The potential for consortiums and forums was also touched upon, but the onus needs to be on moving towards execution rather than discussion. The problems and the limitations of our sector is something that everyone is aware, but to work together in a way to minimize the limitations and gain the trust of a global clientele to get more business is something that needs to be seriously worked towards. As one participant pointed out when asked about the quality of service that Pakistan can provide: “We are not there, but can certainly get there.” There is no doubting the potential that exists in the country, but the key has to be to work towards delivering the promise rather than simply talking about it.