CA declares war on regional skills crisis

Businesses no longer want stand-alone software products. Instead they want software solutions implemented, run and serviced, onsite. To address this need, CA-ME has had to outsource its services business to Indian company Wipro Infotech

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  July 24, 2001

Why CA-ME has outsourced|~||~||~|Businesses no longer want stand-alone software products. Instead they want software solutions implemented, run and serviced, onsite.

This demand means software vendors are having to change their business models. Service departments are being built from scratch or fleshed out in double quick time.

A recent report from UK-based analyst house, the Butler Group, supports this. It believes that contracts could be re-written to make IT suppliers more accountable to customers beyond the point of sale as, over the next ten years, industry power shifts from IT suppliers to IT users.

The demands of end users in the Middle East are no different. However, unlike other markets, there is little flesh available to pad out the vendor's bones as the region’s IT skills shortage continues to hamper the industry at every turn.

In an attempt to respond to customer demands, and the local skills shortage, Computer Associates Middle East (CA-ME) has outsourced its manpower requirements. In future, Indian IT software and services company, Wipro Infotech, will provide CA-ME's project management and implementation services.

Quresh Goga, head of e-business, CA-ME, explains that, having shopped around for a local partner, Wipro seemed the best option as they had both the knowledge and experience of CA’s solutions.

However, more important than either knowledge or experience, is pure manpower. Wipro boasts an impressive 12,500 employees worldwide and promises to make them available to CA-ME as and when it needs them.

"[We] will fly them in on demand, based on the duration [of the project] and the skills required," explains Moiz Vaswadawala, business development manager, Wipro Infotech.

By shipping in a ready-made services arm, CA-ME has saved itself a considerable sum of money and a not insignificant amount of time. However, if Goga is to be believed, it was unavoidable.

"The skill levels in the Middle East and the behaviour of that skill set — where people come here for three to four years and then go to the US — is bad for us," he says.

In order to manage these resources, and ensure that CA-ME customers get the manpower when they need it, Wipro will be engaged early on in the sales cycle and take responsibility for project planning. It is also hoped that by getting Wipro involved early on in the cycle, implementation times can be reduced by 30-40%.

||**||An alarming trend|~||~||~|While an understandable move on CA-ME's part, the strategic alliance with Wipro is a worrying trend for the Middle East's IT industry, as it clearly states that the region cannot deliver from a stand alone skills base.

This lack of skills will, therefore, continue to provide companies with an excuse to carry on bringing foreign resources into local market.

This thinking is confirmed by Wipro as last month, Suresh Vaswani, president, Wipro Infotech, stated that "seven of the top ten Indian software companies are looking to move into the region."

The CA-ME strategic alliance is just the start for Wipro as it looks to plug the skills gap. The alliance is non-exclusive in nature, and the company is actively looking for partnerships outside of CA-ME's market. Vaswadawala suggests that, for example, the company would look at servicing high-end network integration on a partnership basis.

Vaswani confirms this approach when he says that "the CA partnership will give us access to some of the largest, most prominent enterprises in the region."

Wipro does, however, plan to give back to the Middle East by initiating and managing training programmes. Unfortunately, this is a mid-to-long term goal for the company. But by then, the damage to the local market could be irreparable.||**||

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