India’s huge outsourcing industry struggles with work-from-home scenario – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

As the coronavirus pandemic pushes India into lockdown, the call centres and IT services firms that function as the world’s back office are struggling to piece together work-from-home solutions and other business-continuity plans.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday ordered 1.3 billion Indians to stay at home for 21 days to stem the spread of COVID-19, following earlier lockdown orders in many Indian cities and states. As of Tuesday, India had reported over 500 cases of the virus and nine deaths.
Many of the companies that provide business services such as call centres, information technology services and business process automation were not prepared for work-for-home arrangements, according to interviews with more than a dozen employees of several companies.
That raises questions about whether one of India’s showpiece industries can function smoothly amid the coronavirus crisis.
“The industry has been scrambling to set up its own business continuity plan,” said R. Chandrashekhar, a retired federal government official and a former president of India’s IT services lobby group, NASSCOM.
In the southern tech hub of Bengaluru, an employee working at a JPMorgan call centre said that until last Friday, her managers had repeatedly declined staffers’ pleas to work from home.
“Even if I am infected with the virus, I know the death rate for young people isn’t very high, but I am very very scared that I might transfer it to family,” she said on condition of anonymity, as she was not authorised to speak to the media.
After a state government order, JPMorgan on Sunday asked its Bengaluru staff to “stay at home until further notice,” according to a message to employees seen by Reuters.
In some cases, companies must seek client permission before allowing employees to work on sensitive projects outside the office, a senior human resources executive at a top Indian IT firm said of working remotely.
“These days the challenge is not really the technology, the challenge is the regulations, and, in case something goes wrong, who’s going to take the responsibility,” the person said on condition of anonymity.
Software services firms, led by Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys , gained prominence by giving Western clients low-cost solutions to routine computer problems. Over time, they assumed a major role at many global companies.
Three employees of midsize IT services firm Mphasis in the western Indian city of Pune said they were all being asked to come to the office until last Friday, even as some expressed concerns about working in close proximity with roughly 90 other people.
Maharashtra state, where Pune is located, had imposed restrictions on private company employees going to offices in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. But it made exemptions for essential services including some IT companies.
During the past week, security guards barred employees from venturing outside one of the Mphasis offices in Pune to avoid attracting the police, fearing a forced shutdown, two employees said, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
One said a human resources executive told him not to wear a mask as it would “panic people who come to work”.
As Maharashtra enforced a curfew starting Monday, some Mphasis employees were being asked to remain home this week, even though they lacked equipment such as laptops, the employees said.
Mphasis said in a statement that not all of its staff were working remotely. But the company said it was speaking with clients and trying to enable as many people as possible to work from home while ensuring employee safety.
An employee of French tele-services provider Teleperformance on the outskirts of Delhi said his company had been reluctant to let staff work from home.
But he said employees were finally told Sunday the company would begin installing corporate desktop computers at their homes after a wider lockdown in several cities.
JPMorgan and Teleperformace did not respond to requests for comment.
Some have been able to make a temporary and quick transition to the work-from-home scenario.
Qualcomm, the world’s biggest supplier of “modem” chips that connect mobile phones and other devices to wireless data networks, said about 90 percent of its workforce in India was able log in to work-from-home since the lockdown started in the country.
“I can tell you that in the last 24 hours 90 percent of Qualcomm’s workforce in India logged in, indicating that our employees have been pivoted well to working from home”, a Qualcomm spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
India’s home ministry, in guidelines issued on Tuesday, advised states to exempt essential IT and IT-enabled services from the national lockdown.
NASSCOM, the lobbying group, said several states had listed IT and e-commerce among essential services that are exempt.

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Govt dumps billion-dollar visa platform outsourcing – Strategy – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The federal government has ditched its controversial billion-dollar plan to outsource Australia’s visa processing platform after adopting a new policy that will see it develop a reusable enterprise-scale workflow processing capability.
Acting immigration minister Alan Tudge revealed the decision and the “new policy approach to the acquisition and delivery of workflow processing capability” amid the rapid escalating coronavirus pandemic late on Friday.
It comes more than two years after the Department of Home Affairs first went looking for an external provider to design, build and operated a ‘global digital platform’ that would replace the country’s two existing visa processing platforms.
The platform, which was expected to be rolled out in 2021, was envisaged to process 90 percent of all visa applications, and integrate with other third-party systems to allow individuals to apply for visa as the point of booking travel.
Two consortia of bidders were vying for the deal – Australian Visa Processing, which consists of Ellerston Capital, PwC, Qantas Ventures, NAB and Pacific Blue Capital, and Australia Post and Accenture.
Last month, a senate committee consisting of mostly Labor and Greens senators found the project did amount to privatisation, and recommended that the government scrap the outsourcing and instead build the system in-house.
Home Affairs had repeatedly stressed the tender does not amount to outsourcing, as it would have seen the department retain “full responsibility and accountability for policy, security, risk assessment and visa decision-making”.
Tudge said the platform procurement had been terminated in light of the government’s “broad new policy approach to the acquisition and delivery of workflow processing capability” in Home Affairs and across government more broadly.
“The Government will implement modern, easy to access, digital services for clients in line with its response to the Thodey Review of the Australian Public Service,” he said.
“This approach seeks integrated enterprise-scale workflow processing capability that could be utilised across the Commonwealth.
“Key to this is recognising the efficiencies that can be generated from large-scale government investment in technology and the re-use of capability across government.”
Home Affairs is expected to conduct a market consultation process over the coming months for a “large-scale workflow processing capability for visa and citizenship applications and additionally, for Customs functions and personnel security clearances in the Home Affairs portfolio”.
“While current visa systems continue to function, they are out of date, and processing and decision making in many cases is still undertaken manually, supported by old technology and limited risk assessment capabilities,” Tudge said.
“With this approach, systems and capabilities will be well-placed to meet future demands, enabling the Government to respond to emerging global threats and improving service delivery across government.”
“The work the Department has done in recent years to modernise its visa service delivery arrangements will be utilised and extended to other areas in developing and specifying the requirements for this much broader capability, on which visa processing will still be the first product delivered.”                                                                                     

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Govt urged to scrap billion-dollar visa platform outsourcing – Strategy – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The federal government should scrap the planned outsourcing of Australia’s new billion-dollar visa processing platform and instead build the system in-house, a senate committee has found.
The finding is contained in the legal and constitution affairs committee report [pdf] into the impact of changes to service delivery models on administration and running of government programs.
The report, released on Thursday, recommends the government “not proceed” with the request for tender for the global digital platform and instead “fund and deliver an in-house solution”.
It comes just days after one of the main backers behind one of two consortia bidding on the deal, Pacific Blue Capital CEO Scott Briggs, made the decision to bow out of Australian Visa Processing.
Australian Visa Processing, which also consists of Ellerston Capital, PwC, Qantas Ventures and NAB, has been competing with Australia Post and Accenture for the build since December 2018.
The Department of Home Affairs first began looking for an external provider to design, build and operate the platform to replace the country’s two existing visa processing platforms in June 2017.
The platform is envisaged to process 90 percent of all visa applications – which are expected to climb to more than 13 million in the next decade – when it is rolled out in 2021.
It could also could integrate with other third-party systems to allow individuals to apply for visas at the point of booking travel, or purchase travel and accommodation at the same time as their visa.
Home Affairs has repeatedly stressed the tender does not amount to outsourcing as it will retain “full responsibility and accountability for policy, security, risk assessment and visa decision-making”.
But the committee largely made up of Labor and Green senators rejected the department’s “assertion that tendering for a private partner to host the global digital visa processing platform is not privatisation”.
“The global digital platform project would see a private entity design, build and administer the system that processes the vast majority of Australia’s visa applications,” the report states.
“As such, the project would see the Department of Home Affairs hand over control of large amounts of sensitive and critical data to a profit-making conglomerate.”
The committee said it was not satisfied the department has sufficiently addressed risks associated with the project as outlined by a number of stakeholders, including the former architect of the country’s immigration visa system, Abul Rizvi.
Rizvi, a former deputy secretary at the then Department of Immigration during the Howard era, used the inquiry to warn that the outsourcing of visa processing to private infrastructure carried “immense” IT risks.
The committee said the department had not offered any explanation for why an in-house solution was not suitable, pointing to the experience of the UK’s visa privatisation which has resulted in a significant increase in visa costs.
“International experience, particularly in the UK, has shown that the consequences of such outsourcing can be dramatic,’ the report states.
“Profit-making entities are driven to find ways to maximise their profits, and this inevitably leads to reduced service quality and/or higher fees.
“The UK project has resulted in both.”
Labor have previously argued that introduce a similar arrangement in Australia would create a monopoly and negatively impact competition.
The committee also rejected the “department’s assertion that the project will not impact jobs” and that there was still “ambiguity around precisely how many permanent APS jobs may be lost”.
“For these reasons, and the fact that any decision to outsource would be extremely difficult to reverse, the committee cannot support the project,” the committee said.
“The committee suggests the department fund and further explore options for developing an in-house solution that does not require the government to ostensibly ‘hand over’ control of the processing functionality and data management to private entities.”
The findings were not supported by Coalition senators, who said the global digital platform would “support digital visa application and decision making”.
“This modernisation process is necessary to reduce processing times and to ensure visa decision making continues to support key export industries like tourism and education, and helps keep us all safe,” the dissenting report states.
“The Australian Government will always remain responsible and accountable, as it is today, for all visa decision making. It will determine visa rules and how decisions are made.”
The department is yet to announce the successful bidder on the project, despite indicating that a decision would be made last October.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported the government was advised by the department ahead of the May 2019 election that legislation would be required for the global digital platform.

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How outsourcing solves problems with cybersecurity budget, control and expertise | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Outsourcing is a global trend and cybersecurity is no exception. According to Gartner, the managed security service market grew by 6.7% in 2018, reaching $10.7 billion in revenue and is expected to grow further. Both service providers and vendors contribute to this market by offering their customers expertise, intelligence or solutions as a service.
Advantages of outsourcing can also cover many business needs. But holistically, they are all implemented to overcome three major challenges — lack of internal expertise, poor budget planning and control.
Outsource to afford more
Many services can provide us with more than we could otherwise afford. For example, to eat different meals with a variety of ingredients every day, a person needs to spend a lot of money and time buying exclusive products or going to expensive restaurants.
Instead, there are food delivery services available that provide new dishes each day in accordance with the customers’ tastes and for a better price. With car sharing, anyone can drive an executive class of car, even if he or she cannot afford to buy their own.
IT services work the same way for businesses. Suppose a company needs to expand its data centre. This company will have to buy servers, find more space in the data centre and spend time on deployment. Alternatively, it can purchase workloads in the public cloud and save money it would have otherwise wasted with on-premise infrastructure. Another example is a security operation centre for advanced cyber-protection.
Building an internal SOC demands investment in personnel, processes, detection and response technologies. Alternatively, managed service providers and vendors offer SOC as a service with a dedicated team of experts, protection solutions and threat intelligence.
Outsource to get expertise
One of the problem areas for companies is the lack of internal expertise. One in three CISOs (70%), for example, say that it is difficult for the company to find experienced cybersecurity professionals.
In our everyday lives, we often approach dedicated experts when we don’t know how to do things — from fixing something at home to solving personal legal and financial issues. This approach should work the same way in business.
Mid-level employees, who bear the brunt of cybersecurity tasks, are in fact a key element in IT security decision-making. It is they who assess protection demands and recommend what solution is needed. To do this properly, there should be several experts, just like there would be in a medical council, to work together to find the best solution.
Now imagine that the company does not have enough employees and they are overloaded. Or they do not have enough skills in some areas, like cloud computing or IoT security, to work effectively. Outsourcing can be a way out.
Service providers accumulate cybersecurity expertise and are focused on the quality of services because their revenue depends on their customer satisfaction rating.
The service market has become very competitive. According to Ami Partners’ evaluation, the number of MSPs is expected to almost double – from 48,000 in 2016 to 74,000 in 2021. This means providers’ knowledge and reputation needs to maintain a high level to keep clients.
Enterprise-level companies already take this proven path; at least half of the CISOs (55%) we interviewed confirmed that they solve the personnel problem with the help of outsourcing. For SMBs, this should work even better, because they are often even more limited in human resources for IT security.
Outsource to keep budgets under control
Another big benefit of cybersecurity outsourcing is facilitating necessary, but very important, resource planning. This can work for companies that, for example, struggle to define exact costs because they have not yet developed a budget planning process for IT and IT security.
By purchasing cyber-protection for endpoints as a service, an IT security administrator knows exactly what they will receive, how much it costs and how long the service deployment will take. This is the key advantage of outsourcing – transparency and clarity, predictable results and a predetermined cost.
Another outsourcing scenario is when an organisation needs to cut its IT security budget. A company needs to maintain its current level of protection, so the budget should be split wisely. Managers should clearly understand how much they spent and what they receive for the price they are paying.
Are businesses ready for these opportunities?
Despite the benefits described above, cybersecurity outsourcing in some cases is considered by companies as an option during difficult times, for example, when budgets are limited. On the contrary, companies with growing IT investments strive to increase internal expertise and solve security problems internally. Perhaps they still feel uncertainty towards service providers, or they think that internal resources are easier to control.
At the same time, we already observe that the managed service market is moving towards the development of narrowly targeted services. Providers are honing their expertise and the level of provided services. If companies develop such narrow expertise internally, it will most likely be unprofitable.
Therefore, we will probably soon see the opposite situation occurring, where the more a company invests in cybersecurity, the higher the specialised and effective services it consumes from the outside.

By Alexander Moiseev, Chief Business Officer at Kaspersky
Edited by Jenna Delport

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