Hanover, Germany: India enjoys an unparalleled reputation as an outsourcing destination for the high-tech sector and the diaspora of homegrown computer programmers has long been transforming the global economy.
But some European entrepreneurs are turning the globalisation equation on its head, recognising India as a bold, hungry market that is likely to assert itself in new ways and eclipse much of the West in the coming years.
Employees of the German unit of outsourcing giant Hexaware now spend months at a time living in India, taking a pay cut as they draw an Indian salary and live in average Indian apartments to get a taste of real life in the country.
“Our staff has to understand the culture and system in India. You can’t do that over the phone or a brief induction training course,” Gerrith Hermes, the CEO of Hexaware’s German unit, told AFP at the world’s largest high-tech fair, the CeBIT.
“You need three or four months living and working in India to begin to understand how people react there and why some approaches work better than others,” he said.
Hexaware is an Indian company that employs some 150 people in Germany — a reversal of the standard globalisation set-up in which Western companies cut costs by sending jobs to low-salary, low-cost markets such as India.
Hermes says Hexaware’s practice of sending its German staff to India to watch and learn is less a quirk than a preview of rapidly changing dynamics in the 21st century economy.
“I could well imagine that in the next few years German students won’t necessarily do internships at German companies but rather go to India,” he said.