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They have not come up with an all-new business paradigm, yet what they have done is innovative. It requires immense talent to recognise the benefits of a model that worked in another industry, to adapt it, prove its worth, and make it work in the IT space. It takes even more talent--and guts--to react to discontent by proposing a radical solution.
Ask potential clients why they wish to outsource work to India, and the answer is most likely to be, "Oh, it saves us tons of money!" You could bask in the momentary glory of closing a business deal, or you could look into the future and ask yourself, "Will any model that works merely on the merit of cost arbitrage work in the long run? What if somebody offers the same services at a lower cost?" After all, countries like Brazil and China are already emerging as notable competitors for our outsourcing business! In such a context, it is understandable why the NASSCOM-BCG Innovation Report 2007 strongly advises Indian IT firms to stop relying on cost arbitrage as a selling proposition, and start focusing on providing value through innovation.
Chennai-based Anantara Solutions seems to be driven by similar sentiments!
Revolutions arise from discontent
Look at the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, the Green Revolution--it is obvious that every massive change is sparked by discontent. It might be
overkill to already term Anantara a revolution in outsourcing, but in some ways it is--and in the future, it is sure to be. At the very least, the company has adopted a radically new business model in reaction to discontent, which most people merely tend to suppress and not act on!
G.B. Prabhat, founder & CEO, Anantara Solutions (www.anantsol.com) says that it was his disenchantment with the existing methods of harnessing the value of IT that drove him to create Anantara.
He explains in greater detail: "Most IT efforts were, and continue to be cost-focused, addressing questions such as, "How can we save IT costs by outsourcing?" rather than addressing the more important questions, like, "How do we get such value from our IT investments that would improve our business performance in measurable terms? How do we get sustainable competitive advantage from IT?" Considering the latter questions drove me to the conclusion that we need a new model of outsourcing that provides a concerted focus on value, rather than cost. I realised that would require the integration of business consulting skills and IT delivery skills in one package, called 'Business Solutions'."
Business Solutions are more complex than they sound. At one end of the spectrum, they require outstanding capabilities in consulting on business strategy and business processes, and at the other end, the world's best capabilities in technology delivery tasks like Java coding and software testing, are needed! So, how does one company manage to be the best in these apparently divergent tasks?
"When I was confounded by how one company would gain leadership in such a vast spectrum of capabilities, I was struck by the global manufacturing model widely employed by the auto sector, electronics sector, and the consumer goods sector, to name a few. Toyota was the pioneer of this model that has now come to be called integrated supply chain management--and it was a clear inspiration," says Prabhat.
Manufacturing companies like Toyota and Cisco bought a vast proportion of the components and sub-systems that comprise their final product from the best global companies, instead of trying to manufacture everything themselves. Enthused by this concept, Prabhat realised that several services and components that were required to assemble Business Solutions could be bought from companies that were the best in that capability, in different parts of the globe.
Thus was born the idea of Second Generation Outsourcing (SGO) that Anantara is pioneering. The name is appropriate, for Anantara in Sanskrit means 'the continuum'.