The Hindu

Now, it's `Passage to India' for e-publishers

By Anand Parthasarathy - Monday, Apr 12, 2004


Buzzwords such as shoring and outsourcing might conjure images of thousands of young persons in Indian call centers, while American legislators seize on the phenomenon to garner voter sympathy in an election year.

But a quiet electronic revolution is making this country the preferred destination in an industry niche that rarely comes into the spotlight: the publishing business.

Major international book and journal publishers such as Oxford and Cambridge University Press, Prentice Hall, Macmillan, Elsevier and Springer find it makes sound commercial sense (a price advantage like 40 per cent) to get typesetting, page-making and digitization done in this country - either at their own Indian operations or through one of a few dozen specialist electronic publishing agencies that have sprung up.

Some such publishing agencies, have morphed into a one-stop shop, where European and American publishers can outsource a major chunk of their editorial activities - from editing to book design and illustration, to page-proofing.

"The rich human resource in India, particularly retired graduates and teachers in every possible subject, that we can tap here, is what makes this our e-publishing hub," the CEO, T-Books, told The Hindu in a telephonic talk from the U.S.

The Indian arms of European publishers such as Elsevier, Springer and Pearson, have also reversed the trend and now send e-edited books to their parent companies for printing rather than the other way around.

The business opportunity - estimated to be worth at least Rs. 1,000 crores annually - has also seen the emergence of smaller players, who are extremely agile in offering e-publishing and data conversion services in a variety of standard formats including QuarkXpress, MS E-Book Reader and PageMaker.

British writer and wit Malcolm Muggeridge once jokingly said the last Englishman would probably be an Indian.

In the global business of electronic publishing, at any rate, it already looks as if the real expertise for licking the English language into printable shape may make its final home in Okhla rather than in Oxford, in Bangalore and Chennai rather than in Birmingham.


The Economic Times

Publishing: India's new BPO frontier

Ishani Duttagupta & Rajeshwari Sharma

Times News Network [Sunday, August 08, 2004]

NEW DELHI: It's the new frontier for outsourcing. After banking, financial institutions, IT support services, legal and medical records, it's now the publishing industry, both print and electronic, which is outsourcing to India in a big way. So what are the advantages.

"To begin with the same as other industries - like an excellent, educated, English speaking workforce at lower cost Add to that writing copy, editing and proof reading for which also Indians have excellent skills. We have a mature publishing and advertising industry so you have a ready pool of talent,'' says VP & Research Director, Gartner India.

Agrees VP of Nasscom: "Publishers in the developed countries are routinely outsourcing editorial, design and production processes of the publishing workflow, content development coding and composition to countries like India.

Our great resource of highly educated and English speaking professionals provide the US and UK-based publishing community with the best value for sourcing their products globally. The cost advantage is about 40% for the large publishing houses that some of the Indian companies cater to."

While outsourcing of editorial content may have started as early as 30 years ago, most companies have gone into exporting creative and knowledge content since about the last three years. "We export creative work for yellow page ad compositions, catalogue compositions and data conversion for both the print and web medium. We also do electronic versions of journals, encyclopedia etc, " says the head of information processing division, Macmillan India.

Apart from the cost differential, there are other advantages too. "We typically expect our clients to see major reductions, only partly because of any cost savings. It is, over time, about enhanced productivity, better automation and re-engineered processes as much as wage benefits. We expect the consolidated cost savings to range from 30-40%,'' says Randolph Altschuler, Co-CEO, OT.

In fact, the publishing processes that are being outsourced to India are often high-end and specialized. Says GM,Thomson Digital:"

Outsourcing of content and all the other services around the publishing industry is a huge industry and is already pegged at $2.5 billion globally.

With traditional markets like the UK and ones like the US emerging, this segment of BPO is definitely on a high. However, Australia and New Zealand could emerge as other big players for a piece of the pie in the coming years.


The Hindustan Times

Reuters puts Bangalore on news map

HT Correspondent, October 09, 2004

In a move decried in the West as 'outsourcing of journalism' to low-wage countries and defended by Reuters as globalization, the London-headquartered financial news and information provider on Thursday formally launched its operations in Bangalore.

Reuters which informally began operations here with a skeletal staff a few months ago has already hired 340 employee consisting mostly of data and technical staff and about 20 journalists and plans to raise the headcount to about 1,500 in a year-and-a-half. Bangalore will thus be the biggest information gathering hub within Reuters which has close to 15,000 workforce worldwide, said Geert Linnebank, editor-in-chief of Reuters.

From its Bangalore base, Reuters will cover, among other things, news and developments of companies other parts of the world including the US.

Answering a question, Reuters' global managing editor David Schlesinger said the cost of setting up such a centre in Bangalore is 40 per cent less than setting it up in a place like New York but refused to call this 'outsourcing'.

"We hire, train, monitor employees with the same standards and they will have the same career path as elsewhere,'' Schlesinger said, adding: "It's a question of investing in other places."

While some of the positions for which employees have been hired are relocated to Bangalore from elsewhere, the rest are newly created slots.

Linnebank said the Bangalore centre would be 'revolutionary' in the sense that it 'separates' the location of a news development from the location of the coverage of that news. "Otherwise, nothing has changed. Reuters has always hired distinguished Indian journalists."


Times of India - Oct 10,2004

"Hinglish" will soon become the most commonly spoken form of the language globally

"Already, a third of Indians are speaking the language, a percentage expected to rise in coming years. With the Internet spreading English like no other tool ever, and Indians at the forefront of the IT revolution, Indian English will reach around the globe and take over from British and American forms," said Prof David Crystal, one of the world's leading linguists and author of several books on the English language.

But the professor also sees the future bright for other variations of English spoken as a second language.

"I believe the mother tongue countries have had their day. It is now the turn of countries where English is spoken as a second language to take the lead," he said in his lecture 'The Future of English' at the British Council on Saturday evening.

Some 400 million people, mostly in former British colonies, speak variations of English as their second language, about the same number as those speaking it as their mother tongue.

Unlike the situation earlier, many overseas clients now understand the way we speak, but the idea of it becoming the most widely spoken language worldwide in a few years' time is a little far-fetched," says Aarti Rao, a corporate communications executive with a telecom company.

One of the main reasons for the basis of this prediction is that the Indian populace is spread all over the world.

But travelers are of the opinion that the language cannot sustain itself unless a conscious effort is made to do so. Frequent traveler and entrepreneur Mukesh Raj feels that the language has became popular in India for two main reasons - "As a means of accessing political power and for the power of information, as all media and information is based in English."

Movies like Bend it Like Beckham and now Bride and Prejudice do give the audience an insight as to how Indian English is used, but hearing the world say, "I too am coming," seems a long way off.


Management Guru Peter Drucker on Outsourcing

Peter Drucker is not just a management guru as it is commonly supposed. He is the very inventor of management as a subject. Plus some more: he is an economist, sociologist, historian and visionary. At 94, he still teaches, consults, writes -- and, envisions. Recently he gave an interview to Fortune magazine. In it he blows away a lot of myths. It also has a glimpse of how Drucker's very original mind views the current hysteria over US jobs outsourced to India and other countries.

What follows is a summary of a private mail sent by Ram Narayanan who runs a very influential newsletter on Indo-US relations. The full Drucker interview may be read by following this link, but you need to be a paying subscriber to do so.

Although the early parts of the interview deal with issues that only concern the American economy, there are many insights here about economies in general. Drucker says that it's not true that manufacturing jobs are leaving US shores. Labor costs are such a little part of many advanced products, and US labor is so very skilled and flexible, that the only jobs that are leaving, are the labor intensive --like say, textiles-- and the knowledge oriented ones. Manufacturing in the US has in fact doubled in the last decade. US still has more than enough 'good' jobs on offer and every college graduate finds one. There is a mismatch only with regard to insufficiently trained labor. It is not so much that there aren't jobs; it is just that the unemployed seem untrained for the jobs that there are. Many immigrants arrive on US soil "qualified for yesterday's jobs, which are the kinds of jobs that are going away."


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