An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Social networking gag order by Infosys and others is Talibanization of IT sector

A gag order is coming in within the IT industry in India at least. According to a report in Business Standard, it seems companies like Infosys are like to put in place a policy which will disallow the employees to “leak of confidential company data on open forms like Facebook and Twitter (social networking sites”.

Although the main reason being touted is “Confidential company data”, but really speaking these companies are mad about the employees bad mouthing the company and its policies itself. Which is something that comes out when you read the “fine line”:

This will likely bar employees from venting their ire on colleagues and seniors on a public forum.

Now, coming to think of it – confidential data – internal sales information or other such financial and operational matters is one thing, venting one’s frustration is another. Let’s assume a company cuts the salary of their empoyees or keeps the employees in a bad state on overseas projects. Is that confidential information regarding company policy? Shouldn’t such abuse be public information? There was a time when TCS and other IT companies used to enslave their employees using “bonds”. That was challenged and TCS was defeated in the US. Many things changed for employees.

Let’s face it – Indian IT companies have NO.. repeat NO process core competency that can ensure their cost advantage. Except – ABUSE OF EMPLOYEES. Over the years, if you track their performance and work, anyone will easily realize that the quality of their work has come down appreciably. Whereas earlier they would hire the best of the best – which automatically ensured the quality (no achievement of the hiring company really) – now they are even contemplating on hiring non-science and non-IT graduates for BPO kind of “repetitive” work.

If anyone has worked in the US in, say a big four, one will realizes very quickly that very rarely does one come across an MIT or a Stanford grad. Most of the folks are pretty regular guys – even partners and senior partners. Its about the system in the company that makes ordinary people work using methodologies and processes that are repeatable, which makes them shine.

Ask the top three Indian IT companies, if they have ANY ERP implementation methodology. None have it. Some may be in the process of creating it because their US employees pushed for it. But as far as the Indian higher ups were concerned, they wouldn’t even think that having a consistent implementation methodology was even necessary!

Heck, go inside any of the top 5 Indian IT companies and look for the Full Life Cycle implementations in SAP, Peoplesoft or Oracle. I can BET that in all of them combined you would have NO MORE THAN 30 (5-6 each) for the last 10 years! Even a small boutique company in US can boast of more FLCs in ONE year! So, if this big firms have not done much of value, what the heck have they been upto? 95% (unsubstantiated guess but which may be very close to reality) of the revenues of all these firms comes from maintenance, support and outsourcing of operations. Actual business and IT transformation work – which is at the middle to higher rung of the IT work globally – is very minimal in their portfolio. So, if you are just an “IT Dollar Store”, it is obvious that you would be playing around on just one variable – COST. Value, as a strategic lever, is obviously not relevant to you. Because you are not even playing in that area.

In fact, these IT firms can go to any length to get “easier to bid” low cost work instead of being creative and adding value to companies. One of the most obvious indicator to me was the Infosys made a corporate decision to do work in India just a couple of years back!! Until 2 years back, Infosys did ALMOST NO WORK in India! Why? It wasn’t remunerative! Really?? So, who were servicing the Indian companies? Actually, as stupid as it may sound – probably the IBMs and the Accentures! Because, my guess is, these companies were not ready to do large outsourcing bids (except in case of a few telecom companies). The transformation and ERP implementation work being done at say the Oil and Gas companies etc was being led by the IBMs and the Accentures of the world. Infy, WIPRO and TCS were as usual bidding for the “crumbs” even there.

Its a suicidal spiral – “he is doing for 30p sir, I will do for 25p” .. “Oh, he is doing for 25p? I will do for 20p”.. and so on. That’s called Sales in context of Indian IT. No one stops to say – sir. if he is doing for 30p, I will do for 32p but will offer you this, this and this over and above the normal work and ensure a perfect delivery”. There may be a few examples of Value selling here and there.. but those are few anecdotal examples that the execs of these companies use to deny a larger and overwhelming statistic of self destructive business ethic.

The truth is that these companies basically are nothing more than glorified slavery institutions. Shutting the mouth of their employees is just one more piece to a more totalitarian slavery that is being practised in Indian IT sector.

It is just like Pakistan banning these social networking sites because they violated Islam. Use a “high sounding principle” and then shut everyone up. This move is no different from Talibanization of the IT sector.

I would be very interested in getting more inputs from people working in these companies or who have earlier worked there. Please comment anonymously, but do comment.

Reference Links:

Companies to restrict employees’ social media use

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