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December 13, 2006
Inside Cisco's Bangalore play
I caught up today with Wim Elfrink, Cisco's senior vice president and chief globalization officer. That's his new title since he took charge of setting up a new campus in Bangalore to be "Cisco Globalization Center East," which is another way of saying it's Cisco's second headquarters. The new campus is supposed to open next May. Right now, Cisco has 2,000 employees in India, and 4,500 people who provide services and design software for it that work for Infosys, Wipro, HCL, and other outsourcers. It plans on bringing the combined total to 10,000 in the next three to five years.
The Indian expansion is aimed at tapping the country's talent to create global products, but Elfrink thinks being in the middle of a fast-developing Indian market will be a plus. "India clearly missed the industrial revolution. They have terrible infrastructure. But we think this can create an opportunity. We provide network connectivity. We think the adoption of new technolgoy will go faster there than in the US and Europe where ther's a lot of legacy technology in place," he says.
It will take a while for some of the opportunities to mature (and tech prices to come down), but Elfrink foresees a time when the Indians will be avid users of Cisco telepresence technology. Possible scenario: Illiterate farmers in remote villages will be able to communicate effectively with traders who are hundreds of miles away. He expects to collaborate with Indian tech companies such as Wipro, TCS, and Infosys to deliver technologies shaped in India to the world. "In think that in the next decade India will be known for its IT expertise the way Saudi Arabia is now known for oil."
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"Possible scenario: Illiterate farmers in remote villages will be able to communicate effectively with traders who are hundreds of miles away."
Nota bene: the scenario has the farmers remaining illiterate, thus saving the Indian economy the billions of dollars that are spent (would globalization proponents dare come right out and say "wasted"?) in the U.S. on educating farmers, plumbers, garbage collectors, etc.
The small, very well educated Indian upper class will thus maintain its unbeatable price advantage over the middle classes of countries with egalitarian traditions.
Posted by: A Parent at December 14, 2006 09:05 AM