India, outsourcing, and hospitality

The events in Mumbai are shocking and tragic. The scale of the attack and the apparent singling out of westerners is a wakeup call. Indian outsourcers such as Wipro and Infosys are, according to Information Week, “undaunted.” What nonsense. If you’re undaunted by an army of terrorists shooting up your city then what does worry you? It’s time to be very concerned indeed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “overseas clients were likely to put off planned visits to India because of the attacks.” Understandable I suppose but then you’re forgetting that India has a long history of terrorist attacks and violence with Mumbai having been a victim numerous times in the recent past. The same can be said for many of the other places we outsource to such as the Philippines and Thailand.

I’m actually travelling to India on business next week. Undaunted? Of course not, I’m very concerned. But the world keeps turning and incidents can happen anywhere. I’ll be keeping an eye on the travel advisories, and I’ll watch a couple of episodes of 24 over the weekend to learn a few moves but I’m more looking forward to the warm welcome, hospitality and great food I’ll be treated to for the couple of days I’m over there.

Point to make is that few of the so-called guides to risks on outsourcing in India and the Far East explicitly mention to consider threats such as terrorism. I suppose it’s so far out of scope for what most organisations would have in their risk assessments. Even if business premises themselves are not affected by an incident then subsequent turmoil such as closed airports, lack of communication networks or curfews will have a major impact. Then there might also be the more tragic consequences to consider such as employees among the casualties.

I reckon some of those guides are about to be updated.

Quote of the day:
Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian. (Lee Simonson)

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The impact, from whatever source or cause, should already be provisioned for in an organisation's business continuity plans. If you're going to chase lowest cost providers' across the globe then you acknowledge that you're stretching your supply chain, and if you're going to do that then business continuity better be one of your organisation's core competencies. Alas, if you think that the subject of information security is in a poor state then I've no doubt that business continuity is even worse. This should not be the case!
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Tampabay.com produced a fascinating piece on how U.S. drug companies are outsourcing their testing to India: http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2008/reports/india/
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Thanks Karen - that's interesting. There are clearly some ethical issues worthy of discussion however, not really for this blog!
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