Offshore outlook

The outsourcing industry lives in the shadow of commoditisation. This is how it usually goes: the industry launches a new service to clients, a few companies pioneer it, differentiate themselves and charge a higher rate. Overtime, all companies start offering the same service at the same price. With hardly anything to differentiate between them, prices tumble. Companies, which once enjoyed high margins, due to their premium positioning, suffer more. Companies, which aim at volumes and offer competitive prices, manage better. The industry, as a whole, perpetually seeks out the next big service, which will give it a new lease of life.

There are some signs that the current climate may be fertile for another round of new services push. Western companies offshore work because it is 30% cheaper to get the job done in India. But a new survey by analyst firms HFS and KPMG reports that cost reduction is no longer the overriding factor in offshoring. A quarter of North American firms, surveyed, say improving productivity through process standardisation, re-engineering, better use of analytics, accessing new technology and talent is what they need now. While this may sound like good news, the findings come with riders.

First, all industry surveys need to be read with a critical mind. They are done by enthusiastic folks, whose livelihood may depend on the industry’s fortunes. They may intuitively report on where they would like to see the industry heading, than where it stands today. Second, it is companies in USA, UK and Australia, the traditionally strong markets for Indian firms, which seem to be receptive to new service lines. Companies in Europe, which lack their ‘outsourcing maturity’, are still concerned with cost cuts. Europe has been a tough market to crack for Indian firms. The differences in language and a political climate sensitive to job losses makes offshoring difficult there.

The report says companies in Asia Pacific, which want to standardise their processes and globalise their operations, may offshore more. But this is a market where China dominates and the rate cards remain depressed.

DHNS

Utility

aTube Catcher

This is a free software to download videos from social sites like Dailymotion, Yahoo and Metacafe, and play them offline. You can convert videos to many formats (MPG, AVI, MP4, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, PSP, MOV, FLV) with the quality of your choice. It lets you export multimedia content to your mobile devices — iPad, iPod, PSP, GPS devices, MP4 Players and mobile phones. aTube Catcher also can burn videos in DVD/VCD without using any other third party software. It also has a built-in Screen Recorder to capture what you see on your screen, even video chat sessions. http://atube-catcher.dsnetwb.com/video/

(Contributed by Sohail Momin)

Lengthen URLs

Shortened URLs have become very popular. But as they hide the true URL, you are never sure where they may take you. If you want to play safe go to http://unfurlr.com and type the short URL in search box there. In a few seconds it will show you the true URL. Now you can decide if the site is safe for you visit. It also gives a content and security analysis of the page you are about to visit. http://unfurlr.com/

(Contributed by Ashish Sinha)

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