Ebookers widens the passage to India

Outsourcing its back-office operations overseas has been so successful for ebookers that the company wants to offer the service to other firms

Online travel agency ebookers is planning a major expansion of its Indian-based back-office operations -- an indication that the firm believes the technology sector's passion for outsourcing overseas is far from quenched.

The company said on Monday that its decision last year to outsource its call centre and other back-office operations to India had yielded estimated savings of £1.4m. It now intends to increase the capacity of its business process outsourcing (BPO) facility from today's 600 staff up to 2,000. The unit, which will be renamed Tecnovate, will then take on work from other companies.

"We are now in the process of increasing the size of Tecnovate, our BPO facility," ebookers chief executive Dinesh Dhamija confirmed in the company's half-year results statement.

"This additional capacity will be used to service third party clients. We have already demonstrated our expertise in creating a successful BPO and will now turn it from a cost centre into a profit centre. When combined with the high internet growth of an online travel company, we believe that this gives ebookers a unique position to build on the profit potential of the group," Dhamija added.

The outsourcing of IT services is expected to boom this year, as cash-conscious businesses look for ways to cut expenditure.

It can be a controversial move, though, with some firms reluctant to hand over key applications such as IT security. There are also concerns that the practice could result in significantly less employment for UK-based IT workers.