Leader: Will Dell's lesson lessen Indian interest?

Been there, done that ...didn't like the T-shirt?
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor on

Been there, done that ...didn't like the T-shirt?

Dell threw a giant spanner into the hole marked 'works' today when the company's CIO admitted it had withdrawn call centre operations from India over concerns about the levels of service it was offering customers.

At first glance the news will be ammo for the arsenal of the anti-offshoring brigade who can once again reiterate their arguments about indecipherable accents and poor local and technical knowledge.

It will also be a blow to the pro-lobby who would argue Dell didn't give it long enough. After all, setting up a technical call centre in India is never going to be the easiest task.

To counter the pro-domestic arguments, it's worth noting that the UK call centre industry - as a guide - isn't exactly thriving when left to its own devices. Putting aside the fact that 're-onshoring' is an incredibly ugly phrase - there is no evidence to suggest it will benefit the business more than persevering with an Indian operation would. High rates of absenteeism, lack of motivation and crass mismanagement are among the reasons businesses lost faith in operations in the UK in the first place - and it's likely the US market fairs little better.

However, Dell insists it wasn't as simple as growing disenchanted at levels of service provided by the Indian staff - cue much booing from the anti-offshoring corner - but more to do with demand for the product lines being supported. Sheer numbers meant the operation had outgrown the capabilities of its Bangalore site.

Whether or not we should read between the lines and assume that is a political way of placating a growing market while tipping a wink to the 'we told you so' brigade is open to supposition.

After all a company as established as Dell isn't going to admit it was the anti-India backlash - the threats of customers switching to rivals who back the domestic workforce - which forced its hand.

In truth those on either side of the issue will likely reach their own conclusions about quite why Dell turned its back on India. But register a reader comment below and let us hear your take on this.

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