Norwich Union acts on offshoring security concerns

Company tightens security in Indian call centres following an internal review

Norwich Union has tightened up security at its Indian call centres, following a review of its offshore operations.

The UK insurance company conducted a review of procedures at its Indian operations last year, and an internal report recommended improvements to the firm's information security policy.

Out of its total workforce of 30,000, Norwich Union currently employs around 5,000 staff in India. One-third work in customer-facing roles in call centres, with the rest working in back-office functions such as IT.

A spokesman for Norwich Union said the changes were part of regular reviews of all parts of the company's business. "There were some issues in India and they are being addressed," he said.

But he dismissed reports the company could have lost up to £10m and been fined by industry regulator the Financial Services Authority as "rubbish".

He added that most of the recommendations in the report were minor and that most have been already been addressed.

In an interview with last month, Norwich Union chief information officer Alex Robinson said half of the company's IT work will be done in India by the end of this year, as part of companywide plans to slash £250m off the group's £2bn operating costs.

Robinson said cost and flexibility are the key competitive advantages Norwich Union gets from offshoring IT work to India.

"There is a labour cost differential, the Indian work is cheaper," he said. "The other advantage, and the one that persists almost irrespective of where labour costs go, is the flexibility we get from tapping into the offshore workforce and the offshore suppliers. We can ramp up or ramp down the work that's going on with those companies in a reasonably quick and easy way."