Indian men wearing face masks
Some of the world’s biggest companies rely on outsourced staff in India to provide back-office operations Credit: RAJAT GUPTA

When India’s prime minister ordered a lockdown, a nation of 1.3 billion was plunged into chaos. At just four hours’ notice, Asia’s third-largest economy came to a shuddering halt.

三级成人视频The shock waves were felt thousands of miles away in some of the world’s biggest companies, which heavily rely on outsourced staff in India to provide back-office operations.

Major Western institutions including RBS and HSBC are now facing productivity issues as a result of the 21-day lockdown. Bank of America and Wells Fargo this weekend denied their Indian operations face similar challenges, insisting their teams have switched smoothly to working from home.

Retail banks, in particular, have seen a large volume of customer mortgage enquiries三级成人视频 go unanswered by once-packed call centres in India. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

三级成人视频The outsourcing crisis extends outside the private sector. The NHS, which has outsourced most of its payroll work to India, could also be impacted as businesses across the country scramble to automate tasks previously carried out by hundreds of contractors.

三级成人视频“These Indian contact centres are like super structures with lightning-speed broadband. Ordinary homes just cannot compare,” one industry consultant says. “With the whole country under lockdown, the ability of Indian providers to service UK clients is largely switched off at the moment.”

三级成人视频Over the years, India has cultivated a reputation as an outsourcing hotspot with millions of high-skilled and low-cost workers creating an intricate web of call centres and giant software campuses. Together, they raked in an estimated $177bn (£145bn) last year.

Now, the country’s shutdown is forcing the corporate world to rethink the thousands of jobs sent abroad in recent years.

三级成人视频“The sudden three-week lockdown in India has caused substantial business impact for UK firms,” says Andrew McIntee from London-based consultancy New Street Group. “Companies are now scrambling to reshore that capacity from India back to the UK as quickly as they can.”

三级成人视频Highly-regulated businesses, including financial services and utilities companies, are urgently trying to fix this problem in a bid to avoid hefty fines from potential customer service failings, according to McIntee.

三级成人视频At the same time, many of the onshore contact centres in the UK have reduced resources due to furloughs and workers staying at home. “It’s the perfect storm. You have increased demand occurring at a time of severely reduced capacity,” McIntee says.

Tata Consultancy Services, one of India’s largest outsourcing groups with more than 400,000 employees, said it asked the majority of its global staff to work from home. Infosys, another established player, said that it had mobilised laptops and high-speed broadband for its employees to enable them to work remotely.

三级成人视频Despite this, experts predict that there will be major operational failures and slow response times for clients.

三级成人视频“No one was really prepared for this,” says Phil Fersht, chief executive of IT consultancy HfS Research. “A lot of firms were shut down by the Indian government with virtually no notice and there were no contingency plans.”

For the outsourcing companies, the past few days are expected to change the face of the sector. Not only will companies be forced to support remote working at scale, but they will also need to automate more of their critical functions, according to Fersht.

三级成人视频“There will be less concentration on large delivery centres in India,” he adds. “In future, there will be greater use of other locations such as eastern Europe, including countries like Russia and Ukraine.”

三级成人视频In a survey of 220 IT service providers and advisers carried out by HfS, 38pc of respondents said they were investing in new ways of doing business as a result of the crisis, with a further 21pc forced to come up with appropriate contingency measures. Meanwhile, 74pc of respondents said they have what they needed to weather the storm, 22pc admitted to needing additional investment to support remote working.

三级成人视频Oliver O’Donoghue, director of IT services research at HfS Research, describes the shift as one of the business world’s largest-ever experiments.

“It isn’t simply a case of people working from home and using email,” he says. “The crisis has shown that employees will quickly need to use advanced technology and sophisticated VPNs to try to access both internal and external client systems over limited infrastructure that just was not intended for that type of load.”

For a nation that has spent the past decade investing in giant IT campuses in huge sprawling mini-cities, O’Donoghue says the coming months will lead to profound change.