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June 10, 1999


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Good, but not enough! NASSCOM survey announces verdict on Y2K effort in govt. The National Association of Software and Service Companies today said that though awareness about the Y2K problem has increased within the government, more work is required to defuse the situation.

Email this story to a friend. Releasing excerpts from NASSCOM's continuing study on the level of Y2K preparedness in government, Association President Dewang Mehta said ''We are just six months away from the Y2K bomb and we have to quickly act to not only become compliant but also get enough time to test the compliance status.''

Reflecting on the findings of the study, Mehta said ''In the last five months, the Government of India has been extremely proactive in taking cognisance of potential Y2K related problems. This is indicative of high priority status that the government departments as well as many state governments are lending to Y2K related efforts in the country.''

In the last one year, the central government took a number of steps to:

  • catalyse attention at various levels of industry and individuals,
  • create formal systems for instilling assessment and accountability procedures,
  • establish disclosure norms for corporations,
  • seek expert help in identifying sectors of critical nature and
  • mount public awareness campaigns in association with the industry.

However, ''The increasing concentration of resources and successful projects in government and public sector should not be a cause of complacency as the world over, Y2K is proving to be a major threat and we may not be insulated,'' he warned.

Mehta further disclosed that India would earn a cumulative export earnings of over $2.3 billion in Y2K by end of 1999 while fresh projections of Y2K spending in India is estimated at Rs 16 billion.

Though the NASSCOM survey highlights efforts being made by the central and state governments to take stock of the Y2K problem, Mehta said ''in power, aviation, telecom and railways sectors, more work of Y2K preparedness needs to be done''.

''These sectors form the nervous system of our country and we have to ensure that they continue to deliver undisrupted services in year 2000.''

The banks and finance sector has already been able to achieve high Y2K compliance and are expected to be 95 per cent Y2K compliant by June 1999.

According to the Reserve Bank of India, about 70 per cent banks in India achieved Y2K compliance by March 31, 1999. Mehta said, ''Railways have assured that they would be Y2K compliant by September 30, 1999, whereas the Department of Telecommunications expects to be fully Y2K compliant by August 31, 1999.''

He also complimented the government for taking initiative to work with other countries and help them achieve Y2K compliance.

India hosted a meeting of experts from G-15 countries in May at New Delhi with an objective to provide a common platform for representatives of G-15 nations to share their Y2K preparedness status and discus the nature of help they are seeking from other countries, especially from India.

Mehta further urged the government for quick decision on its policy for establishment of call centres in India.

''There is an immediate need to simplify the procedures and take a policy decision on setting up of call centres in India, this would also require providing reliable communications infrastructure in India at globally competitive rates and charge at DoT policy.''

Call centres are normally operated by large airlines, banks to provide services to the customers / callers, investment banks, mutual funds, telecom services, companies providing customised and high value services.

A typical call centre is a service centre that has adequate telecom facilities, trained consultants, access to wide databases and Internet and other online information support infrastructure. When a typical call reaches the call centre, the caller is answered by a trained consultant with access to wide database of information.

The dedicated telecommunication links connects a remote call centre to the parent organisation through voice links and online computer database access.

Mehta said ''Call centres are the new and growing opportunities for India and IT enabled services have become the new mantra in the Indian industry.''

According to a NASSCOM survey, there are currently more than 25,000 people who are employed in various facets of IT enabled services.

The entire gamut of IT enabled services includes call centres, medical transcription, data digitisation, legal databases, revenue accounting, data processing, back office operations, Web content development and animation.

Mehta said ''The NASSCOM survey indicates that India has potential of earning revenues of over Rs 810 billion and creating an additional one million jobs in this sector by 2008.''

NASSCOM today also announced preliminary highlights of a survey on e-commerce, e-business and Internet being carried out to understand present status and evaluate potential of this business in India.

The survey is still being carried out in 41 major cities and industrial towns and would be completed by June end.

The highlights are based on about 1,040 responses received from government officials, industry and professionals.

Releasing the preliminary highlights of the survey, Mehta, said, ''The survey clearly indicates e-business as a major opportunity for India. This acquires twin connotations of e-commerce and e-business transactions from local businesses and the huge opportunity for software exports to other countries by quickly joining the e-business bandwagon.''

The scope of the study includes awareness amongst corporations about e-commerce and its benefits importance of e-commerce as being integral to their corporate strategy framework prospective volume of transactions expected to be carried out through e commerce opportunity for exports of e-commerce solutions and services.

Mehta said, ''The survey revealed that the total volume of e-commerce transactions in India is estimated at Rs 1.31 billion in 1998-99. Of this volume, about Rs 120 million were contributed by retail Internet or business-to-consumer transactions, and about Rs 1.19 billion were contributed by business-to-business transactions.''

''As per the survey, we expect e-business transactions in India to exceed Rs 3 billion during 1999-2000. Out of this, about Rs 500 million could comprise of retail transactions. In keeping with global norms, we expect business-to-business transactions to continue to constitute a major chunk of e-business transactions in India.''

The survey has identified some of the business models for e-business transactions through Internet in India as: EDI and intranets, theme based speciality stores, shopping malls, domestic search portals with increased focus on local content and cyber communities.

Mehta said ''The real emerging opportunity is to provide software solutions and services in e-business areas in India. We expect this market to fetch annual revenue of over Rs 30 billion by 2002.''

For this, NASSCOM is mounting a nation-wide campaign to urge young professionals to start e-business software service units.


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