HCL's call centre in Northern Ireland

Monday, 29 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
Printer Print Email Email
BELFAST: Much concern is expressed in Britain about moving call centre jobs to India, but here in Northern Ireland the words 'Indian call centre' bring cheer - thanks to Indian IT major HCL Technologies.

There is much carping in British newspapers about the quality of service provided by Indian call centre staff, but experts in the field here are all praise for Indian entrepreneurship.

Thanks to globalisation and Indian enterprise crossing international borders, Northern Ireland has emerged as the latest destination in the West for investment by Indian companies.

HCL Technologies, an Indian software and information technology major, has set up a thriving call centre here that employs over 1,400 people, most of them locals.

Just as Indian state governments produce glossy brochures highlighting the investment of major western companies in their states, local authorities here have produced slick promotional material to highlight HCL's decision to invest in Northern Ireland.

Gushes a brochure produced by 'Invest Northern Ireland', government agency, on HCL: "While growing numbers of UK- and US-based companies are relocating their customer care operations to India, ironically it is an Indian company that is bucking the trend by helping to keep contact centre jobs in the UK."

One of the key quotes cited in literature promoting Northern Ireland as an investment destination is that of Ranjit Narasimhan, chief operating officer of HCL Technologies BPO Services.

He is often quoted in slick power point presentations by officials and in promotional literature as saying: "Independently-conducted research has established that Northern Ireland's people, infrastructure and cost base make it the best place in the UK - if not in Europe - to set up a customer contact centre."

Since acquiring a 90 percent stake in BT's customer contact centre on Apollo Road here in 2001, HCL has now emerged as the largest outsourcing operation in Northern Ireland as well as Ireland.

Paul Duddy, HCL's senior human resources manager, said: "We are among the top ten employers in Belfast. One million pounds have been invested so far in the last one year, mainly on infrastructure."

He disclosed that HCL is now looking for a second location in Northern Ireland as part of its continuing investment and expansion plans.

HCL's centre here works in close liaison with offices in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, and Chennai in Tamil Nadu and this includes staff exchange. Among the call centre operators here are students of Indian origin studying at the two local universities, the Queen's University of Belfast and the University of Ulster.

Ninety-five percent work in the HCL's centre here is for BT, Duddy said, and added that other clients included Prudential (insurance major), Automobiles Association, B&Q (a DIY store), IBM, and Basics (IT company).

Eileen McAleese, HCL operations manager, praised the quality of Indian staff that comes here from Noida and Chennai for short periods.

"The Indian staff is highly qualified and capable. They quickly merge with the local staff here and perform the same tasks," she told IANS.

The average salary of a call centre operator at the HCL centre is 10,650 pounds to 13,500 pounds per year.

Local officials say that after the recent successful visit to India by a Northern Ireland trade delegation led by Barry Gardiner, minister for enterprise, trade and investment, more such Indian companies were expected to set up base here.

Source: IANS
Facebook denies cyber attack
Facebook ruled out a cyber attack on its products Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger, which suf..
Google's Gboard gets offline
Google is adding an Artificially Intelligent (AI) offline dictation feature on its Gboard keyb..
IBM announces programme
n a bid to recognise the contribution of developers in the open source community, Information ..
Wipro opens third industrial
IT major Wipro Ltd on Thursday opened its centre of excellence for Industrial Internet of Things (..