Being a software person by background, I am prone to thinking in version numbers. Following my time in India, I have the sense that we are on the cusp of transitioning from US-India version 1.0 to version 2.0.
Version 1.0 seems to have been characterized by U.S. companies moving work to lower cost Indian locations and, at the same time, the most talented Indian professionals immigrating to the U.S. to achieve their potential and make many of our companies and institutions more successful in the process. This 1.0 version has benefited both countries, but it has been a fairly narrow in scope of engagement and driven more by transactions than relationships.
Now, driven by India development and continuous improvements in technology, things are changing. Indian immigrants to the U.S. are returning to their home country. I recently caught up with a former colleague from Microsoft who has been back in India for nearly three years now. He’s working at an e-learning start-up.
Business deals are becoming much more nuanced than before – we are not only outsourcing work or exporting a product or service. SightLife’s partnership with the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute is a perfect example of this deeper, more sophisticated partnership. Both organizations benefit from the relationship, but it’s not easily characterized by our traditional taxonomy (export, import, outsource, etc).
Companies on both sides are also making substantial investments in the other country. Microsoft’s buildings in Hyderabad look like they could have been teleported from the Redmond campus – and Jubilant has grown employment at their HollisterStier site in Spokane by several hundred employees since they acquired it a few years ago.
In the software business of the 1990’s, it seemed that you had to get to version 3.0 to really get it right- but what’s happening now between this country and our state looks pretty darn good to me.