PTC -- more than any other CAD company -- may represent the truly international company of the future, taking advantage of resources wherever they are most plentiful and least expensive, all the time selling wherever the opportunity presents itself. While most major CAD companies maintain some workers overseas -- or are at least are testing the waters -- PTC has jumped into the deep end. Its R&D center in Pune, India, houses more PTC employees than any PTC location worldwide, including PTC headquartered in Needham, MA (outside of Boston).
I was given a tour during my recent visit to India by managing director Ashutosh Parasnis, (left), marketing manager Rohit Biddappa (middle) and P. A. Venkateswaran, general manager R&D.
You'd have to be the corporate village idiot to not have realized that personnel may be had in other parts of the world at a fraction of what they would cost in the US. Outsourcing may be a dirty word in the US, but to countries like India, China and Russia, it is a boon. Due in large part to foreign investments, India's economy has been enjoying double digit growth for several years. The major advantage of India over other international labor sources for American corporations is that English is widely spoken among the educated elite. Bangalore (in the south of India) has been ground zero for outsourcing IT and software services but other cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi and Pune have also benefited. Pune may well be the focal point for India's CAD activity, housing centers for not only PTC but also for Geometric Solutions and Tata Technologies (parent company of INCAT).
But don't conjure images of sweat shops. PTC is one of the "in" place to work in Pune. In a country that worships brands, the PTC brand is king among CAD companies. Pune's PTC employees (over 700 of them) are the envy of their peers. They may have to get to work by circumventing herds of water buffalo on roads that appear to be devastated by bombs but at work, they are ensconced a marbled/glass/hardwood Nirvana with spacious cubicles, large LCD screens and name brand PCs. The modern 8-story high rise is part of a business campus that would look good anywhere in the US. And they are paid "handsomely," says Ashutosh.
Wages in India being what they are, getting paid handsomely still only costs PTC only one third of what it would cost in the US.
However, operating in India is not without its pitfalls. Wandering cattle amid chaotic traffic on bone-jarring roads are only minor inconveniences compared to the more serious business threats such as rampant power failures, Internet disconnections and red tape that can stop a venture even before it starts. PTC seems to have overcome all this. It employs a generator backup for electrical power and has multiple redundant Internet connections. A high capacity leased line securely and dependably connects Pune with headquarters all hours of the day. As far as bureaucratic hurdles. "It's not so bad any more," says Rohit. "In fact, Maharashtra (the state in which Pune is located) is the most progressive in the country."
PTC is no latecomer seeking to take advantage of India's collective and seemingly infinite brainpower It has had an India operation for over 10 years. PTC inherited an Indian workforce when it acquired Computervision. Jim Heppleman, now a PTC VP, came with the Computervision's acquisition and was the force behind expanding the Indian operation to its present state.
Will the India office take on development of all PTC products? What of recent PTC acquisitions like Mathcad, ITEDO and Arbortext, companies that have had their own (presumably more expensive) development staffs? There is no mandate to automatically move development from these companies to India, says Ashutosh. It would be quite disruptive to have that happen.
Ashutosh is a kind soul. I would like to have him for a boss. He wishes no harm on his counterparts in the US and Europe. Yet, I can't help but think that more calculating corporate executives must be inclined to migrate future development to India. India's "value proposition" is just too hard to ignore.