NIIT to Manage Knowledge, E-Commerce

SINGAPORE (03/14/2000) - NIIT Ltd., one of India's biggest software companies, will soon open a competency center here to focus on the mix of capabilities it believes will drive the digital economy -- knowledge management (KM) and electronic commerce.

"KM and e-commerce are two important elements that all companies will need to focus on in future," said Rahul Patwardhan, president, Asia-Pacific region, NIIT, at a press conference today. "Virtually every application will include knowledge management and e-commerce as a part."

NIIT's strong belief in the need to integrate e-commerce -- the transaction element of business -- with the sharing of information to create knowledge and corporate wisdom, comes from its original background as a supplier of educational software. The company's experience in structuring online learning will help it to present knowledge management and e-commerce seamlessly to large corporate and government end-users, according to NIIT Chairman Rajendra Pawar.

"Information is an IT service, but knowledge has always been seen as an HR (human resource) problem," he said. "But there is great synergy between learning services and software services. Our ability to integrate knowledge management and e-commerce has tremendous opportunities."

For example, knowledge management could help companies train their employees as they put new e-commerce systems in place and keep them up to date as regulations and practices evolve along with the emergence of e-commerce throughout an industry, officials said.

NIIT's e-commerce products include the virtual storefront eMart, ePortal, ePayServer for online bill presentation and payment and the eService multichannel information delivery product. One of NIIT's largest contracts in Singapore using its products was to provide secure telephone-based tax return filing for the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

NIIT's new competency center here is part of a strategy to diversify software development and content creation away from the company's base in New Delhi. It now has software development centers in Malaysia and Shanghai, China.

Singapore has some particular advantages as a development center, according to Patwardhan.

"Large users in Singapore tend to use the latest technology, which is good for our people to get to understand," he said. "Although costs here are higher than those in India, it is still cheaper by a factor of two or three to set up here than in Europe or the U.S."

Products developed at the Singapore center will be sold worldwide to NIIT's customers, particularly those in Europe and the U.S. The facility is targeted to achieve revenues of S$100 million (US$58 million) within 3 years, Patwardhan said.

NIIT is also timing the opening of the competency center to coincide with the setting up of the India-Singapore IT Task Force - a comprehensive agreement between the two countries to leverage Singapore's advanced infrastructure and government support for high-technology projects with the large pool of skilled IT talent in India.

NIIT, based in New Delhi, India, can be contacted at +91-11-648-2054 or online at http://www.niit.com/.

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