Software developer opens $1m centre in Melbourne

A development centre was opened in Victoria yesterday which aims to create 100 jobs from the state's IT graduates, professional community and from the vendor's Bangalore head office.

Infosys Technologies, one of India's largest software developers, opened the $1 million software development laboratory in Melbourne on Monday.

The new centre, which marks the company's first R&D investment in the Asia-Pacific region, will focus on business transformation solutions and services, targeting local growth industries for business process management such as telecommunications, financial services and utilities, said Infosys' chairman Narayana Murthy.

The lab will develop those solutions using Java-based, Internet, wireless, broadband switching, mainframe, Unix and NT technology.

The centre will integrate with the company's other development labs in India, the US and Europe.

Infosys has an initial hiring target of 100 developers for the centre over the next 12 months, most of whom the company aims to draw from Melbourne's 6000-strong IT graduate pool and also the mid-level professional market, according to Murthy.

"Our goal is to hire the best and brightest professionals to provide quality services to our [Australian] customers," he said.

He said Infosys would also recruit at least a third of the lab's staff from the company's Bangalore headquarters.

Depending on all candidates' skill levels, they will be trained in areas crossing technology, business transformation, teamwork and leadership, and cultural change, Murthy said.

In order to equip the centre's 100-person capacity, Infosys will ramp up its technology and physical infrastructure over the next eight to 12 weeks.

Murthy said Infosys was confident it would attract "many more" Australian customers to its existing base here, which includes Telstra, Suncorp Metway and Vodafone. However, he added the company was "not dependent" on the centre for new Australian business.

According to Murphy, the Victorian Government lobbied Infosys to invest in the state's software development industry. He said the Victorian Minister for ICT, Marsha Thompson and other department officials had been in talks with Infosys since late last year and during March at the 2002 World Congress on IT in Adelaide.

"They've made several presentations to us showing us why Melbourne is a great place for development work," said Murthy, adding he believes Victoria is renowned for producing good IT graduates and has a strong concentration on software R&D.

Ananda Rao, Infosys' manager for Australia and New Zealand, said the company also sees Australia as a cheaper R&D alternative to the US, for instance. "Development costs in the US are definitely higher than here, with some developers costing up to $US100,000 more there than here and other Asia-Pacific countries," he said.

Meanwhile, a recent survey by Chicago-based HR consulting firm Hewitt Associates showed that Infosys was twice a best employer in India. Infosys' Murthy said the company wanted to duplicate that achievement in Australia.

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