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Tech help can be had right here in Tampa Bay

Watch out, Tata and Infosys. There are li'l guys here who can beat you at your game.

Companies are no longer just salivating over cheap Indian labor. They want quality thrown in with a competitive price tag.

Tampa's Digital Hands, a managed services company that provides businesses with call center monitoring and remote management of information technology products such as servers, desktops, laptops and PDAs, has captured the industry's pulse.

Last year, as Tata celebrated its largest outsourcing deal with the Nielsen Co., Digital Hands butted heads with the outsourcing giant and gleefully walked away with a contract from Virginia-based Hilb Rogal & Hobbs. The eighth-largest insurance brokerage firm says the Tampa company emerged a winner among numerous offshore and American companies.

"To be honest, they had a better process than the rest," said Rajiv Perera, chief technology officer at HRH. "They were very competitive, and they beat most people when we looked at their package."

What's the winning formula?

Digital Hands strives to deliver what people really want when they call tech support: immediate help, said Charlotte Baker, founder, president and chief executive officer. The focus is on customer service, such as tracking the caller's history of problems, answering calls in 40 seconds or less, and having the tech who picks up the call fix the problem.

No script talk. No phone trees.

That's a far cry from the piecemeal, a la carte tech support offered by traditional outsourcing vendors. What sweetens the deal is the flat monthly rate for unlimited calls.

So, is it time to compose requiems for the offshore firms?

Not so fast, experts say.

"You will have a few companies here and there that have a niche and they will compete for the outsourcing dollars," said Kaushal Chari, chairman of the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department at the University of South Florida.

The weakening dollar is hitting Indian companies, sending work to places like Vietnam, Pakistan and the Philippines.

But the giants are still holding strong.

Madhusmita Bora can be reached at mbora@sptimes.com or (813) 225-3112.

Tech help can be had right here in Tampa Bay 04/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2008 10:54pm]
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