Bangalore's Big Bang: Will outsourcing's unofficial capital implode under its own success?

Explosive growth puts the city's fabric to the test...

...riot of traffic on Bangalore's roads today, and the massive strain on its infrastructure in general. By some estimates the city now boasts four million vehicles, and one of the highest vehicle per capita ratios in Asia.

It also has the largest two-wheel population in the world - some 2.2 million bikes and rickshaws. Power outages are a regular feature of the business day, as in other Indian cities, but the building of new technology parks is continuing unabated.

As a result of Bangalore's continuing sprawl, back office workers at Accenture or Infosys can take an hour and a half to travel to work each day and every month Bangalore's business leaders lambast the government to do more to stop the city collapsing. These are the sort of issues that arise when a developing city swells to the size of Paris or London in one generation.

The local authorities have not been completely oblivious to the risk of Bangalore being suffocated by its own success. A new international airport now connects the city with European and American hubs - unlike the old airport that required inbound executives to change planes in Mumbai.

Perhaps more importantly, the city is also finally unveiling this month the first 7km section of a brand new $1.7bn metro system.

This development will surely have an impact. But even with the metro in place, Bangalore will still need to mind the gap - in large part because infrastructure investment has been so poor for so long. The Economist estimates that India is spending only a fraction of the 10 per cent of GDP needed to close its infrastructure deficit.

But it is also because Bangalore, despite all its problems, is still India's fastest growing city. As Bangalore grapples with its growing pains, hundreds of thousands of young, talented people are still moving in, getting trained and getting jobs, placing yet more pressure on infrastructure.

These individuals are really why Bangalore has not yet lost its preeminence in the outsourcing world. Global businesses never chose Bangalore for the quality of its infrastructure. They chose it for the cost and quality of its people.

The city's continuing attractiveness to employers and employees, despite its problems, means Bangalore still offers the broadest and deepest pool of skills in India. Hyderabad, Pune or Shanghai may be snapping at Bangalore's heals, but they haven't caught it yet.

Paul Morrison leads Alsbridge's BPO and shared services advisory practice and blogs regularly on sourcing.