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HCL Technologies has won a Rs 393-crore, seven-year contract from National Insurance Company, beating top Indian IT firms and multinationals. The deal involves implementing a slew of software applications and maintaining them, system integration, business process re-engineering and supporting the IT infrastructure across the government-owned insurer’s 1,034 branches across the country.

According to HCL, it is the largest domestic IT deal in fiscal 2009 and one of the largest engagements in the insurance sector. The contract also involves the physical hosting of data centres and provisioning of business continuity services.

“We at National Insurance Company (NIC) are at a very important juncture in our growth cycle wherein we are transitioning and transforming to the next generation business model. IT has to play a big role in supporting and enabling the same,” NIC chairman and managing director V Ramasaamy said. NIC has over 10,000 employees using IT in its branches.

The bulk of the revenue will come from deciding which applications are best suited for the insurer, designing the data centre where these applications will be hosted, and implementing the software and networking for users, said HCL senior vice-president Kiran Bhagwanani.

HCL will implement a core insurance solution similar to the core banking solution that banks currently use, for the insurance provider. Apart from this, it will also implement 18 other applications in areas such as customer relationship management, human resources and business analytics.

“NIC was looking for a strategic IT firm who could partner with them for seven years, roll out the applications and operate it,” Mr Bhagwanani said, terming it a transformational project for all the insurer’s business processes. The design and implementation is expected to take 18 months after which the project will go into the maintenance phase, where HCL will operate and run the applications.

IT services firms are sharpening focus on the India market as export markets such as the US and Europe witness an economic slowdown. India is one of the few markets which is still growing for global IT providers. In 2008, the Indian IT market grew 13%, according to latest data from research firm Gartner. Government and public sector enterprises are typically one of the largest IT spenders in the Indian market. Telecom, financial services and retail are the other big spenders, but the global slowdown has impacted spends in some of them.

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