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Indian BPM services will continue to grow

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Ruchika Goel
New Update
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The Indian BPM industry has grown leaps and bounds in the last decade. The industry has adopted a truly global delivery model and has grown in strength not only in voice processes but also in analytics-based solution, supply chain management, and proving business transformation services. The BPM industry has set a vision of delivering $50 bn of revenue by 2020. In this context, Dataquest spoke to Ravinder Rana, Country Head, Concentrix India and got to understand his thoughts on future of contact center operations and key trends that will guide the way forward for the BPM industry globally in the years to come. Excerpts

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As per the Nasscom-Mckinsey Perspectives 2020 report, the Indian BPM market is expected to reach $50 bn by 2020 driven by an increase in global consumer spends. How do you foresee the statistics?

It is looking very promising. In fact, a couple of years ago people started doubting as a lot of work started moving to Philippines. And a lot of people started talking about how the increasing cost and the lack of innovation is going to move the business away from India and to countries like the Philippines and near shore, on-shore model. I think that some of it will continue to happen and some of these countries will continue to grow. But what is beginning to happen is that while some of the pure-play voice customer service is moving to Philippines, the high-end work is still coming to India. So, any type of complex tech support, healthcare, banking, analytics, and the legal process outsourcing continues to come to India. In fact, we are also seeing that high-end customer service also continues to come to India. At the Nasscom BPM summit recently, the essence of the discussion was that Indian BPM services will continue to grow for both international and domestic market. Some of the very basic customer service work will continue to move to other countries. But India still has a huge role to play and my belief is that we will continue to grow at least for the foreseeable future.

What are the factors that contribute to the BPM industry growth?

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I think we are still a very cost competitive industry. Every conversation with the customer starts with the cost to begin with, though that is not the only reason why customers outsource now. This was the reason 10-15 years ago when they started in India. However, over the period of time while the cost has gone up, the companies have brought in technologies and processes that have helped us become much more productive. So if you look at it end-to-end, on one side while the cost has gone up but so has the productivity, innovation and the value to the customer; and because of that my belief is India will continue to see a lot more work coming to us. Processes like training, up-scaling people managing floors, six sigma quality, even the analytics embedded tech solutions are helping us deliver exceptionally well to our customers. And they are seeing that on one hand while we are increasing productivity, on the other hand our customer experience is improving because we keep getting better, our processes keep getting better, our technology keeps getting better and that is helping us service the customers a lot better. Also the scale that we offer and the length and breadth of the services that we offer—it’s totally unmatched.

What is the biggest challenge being faced by the industry right now?

I think the biggest challenge is talent. There is a significant opportunity to grow for the industry and we are still struggling. Most of the companies struggle today to get the right talent at the right time. One has to invest a lot, put in enormous amount of effort to get the talent. I don’t think we have done a fair job of branding the BPM industry the way it deserves to be branded and this is being accepted by Nasscom as well. The question is how can we create a positive brand perception for BPM industry that people start seeing it as a career opportunity rather than stop gap? While we have a billion people but there are only few that we can employ because of our very high standard of English, spoken English. We also do background checks and we only need certain people and because of that we keep filtering and the population we target gets very small. And then within that people who qualify to come, they still want to prefer IT, other services and businesses because the brand perception is still that we are a lift and shift labor arbitrage. And that is what we are trying to do is to completely rebrand it. We’ve stopped calling it BPO, and calling it BPM now and Nasscom is putting together a plan to unveil a branding strategy.

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Do you think the six Cs—cloud, collaboration, contextual coverage, continuous improvement, and codeless will be the game changer in 2015?

In 1998 when I started my first job in this industry, the technology, the cloud was non-existent. The Internet was there but telephonic infrastructure, network architecture, some of these were very different and at a very nascent stage. I used to work for invoice processing business, we used to get invoices captured in a film, ship to us through DHL. We used to load those into a big box which is similar to an X-ray box, read the invoices and then enter the data. It was that archaic. Look where we have come from, everything is moving to cloud. There are transformational, highly intuitive CRM solutions. There are analytics, processes, and tools that give you predictive analytics, that can help you sell better, that help you drive customer service better. Three or four big changes are taking place as we speak. One is as you rightly said social media. Every BPM company will have to have a social media service where for example, there is a team sitting and working for a particular global customer constantly scanning the chatter on social media, proactively and sometimes reactively responding to customer needs, handling customer problems, and some of them are even selling. The other thing you talked about was cloud. I think its cost effective, it’s scalable; you can grow rapidly with it. Initial challenge of some of the customers in banking and healthcare and other sensitive industries where we store customer data; there were questions being asked around data security. I think a lot of them have been answered now.

What are the future plans of your company?

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We are doing very well. After IBM’s acquisition, we are 50,000 plus people now and are growing. Our intention is to grow both organically and inorganically which means that the company is open to acquisitions. We are looking at growing at par or at least better than the industry average. We want to invest in the technology areas and analytics. Chris announced $25 mn investment in the next two years and specific to ramping up our sales engine and in our analytics we are going to invest $7-8 mn in the next 1-2 years. Our focus is going to be on how we continuously evolve technology offerings so that we can support the customer better. How do we continuously evolve and support our sales team so that we can create solutions that align with the customers’ need and you go make those offerings and sell.

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