Voice&Data BPO Summit 2010: Opportunity Calls

The BPO industry strongly felt the heat of the economic slowdown globally.
With investments trickling in, and harsh cost-cutting measures across the
industries, BPOs’ revenues especially witnessed a sharp decline. However, in
India, this was not really the case, with a growth of 18% during the recession.
Most of the industry people were taking the slowdown as an opportunity to look
more carefully at their own strategies, and improve them to cater better to the
changing global and domestic trends.

Thus, VOICE&DATA’s eighth BPO Summit-BPO 2.0 positioned around the theme
‘After the Downturn, the Re-invention’-had industry leaders discussing and
debating on issues pertaining to whether there was really a downturn, the rise
of off shoring due to the recession, growth of tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and the
changing demands of domestic customers-to cut costs while simultaneously helping
in transforming their businesses.

After an introductory note by Prasanto Kumar Roy, chief editor, CyberMedia
at the BPO 2.0 event held on May 19 in Mumbai on whether or not the downturn is
over as yet, judging from the increase in competitive pressure surrounding
price, new technologies and better quality at lower cost. Rightly stating that
BPOs came in as a threat, but over the years have been contributing steadily to
the GDP. Effective in back-up power conservation and cost reduction, helping to
further develop technology, and speed up time for customer service as well as
being the forerunners of green adoption in the industry-BPOs are here to stay
and will grow, no matter what the economic situation is.

From L-R: Mohit Jain, CIO, 24/7
Customer; Sunil Gujral, CTO, Quatrro; Prasanto K Roy, chief editor,
CyberMedia; Subramanya C, global CTO, HTMT Global; Bharat Bhushan, director,

The first keynote address by Swami Swaminathan, CEO and MD, Infosys BPO set
the tone for debate on the downturn. Swaminathan suggested that the downturn was
simply a matter of the mindset. According to him, continued focus on getting the
best out of the market in terms of pricing, expansion, new technologies,
managing costs and increasing efficiency will not only provide more investments
due to satisfied customers, but will also lead to an increase in the BPO’s
profitability. Providing the example of Infosys being unsure about the Indian
operations at first, he said that a major factor for the country’s BPO growth is
its continuing effort to re-invent and innovate, dealing with clients in
multiple verticals. He said that customers today are no more concerned about
where you are going to execute the operations, as long as the operations are
scalable. This would come from a concentration on being end-customer centric
instead of cost-centric, and globalizing the location by leveraging knowledge
and expertise from all centers. A combination of BPO efficiency and KPO
effectiveness is the ideal model for success, with people being the most
important resource in OSS/BSS to enhance the delivery by engaging them in
enhancing the performance. Lastly, he said that a change in the customer mindset
that a BPO is the lowest level on the chain is also important in order to move

From L-R: Jitendra Nath, senior VP,
Spanco BPO; Sanjay Diwan, VP, OSPAI; Salil Agrawal, associate director, PWC;
Gopal Devanahalli, VP and independent business unit head, Infosys; Salil
Khanna, VP, head, ITES, Bharti Airtel

The first speaker of the day, Salil Khanna, head, ITeS, industry verticals,
Bharti Airtel spoke about the next innovations for BPO, strategic telecom
outsourcing. Explaining how a telecom operator can assist a BPO, he said that
the outsourcing thought is an old one and today’s business is growing from
anywhere to anywhere in the world-implying the demand-supply chain. He also
mentioned that the time for virtualization and cloud has come. Post the
downturn, there has been an emergence of new SMEs and segments like healthcare
and e-governance which will further give a boost to the BPO traffic, as will new
technologies which will result in a greater need for troubleshooting. Market
consolidation is another key trend. With a high CAGR of 40%, large international
BPOs are now turning to domestic BPOs. This trend will only continue with the
growth in new segments, apart from telecom and BSSI, forcing BPOs to move
further down into India, away from tier-1 and tier-2 cities to become closer to
the customer and cater to them better. He also mentioned that the capital setup
has given way to third party BPOs. Some of the key concerns for BPOs would be a
need to have a single network-merge domestic and global network; consolidate and
optimize the network to reduce debt; outsource instead of build; and go for
total telecom transformation.

The first panel discussion of the day which was moderated by Anil Joshi,
senior manager, consulting, Deloitte had Saifr Adeni, president and CEO,
Eknovate Software Services; Sanjay Diwan, VP, OSPAI; Keyur Maniar, VP, Wipro BPO;
Tarun Pandey, VP, IT, Aditya Birla Group; and Shyam Kerkar, head, marketing, BPO
services, TCS on the panel.

While the central focus of the discussion was how BPOs can make the most of
the global downturn, Adeni said that there was a necessity to change the way
clients were addressed and specifically cater to the new challenges and demands
of the market. Service based models that promise connectivity, scalability and
flexibility as well as domain-specific services will help in increasing the
customers’ revenues and in turn revenues of the provider, converting critical
costs into revenue-generating costs. According to Joshi, cloud computing will
enable KPOs to move much faster in India than anywhere else, and the downturn
contributed to great learning and great recovery. Diwan pitched in with the
thought that the downturn was an opportunity for vendor consolidation in the
revenue space. He also said that now more customers are looking at transactional
business, and a gap in experience undermines customer loyalty. Maniar touched
upon the fact that companies are increasingly looking at the value being offered
by BPOs, and are now concentrating on business function outsourcing-giving out
their entire suite of operations and looking at outcome based and game-share
contracts. Thus, there is an increasing lift, shift and agile transformation.
Creativity with transformation, addressing IT plus BPO needs, with one partner
to address all solutions-is the need of the hour. Additionally, there is an
emphasis on multi-geo, multi-language and multi-tower. According to Pandey,
innovation has always been a major differentiator. Re-invention and cost
pressures have always existed, and thus, the downturn only spells more
opportunity. Industry should concentrate on the benefits of both-customer and
provider. According to Kerkar, global companies are coming to India and Indian
majors are going global, moving away from labour arbitrage in the market, with a
new era of process-as-a-service model. Thus, understanding the customer
challenges and providing a solution is the key to solving business needs.

Keynote Speaker : Swami Swaminathan, CEO
and MD, Infosys BPO delivers the first keynote address on ‘BPO 2.0: After
the Downturn, the Re-invention’
Keynote speaker : Aparup Sengupta, CEO
and MD, Aegis delivers the second keynote address on ‘BPO 2.0 :
Rediscovering the Role of Technology’
Sukant Srivastava, MD and country
manager, Convergys India Services

Seth Shaw, VP, sales and marketing, EMEA, LogMeIn in his presentation spoke
about superior support experience focused on increasing the mobility of end
users. With most people using mobiles and laptops for support, it will give an
opportunity to BPOs to provide new apps based services. Aparup Sengupta, CEO and
MD, Aegis who spoke on ‘Rediscovering the Role of Technology in IT and IT
enabled Services’ said that in a flatter world, cost versus value is a big
question; and innovations need to be aligned to the technology and changing
business models of the moment. Anytime, anywhere future-proof architecture is
the key, especially with the product lifecycle getting shorter and challenging.
Thus, a move from mass generalization to mass customization should be done as
each customer is unique and wants to be serviced in his own way.

Chetan Khosla, VP, quality and process
engineering, Aegis

The second panel discussion of the day examined the theme of re-discovering
the role of technology. As an opening note, Sanjay Prasad, EVP and CIO, BFSI BPO,
TCS said that the customers, regulators, operating level, and productivity-all
have to work together; and issues like work-from-home, security, taxation for
delivery centers were all opportunities for operators to think inside out to
match these parameters. According to Praveen Srikhande, senior VP, technology,
WNS, adoption of new technology has always been a challenge due to the price
pressures as customers don’t have time to judge value versus cost. Self-service
portals should be built up and developed to serve customers better, and contact
centers should also be developed to aid in customer retention. Wrapping up the
discussion, Manoj Paul, COO, enterprise services, Bharti Airtel said that the
right partners will lead to more outsourcing, and work-from-home should really
be marketed, especially with higher speeds for home being offered which will
lead to greater cost efficiency. He also said that operators providing a
one-stop end-to-end solution and backed by a single BPO partner would help
eliminate vendors and thus, save on costs.

VOICE&DATA BPO 2.0 held on May 21 in Delhi kicked off with a welcome note by
Prasanto Kumar Roy, chief editor, CyberMedia who spoke briefly on how changes in
the last year have been leveraged by the industry as an opportunity, with
demands and expectations of customers becoming increasingly diverse. Thus,
adding value by introducing innovative processes and pricing models, and
self-service portals can provide an edge to the industry.

L-R: Shyam Kerkar, head, marketing, BPO
services, TCS; Tarun Pandey, VP, IT, Aditya Birla Group; Keyur Maniar, VP,
Wipro BPO; Anil Joshi, senior manager, consulting, Deloitte; Anil Modi,
head, marketing & strategic initiatives, Aegis; Sanjay Diwan, VP, OSPAI;
Safir Adeni, president and CEO, Eknovate Software Services

Sukant Srivastava, country manager and VP, Convergys, who delivered the first
keynote address of the day, spoke on how invention should go hand-in-hand with
technology of the moment and business model. With an uncertain market, ability
to change is the key just like the quality of good products and services. He
said that a good process and technical focus is what differentiates us from the
other world markets, and increasing cost for international clients without
increase in revenues is good news for the offshoring industry. He also mentioned
that though Philippines has given us a run for our money, that market is now
getting saturated; and the size of our talent pool and language flexibility are
the two factors among others that help India to stand out. Thus, opportunity
does exist, but there is a need to upscale our talent pool and deploy a
differentiated approach to drive value.

L-R: Anurag Kulshrestha, founder and
managing principal, McTranz Global Consulting; Manoj Paul, COO, enterprise
services, Bharti Airtel; Srikanth Sesh, CEO, Consilium Software; Prasanto
Kumar Roy, chief editor, CyberMedia; Praveen Srikhande, senior VP,
technology, WNS; Sanjay Prasad, EVP and CIO, BFSI BPO, TCS

According to Salil Khanna, VP and head, ITeS, Bharti Airtel, the BPO industry
has evolved to such an extent that no matter how the financial scenario is,
outsourcing will always be in demand. On the business side, there has been a
shift from a FTE based business model to a transformer based model; and
gradually this will move to a performance based model. Total telecom
transformation will help BPOs in keeping up with the emerging trends.

The first panel discussion of the day-which included speakers like Jitendra
Nath, senior VP, Spanco BPO; Sanjay Diwan, VP, OSPAI; Gopal Devanahalli, VP and
independent business unit head, Infosys; and Salil Khanna, VP, head, IteS,
Bharti Airtel with Salil Agrawal, associate director, PWC moderating-highlighted
challenges of the domestic market which are very different from the global
market, linking customers’ revenues to BPOs’ revenues, the change from captive
to third party BPOs-which is more of a global trend but with time and
confidence, PSUs and private players will soon follow suit in the domestic
space. UID, manufacturing, government, rural and healthcare are the new segments
which will drive the BPO market. Another question is on how IVR can bring down
the costs and increase customer satisfaction.

After a presentation on ‘Delivering Superior Support Experience’ by Seth
Shaw, VP, sales and marketing, EMEA, LogMeIn, the second keynote address on
‘Rediscovering the Role of Technology’ was delivered by Sudhir Agarwal,
president, MEA and APAC, Aegis. This was followed by a presentation by Vikas
Kumar, head, solution engineering, Genesys (Alcatel-Lucent company) on
‘Optimizing your Operations’.

Salil Khanna, VP and head, ITeS, Bharti
Vikas Kumar, head, solution engineering,
Genesys (Alcatel-Lucent company)
Seth Shaw, VP, sales and marketing, EMEA,

Following that, the second panel discussion for the day started, which was
moderated by Prasanto Kumar Roy, chief editor, CyberMedia, with panelists
including Bharat Bhushan, director, Integreon; Mohit Jain, CIO, 24/7 Customer;
Subramanya C, global CTO, HTMT Global; Sunil Gujral, CTO, Quatrro; and Sanjeev
Johari, senior VP and head, IT, Spice BPO. It covered a number of topics ranging
from platform BPOs to automating the contact centers.

Clearly, what emerged from both the events is that there is a growing focus
on enhancing the GDP-growth, differentiation, and people-as that will help
companies to stay ahead. Industry knowledge is becoming more important, with an
emphasis on business matrix instead of operation matrix, working backwards to
add more value to clients. Technology must go hand-in-hand with innovation, and
drive efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Further, asking customers to pay for
the extra value offered that goes beyond the traditional infrastructure platform
can help in boosting price points. The time has come to move from a TDM and IT
network to a total IT network. Finally, 3G and BWA will bring about a broadband
revolution in India; and with a regulatory perspective of AUSPI for
work-from-home, the BPO sector is all set to see an explosion in growth.

Beryl M

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