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Information Management: A Key Differentiator for BPOs in the Crowded Market Place

By Vivek Naidu, Vice President - Information Managemet, Kodak Alaris India

Business Process Outsourcing is the fastest growing segment of the Information Technology Enabled Services industry in India. Key factors including economy of scale, business risk mitigation, cost advantage, utilization improvement and superior competency have led to the growth of India’s BPO industry. The trend which started around the mid-90s has now grown by leaps and bounds. According to National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), BPO industry will add overall revenues of USD 13-14 billion to existing industry revenues of USD 118 billion in FY2015.

The BPO industry is made up of many sectors. It involves horizontals such as Finance & Accounting (F&A), HR along with procurement and industry specific market segments like mortgage servicing, insurance claims processing, fund administration and clinical trials. Each BPO segment also has unique characteristics in terms of value creation and solution characteristics.  So it is obvious that a so-called cookie-cutter approach to BPO no longer works.

There is an increased demand for newer, more innovative and transformational BPO services in middle and front-office environments that directly impact client revenues, customer service and enterprise profitability. A recent survey from Global Services confirms the importance of the value proposition over just cost reduction. 74 percent of high performers focus on the potential value of business benefits beyond cost when creating their business case, compared to 26 percent of the rest. Procurement functions like sourcing and category management offer a faster ROI than procurement operations which drive and capture cost savings in the long-term. Organisations gain value through information management led insights and perspective on how procurement and finance functions can work better together.

The role of technology like information management and document capture will become increasingly important as services are enacted directly in technology platforms such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and business-process- as-a-service (BPaaS) and technology becomes a source of operational improvements and business innovation. There is a clear indicator for the next direction of BPO. Service providers will need to consider how technologies can transform service to help clients transcend from keeping up to setting the pace. And in doing so, BPO providers become a valued ‘partner’ that can build and use their industry knowledge and expertise to meet the needs of constantly changing vertical markets. The big trends that are expected to revolutionise the BPO industry include:

Standardised Technology and Analytics

The development of standardised technology and the ability to bridge existing IT systems to optimise investment already made, will vastly improve the quality of service delivered. The emerging trend is that tablets and smart phones act as channels for communications among organisations, clients and workers. Further, transforming processes through technologies such as social media, mobility, cloud, and analytics across the end-to-end service platforms can truly be beneficial for BPOs looking to deliver insights and create new value.

Exceptional Customer Service and Remote Support

Customer service is the next differentiator. Remote support is an integral part of it. Clients are happy to pay if they perceive that your service levels are notably superior to your competitors. Remote support could be your trump cards in achieving this. Intuitive software can gather information that can be used to get the right services to customers just at the right time when they are looking for them.

Global Delivery and Regionalisation of Operations

Global delivery capability is absolutely key to successful BPO engagements to leverage the best talent and to support clients wherever they operate. Enterprises are increasingly looking for outsourcing companies that can offer the combined capabilities of ITO, BPO, consultation, applications and analytics, which will guide them efficiently through shifting phases of growth. However true global delivery is not a single, low-cost location or a very offshore centric model but rather the trend is towards less overhead and more regional-based models.

People

It has been widely recognised that people will become a major issue for the BPO industry in the coming years. Recruiting, motivating, recognising, rewarding and developing talent is a vital consideration, as people are the only sustainable, long-term source of competitive advantage. Buyers and providers need to invest more in people to build their industry knowledge and expertise in order to meet the unique needs of the constantly changing vertical markets - especially as the BPO value proposition evolves from cost-reduction to insights, innovation and business outcomes. On the positive side, the increasing deployment of technology like information management and document capture will free up people for more meaningful and value-added work. However this serves to underline the importance of training and developing outsourcing management staff in areas that are strategic to
the business.

With organizations aggressively pursuing cost-reduction strategies by utilization of new technologies like information management, an innovative company relying on versatile technology can experience faster and more sustainable growth. 

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