The Erratic Dash of the Indian BPS Sector

Mar 18,2019 by Shashvat Vats
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“We continue to be the world’s number one global outsourcing destination. About 37% of total outsourcing market of BPM services is run by India. And the next 3-4 countries put together own less than that. Despite all the disruption, we have grown our market share.”

K S Vishwanathan, Vice President, Nasscom

Intro

Stats tell that the Indian IT-BPM industry will flourish at a CAGR of 7.63% from 2018 to 2022 exhibiting its flat augmentation in the global market. In the last 10 years, the BPS industry in India has seen a rapid transformation in terms of both customer preference and market response but the determination to continuously evolve and keep moving ahead is what kept this sector on a spree of frictionless growth.

It was the year 1991 when India reformed its foreign trade policies and opened up to the foreign investors. Not more than 10 years later, India holds around 200 players across the world running their BPO operations from Indian call centers.

The upsurge of Indian BPS sector

The brisk rise of Indian call centers rejuvenated the already developing IT sector with an incremented scope for business process services. With hovering pressure to sustain the maintenance cost of in-house IT systems and labor arbitrage becoming a much adaptable strategy, business process outsourcing is rising in the corporate world.

This is so because organizations that have chosen to work with BPO companies need not put money or time to increase or handle the available resources. Business process outsourcing or BPO as we know it is the fastest growing division of ITES (Information technology enabled services) in India. With benefits like cost-effectiveness, corporate risk mitigation, value offering, no scalability trouble, and higher performance, the Indian BPO service market has shown remarkable growth in recent times.

Today, India leads the list of nations with most Fortune 500 companies working in its region because of a healthy and prosperous BPS segment. Cheap labor cost and a colossal pool of qualified, English-speaking, and skilled experts are the two major reasons for the boom of outsourcing services in India.

But how BPO became BPS and what digital & technology transformations have swayed the Indian BPS industry?

The transition of BPO to BPS

This is an interesting story of how some approach that was meant to curtail the labor charges and overhead expenses is now a paramount business strategy.

All in the past

In the mid-80s and 90s, big organizations in the USA and Europe began to feel the pressure to trim their operational cost so as to raise the overall profit. For this, the corporates centered their focus towards developing nations like India, where the cost to hire experts was 3-10 times lesser depending on the expertise.

Initially, only extraneous tasks that needed a larger headcount of professionals were sourced out. These were back-office operations, accounting, HR, manufacturing, etc. However, after 1991, the Indian BPO sector blossomed. With the internet outshining the conventional market traditions, web-based businesses began to emerge. With IT businesses expanding their operations overseas, a 24-hour and competent tech-support or customer service team becomes essential. This created a void for the entry of call centers. Call center, a workplace with hundreds of experienced and trained agents ready to serve your business’s customers, becomes a common name in the corporate community.

But the dilemma of western organizations was to hire diligent professionals and save expense simultaneously. So, these companies rerouted towards India, which had qualified agents ready to cater to any business needs with affordable charges. And hence, India became the leader of the call center industry.

What now?

But all this happened 15 years ago. The early 21st century witnessed some ultra-modern technologies popping in. With cloud entering the business spectrum, the scope of BPO services began to stretch again. Now organizations were comfortable handing over their tasks like web development, testing, digital marketing, ORM, application development & maintenance, etc to BPO companies. This has happened because the service providers AKA the Indian contact centers were continuously reshaping their business models adopting new tech and mannerism to meet the volatile customer expectations.

So, a BPO call center that was previously considered just a service provider was now more of a strategic partner that bolsters growth and generates value for your business. With multiple outsourcing models like takeover, build-operate-transfer, and managed captive, Indian business process outsourcing transformed into business process services (BPO to BPS). A subtle aim of this transition is to cement and maintain long term strategic partnership with the businesses of all industries.

 A microanalysis of Indian BPS sector

There is no doubt that perpetual innovation, progressive technologies, and soaring competition have highly influenced the rapid climb of the outsourcing industry in India and in the world.

While everyone is talking about automation and its impact on the BPS sector, Indian business process outsourcing division has other considerable aspects that need the attention of business owners like you:

  1. With high-end technologies emerging intermittently, Indian BPS providers are also stacking up these advanced amenities. Well, this is not enough for the Indian contact centers. The problem lies in the shortage of skilled workers to drive or utilize modern technologies. India and the Philippines, the outsourcing powerhouses, have been facing this issue for some time now. The requirement of a high-skilled workforce is derived from the businesses’ need to curtail the price for conventional services. BPO firms are thereby imparting skills to their employees on a regular basis.
  • If talking about emerging trends of India BPO industry, mounting interests of startups in the outsourcing models cannot be overlooked. The current Indian regime runs Make in India and Startup India initiatives where new companies are encouraged to open up and operate. This has made a lot of Indian startups to approach outsourcing due to stringent competition and the need to cut expense. Even the global BPS industry have seen brands like Slack, AppSumo, and Klout utilizing outsourcing models to accomplish success in their respective businesses. This dependency of startups on BPS providers and the vice-versa is a trend that is going to run for a few more years.
  • Another intriguing and less-talked about trend is the composition of the workforce in the India BPO sector. As per sources, the Indian BPS sector comprises 45-50% of commerce and art graduates, 10-15% engineers, 8-10% of medical professionals, 10-12% of Ph.D. scholars, and 8-10% of CAs (chartered accountants). Earlier (like in the late 90s), even a 12th pass student was regarded as an ideal BPO agent. Today, BPO has become BPS, owing to which the business models have become sophisticated, and hence the required competency of professionals has soared phenomenally.
  • Out of the total workforce in the BPS industry, nearly half are still working in the customer service division. However, more than 60% of the sector’s revenue is yielded per sophisticated transactions, big data analytics, consulting, and financial accounting solutions. So, BPS has the capability of adding value to the businesses on a holistic level. BPO companies are no longer seen as vendors but as partners because of the severe impact that BPS make on customers.
  • It is said that the Philippines is now leaving India behind in terms of quality of delivered services. However, the Philippines lack the number of qualified graduates that possess skills like mathematics, analytics, logical reasoning, etc that exist in India. This makes sure that India will remain unchallenged vis-à-vis value-added services in the future. So, despite the technological disruptions, India’s supremacy will persist easily in the BPS industry.
  • Despite the high attrition rate in the Indian BPS sector, the number of employees in the industry keeps on going up. Same goes with the continuously increasing market share.

These are only some of the small but essential details that have been playing crucial roles in shaping the BPS industry in India.

So, what’s the biggest threat for the Indian BPS segment? In my earlier blogs, I have clearly mentioned how AI and Automation are just evolving BPS rather than replacing it.

IMHO, the perception of industry stakeholders that working in a contact center or a BPO is a low-end job is the biggest challenge of the Indian BPS companies. Business process service is the only industry that provides an opportunity for candidates to join as a beginner level agent and become the vice president of the company.

Final Words

The rundown of Indian BPS sector from being an industry of call centers to a paramount segment of business strategy has been one hell of a ride. With ferocious tech boom and wavering customer preferences playing ultimate roles in the transformation, the future of the Indian outsourcing sector still seems as bright as the sun.

There are hurdles, there are challenges, but a strong and massive pool of talented professionals and a continuous zeal towards customization empower BPS providers in India to remain unbeaten on a global level.

Who will survive?

Service providers who will complement the disrupted environment by leveraging their breadth and depth of operational competencies and digital processes will be the ones who will lead in the BPS industry.

A lot of BPS providers in India are hence blending their multi-functional workforces in order to create valuable insights about customers and industry.

And yes, if you are a BPM company owner, remember, that in the coming couple of decades, you will hardly get any space to breathe owing to the new wave of disruptive techs such as AI, Blockchain, and automated manufacturing that will further speed up the transformation even more.

Share your views! Do you think otherwise? Share your perspectives in the comment section below and we will be happy to discuss. Thanks!

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