Rebranding, a part of NASSCOM strategy to develop BPM industry Keshav Murugesh, WNS CEO on the need to rebrand to change perceptions

Rebranding, a part of Nasscom strategy to develop BPM industry

The Business Process Management (BPM) industry has, since its earlier avatar as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, had an unfairly harsh reputation, according the Keshav R. Murugesh, Group CEO, WNS Global Services, and Chairman of the BPM Council of Nasscom, the national IT and BPM industry body.

In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Murugesh, a chartered accountant-turned CEO, spoke of his experiences and challenges as the head of a firm with a market capitalisation of $1.4 billion and just 29,000 employees, as well as his goals and related challenges as a spokesperson and stakeholder for the BPM industry – in his role at Nasscom.

‘Your mess for less’, was the initial selling point of the outsourcing industry, which used to take on the low-end work of its international clientele located in high-cost countries, Mr. Murugesh said. However, the industry had morphed over the last five or so years, and the name BPM was invented to more accurately reflect this.

Recalling his own experience of re-strategising and re-working WNS’s offerings, Mr. Murugesh said he started offering end-to-end verticals (top to bottom services in a particular sector), and this required hiring ‘domain experts’, such as experts in the field of finance and accounting, or leisure and travel.

Unfortunately, according to Mr. Murugesh, the public’s perception of the BPM industry has not kept pace with the changes in the nature of the business and phrases like ‘low-end’, ‘health and safety hazards’, ‘night-shift’ were still being bandied about. In a study by marketing research firm AC Nielsen, the BPO industry ranked 75th out of 85 job choices. Consequently, under the aegis of Nasscom, Mr. Murugesh is launching a campaign — Being World Worthy.

“We want every employee, who is with the industry, every potential employee, irrespective of age, to understand what we do [and we want to] demolish all the myths associated with the industry…and allow people to understand that this is an industry which is growing at a fantastic rate, services top-quality international clients, engages with a workforce that is highly qualified…they [the industry’s employees] are accountants, MBAs, PhDs,” Mr. Murugesh said.

This re-branding is part of Nasscom’s three-pronged strategy to develop the industry. The strategy also involves a ‘centre for excellence’ approach — where India will be known and marketed as the go-to place for BPM services — just like Colombia was known for coffee, or Taiwan for electronics, Mr. Murugesh said.

The third prong will be creating an ecosystem of talent. The industry is looking to hire experts in banking, healthcare, insurance, finance and accounting, for instance. To this end, each of the member companies of Nasscom is being asked to sign memoranda of understanding with fifteen colleges that will take curriculum development into Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

In response to questions on the impact of the Digital India initiative and what the government could do differently, Mr. Murugesh was very optimistic about the government’s digital vision and the fact that announcements had been made, regarding developing the BPM industry in Tier- 2, Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities, identifying potential Smart Cities and extending the fibre optic network to villages. However, the government had to make clear its procurement and payment strategy, he said.

“There has to be absolute clarity on what the procurement policy is, what needs to be done to qualify and how the money from government is allocated and kept in escrow so it can pay,” Mr. Murugesh said.

The BPM industry currently contributes about $23 billion to India’s exports and Nasscom hopes to push this up to the $45-$50-billion mark by 2020.

“The demand for BPM services in nascent and the market is under-penetrated, Mr. Murugesh said, adding, ‘The potential for growth is huge.

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