We are living in a world of rapid change — reflected in technology shifts, global volatility and emerging opportunities. The Business Process Management (BPM) sector is representative of that change and opportunities that come with it.
The sector is expected to grow in excess of 11 per cent this financial year and reach an estimated $23 billion, employing a million people directly.
The Indian BPM sector today is significantly different from a few years ago. It includes pure-play BPM firms integrating technology, information technology (IT) services ones building large BPM capability and niche players emerging in areas like analytics, legal services and small businesses.
Instead of trying to guess which model will succeed in the future, it would be more pertinent to understand what is driving this changed market and what will it take to succeed in it.
The advent of cloud and digital technologies, continued cost pressure and the need for quicker marketing is leading to an environment where large global customers are looking for strategic partnerships with service providers and the smaller ones for expertise in partners.
Initially, there was a clear line between buyers of IT and BPM. The chief financial officer and the operations group and service provider firms built deep relations with these groups. The lines for both large and small customers are becoming blurred, though for different reasons. Today, customers are demanding more flexibility in service offerings. Processes and technology will virtualise work to such an extent that customers will not care where it is performed but will remain concerned about the quality of outcomes at acceptable costs. It will become even more difficult to establish distinction between BPM and IT as platforms and technology enablement becomes an integral part of the business process delivery.
‘Traditional’ service offerings are likely to be replaced by ‘gourmet’ ones by incremental innovating old offerings, focused and deep verticalisation around some verticals and increased use of technology-enabled solutions.
BPM providers can further tap analytics combined with domain expertise by crafting right strategies. In addition to analytics, technologies such as Business Process as a Service, mobility and social media will create a positive impact across offerings. In my view, end-to-end integrated technology and solutions coupled with relations and capability building will be the game changers for the sector, altering what it represents over the next few years.
BPM providers are looking to succeed in this new market should focus on the following:
- Enhance offerings by using more technology-enabled (platform-based) and analytics related offerings;
- Offer variable transactional pricing;
- Continue to focus on process-improvement technologies such as lean methods;
- Focus on micro-verticalisation by specialising and building expertise in specific value chain elements;
- Tap mergers and acquisitions for domain capabilities;
- Establish a global delivery model.
Do these changes represent the end of the traditional BPM model? Certainly not. Many clients would still need basic BPM services and India is best placed to provide these.
There has been a debate on Indian having lost the edge in voice work. Of interest to India is the shift of the contact centre business from only voice to multi-channel integrated customer support that spans the internet and social media. Indian BPM companies are leading this change, building integrated multi-channel customer experience.
However, companies only focusing on the cheap labour advantage will find themselves in a commoditised environment, where they will have to take the path of competing on price alone. They would need to use alternative delivery models in tier-II/-III cities along with a much leaner management structure to reduce costs and differentiate based on quality of service and customer satisfaction. While we have done well as a sector, the opportunity ahead is even more exciting.
Source: Business Standard