View from India: BPM industry needs finishing schools

India remains the largest business process management (BPM) base in the world, with revenue of close to $30bn and employee strength of 1.2 million in 2017. Overcoming the earlier phase of a slower growth, the Indian BPM industry has more than 35 per cent of share in global sourcing and 38 per cent in the employable graduate pool and is witnessing revenue growth x 1.7. Revenue for India’s BPM sector is projected to increase from $30bn in FY17 to $50-55bn by 2025.

Nasscom has projected that digital streams will account for 60-70 per cent of the revenue of BPM service providers by 2025. Digital streams will overtake traditional streams, with advanced technology solutions and intelligent automation driving much of this growth.

“BPM in India is in a unique position as it has already earned the credibility of its customers, it helps companies rethink their business strategy. BPM can get to the core of the companies and can help authenticate change within the core and bring in outcome-based results. The core doesn’t change but it becomes more efficient,” said Rohit Kapoor, Vice Chairman-CEO EXL and Chairman of Nasscom BPM Council, speaking at the 19th Nasscom BPM Strategy Summit 2017. 

To pursue this line of thought, typically, operations in the companies happen within silos for various processes but BPM service providers step in to disrupt this operation, re-shape operations and make the companies agile. In short, BPM service providers play a significant role in reshaping customer services. BPM service providers have raised the bar of customer services by tweaking standard operating procedures (SOP) of the past. This is being achieved by getting to the core of the business.

Let’s face it, the core of any business is its people and traditionally the thrust was on efficiency (‘E factor’). However, the ‘E factor’ gradually extended to effectiveness and now experience is the latest offering, whose focus is to enhance the experience of customer, supplier and stakeholders.

The BPM industry is also undergoing a technological shift, as it moves towards creating a digital strategy, whose thrust is on robotic process automation (RPA), advanced analytics and digital assistance. It is reported that there has been an over 60 per cent increase in revenue per full-time employees (FTEs) for analytics in the last three years. Furthermore, significant new investments have gone up 3X since 2014, with focus on building new products, capabilities and setting up a Digital Centre of Excellence. There are currently over 2,000 bots operational for various client services.

Bots are one of the most pervasive interactions of artificial intelligence (AI). Simply put, bots are computer programmes that rely on structure or unstructured data to respond to customer interactions through speech and chat bots.

“The Indian BPM industry is at an interesting juncture, because AI is all encompassing. So either you come to the forefront of innovation by helping customers through innovative use of AI or you end up being marginalised,” added Animesh Jain, chief delivery officer at [24]7.

Bots are projected to perform various tasks in the BPM industry, part of which will be handled by a human workforce. Besides bots, AI, machine learning and data science are slated to be the future business model for many of the verticals handled by BPM service providers. Either these technologies independently perform tasks or partly combine with individuals to execute many procedures. 

“The corporate houses and government should come together and help create a talent-ready, future-ready workforce capable of handling futuristic requirements of the BPM industry. We need to create an eco system for the same by introducing a Finishing School,” felt Rajesh Subramaniam, MD and CEO, Firstsource Solutions Limited.

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