Indian Outsourcing Providers Will Remain Dominant In 2010 And Beyond ! – Susir Kumar, CEO, Intelenet

Intelenet Global Services is one of the leading global third party BPO Company with over 28,000 employees across 33 locations in India and overseas. It was recently ranked in IAOP’s Global Outsourcing 100 for 2009 and have consistently been featured among the 50 fastest growing technology companies in India complied by Deloitte. interviewed Mr. Susir Kumar who has been the Chief Executive Officer of Intelenet Global Services since its inception in October 2000 to delve deep into the reasons behind their spectacular growth and to know his views on some of the major challenges for the outsourcing industry in the year 2010. Below are the excerpts :

What challenges does a large organisation face while trying to maintain its scale?
Intelenet has experienced rapid growth in a relatively short amount of time. It has expanded from just 25 employees at a single site to over 28,000 employees across 33 locations in India and overseas in just eight years, making it the second largest employer in the Indian BPO space. With such a large workforce, challenges include integrating global workplaces under the Intelenet umbrella with the company’s value system.

I think that Intelenet’s growth in the BPO industry has been spurred by its dedicated effort to create valuable relationships, and its focus on quality and timely delivery. Our core values are discipline, trust, care and value delivery. Values are the key corner-stones in the working lives of all employees at Intelenet and are communicated to them to ensure that they understand the values, mission and direction of the company. The person’s attitude needs to fit in with the Intelenet value system.

We believe that effective employee engagement leads to a motivated workforce that continuously out-performs client expectations, while employee retention is key to consistent delivery. A clear indication to our dedication on employee engagement can be seen in the awards it has won us such as the Hewitt Associates ‘Best Employer in India and Asia’ for 2009.

We have many initiatives in place to motivate our workforce and I believe this has been central to our success. For instance, Intelenet rewards outstanding performers through monetary rewards and non-monetary recognition. We run ‘Fun@work’ initiatives such as Employee Appreciation Week, Family Day and contests to boost employee involvement with the organisation.

What have been the major factors responsible for your spectacular success?
As mentioned our focus on a happy and motivated workforce has definitely enabled our business capabilities. Intelenet’s advantage is driven by savings produced for our clients through operational efficiency and process improvements.

For instance our processes resulted in a 10 per cent productivity gain for a US Wireless giant by automating billing processes and reducing operational losses by 90 per cent for the payments remediation process of a UK bank. Intelenet was also declared as Best Global Site for a UK transportation company.

Factors that have contributed to our capable service delivery include a robust governance team consisting of representation from the client and our senior management reviews of the health and status of the relationship on a monthly basis.

A few advisory firms say that “India’s dominance as an outsourcing destination will decline in the times to come” In your opinion, what can cause such a decline and how long can we delay it, if the decline is inevitable?
I would have to disagree with this view. Take the example of a large insurance company, which initially moved work for cost savings five years ago. After a short amount of time this particular corporation won the award for the ‘Best customer experience’ in its market place. They have since raised the bar by pledging a claim to their customers that they can reduce the time for settling a claim by up to 60 per cent. How can they possible achieve this? The COO has been quoted in the press as saying that it was the ‘reliability’ of its Indian BPO operations that gave them the confidence to not only make the promise to the customer but also deliver against the promise and hence increase sales and market share. This is a classic case of an Indian BPO operation delivering Strategic Impact to the client’s overall business.

This did not happen overnight but it is a testament to how outsourcing and offshoring is benefiting businesses globally. In particular it showcases India’s capabilities in the outsourcing sphere. A change that is inevitable is that firms are beginning to adopt a vertical based approach. The last three to four years have seen many Indian firms expand their scope of activities to include complex back office processes involving rule based decision making and even research services requiring informed individual judgment. This will ensure that Indian outsourcing providers will remain dominant.

Last month there were reports that you may acquire a US based firm (healthcare) and now we hear that you are in talks to acquire two UK shared services centers? What is the strategy behind these aggressive acquisition moves?
Intelenet’s strategy is to grow aggressively through the organic and the inorganic route. We are constantly on the lookout for companies that will be a ‘right fit’ for our values and growth strategy.

Do you think that the demand for global sourcing will continue to rise for the next few years?
Yes, I do think the demand for global sourcing will increase, however, it will have to adapt to individual company’s needs.
When organisations first started outsourcing their processes to India during the late nineties and early 2000’s, the key driver for doing so was cost. This would allow the organisation to save some precious dollars, outsourcing their processes to India reduced costs by 40-50 per cent, and thereby provide greater shareholder value. However, those very companies who came for cost benefits, stayed for quality and productivity. Since then, the Indian BPO industry has managed to firmly establish itself so that today, clients are witnessing a macro shift in results like customer satisfaction, process improvements, etc. Today, the erstwhile parameters of cost, quality and productivity have become fundamental and companies are now looking for strategic long-term impact

What do you think, how much could the cloud computing factor affect the outsourcing market in the next couple of years?
Cloud computing is predominantly an IT operation outsourcing trend. I think cloud computing will have a positive impact outsourcing in terms of cost savings in terms of IT administration and maintenance, reduction in hardware requirements, reduction in energy, space savings. Moreover it will facilitate easier communication between destinations.