OUTSOURCED

Written by Preeti Parashar | Updated: Nov 30 2009, 02:05am hrs
Mohali

Mohali is almost getting into the big league. It has more than 20 units of BPO/KPO, employing more than 10,000 people. And all the major players in the sector such as Quark, Dell, Intellinet, IDS Infotech, Drish Infotech, Tata E2E are making their presence felt, in more than a way.

The rapid expansion of ITES-BPO services has had a profound impact on the socio-economic dynamics of the area. The sector has grown to become the biggest employment generator and has created a rising class of young consumers with high disposable incomes.

Puneet Vatsayan, President, TiE Chandigarh and Punjab says, The boom in BPO sector has led to emergence of various training schools that run short-term programmes. A new phenomenon that has come to the fore is the growth of value added call centres which offer specific solutions to customers. With more jobs created in the BPO sector the youth are not migrating to other areas hence spending more money within the region.

Majority of the BPO companies operating from Mohali are catering to the clients in the US, UK and Europe. Lambodra Infotech, which is into medical transcription, started operations in 2002 with just five people, has a strength of over 100 people today. Sanjeev Vashishta, Managing Director, Lambodra Infotech shares, We are doing about 45,000 lines a day of transcription with majority of our clients in the US and the UK. We are growing at a rate of about 20-25% per annum. Surprised by the mushrooming training centres in the region Vashishta feels that quality training is still a miss due to which the skill-gap is widening.

Sebiz Infotech that started its incubation centre about a year ago has absorbed a majority of the candidates. Reet Singh, Head HR, Sebiz infotech says, Earlier we used to hire majority of the people from Delhi, Bangalore but now we are managing from within the region. But in order to tackle the skill-gap problem we started our own incubation centre and provide training for six months to the candidates and majority of them are absorbed here. We have an offshore development centre with over 300 employees. Y-o-Y average growth of the company is 25-30%.

Meanwhile, considering BPO a good option for start-ups, Partap K Aggarwal, Managing Director, IDS Infotech believes, BPO emerged as a good option for entrepreneurs hence the region could see the number of BPOs surge in the past few years. Local employment was generated at a large scale and people from even semi-rural settings started rising to the level of mid-income group. In addition, it has catalysed the growth of a number of ancillary businesses such as training, transportation, catering, housekeeping, security, real estate, retail in addition to sprouting of coaching centres for English speaking and voice modulation to cater to the ever increasing demand of the industry leading to increased second support employment. For every job created in BPO sector about 5-6 other secondary jobs are being generated. This also gave rise to innovation and new internet protocol products. IDS Infotech consolidated its four verticals this year, healthcare, legal, publishing and engineering under the software horizon. We have been growing 10-15% yoy and this year too we expect the same growth, shares Aggarwal.

Drish Infotech, which is into medical transcription, plans to focus on European clients. Harshvir Singh Jaspal, Managing Director,

Drish Infotech informs, We entered the BPO segment in 2000-01 through medical transcription. We are a 70 people company with clients in the US, Australia and Europe. Since Europe is largely untapped and outsourcing is going to increase from there we may tap more European countries. The company has been registering an annual growth of 15-18% on an average and this year it expects to grow at around 25%. Talking about talent crunch he says that candidates are more aware now and trained to tackle the job. They dont hesitate to pay more to take up training modules. Moreover, the improved industry-student interaction has opened up greater job avenues, says Singh.

Chandigarh based training institute Hero Mindmine prepares the candidates to handle real industry situation through simulation based training. Neeru Ahuja, Centre Manager, Hero Mindmine Chandigarh says, Institutes like ours provide training to the candidates and help fill the skill gap. There has been a change in the awareness levels of the candidates. Now they know what kind of training they require to fit into the sector and what kind of packages to expect.

However, RK Verma, Managing Director, Punjab Infotech, believes, For Mohali to make a transition to a leader location, it is important to to build an ecosystem on its inherent advantages and focus on persistent increase, both qualitatively and quantitatively, on development of the manpower pool.


Anand

Mahendrasinh Solanki&Rutam Vora

Anand, a sleepy town about 70 KM from Ahmedabad famous as the headquarters for Amul and National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), is undergoing an image makeover. Thanks to burgeoning BPO units, which have started operations, though in a scattered manner. BPO units here are mainly operated by the local entrepreneurs, having no association with the large IT companies.

For instance, Javed Mansuri, and his four friends got an assignment on medical transcription from an America-based company and started a home-grown BPO unit called Cristal Infotech. Mansuri says, Our business model is such that we have to depend more on the companies based in Bangalore, as they are the only channel for us to get the assignments from overseas clients. At times they shift their extra load of work to us and we get the money. They can keep their commitment to the client and we get our business right here, sitting at home. It is a win-win situation.

Mansuri does not feel delinked from the global IT market as the global connect is just a click away. He adds, Previously people were less inclined towards English. But they soon realised it was important for their growth and job prospects and now more and more people have started taking special coaching.

Mansuri is now keen on setting up a training centre. He says, Looking at the progress, I am planning to impart training. The industry is proliferating and many are interested to take training and set up their own units in and around Anand.

Anand, a few years back had only a handful of English coaching institutes forcing people from the town to go to Vadodara. But with more opportunities in BPOs and other IT related services, it is attracting national coaching institutes to set up their centres at Anand.

Mansuri, adds, One of the key advantages of being at Anand is that there is no shortage of manpower. Owing to proximity to Vallabh Vidyanagar, the famous education centre we dont have to search for talent. The cost of operation is also very low compared to other metros.

A fact corroborated by Nirav Shah, President, Gujarat Electronics and Software Industries Association, There has been increased penetration of BPOs in smaller towns of Gujarat. The reason for this is the quality of infrastructure that we have at the town level. Power is the primary requirement for IT industry to proliferate in and we have 24 hour power availability even in smaller towns such as Anand, Valsad, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar.

Its not as if Tier I cities of Gujarat including Ahmedabad and Vadodara have reached a saturation level in the BPO sector. Shah maintains that these cities still offer growth opportunities to BPOs and will witness major growth in the next three years. But entrepreneurs from small towns have started venturing into the BPO segment from their basic locations, since its economical for them to operate, adds Shah.

However, the pattern of work at BPOs in small towns is of a different nature than the ones in the large cities. Rajan Vasa, Chairman, Contech BPO, Ahmedabad says, BPOs coming up in small towns usually get work from companies in Bangalore, who are catering mostly to overseas clients. The nature of work is primarily non-voice based, as its easier to get orders for these. There is also scope for specified training in medical transcription, legal process outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing. Vasa mentions that with every one job in IT industry there are at least two job opportunities created in related industries including logistics, training and communication. This in turn is uplifting the standard of living in these small towns.


Hosur

SSaroj Kumar

40 km was a long distance for Ahamed to bridgenot physically but literally. A resident of Hosur, he never thought, hed ever be a part of the BPO movement happening in Bangalore, Indias Silicon Valley. My English was poor, I could never dream of a BPO job. Until an under graduate course in IT at Hosur Fostera helped him land a job in a rural BPO. Today, the confidence in his voice is unmistakable, I am confident that one day I will bag a lucrative job in Bangalore and earn enough to meet the financial needs of my family.

Not very long ago, things were drastically different in Hosur, popular for its horticulture farms. Back then people smirked at the idea of setting up a BPO in a town like Hosur, says Santosh Babu, MD of Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu. Babu is a contended man today. Posted as a Collector in Hosur, he was determined to bring the IT wave to Tier II and III towns. The result was a rural BPO experiment called Fosteraan acronym for fostering technologies in rural areas. The 60-seater facility recently handled Microsofts pilot project on online electoral voters registration system successfully. Such has been the success of the model that it is being replicated in other parts of the state.

Fostera had initially contemplated to absorb class X pass and dropout students but even people with management and engineering degrees, lured by the glamour of the IT industry, were surprisingly enthusiastic about it, says Babu. The small step taken then is now transcending into a giant leap. Now companies are making a beeline for land in Tier-II locations and the state is at the helm of allotting SEZ lands to IT companies. Following the success of TIDEL IT Park on the IT corridor of Chennai, the Ministry of IT, Government of Tamil Nadu is working on TPCL on a PPP model with JV of STPI, TIDCO and ELCOT slated to completed by April 2010. The proposed project will have 1.7 mn sqft of total area out of which 10 lakh sqft will be for ITspace. Reeling out the land allotment status to IT companies, he lists out that Wipro was allotted 10 acres of land at Coimbatore, HCL systems five acres at Ilandaikulam in Madurai, Honeywell five acres in the same place, and nine companies including HCL and Integra were given land in Tiruchy. Rural BPOs may turn to be an indispensable cog in the administrative wheel in the e-transformation era. Processes such as data entry, helpdesk services and dissemination of welfare communiqus, all have to be dispensed at low-cost and rural BPOs with large-scale manpower are the medium to drive this objective, says Babu. Bhaskar, CEO of Origin technologies foresees a major turn of fortune for rural BPOs in the wake of increasing wireless tele-density in the state. How The rapid telecom growth witnessed in the state needs low-cost call centre and BPO services to keep the end-user tariff plans cheaper. This gluttonous mobile phone growth requires to be serviced at a low-cost realty and operating location and relatively low-cost manpower, I cant think of any suitable back office model other than rural BPO that fits the bill, he opines.

Subramaniam of Integra Software Service, Puducherry, cites, For knowledge-based industries like e-publishing vertical, the quintessential criterion to expand is to have a vibrant educational eco-system complimented by good transport connectivity. Tiruchy is an ideal destination with its more than dozen premier education institutions and the international airport offering connectivity to places like Sharjah and Colombo from where a business traveller could fly down to any part of the world, he says.

Another edge that rural BPOs enjoy is the proficiency in the regional language. Can you believe that a domestic BPO is looking out to hire 500 Malayalam speaking call centre executives, asks Purushothaman, Regional Director, Nasscom. He also bets big on the ICT academy that is being built under the PPP model to impart finishing school skills to professional graduates. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh together account for 70% of the countrys total engineering graduates. The Academy would definitely play the role of a stepping stone role for graduates to leap from academics to industry, he adds.

For Ashok Soota, Executive Chairman, Mind Tree, the country is in for a knowledge revolution creating knowledge haves and knowledge have-nots. In future, the knowledge communities will be powering the economic engine of the nation and efforts should be made to bring in as many young people as possible under the knowledge umbrella, he says. For businesses like Rural BPOs to take flight,

I firmly believe the concept of technology-based rural entrepreneurship should take deep roots.


Nashik

Nanda Kasabe

Despite its strength in manufacturing, Nashik continued to be known as a small town. Of late, it is changing, metamorphosing from a small town into a city. And the BPO sector is the catalyst. The city today has some seven non-voice BPOs including Datamatics Technologies, Tricom India and Lake Systems. And Infosys Technologies, IBM and Wipro Technologies are learnt to have made enquiries here.

WNS Global Services was among the first to come to Nashik in 2003. Good infrastructure and skilled manpower is why we are here, a company spokesperson says. Today, the company has two centres with 1,500 employees.

For Datamatics Technologies, Nashik was virgin territory. Proximity to Mumbai and Pune and availability of good talent made this city a better proposition for for us, says Rahul Kanodia, VC & CEO, Datamatics Technologies. The company has over 500 employees and plans to double its strength by the end of the year. The company has made plans for setting up a new campus. We would be investing some 16 Crore. We handle clients from the US, Europe and India, he adds.

Tricom India was among the late entrants to Nashik in 2007. Growing business volumes led us to set up a facility at a place other than Mumbai. Also, these places have lower operating costs. Tricom is a non-voice BPO and our work comprises data processing and hence we have never faced language related issues. The company currently has one centre with 500 people and intends to double its headcount by the end of next year, Jayant Tamksale, Executive Director (Operations) Tricom India says.

The small town flavour remains but the trappings of a big city have begun to show. Mall culture is emerging, salary levels are still not at par with big cities. But youngsters are not complaining. New IT parks are coming up and we are happy with the kind of work we are getting to do. We no longer need to leave the city in search of work, says Shreyas Mandavgane, who works for Datamatics Technologies.

Most companies prefer the direct route and have tie-ups with universities and train students on their own. M&G HR Services, a hiring firm that recruits for call centres and back offices maintains, Language continues to be an issue and good talent is difficult to find. But it has been a beginning and from here on the city is only set to grow.


Vizag

B V Mahalakshmi

Viren Kumar today can hardly be considered an exception. The decision to relocate from Delhi to a city like Vizag in the least meant leaving behind the charms of an uber urban life. Kumar today vouches for Vizaga calm town that, thanks to the IT wave, has become cosmopolitan. Vizag is home to over 50 BPO and KPOs, including Cambridge Systems, Wipro, Acclaris, Encore India, Mahindra Satyam, HSBC. The town landscape includes over 20 English teaching centres besides several Jawahar Knowledge Centres that are equipping the youth in skills desirable for BPOs. Over 12,000 students have been trained at JKCs in Vizag. Soon, there will be language laboratories as well with industry-specific training modules, shares Gopi Krishna, IT Secretary, Andhra Pradesh. The state government is promoting Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Kakinanda, Tirupathi and Warangal as IT products and knowledge destinations and Vizag, says Krishna, has taken a centrestage in attracting a lot of BPOs. Kenexa, for instance, is planning to invest about $10 mn to build a 700-seater campus in Vizag to provide business solutions for human resources. Nearly 60% of the companys employees working in Hyderabad have already opted to move to Vizag. Matt McKelvey, VP, APAC operations, Kenexa is positive about the indications. Kenexas move to Vizag exceeded our expectations. Our innovative employee focused relocation programmes were met with overwhelming response by our employees. We just hired over 800 people for a premier BPO client. A Rs 25 crore software enclave, Miracle City, including four call centres, spread over 400 acres, is already up and running with 200 IT professionals. Ravi Eswarapu, who is heading Mahindra Satyam operations in Vizag and also the ED of Vizag Information Technology Association, feels the presence of a substantial computer-savvy and English speaking populace in Vizag has encouraged many companies to open captive centers in the city. Brig Harikumar, ED, Hyderabad Software Exporters Association, agrees, The cost arbitrage in the present industry scenario will also shift the focus to Tier II and III cities.