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Business Process Outsourcing in India

The business process outsourcing industry in India refers to the Services Outsourcing Industry in India, catering mainly to Western operations of MNCs (Multinational Corporations).

As of 2008, around 0.7 million people work in outsourcing sector (less than 0.1% of Indians). Annual revenues are around $11 billion, around 1% of GDP. Around 2.5 million people graduate in India every year, but only about 15 percent are suitable for employment in this sector. Wages are rising by 10-15 percent as a result of skill shortage.

Note : As of 20 May 2008 all Indian on-shore workers in the UK and EU are now entitled to the full wage and benefits packages enjoyed by their European counterparts.

In the early 1980s several European airlines started using Delhi as a base for back office operations, British Airways being one among them. The BA captive was finally spun off as a separate organisation called WNS Global Services in 2002.

In the second half of the 1980s, American Express consolidated its JAPAC (Japan and Asia Pacific) back office operations into New Delhi. This center was headed by Raman Roy, and has been a source of several leading names in the Indian BPO Industry.

General Electric
In the 1990s Jack Welch was influenced by K.P. Singh, (A Delhi based realtor) to look at Gurgaon in the NCR region as a base for back office operations. Pramod Bhasin, the India head of G.E. hired Raman Roy and several of his management from American Express to start this enterprise called GECIS (GE Capital International Services). Raman for the first time tried out voice operations out of India, the India operations also was the Beta site for GE Six sigma enterprise. The results made GE ramp up their Indian presence and look at other locations. In 2004 GECIS was spun off as a separate legal entity by GE, called Genpact. GE has retained a 40% stake and sold a 60% stake for $500 million to two equity companies, Oak Hill Capital Partners and General Atlantic Partners.

Third party BPO's
Until G.E most of the work was being done by "captives"- a term used for in house work being done for the parent organisation. In 2000 Raman Roy and some team members from GECIS quit , and with VC funding from Chrysalis Capital started Spectramind. At the same time an organisation called EXL started in Noida and Efunds started in Mumbai and Gurgaon, and Daksh in Gurgaon. However, recently most of the Indian BPO's even smaller and mid-sized ones are actually setting-up their onshore presence. Most of the serious players are actually improving the outsourced business processes by leveraging on years of experience and now some of them are directly competing with their own older clientbase by marking this transition to KPO 's.

Entry of IT majors
In 2002 Spectramind was bought by software major Wipro, and BPO by then had become mainstream like the IT Industry in India. The team that had setup Spectramind went on to start Quatrro in 2006, a BPO specialising in high end BPO/KPO services. By 2002 all major Indian software organizations were into BPO, including Infosys (Progeon), Inforlinx, HCL, Satyam (Nipuna) and Patni. By 2003 Daksh was bought out by IBM, and later in 2006 MphasiS was acquired by EDS. Even international 3rd party BPO players like Convergys and Sitel had set up shop in India, swelling the BPO movement to India. Then service arms of organizations like Accenture, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Dell also set up shop in India.

Emergence of Rural BPOs
Booming India Inc has led to skyrocketing real estate and infrastructure costs in Tier-1 cities. BPO industry has thrived all these years because of its ability to deliver services at a low cost. Increasing infrastructure costs, real estate costs, and salaries have raised BPO costs significantly and as a result Indian BPOs in Tier-1 cities are looking at Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities for operation.

Few entrepreneurs who had a vision of bringing the rural India into the mainstream of knowledge economy have found an opportunity here - setting Rural BPOs. The transformation of rural India started with the emergence of these Rural BPOs. The major hurdles that these BPOs faced is quality man power. As a result these rural BPOs have remained targeting low end jobs like data entry.

Effect of global meltdown on Indian BPOs
American financial meltdown has begun to take its toll on India's IT and outsourcing business.

Size of industry
The industry has been growing rapidly. It grew at a rate of 38% over 2005. For the FY06 financial year the projections is of US$7.2 billion worth of services provided by this industry. The base in terms of headcount being roughly 400,000 people directly employed in this Industry. The global BPO Industry is estimated to be worth 120-150 billion dollars, of this the offshore BPO is estimated to be some US$11.4 billion. India thus has some 5-6% share of the total Industry, but a commanding 63% share of the offshore component. The U.S $7.2 billion also represents some 20% of the IT and BPO Industry which is in total expected to have revenues worth US$36 billion for 2006. The headcount at 400,000 is some 40% of the approximate one million workers estimated to be directly employes in the IT and BPO Sector.

The related Industry dependent on this are Catering, BPO training and recruitment, transport vendors, (home pick up and drops for night shifts being the norm in the industry). Security agencies, Facilities management companies.

From a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey
Table 1: Global BPO Market by Industry
Industry Percentage (%)

Information Technology 43
Financial Services 17
Communication (Telecom) 16
Consumer Goods/ Services 15
Manufacturing 9

Table 2: Global BPO Market by Geography
Country Percentage (%)
United States 59
Europe 27
Asia-Pacific (incl. Japan) 9
Rest of the World 5
Table 3: Size of Global Outsourcing Market
Year Size (USD Bn)
2000 119
2005 234
2008 (est.) 310

Table 4: Size and Growth of BPO in India
Year Size (US$ Bn) Growth Rate (%)
2003 2.8 59
2004 3.9 45.3
2005 5.7 44.4

Currently the Indian BPO Industry employs in excess of 245,100,307,394.3 people and another 9 jobs are expected to be added during the current financial year (2005-2006)

Table 5: Call Center Employee cost
Country Cost (USD/yr)
USA 19,000
Australia 17,000
Philippines 9,050
India 7,500

Nearly 75% of US and European multinational companies now use outsourcing or shared services to support their financial functions. 72% of European multinational companies have outsourced financial functions over the past two years.

Additionally, 71% of European companies and 78% US companies plan to use these services in the next 12-24 months. Overall, 29% of US and European companies expect to increase their use of outsourcing of financial functions, with spending expected to be nearly 16% higher than current levels.

Growth in this sector will get a further impetus as Indian BPO companies have robust security practices and emphasis is laid in developing trust with clients on this score. While earlier there were varying quality standards on this aspect, today there is focus on standardization of security, such as data and IP security.

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