Skill and talent development will be vital to the business process management (BPM, formerly known as business process outsourcing) sector, says Keshav R Murugesh, group CEO of Mumbai-based WNS Global Services. On the sidelines of the Nasscom India Leadership Summit in Mumbai in February, Murugesh, who is also chairman of Nasscom’s BPM Council, tells Forbes India about the increasing role of analytics and automation in the BPM industry. Excerpts:
Q. Do you believe that the BPM sector has been successful in integrating disruptive technologies?
Yes. We have moved away from the old models to newer-age models involving domain, technology, social, mobile, cloud, artificial intelligence and robotics. In our business, to achieve 10 to 11 percent growth, as WNS has, we need to give our clients about 3 to 4 percent productivity gains. For that, we need to have an incisive understanding of our client’s business and their domain. We need to understand the signals that their customers are providing across technology platforms that we’re working on. We have integrated more technology platforms and better analytics. Ten percent of our interactions are now being driven by robotics.
Q. What are the fundamental challenges for the sector?
There are two main challenges. One is in our control and the other is not. Client decision-making is not in our control. What is in our control, and something that we’re working on, is skill and talent development. The future of business is going to be all about developing deep thinkers, rather than just doers. That’s an area we’ve been working on with the Skills Council, the National Skill Development Corporation and even universities in terms of creating new curriculum and course development.
Q. What kind of changes has automation brought about in your business?
Robotic process automation is a tool that the BPM industry incorporated to improve productivity. In every process, at some stage, there are a few elements that become repeatable. And those would be taken over by technology. There’s a belief that robotics will take over all the jobs done by human beings. That’s not going to happen.
Q. Analytics now make up 13 percent of WNS’s revenues. How is this increasing share of analytics moulding your approach?
For some of the smarter companies, analytics is a big area. The clients are essentially saying: “You understand our business. Why can’t you take over the rest of the back office and front office for us?” For example, an airline company suggested that since we’re doing their fare audit and managing all their frequent-flyer options, why don’t we take over everything, other than flying the plane? Till now, clients maintained that there were certain elements of the business that only they would do because they were used to interacting with BPMs in a different format. That has changed.
Q. Is the larger role of analytics due, in large part, to the increased pervasiveness of data?
The companies always had data, but they would be guarded about sharing it. Now, they say we should use their data to tell them what it says. There are a few reasons for that. One is the trust that we have developed. The other is the outstanding technology that we have incorporated. And fear is causing a change in client behaviour. Earlier, they had a few companies that were in competition with them, but today, competition can come from anywhere.
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(This story appears in the 18 March, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)